Friday, October 18, 2013

Weekend Stream for 10/18/13

The Weekend Stream is a weekly feature curating content from the current selection on Netflix's US streaming service for you to watch each weekend. Just search for the bolded titles on your preferred Netflix-watching device, and you're in business! Since content can disappear from Netflix with little or no warning, there's always a chance a title will no longer be available by the time you read this, so you'd better act fast, see?!

Weekend Stream for 10/18/13

Hey! It's the weekend again! Don't you wish it was ALWAYS the weekend? Maybe if it was, I could find the time to get through my insanely-long Netflix queues. Anyway, here are some things for you to stream!

First, we have In Bruges, Martin McDonagh's darkly-comedic crime caper. After a job goes wrong, resulting in the death of a child, we follow hitman Ray (Colin Farrell) and his fatherly associate Ken (Brendan Gleeson) to Bruges, Belgium—the "best-preserved" medieval city in Europe. There, they lie low while awaiting word from Harry (Ralph Fiennes), their hotheaded gangster boss. Ken enjoys the city's history and architecture, but the sarcastic, guilty, self-destructive Ray is less impressed until he encounters Clémence Poésy's Chloë, a comely production assistant/dealer. Meanwhile, Harry tasks a conflicted Ken with killing Ray for his mistake, before eventually coming to see to his wayward employees himself. McDonagh's dialogue, honed over his career as a Pinteresque playwright, is sharp, witty, and hilariously profane, and I'm fairly certain Colin Farrell has never been and will never be better. There are many moments that are certainly not PC, but I think the film keeps its humor largely couched within Ray's hyperbolic reactions to people rather than in the people themselves. You may disagree. Still, the tone is well-balanced between humor and bloody action, and the result is a film that seems to get better each time I watch it.

Next, there's Paris Is Burning, a controversial documentary that now serves as a time capsule of the drag ball culture of 1980's New York City. Director Jennie Livingston dives into the scene, examining the Houses (where members take on a new last name and treat each other as a family) that "walk" in competitive balls. All the while, she explores the myriad problems facing the young, largely African-American/Latino LGBTQ community involved in the ball culture, with the spectre of AIDS, then a sure death sentence, hanging in the air. I studied this film in grad school as part of a unit on Queer Theory, and we examined the questions of legitimacy, ethnography, and "othering" that Livingston (a middle-class white female) faced upon the film's release. Of course, these concerns are legitimate and haven't gone away. But all these years later, Paris Is Burning seems mostly to celebrate the way these disaffected, underrepresented people come together to create a new safe community in which to thrive. The feeling of othering is probably inevitable when introducing such a complex world to an audience that likely knows nothing about its culture aside from Voguing. Plus, the sensitivity with which Livingston looks at the individuals and their stories indicates a real engagement, not voyeuristic mockery. At any rate, stream the movie, learn a few things, and decide for yourself.

Finally, there's Peep Show, a British sitcom written by Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, and Simon Blackwell, and starring comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb*. The show's gimmick involves first-person cameras that let us see scenes from the characters' points-of-view while also hearing the lead duo's inner monologues. Mark (Mitchell) is a straight-laced employee of an investment bank who allows an old college "friend" named Jeremy (Webb) to stay in the spare room of his South London flat. Jeremy, aka "Jez," is a work-shy musician who is just as overconfident as Mark is repressed and neurotic. Both are, in their own way, terrible people. Their odd couple dynamic sounds familiar, only Peep Show takes things way further, hitting levels of cringe comedy rarely seen outside of Ricky Gervais or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The show has lasted for eight six-episode series, with a ninth and final one scheduled to air next year. Its dark, uncomfortable vibe can, at times, make it a challenge to get through—you will find yourself yelling, "Oh, MARK!" at the screen—but it remains true to its characters and its world, and is never less than amusing.

* Even if you don't like Peep Show, I suggest you check out That Mitchell and Webb Look, the pair's sketch comedy show. It's a work of genius, but is (sadly) no longer streaming on Netflix. However, if you have a HuluPlus membership, you can check it out there.

That's all for now. I guess maybe I'll have more movies and TV shows to talk about next week? You should check back just in case!


  1. Sometimes I think we should all get Mitchell & Webb tattoos. It's our Rushmore.

    And hell yes In Bruges. So damned good and the location is beautiful.

    1. Yes! By Vectron, we shall get M&W tattoos. I want either a skull, or a little army marching under the banner of a rat's anus!