Tag Archives: Netflix

Liam Neeson (centre) and Brendan Gleeson (above) both star in The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs available on Netflix from November 16

Netflix has been churning out original content almost faster than anyone can keep up with the past few years.

Dramas, sitcoms, stand-up specials and even chat shows come and go with hundreds of hours of new material appearing every month.

Trailer Park key-holder Doug Whelan writes:

Netflix has mostly gone for quantity over quality so far; for every instant classic (e.g. the stunning Annihilation) there have been two absolute turkeys.

The next few months, however, are looking like a pretty special run in the film department for Netflix.

A combination of extremely deep pockets (far deeper than those of traditional studios wary of making a return) and the transient nature of the medium means that chief content officer Ted Sarandos is far more willing to spend money willy nilly, just throwing it all at the wall to see what sticks.

Probably much to the disapproval of the Cannes jury, the next few months will see a glut of releases from the highest-profile directors. It’s quite a lineup, so here goes…

22 July (Paul Greengrass) – aviaalble October 10

First up is a Paul Greengrass’ dramatisation of the Utoya Island terror attack in Norway, and its aftermath. His signature style is the star here – handheld cameras adding a documentary feel to thrilling, meticulously restaged true-life events – and that is the risk in this case.

By focusing on the perpetrator of that unthinkable crime, will it inadvertently glamorise his motives and ideology? Greengrass previously surprised everyone with United 93 (2006), his thrilling and well-handled drama about 9/11, so you might expect the same combination of tension, suspense, sensitivity and sensibility here.

Verdict: Grim, but essential.

The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles) – availible November 2

Yes, that Orson Welles. 42 years after filming ended, and 33 years since his death, Welles’ final feature film has been completed, following protracted legal battles over who owned the rights.

The film, which stars John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich, is a groovy mockumentary satirising “the passing of Classic Hollywood and the avant-garde filmmakers of the New Hollywood of the 1970s”.

The freewheeling style reminds me of Easy Rider (1969) more than anything else, for some reason. It certainly won’t be for everyone; but kudos to Netflix for getting it out there anyway.

Speaking of Orson Welles, it will be 80 years this Halloween since his radio adaptation of The War of The Worlds by H.G. Wells caused havoc among audiences who thought they were listening to an actual alien invasion.If you’ve never heard it, give it a listen here or on Spotify. Eight decades later it remains an absolute stunner.

Verdict: I’m going to enjoy this with a nice glass of Paul Masson

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (The Coen Brothers) – available November 16

Another common trend this weather is the migration of filmmakers to the realm of TV series. The longer format allows much more rich and detailed storytelling, after all. Previously, the Coens supervised the sublime TV adaptation of Fargo, and this effort actually started life as a six-part miniseries before being re-tooled into a one-off by those two explorers of the American condition.

“We hoped to enlist the best directors working today,” they said upon announcing the pivot, “and it was our great fortune that they both agreed to participate.” Enough said.

There’s the double Irish there too, with Liam Neeson AND Brendan Gleeson among the enormous, enthusiastic cast.

Verdict: Coen Brothers should make all the films

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón) – available December 14

Despite Cuarón being responsible for some of the biggest Oscar-busters of recent years, his latest effort, the much more low-key but no less ambitious Roma – looks like it would absolutely struggle to find an audience in today’s fickle multiplexes. And that is a great shame, because this looks very special. There’s something poetic about the depictions of mundane daily life; epic, even.

Cuarón clearly is inspired by French New Wave cinema, in particular Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959), including its famous tracking shot and beach scene, both specifically recreated by Cuarón. Combine that with Cuaron’s own trademark long takes and elaborate staging, and you’re left wondering just what to expect from Roma.

Also watch out for the overt visual references to Cuarón’s Gravity and Children of Men as they’re mentioned on screen.

Verdict: Moving (cameras and hearts)

The Irishman (Martin Scorsese) –  tbc

There’s no trailer or release date for The Irishman, but here’s the only promotion it’s probably going to need: Scorsese, De Niro, Pesci, Pacino.

Robert De Niro, who has not been in a good film in 20 years (Ronin in 1998 being the last confirmed sighting for me), plays Teamsters leader and alleged mafia hitman Frank Sheeran, who by all accounts spent much of his life cracking heads.

Joe Pesci is coming out of retirement for his old pal Marty, and Pacino (who plays Jimmy Hoffa) has been fairly in the wilderness himself in recent years. It’s the dream team, basically, but they’ve all got a lot riding on it.

Even with those marquee names, Paramount got nervous last year about the film’s budget and sold it mid-production to Netflix, which agreed to stump up the reported $140m budget. Let’s hope it’s money well spent.

Verdict: Hard to say, but expect lots of shouting and pistol-whipping.

Earlier: Broadsheet Trailer Park: The Mule

 

Derek Mooney

A few weeks back I offered you my suggested Summer political reading list, today I propose an accompanying political movie viewing list. The movies below all have the benefit of being available on the Irish Netflix service, but they can also be viewed elsewhere.

By the way, one of the authors featured in my political books list, Chris Patton, will be talking with John Bowman as part of Dublin City Council’s Dublin Festival of History on September 30th.

And now for the movies…

Best of Enemies: Buckley Vs Vidal

This is an absorbing account of the rivalry, if not visceral hatred, between US writers and commentators Gore Vidal and William F Buckley. Their stores are told through their participation in a series of televised appearance during the 1968 Democrat and Republican conventions.

Rather than just show the conventions live, the US TV network CBS had elected, mainly due to costs, to invite both men, Vidal the darling of the liberal set and Buckley the arch conservative, on to debate each other and comment on that night’s convention proceedings.

We see the personal tension slowly mount between the two erudite, cultured and witty men. The movie features lots of archival material, along with selections of both men’s political prose read by Kelsey Grammer as Buckley and John Lithgow as Vidal. Even if you have no interest in politics, let alone US politics of the 60s and 70s, the story of the two men will enthral.

 

American Anarchist

Sticking with the turmoil of 60s/70s America, if Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals was the political handbook of the radical left in the 60s/70s then William Powell’s Anarchist’s Cookbook was the instruction manual for militant anarchists with its recipes and directions on how to make homemade munitions and ordinance.

The documentary interviews Powell today and explores his motivations in producing the book aged 19 and how he has spent most of life since regretting it. Powell reveals how he found the information in a series of US Department of Defence manuals openly available in the New York public library.

The documentary explores the febrile atmosphere in America in the 60s (timely given the events of the past few days in Virginia) and how the Vietnam war and political scandal alienated many in that generation.

 

Get Me Roger Stone

From Powell on the left we now turn to another product of 60s American, but time from the right: Roger Stone. A bit like Rumsfeld’s Rules or the earlier Fog of War, the makers attempt to tell the story of Stone’s career via a series of cynical rules that Stone claims has guided his career as a political operator and lobbyist.

His “rules” are far from original, but it is a handy device to narrate his story and career trajectory from a minor walk-on role in Watergate, to a bi-sex scandal while advising Bob Dole’s presidential bid, to becoming a regular on the conspiracy lunacy that is Infowars.com, to serving as an adviser to Donald J Trump.

Stone comes across as a major league narcissist who was around when a lot of things happened, but was never really a mover and shaker in any of them. He is more than just a dirty tricks merchant, but not a lot more.

All that said, he does offer a worthwhile perspective on the American Alt-Right and the blurring of the lines between media and politics and the documentary is entertaining and colourful.

 

My Way: The Rise and Fall of Berlusconi

From narcissists in America we now turn to one of Europe’s great political narcissists: Silvio Berlusconi.

In this movie, the Italian Tycoon and politician tells his own story in a series of interviews with his biographer, former FT correspondent Alan Friedman. This is very much the film of the book, but offers an interesting insight into the man.

Emmanuel Macron – Behind the Rise.

From an Italian looking backwards we move to a French man looking forwards. Behind the Rise is, as it claims, an objective look at the 200 days leading up to the final round of voting in this year’s French presidential election.

The French film makers had virtually open access to the candidate and his campaign team, offering some fascinating insider footage of the campaign. The more fascinating thing is that the makers started making this movie before Macron emerged as a front runner.

The pace throughout is brisk. The production values are high. Macron emerges as a decent and driven guy who knows his own mind. We see him when he is relaxed and when he is stressed, even angry, but at all times he seems about eerily in control of himself.

Keep Quiet

With the recent Nazi protest in Charlottesville in mind, ever wonder how an anti-Semite would feel if they discovered that they are in fact, Jewish? Wonder no more. This absorbing and intriguing movie tells the story of a young ultra-far-right Hungarian politician, Csanad Szeged, who discovers via an even more anti-Semitic rival that he is, in fact, Jewish.

At first his Jobbik colleagues advise him to keep quiet, but that proves impossible. The movie chronicles his journey from that point onwards and invites you to wonder if he is sincere or just an ambitious man looking for a cause, any cause.

 

Democrats

Finally, moving away from US and European politics, this remarkable film about Zimbabwean politics tells the stories of the two lead negotiators from Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC-T as they struggle to work together to write a new constitution for the divided country.

While it focusses on these co-chairs of the constitutional committee CoPac, the real main character is President Mugabe, who has only agreed to a new constitution under duress and now fights to cling to office threatening and intimidating opposition leaders. Watch Mugabe’s practised disdain as he launches the consultative process for a new constitution.

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As an antidote to the politics overload suggested above I suggest the following series on Netflix for some binge viewing: First is the hilarious Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It follows the increasingly manic adventures of the “gang” who own and ostensibly run a dive bar in South Philly, which never seems to have any customers.

The other is Rake, the story of a self-destructive Aussie barrister with w criminal practice – he likes cocaine – and the price of his habit is outstripping his earnings. There is an American remake, which is a bit sanitised, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Derek Mooney is a communications and public affairs consultant. He previously served as a Ministerial Adviser to the Fianna Fáil-led government 2004 – 2010. Follow Derek on Twitter: @dsmooney

Netflix

A new update to the Netflix mobile app today will allow some of the streaming service’s content to be downloaded for offline play.

Good for long trips/Internet outages, but even better for parents with sprogs to keep quiet during same, considering the amount of kids’ shows, anime, etc.

Front and centre in all of this? All the Netflix exclusives are first-up for local storage.

Grand.

To start using the service, you’ll need to update to the latest version of the app.

Netflix fans rejoice! You can now download shows to watch offline (Wired)

Reed Hastings, boss of Netflix at Trinity College Dublin literally minutes ago launching  the on-demand streaming video service in Ireland with (below, from left) Hastings, Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt, Irish actress Sarah Bolger and Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sorandos.

Netflix Streams Into U.K., Ireland (Wall Street Journal)

Netflix Ireland

(Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Gaming blogger Lee Cullen writes:

Just thought that some of your readers may find this guide helpful. Netflix is available in the UK and Ireland right now. If you don’t know what it is, well its essentially a video on demand service that you pay a monthly subscription of €6.99 for, and can watch whatever you want whenever you want on a number of supported devices (PCs, consoles, mobile phones).

The Gaming Liberty reported yesterday that the service was available on Irish PS3’s, but what some of you may not know is that you can now access this service through your Irish (and UK) 360′s; and here (link below) is how.

How To Get Netflix On Your Xbox 360 in the UK and Ireland Right Now (GMRFM)