To say that Netflix is a game-changer may be an understatement. These days, it’s more of a lif- changer. We no longer “go to the movies,” we turn on the movies. Instead of prime time, we have “Netflix time,” and that can be any time of the day we want it to be. No longer do we have to rely on the television networks or movie listings to tell us when we get our best entertainment. With Netflix, all our entertainment is available on demand.
One thing you may have noticed about Netflix is that there are a lot of great movies to choose from, but you may not know which are the best without a little guidance. We think there are a lot of movies on Netflix that are “bucket-list worthy,” and we say, “Grab a bucket (of popcorn), sit back and enjoy.” These are some of the movies on Netflix no queue should be without.
Y Tu Mamá También
Even if you are not a native Latin speaker, you won’t get halfway through “Y Tu Mamá También” to realize this film is “Mucho Caliente.”
“Y Tu Mamá También” was the film that made Diego Luna and Gabriel Gael Garcia household names. In the movie, the two star as young boys who come of age on a road trip with the “experienced” and somewhat older Luisa. She becomes the boys’ not-so-conventional guide that leads them not only on a rollicking road trip but also on their trip to manhood. The film documents their travels in a blend of the bittersweet and the hilarious that is sure to tug on the emotions of all viewers.
What do you get when you combine Jack Nicholson, Stephen King, and Stanley Kubrick? You get a pretty sick movie, and we do mean sick in the most positive terms.
If you’ve ever seen a movie with Jack Nicholson, you may know that he pretty much always plays Jack Nicholson, and we wouldn’t want to see him any other way.
In “The Shining,” Jack actually plays a character named Jack, in this case, the Jack Torrance. Jack Torrance is a writer and recovering alcoholic who takes on a role as a caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. Wintering there with him is his wife, Wendy, played by Shelly Duval, and young son, Danny. As the movie progresses we find out that Danny possesses, “The Shining,” a psychic ability that gives him a look into the hotel’s horrific past.
By now you’ve probably heard the phrases, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy?” and see the words REDRUM written in blood in ad infinitum. Unfortunately, there are a lot of spoilers for “The Shining.” After all, a movie like this develops a cult following pretty quickly, but that’s not to say it’s still not worth watching Jack in action. No one does horror quite like him. Put this one on your queue. This is the horror movie that sets the standard for all others.
Combine some theme parks, dinosaurs, mad scientists, good guys and bad guys and some deadpan lines at just the right moment, and you have the basic recipe for “Jurassic Park.” Give Steven Spielberg and author Michael Crichton the budget to cook it up and you have a blockbuster movie.
The setting for “Jurassic Park” is Jurassic Park, a theme park on Isla Nubar. When an incident with a velociraptor results in the death of an employee, three specialists (Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum) are sent to the island to placate the concerned staff. However, when they get there, it turns out they may be the ones that need to be placated.
Upon arrival, the trio is shocked to see that what they once assumed were robo-dinosaurs actually have living DNA. When park programmer Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight, aka Newman on Seinfeld – “Newman!”) shuts down the park’s power chaos ensues as the dinosaurs break free leaving the others on the island to find a way to turn back on the power or die trying.
Kids are going to see this as a pure thriller. They’re going to love the taglines, the visual effects, and the simple dialogue, but beneath it lies a movie with a message about what it means to mess with nature. Hopefully, it sends a positive vibe to everyone.
If you’ve watched the Sopranos on Netflix, you’re probably no stranger to the Italian words, “consigliere, omerta, cosa nostra, and caporegime’ and your also pretty familiar with the idea of a family who kills together and stays together. The Mafia has been a subject for film and TV for decades. There have been films like “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” there have even been documentaries on legendary Mafia figures, but the one that started it all was “The Godfather.”
Where can we start with “The Godfather?” The stellar cast? The fascinating storyline? Let’s start by saying “The Godfather” is a movie starring Al Pacino and Marlon Brando and revolves around a New York crime family. Brando plays Vito Corleone, the don, or leader of the family. Pacino is the Corleone family member (Michael) who must resolve his moral conflicts in order to keep his loyalty to the family. The film centers on Michael’s transformation from family man to “Family Man.”
Of course, that’s not all “The Godfather” has to offer. It is a long movie and a trilogy at present so you can bet that it’s not all about Michael’s moral dilemma. There’s also a lot of action, bad guys, and worse guys and guys that we can’t really make up our minds about, and that’s where some of the other great actors come in. The film also stars James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton, which all serve to enhance the film’s quality.
As for the imitators, who could blame them? Even “The Godfather” couldn’t resist adding two sequels to its auspicious first part. Plus, we did get a lot of great films and dramas out of them. But, no matter how great they are, there is nothing like the original. If you love a good Mafia tale, you owe it to yourself to see “The Godfather.”
Before there was an anti-bullying campaign, and before “Mean Girls” got its own “day” (Mean Girls Day is October, 3 – mark your calendar), there was a “Heathers.”
“The Heathers” is a movie about a clique of girls, three of which are named Heather. It may put things into context to say that this movie was filmed at about the time when Heather Locklear and Heather Thomas were both the objects of boyhood fantasy. Heather was not just a common name, it was a “hot name.” As you would expect, the Heather’s in “The Heathers” was pretty hot.
Then there was Veronica, the Heather that was not a “Heather.” There was more to separate her from her three besties than her name. Veronica had a little more compassion than the other Heathers, and she’s not too comfortable when her clique mates choose to make Martha “the Dumptruck” Dunnstock the butt of a cruel joke.
Things get even heavier when Veronica notices some of the popular boys using real guns to target their victims and when she becomes a co-conspirator in some real life-threatening situations, it becomes a question of how far she is willing to go to remain “popular.”
“The Heathers” is a fun and provocative movie and one worth watching, but the most striking thing about it is how insightful it was for its time. It dealt with bullying before there was cyberbullying and highlights how harmful the dismissal of adolescent problems can be.
The Turpin children, Jaycee Dugard, the three women held captive in a Cleveland house for a decade before being released. The stranger than truth tales of people who spent years in captivity unable to escape. The severe mental trauma that these individuals experience must be unimaginable. Yet someone dared to imagine it. The result is the movie, “The Room.”
“Room” tells the tale of 24-year old Joy “Ma” Newsome (Brie Larssen.) Her home is a squalid shed that she shares with her 5-year-old son Jack, they call the “Room.” To Jack, “The Room” is all he knows. Joy and Jack are captives of a man they call Old Nick. Old Nick is Jack’s biological father. He abducted Joy seven years ago and routinely rapes her nightly as Jack sleeps in the closet.
One day, Joy sees the opportunity for escape and acts on it. She wraps Jack in a blanket and leads Old Nick to the police. The rest of the story revolves around Joy and Jack’s integration into a world that has been going on without them and rediscovering what it means to be a family.
While we’re on the subject of children who have not seen much of the outside world, “The Wolfpack” comes to mind. The Wolfpack is a documentary which follows the unlikely adventures of the Angulo family, brothers, Bhagavan, twins Narayana and Govinda, Mukunda, Krisna, and Jagdesh and their big sis Vishnu as they navigate the world from inside and outside their Lower East Side apartment.
Many people would kill for an apartment on the Lower East Side, but the Angulo kids were born to it. However, until the filming began they didn’t get to see a lot of it. Their Dad prohibited them and their mother Susanne from venturing out on the “nefarious” streets without strict monitoring. Susanne also homeschooled the children.
As children confined to an apartment for most of their lives, you might think the Argulos would be shy and socially awkward, but the Angulos kids are anything but. Like most kids, they spend a lot of time watching TV. In fact, so much TV that they can recite “Pulp Fiction” like the phone book. There’s no need for famous actors in “The Wolfpack,” these kids steal the whole show.
Eventually, the kids break out and the filmmaker follows them to the Manhattan streets where they set out to embark on their Hollywood filmmaking career. The irony here: they’ve already made the best film of their lives. Add this to your queue, asap.
Well, we’ve had dinosaurs and wolves, why not panthers? Black Panther made a killing at the box office, and there was a lot of killing in the movie itself. It also broke ground for its representation of African American culture.
In “Black Panther” five African tribes are warring over a vibranium containing meteorite. One warrior, T’challa, ingests the heart-shaped herb that imbues him with the superhuman abilities of the “Black Panther.” He unites four of the tribes to form the nation of Wakanda who use the powers of vibranium to develop technologies and isolate themselves from the world by posing as a Third World country.
Meanwhile, back in civilization, Wakanda’s king, T’chaka visits his brother, N’Jubu working undercover in Oakland, California. When T’chaka winds up dead, after his discovery of some black market vibranium on the market upsets a few of the wrong people, his son T’challa inherits the throne, however, T’challa’s reign is fraught with complications. His rule is challenged by an adversary who threatens to destroy the countries isolationist policies and embark on his own global revolution.
This film is so good that Disney’s marking it for – not one, not two – but 16 categories at the Academy Awards.
So, will Wakanda survive or will the rule of T’challa be overthrown by the evil adversary? Put it on your Netflix queue and find out. FYI: a sequel is in the works so you may want to see it soon!
*Featured image: © Denys Prykhodov / Shutterstock