With network television on hiatus over the holidays, we turn to Netflix for our entertainment. Here’s what I’ve enjoyed so far:
- The Hour — A 1956 period drama set at the BBC. I’d describe it as “Mad Men in London,” but it’s far more interesting then that, both because of its insights into politics and class, and because the cast is far more well-rounded. There is, however, about just as much smoking and drinking.
- Transsiberian — Started watching it months ago and abandoned it. For some reason it seemed more compelling last night. Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer take the train across Siberia where they run into Ben Kingsley. Murder and mayhem ensue. Not a great movie, but if you’re interested in trains and/or Russia in winter it has its moments.
- Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? — A well-produced documentary about a truck driver who finds what she believes to be a Jackson Pollock painting in a thrift store and her attempts to get it authenticated. Read The Mark of a Masterpiece from The New Yorker for some background before you watch.
- The Yes Men Fix the World — If you enjoyed the 2003 movie The Yes Men, you’ll likely enjoy this too: although it’s slightly less earnest and a little more goofy, it features more of the same news-hoaxing-antics of The Yes Men, this time focusing on everything from Bhopal to Katrina to producing a wishful-thinking issue of The New York Times.
- Designing a Great Neighborhood — A poorly-produced, rather boring documentary about a very interesting project to transform a former drive-in movie property in Boulder, Colorado into an ecological community. If you can bear to sit through it there’s some interesting material covered.
There’s a lot of chaff in the Netflix selection — seemingly endless direct-to-video movies that involve some combination of babysitters and the occult — but it has an uncommonly strong documentary selection, and next to the wasteland that is our local cable company’s “On Demand” selection, it’s positively brimming with content.