Each week Yahoo Tech’s Alyssa Bereznak will help you pick the best movies and shows to stream online.
It’s the first week of the month, when rent is due, the jobs report is announced, and Netflix dumps a whole bunch of new streamable stuff on its site. In this month’s collection, we’ve been granted the gift of Kung Fu, pre-Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston, and a whole lot of Bond movies. Grab a bag of chips and your laptop charger; this is going to be a wholly unproductive weekend.
1. Don Jon
This is the story of Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a normal New Jerseyan twenty-something who has earned the nickname Don Jon for his success with the ladies. He meets the beautiful Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), who’s looking for her soulmate. The only problem? Martello is sorta kinda addicted to porn. The two must work through their own media-filtered fantasies to find a common ground of intimacy.
It might seem like a weak plot, but this 2013 film, written and directed by Gordon-Levitt, is a refreshing take on the typically unrealistic genre of rom-coms, which tend to be a mix of serendipity and slapstick.
Not to mention, Julianne Moore plays a sage adviser to a porn addict, which has got to be the best role description ever.
Hilary Swank plays a Nebraskan 20-year-old who was born a woman but identifies as a man named Brandon. Brandon moves to a new town and quickly earns a reputation as a ladies’ man. He befriends some tough guys and falls in love with their teenage friend Lara (Chloë Sevigny). But when he’s jailed for a traffic violation, his secret that he is a trans man is revealed. Despite Lara’s pledge to stay by his side, a violent retaliation from Brandon’s former friends ensues.
You know, it’s just one of those typical, run-of-the-mill, Hilary Swank underdog movies based on a heartbreakingly true story. You will ponder the strength of human will. You will question the cruelness of humanity. And you will likely cry your eyes out.
Famed director Werner Herzog explores all the impossibly weird and fascinating inhabitants of Antarctica in this 2007 documentary. Every little bit of it has his unmistakable stamp, from the visually stunning mountaintops to the curious characters you meet along the way. This is nature porn on ice, pure and simple.
4. Forrest Gump
You have probably seen Forrest Gump, a movie about a slow but athletically gifted fellow who experiences and influences a series of major events in the latter half of the 20th century. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth another round, if only to relive all the most heavily quoted lines of 1994, or to remember what Robin Wright looked like before she morphed into the terrifyingly svelte Claire Underwood.
Jackie Chan plays the kung-fu master Popeye in this 1994 dubbed flick. But rather than gain his superpowers from spinach, his fighting abilities are enhanced when he drinks. This makes for a lot of great stunts involving liquor consumption and back flips, which is the only real point of this mostly plotless movie. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Ah, there’s nothing like early ’90s Steven Spielberg! This 1991 film imagines Peter Pan (Robin Williams) as a grumpy 40-year-old mergers and acquisitions lawyer who now goes by the name of Peter Banning. He’s constantly distracted by work, leaving little time to spend with his two children. While on a trip to London to visit his grandmother, Wendy (Maggie Smith), the kids are kidnapped by “Hook” (Dustin Hoffman). He must make good with Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) and remember his roots so that he can return to Neverland and save his family.
Quentin Tarantino’s imaginative kung-fu dramas Kill Bill 1 and 2 star a canary jumpsuit-clad Uma Thurman as an ex-hitwoman on a mission. After discovering that she’s pregnant, she attempts to quit the business, settle down, and get married. But her boss’s band of professional killers (her former colleagues) find her and permanently nip that dream in the bud. With nothing left to live for, she sets out to seek revenge with an extremely sharp samurai sword in hand.
These movies have everything: uncomfortably long shots of Uma Thurman’s toes, a Japanese school girl with a flail, Lucy Liu fighting in a traditional Japanese kimono, sushi … the list goes on! There’s no mistaking Tarantino’s signature storytelling (and love of feet).
It’s hard to imagine that a 1939 movie like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington actually reflected our country’s state of politics at one point in time. Any problem that can be solved with a heroic filibuster just seems so wholesome compared with the dark and twisted world of House of Cards’ Frank Underwood (also on Netflix).
And, yet, this Frank Capra film about a naive congressman fighting political corruption spoke to people so much that it was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. It even won Best Original Story. Watch it as a lesson on how much our political process and attitude have changed in the span of 75 years.
Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the mysterious and terrifying roommate of Bridget Fonda in the 1992 psychological thriller Single White Female. There are lots of things to love about this movie: how unrealistically large Fonda’s New York apartment appears to be, what was considered to be stylish in the ’90s, and most importantly, a fashion accessory used in an attempted murder! Anyone with a roommate can relate to this eerie meditation on lack of personal space. But hopefully not the murdery parts.
10. Malcom in the Middle, Season 1
Two words: vintage Cranston. And 2000 was a good year. This excellent TV show starring Frankie Muniz has pretty much all the same stuff that Breaking Bad had: an overbearing wife, troublemaking punks, large clunky automobiles, and lots of scenes with Bryan Cranston in tight white briefs. No meth, though.
I’ve stumbled upon a rare and valuable James Bond movie cluster, usually only seen on Spike TV during holiday weekends. I’ve summarized it by year, lead actor, female counterpart, and evil villain below.
1964. Sean Connery. Pussy Galore. Mr. Goldfinger, aka the guy who points a laser at Bond’s crotch and says, “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.”
1981. Roger Moore. Melina “daughter of an archeologist” Havelock. Aristotle Kristatos, aka the guy who ties Bond to a rope and drags him through shark-infested waters.
1963. Sean Connery. Tatiana Romanova. Rosa Klebb.
1973. Roger Moore. Solitaire the psychic. Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big.
1983. Sean Connery. Domino Petachi. Maximillian Largo.
1984. Roger Moore. Stacey “daughter of an oil tycoon” Sutton. Max Zorin, aka the man who plans to blow up Silicon Valley.
1967. Sean Connery. Kissy Suzuki. Ernst Stavro Blofeld.