Category Archives: Netflix Raves

Netflix* Raves: Aborigines and Trannies

*I actually got these from my local library (my favorite new video store), but they are 100% Netflix-able.

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002).  Three Aboriginal girls are forcibly taken from their families by the government in the 1930s.  The film chronicles their epic journey back home.  Kenneth Branagh is randomly in this as well, which is funny to me because it’s a pretty small part and he’s such a big deal (and such a great Shakespearean actor). 

I’ve said before that I like learning about history through movies (the sensationalism makes it interesting, you know) and this is not only a typical story of the “lost generation” of Aborigines (well, except for the long journey home part), but was written by a woman about her own mother’s experience.  The the making-of documentary is also worth watching.  It shows the director in the process of casting and training three girls to play the leads.  Though it’s their first time acting, they do a very convincing job in the movie.  It’s fascinating to see what their personalities are like off set.  Also interesting to note that the director was looking for Aboriginal girls that white people could “see as their own children.”  I’m not quite sure what to make of that.

Bad Education (2004).  I’ll admit I picked this one up soley because it stars one of the few actors that really does it for me in the hotness department: Gael García Bernal.  Even when he’s rocking a mullet and unflattering 70s/80s garb:

gael mulletAnd even when he’s cross dressing:

gael trannyThe hotness cannot be contained.  I think this might be my favorite of Pedro Almodóvar’s movies, as it’s not needlessly complicated, and no women are objectified.  For some reason the fact that it’s only men that are victimized makes me less inclined to believe thatAlmodóvar is a straight-up misogynist.  I’ve come around on his movies, and want to go back and watch All About My Mother and Talk to Her again.

At any rate, if you can stomach the theme of child molestation by a priest (thankfully it’s all suggested, not acted out), this is a very enjoyable film with lots of excellent eye candy and clever story-within-a-story twists.


Just Stay Home and Play Synthesizers

By now, most everyone has heard of Flight of the Conchords. Season 2 is now on HBO, I hear. But for those of us who don’t have television or cable, Netflix is the way to go. I just got Season 1 in the mail, and it’s about the greatest thing in the world. Here are two of my favorite songs from Season 1:

Netflix Raves: Outsourced

I like instant gratification, so I found this one while browsing Netflix’s selection of ‘Watch Now’ movies. I can usually sit through anything with a foreign setting (i.e. if it was actually filmed in a foreign country). The Indian backdrop of Outsourced is beautiful, and luckily there is more than just pretty scenery: we are treated to a few scenes in which the main character wanders through a poor but vibrant neighborhood, which is surprisingly located right behind the wall of the upscale compound where he’s staying.

The premise is simple: a call center manager at a company that sells kitschy American junk finds out his department is being outsourced to India. He must travel there to train his replacement team or lose his job immediately. Faux-pas and language blunders (admittedly one of my favorite types of comedy) ensue, as does our hero’s migration from reluctance to wholehearted embrace of the culture.

While there are a lot of predictable laughs, I enjoyed the version of India that the film creates – it is much more nuanced than your average destination comedy, yet not at all heavy-handed in its portrayal of poverty and globalization. I also appreciated how it does not dumb down the American corporate experience too much, as is usually the case with comedies. The characters are charming and real, and I’ll take a light comedy with characters I care about over snooty drama with one-dimensional characters any day. The soundtrack is also a lot of fun!

Netflix Raves: The Passion of Ayn Rand

Lately my husband has experienced a renewed (morbid?) interest in Ayn Rand.  Like nearly everyone else in the universe, we each read one of her ponderous novels in high school (Atlas Shrugged in both of our cases), but wouldn’t be caught dead with her work on our adult book shelves.  However my husband came across an old copy in someone else’s classroom at work and soon he was sucked in.

I don’t know what it is about Rand’s books that captivate the average 17-year-old – maybe it’s that Objectivism seems to cut against everything we learn from a young age about sharing and the ultimate good of putting others before oneself.  As flawed a philosopher as she is, I do appreciate where she was coming from (literally – i.e. fleeing during the Russian revolution of 1917) and I was utterly fascinated by the movie we watched last night, The Passion of Ayn Rand.

Helen Mirren, half-Russian fox that she is, is one of the top reasons for watching, (even if in real life she has some questionable views on rape and coke ).  The totally effed up love quadrangle between Rand, her husband Frank O’Connor, Rand’s protégé Nathaniel Branden, and Branden’s wife Barbara (who wrote the book upon which the movie is based) is another.  I try to see public figures’ sex lives for what they are – namely private and ultimately separate from their public persona and deeds – but Rand and Branden used the logic of their budding philosophy to influence their spouses into accepting their affair.  In the film, Rand tells her husband and Barbara Branden that “lesser people” wouldn’t be able to accept their illicit arrangement. 

Whether you love her or hate her, there is enough soap opera goodness in The Passion of Ayn Rand to keep anyone transfixed.  Oh, and it came out in 1999, so it’s readily available on Netflix.