Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Netflix Surprises

Click to stream the movie on Netflix here!

I love movies written by Charlie Kaufman. I love the way in which he's so able to think outside the box in terms of what a movie is and can be.

Charlie Kaufman writes screenplays that, although weirder than most things you've seen before in a big-budget cinema, are still watchable to the average viewer. Well, most of the time.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of these movies, staring Jim Carrey and Kate Wislet as a couple with a lot of problems. We discover that Kate Winslet's character has gone through a procedure in which her memory of the Jim Carrey character has been erased and because of this, he wants to erase his memories as well.

(Spoiler) But, amidst the procedure, he decides that no - he actually doesn't want to go through with it. So within the film, we traverse his mind, glimpsing at the good and bad, the monotonous and exciting of their relationship.(/spoiler)

It's astoundingly creative, and it's no wonder it won Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards the year of its release.

If you're a fan of watching movies that have a little bit of an edge to them, this might be something you'd be interested in. It's a romantic comedy, yes, but there's so much more under the surface to simply describe it as such.

New TV Shows Streaming on Netflix - February 2011

Listed below are a few of the television shows that we find to be notable and coming out in the coming month. A few of these will be discussed in more detail as "Surprises" soon, so don't be surprised if you see me talk about them again in a future blog post!

A bunch of these TV shows have a bunch of seasons releasing, so I've simply linked to the first seasons of each.

24 (Season 8)

Brewster's Millions: Netflix Surprises

Click to stream the movie on Netflix here!

Ever wonder what it would be like to have so much money that you couldn't spend it all? Granted, we've got plenty of movies with rich people (See: Batman, Iron Man, Ritchie Rich, etc.) but in how many movies did the rich individual himself actually NEED to spend the money?

Brewster's Millions is about a man, played by the famous Richord Prior, who just learned that he's about to inherent $300 million from his uncle. The problem is, the uncle doesn't trust that "Brewster" (the nephew) will be able to handle the money. He thinks that it'll ruin him, and make him a worse person overall. He explains via a videotaped Will in the film, that just as some parents find their children smoking and force them to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes, so too will he force Brewster to spend more money than he wants to. By the way, the kids-cigarettes thing is probably a really bad idea.

This movie is a lot of fun because, even though it's slightly dated, you can really feel a little cathartic in seeing Brewster become miserable in having to spend $30 million in 30 days.

Richard Prior is paired with John Candy in this film, and the two make a fantastic buddy duo that I really would have liked to have seen more of. It's a shame that these two passed away so early, as they were masters of their craft.

I grew up watching this movie whenever it was on TV, and if you haven't seen it yet, I'd say add it to your queue and give it a shot. It's a fun, lighthearted film that you'll likely think about a lot when you think of acquiring large sums of money in the future...

Netflix Buffering Issue

I'm not the biggest wizz when it comes to technology, but if I can do my part to help, I usually do. Netflix Streaming blog reader John wrote me yesterday, commenting on a Netflix Instant problem he's noticed, and a solution to fix it. I'm posting the email in full here (with his permission) in hopes that others and/or authoritative minds at Netflix might get the message and be able to help as well:
I used to use Netflix streaming a fair amount until I had to switch to a lower Internet connection speed. It's actually adequate to watch some video, but can't handle Netflix streaming (stopping every few minutes to rebuffer for another few minutes), primarily because Netflix won't allow an adequate buffer size for slower connections.
One simple change -- allowing a larger buffer size (even as an option that might have to be manually enabled by viewers) -- could open up instant watching to a lot of people who can't currently stream for more than 5 minutes at a time. I thought maybe if your blog called some attention to the issue, it might reach someone at Netflix with the power to make the change. It's in their interest -- if they want customers to stream rather than rent a lot of DVDs, saving Netflix money in the process, it's in their best interests to adapt their technology so that the largest possible segment of their customer base can use it (Including those with slower Internet connections). -John
I can relate to this issue, as I've been in places where Internet speeds were not the greatest, and watching Netflix became a real chore. What do you think?

RiffTrax: Streaming on Netflix?

If you're anything like me (and I know at least some of you are) you're a big fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, aptly abbreviated MST3K.

I grew up loving MST3K, watching it on satellite TV every chance I could when I was a kid. I loved the fact that these hilarious guys could key in on just about every single thing that was funny about a movie and exploit it for laughs.

The show was simplistic in nature, running from 1988 to 1999. It featured a man and two robots, who would visibly be seated in front of a screen, forced into watching an old, horrible movie by whatever villain was on the show at the time.

The show spurred a cult following, and still to this day is renown as being one of the funniest television shows of all time. I know that there are probably many people out there that can talk about how much they love the show as well, but the focus of this post isn't necessarily meant to talk about MST3K (of which you can find plenty of episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 streaming on Netflix HERE).

The point of this blog post is to bring attention to a recent Tweet that Kevin Murphy posted on Twitter. Click to actually see the Tweet here:
Riff lovers! Want to help us get some of our stuff streaming on Netflix? Go here! Do this!
RiffTrax involves the cast we grew to love from Mystery Science Theater 3000! Yes, MST3K is basically back, only it's called RiffTrax now, and doesn't necessarily involve robots.

Posted on RiffTrax's Facebook page is the following messsage:

According to NetFlix, our DVDs don't have enough demand to warrant putting them on NetFlix Watch Instantly. So we need your help! If you have a NetFlix account - visit this link, and add some of our DVDs to your Queue. If everyone adds some (or all) of our DVDs to their Queues, it will tell NetFlix that we're serious. Thanks!

So, it appears that if we MST3K fans would like Netflix to begin streaming RiffTrax, we must do our part! Click HERE to add the RiffTrax episodes in hopes that Netflix gets the message!

Human Centipede on Netflix Streaming: DON'T WATCH

I watch a lot of horror movies. I've been a big fan of slashers and thrillers my entire life (I love the Halloween series) as well as scary movies in general.

One thing that seemed to come to fruition a few years ago, though, was a strange evolution out of the normalcy of horror, thriller, and overall scary movie genres. Coming out of the regular series of movies we'd come to know and love as a society came a strange sort of new generation of scary movies.

To me, it seemed to start with the original Saw movie. I loved the original Saw, and when you go back and watch it, it really doesn't actually show very much violence, blood, or gore. That was one of the things I found to be creative about it, it didn't go out of its way to appall people, and still was able to establish a great story with that entire exciting "scary movie" feel.

But, for some reason, everyone in Hollywood thought that this was some sort of calling for a new breed of horror genre. They figured that with the success of the Saw movie (or more particularly, the Saw sequels), an entire generation couldn't get away with being excited by the "humdrum monotony" of regular horror, and instead needed to watch torture.

The term that has pretty much been established at this point to describe this new horror genre is "Torture Porn." I believe it to be a satisfactory description, because that's what movies like the sequels to Saw (as well as a score of other movies) are. They're movies that are marketed on the defining value that, during the movie, you're bound to witness a person experience excruciating pain in the hands of another. It's never easy to watch, and it generally resolves to be a key aspect of the movie.

I have not watched The Human Centipede: First Sequence, and I don't plan on watching it. In my opinion, it represents a continuation of shock-value tactics that aren't necessary for entertainment purposes in horror films. The devolution from the excitement of the chase to mindless gore hasn't been a pleasant one to me, and I can't think of anything worse than fueling the fire more.

A lot of people want to check out this film due to its gross plot line, that being (GROSS SPOILER) an individual kidnaps a series of people and binds them together face-to-anus, ensuring the death of those in the back end - I'm not going to say more (END OF GROSS SPOILER).

But I have to say, that curiosity in regard to this type of "film" only helps tarnish the potential to move away from this genre. I really, truly miss the slasher genre, and it saddens me that the current market demands, and has a certain fetish for, torturous gore.

I'm not attaching a link to this streaming movie. If you must, search for it on Netflix on your own. What do you think? Have you watched the movie?

Exit Through the Gift Shop: Netflix Surprises

Click to stream the movie here!

Anyone who knows anything about street art whatsoever knows of the famous "Banksy."

Banksy is an infamous street artist, world renowned for his complexities and creativity in doing street art. Instead of simply being "graffiti," Banksy is known for taking things to an entire other level. He's known for his political, social, and satirical themes, and if you don't know about him, the movie can help educate you on the subject.

The key here is that nobody knows who Banksy is for sure. Even though he's been doing art for so long, his identity has yet to be confirmed.

In comes Thierry Guetta, who, for better or worse, has been filming street artists for many years now. Thierry is well-versed in the goings-on at night, when street artists are out doing their work, and at one point in time, managed to get knowledge that Banksy was nearby.

He contacted and met up with Banksy, and Banksy began to let him begin documenting his work. The aspect that makes this movie so great is the fact that, in the end, Banksy realized that Theirry Guetta's story (of documenting many other street artists) was actually much more interesting than just a story on him.

The movie is incredibly layered for a documentary, and after it was finished, I was flabbergasted by what I just watched. I don't want to say any more about the movie itself, because it's a fun ride (and this is coming from someone who's not too keen on documentaries).

After you've finished, I absolutely recommend you do some research on your own about the movie. It makes it that much better.

The Host: Netflix Surprises

Click to stream the movie here!

I watched this movie last October, not really knowing much about the film. I figured it was some sort of horror film, seeing that it was in the horror section on Netflix. Outside of that, nothing.

As it turns out, it's one of the most famous monster movies of the current era.

I was trying to think of what I could really say about the movie, and all of a sudden I came across a comment on a site that summed up the movie quite swiftly and simply (yet perfectly):
"Big monster, great CGI, comedy, pathos, some scares. All around good movie."
Really, that's all there really is to this streaming movie. Other than the fact that it's a foreign movie (I know some people out there are really put off by that sort of thing) there's very little wrong with it.

As long as you go into this movie knowing that it's going to be a fun ride, then that's what you're going to get. It's literally all over the place, but is genuinely good. It's basically WHAT a monster movie should be in today's film industry.

I Am Comic: Netflix Surprises

Click to stream the documentary here!

I'm not too keen on documentaries, but I've always been fascinated by the ins and outs of stand-up comedy. I've always thought that it must take a lot of work to be able to do stand-up, and this movie really reinforced a lot of the stuff I already assumed about the vocation. That's why I decided to sit down and give this doc a shot.

The movie itself follows a couple of retired comedians, and we witness as Ritch Shydner readies himself to once again brave the stage that he used to own in his heyday. Apparently he was a famous comedian years ago.

In going along, the movie interviews an assortment of different famous (and not so famous) stand-up comedians, who, for better or worse, talk about how hard it was to do comedy for a living. We hear a lot about the hardships that one must take in order to make a living in the field, and the types of living conditions it takes to go on tour.

The movie was a fun look into a world that we don't seem to know a lot about, especially considering the fact that we've pretty much all seen a stand-up comedy routine at some point or another. The movie shows that, while there's nothing like the adrenaline rush of the stage, there's an entire world of work and effort that goes into the profession.

When you see the HBO hour-long special, that's the hour that got through all the filters of audiences not laughing at previous routines. Being a stand-up comedian seems scary.

Lie to Me: Netflix Surprises

Click to stream the movie on Netflix here!

Usually when a new not-animated television show comes to Fox, I'm quick to dismiss it. They don't really have a good track record (to say the least), and usually when they have something decent, they cancel it before it has a chance.

Well, I'm a big fan of the movie Reservoir Dogs, so the fact that Tim Roth was in this new series, it caught my attention. I gave it a shot when I saw it on Hulu, and I actually thought it was pretty good!

The show is about a behavioral scientist with the ability to tell when people are lying by his intense attention to detail in body language. He owns a company that freelances consultation to people who need to find out when someone is lying, and it's a pretty fun TV show.

I know a lot of the stuff from the show is technically true in theory, and that creates another layer of the fun. It's kind of exciting to see if you can see the "tell-tale" signs they speak of in the show before the main characters do.

The series is actually pretty well written, and I found the episodes I watched to be incredibly intriguing. I'd give it a shot if you have an interest in crime dramas!

Top 10 Action Movies on Watch Instantly - January 2011

The following list are the action streaming movies available on Netflix that we consider to be the best at the moment! Again, only movies we've seen are listed, so if there's something really good you think we should check out, please do recommend!

Clifford: Netflix Surprises

Click to stream this hidden gem on Netflix here!

I was glancing through the streaming movies available on Netflix currently, and I literally stopped and said "CLIFFORD!?" when I came across this film.

I loved this movie growing up. There was nothing to dislike about Martin Short pretending to be an obnoxious child.

I truthfully remember laughing until my belly hurt while watching this movie as a kid. It's about an antsy young boy (played by Martin Short) who has annoyed his parents so much that they've decided to go on a vacation without him (funny opening sequence here that I'm not spoiling).

Then, once placed with the dad from the Beethoven movies (Charles Grodin, basically playing the same character as those films) and his girlfriend, things go really badly. Grodin plays Martin Short's uncle, and instead of just trying to get away from him like his real parents did, in time, Grodin is slightly more deliberate about his actions.

I think I might begin streaming this movie while I'm doing stuff on my computer today...

Wall Street: Netflix Surprises

Click to stream the movie on Netflix here!

I heard this morning that Michael Douglas had survived his fight with throat cancer, and was shocked. I remember seeing pictures of him in very bad shape a few weeks ago, and thinking this had to be it.

Much to my surprise and delight, I discovered he had survived and am pretty pumped. Michael Douglas is one of my favorite actors, and in honor of celebrating his victory over cancer (seriously, if there's anyone who could beat cancer, it'd probably be him) I'm suggesting a movie with him in it today!

A lot of people saw that there was a "Wall Street" movie that came out in theaters recently, obviously starring Michael Douglas, and co-starring that dude from the fourth Indiana Jones movie. I forgot his name but don't feel like looking it up. It's like "Shia LaBOOF" or something.

Anyway, for some reason, nobody seemed to know or care that this was actually a sequel to a previous movie. In fact the subtitle of the new film "Money never sleeps," was actually a very famous quote from the original picture.

I haven't seen the new movie, but I can only guess that it can't hold a candle to the original. Granted, as time has come and gone, the movie has become slightly dated, but that's not to say it still holds up as a thrilling, intelligent, greed-oriented film.

I've enjoyed this film for years, and seem to watch it about once a year. If you're a fan of Michael Douglas, this is a must-see. It's fun to see Charlie Sheen acting in a dramatic role and not looking like a fool, too.

Mars Attacks: Netflix Surprises

Click for this streaming movie on Netflix here!

If I told you there was a movie starring Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Sylvia Sidney, Natalie Portman, and Jack Black, you'd probably say, "If a movie had that kind of a cast, I'm sure I'd know about it. Must not exist!"

But alas, it does exist, and that ensemble cast is in a movie about aliens that have come from Mars who have lasers that zap and kill us. And that's pretty much the extent of the storyline.

Not hooked yet? It was directed by Tim Burton (before he got all washed up and started pumping out the boring stuff he puts out today).

This movie was one of the movies I grew up with. It's irrational and stupid, which is what you're supposed to take it as. Its satire is pretty obvious from the get-go and I can't honestly imagine anyone who would take it seriously.

If you're in the mood for a movie that's stupid and so dumb it's funny, this might be the thing to add to your queue. I haven't watched this movie in a few years, so I imagine when I finally get around to streaming it again, I'll find myself reminiscing a lot, as I expect a lot of nostalgia feelings!

Exam: Netflix Surprises

I'm a big fan of the Saw series. Well, at least the first film in the series.

I'm not a big fan of gore (or torture), and that's why the first film is aesthetically pleasing, but I also find the first film to be a lot more intrinsically better than the rest as well. Why? Because it was pretty much the only film to have individuals in one room the entire movie, communicating and being a part of the rising action solely together, without too much extrinsic stimuli.

This is the same reason I love zombie movies. Not because zombies are awesome (they are), but because of the fact that the best zombie movies are about human interactions within small, confined spaces. All this being said, I found Exam to be very similar to the original Saw movie, minus the gore (and overall "horror-film factor").

"Exam" is about a select collection of very intelligent individuals, all vying for a position within an excruciatingly competitive field. They have been put into a room for a test, and they have only a short while to complete the test. The problem is that they don't know what the test is. They've been told they must answer a question, but the question is, what is the question? Sound confusing? You're not alone - the characters are confused as well.

This was an exciting movie that I've been waiting to see for a very long time. I've actually had it in my mail-order Netflix queue for a long while now, and it's been on a very long wait for a very long time. To my dismay, it became available on Netflix streaming this past week, and I was excited to finally watch.

It was just about everything I'd hoped for. I loved it, and if you're interested in the same types of "human interaction in confined places" aspect of films that I am, you're going to love it too.

The movie itself is like a large puzzle. The movie has us all guessing what could be next, along with the characters. It's a fun ride that forces you to pay very close attention, but the ending makes it all worth it. I'm very interested to see if you all found the movie as good and fun as I did, so go stream it on Netflix now!

Top 10 Television Shows on Netflix - January 2011

Now, I understand and accept that, writing a Netflix blog, I'm going to inevitably get a lot of flack for posting lists like this in general. Before you read my current list of the best streaming TV shows available on Netflix streaming right now, realize that I only posted television shows in which I've watched before. That being said, I have not yet watched the UK version of The Office. I get it, I need to eventually, whatever.

So here is the list, of which I'm putting links to all the very first seasons (or, in some cases, the entire series):

9. Californication (See my full blog post on it HERE!)
8. Firefly (See my full blog post on it HERE!)
2. Arrested Development (See my full blog post on it HERE!)
1. Lost

Yes, I know that LOST went incredibly downhill the last couple of seasons it was on the air, but I stand firm in my belief that the first two seasons that were primarily made by JJ Abrams are some of the best hours of television I've ever watched.

I honestly still remember vividly the emotions I had during the first two seasons, constantly wondering what could be next, and having fun discussing it with everyone I knew. And it's not just that I enjoyed the shared community experience with people, either. The show in the first couple seasons was seriously, genuinely good.

Other than that, I'd like to get some opinions on shows that I left out that you're angry I didn't put on the list. Or, what you think is wrong with the order I put these Netflix streaming TV shows in. Just know that there's always next time!

Brothers: Netflix Surprises

Click to watch the streaming movie on Netflix Instant here!

I'm not going to lie, ever since I was young, I've always found Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal to be the same person in my head. Not so much nowadays because they both got a lot more famous, but when that Spiderman movie first came out, I couldn't figure out who it was.

All that being said, it was funny to me that they were cast as brothers in the movie aptly titled, "Brothers," a remake of a foreign film which I'm sure many people will claim is much more better and original and so forth.

Anyway, when this movie first came out, I was privileged to be able to get a pre-screening pass, meaning I got to see the movie a couple weeks before it was originally released into theaters. I remember I knew basically nothing about the movie, other than it seemed to be stacked with people I know (Natalie Portman is the beez-neez).

I figured it was going to be a thriller of some sorts, because that's what the ad campaign seemed to imply. Boy was that completely off the map in every regard. The scene that was continually replayed within the television ads was a scene in which the two are yelling at each other with really eerie music. But that's like one scene in the movie.

This movie, more than any other modern warfare movie I've seen in recent years, is a seemingly very true depiction of the horrors of war in the middle east. In the movie, the Tobey Maguire character is kidnapped in the middle east, and most of the movie goes back and forth between showing him attempting to survive his kidnapping and what's going on in America at the time.

Natalie Portman is the "widow" in the film, and Jake Gyllenhaal is the scrappy brother who's cleaning himself up to make things right. This is pretty much all you need to know about the movie to be able to tell yourself if you're going to enjoy it or not.

I thought the movie was difficult to watch at some times, but I really thought it was amazingly done. It was heart-wrenching to watch at points, and the main thing that I really walked away thinking after everything was said and done was, "Wow, Tobey Maguire can actually act." Quick note, I was interviewed after watching the movie and was asked my first reaction, and these were my exact words.

If you're prepared for it, it's great, and I'd recommend adding it to your Netflix queue. It really shows how dynamic some actors that are generally typecast in Hollywood can be. I know respect Tobey Maguire.

Top 10 Family and Children Movies - January 2011

Here are the movies in which this Netflix blog considers to be the best and greatest Family and Children movies currently available via Netflix's Instant service. I just realized that a word that ends with an X is able to have an apostrophe and an S at the end of the word. I don't know why this is a strange thought to me. Maybe because you say it like, "Netflix-is."

But anyway, without further ado:

2. Up

Shutter Island: Netflix Surprises

Click to stream the movie on Netflix Instant here!

If there's one thing in the world that we, as movie-viewers, have realized, is that Martin Scorsese is a good director. The fact that he can put anything out now and anyone can be surprised at its overall "goodness" factor is shocking to me, but I know a lot of people were hesitant to watch this movie without being talked into it a little bit.

I'm a huge Leonardo DiCaprio fan, and when I saw that he was being teamed up with Martin Scorsese for another movie (remember that "The Departed" film? Yeah, that was pretty good), I was pretty excited for this one.

Granted, I was told something HUGE regarding the plot line, which made me on the lookout for it the entire film, and that really irked me. So, to help out those that might not have seen the film yet, I'm going to say very little about the movie.

I will say that it involves DiCaprio investigating the disappearance of a woman who escaped a mental institution for the criminally insane. The problem is that this facility is on an very small island, so where could she be?

The movie itself is a fun ride, and I know that if I went into it knowing nothing about the story I would have likely said it was one of my favorite movies released in the past year. While I had some of it spoiled, I still found it to be fantastic, as well as an overall simply beautiful movie. It's amazing to see how far Scorsese has come since his early days of film.

Now that it's available on Netflix Instant streaming, anyone who hasn't yet seen the movie needs to go out and stream it immediately! I know I'm slipping it into my queue so that I can show off the great Netflix Instant collection to some friends who are coming over this week, because I feel this is one of the finer films available through the service.

Insomnia: Netflix Surprises

Click to add it to your Netflix queue here!

If you're anything like just about every other film-watcher, you've begun to realize the insane amount of awesomeness surrounding pretty much anything Christopher Nolan touches. Inception and The Dark Knight may have been a couple of his most recent commercial successes, but he did have a career before those two films.

Before Christopher Nolan became Christopher Nolan, I remember watching this movie and thinking that it was phenomenal. One of the things that's always immediately noticeable to me in Nolan movies is the outstanding cinematography, and this movie has plenty.

This movie stars Al Pacino as the main character. He travels to Alaska to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. In terms of plot line, I don't really want to give you any more information, for fear that it might spoil some of the film. What I will say, is that it also stars Robin Williams (one of my favorite actors) and Hilary Swank.

It's a layered investigative film, and what makes it so good is the fact that the characters are so detailed and complicated in and of themselves. I enjoyed the movie and I've watched it several times since it was first released in 2002.

If you're a fan of Al Pacino, crime investigation movies, or watching Robin Williams in a dramatic role, you'll love this movie. It's a movie I'm glad Netflix has made available so that more people can view it (all Christopher Nolan movies should be available!).
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