Trick 'r Treat: Netflix Hidden Gem Surprises

Click to watch the movie on Netflix streaming here!

As I've expressed periodically but wholeheartedly on this Netflix blog before, I don't like most of what consists of the current generation of "horror" in movies. What that is to say, is that I don't like torture porn.

I don't like how torture porn isn't scary, but rather just gross. Movies like Hostel, to me, are redundant and serve no purpose other than to make you watch people suffer. It seems ultimately sadistic to me.

That's why I so appreciate when a movie comes around to take a different route at horror, and that's why I enjoyed Trick 'r Treat so much.

From the very get-go, you catch the homages to other horror movies like Halloween, as the first scene is shown back and forth from a first-person perspective from someone, we suspect, is up to no good.

The movie itself doesn't really have one main character, for, as I've heard it compared to "Crash" in this way, it's kind of like a horror film version of "Crash."

There are a bunch of different plot lines that are played throughout the film, each telling a very different type of horror story, but nonetheless still taking place in the same town. The movie itself, at least to me, wasn't as much of a "scary movie" as it was a comedy movie. More than anything, the flick felt like a satire of the horror genre.

Yeah, I think that's it. I think it's a satire. Because I laughed in a majority of the scenes in the movie, but I still felt like the tone was set insofar as to invite me to. All the same, I could see some scenes really scaring some people who tend to get scared by horror films.

Ah, there's a lot to this movie, but it's a fun ride. If you enjoy horror films whatsoever, it's worth giving a shot and adding to your Netflix streaming Instant queue.

Change Video Quality on Netflix

With bandwidth caps being a more standard norm in the United States, especially on cell phones, it's good to see that companies like Netflix are giving the ability to users of being able to decide on what quality that they'd like to watch their streaming television show or movie in.

From cnet:
For those who can access the new feature, log in to Netflix and click on the link in the upper right called Your Account & Help. Scroll down to the "Watching Instantly On Your TV or Computer" section and click on the link for Manage Video Quality.
From there, you have three options to choose from for video settings: 1) Good (up to 0.3GB per hour), Better (up to 0.7GB per hour), or Best (up to 1GB per hour, or up to 2.3GB per hour for HD).
So that's nice of them, though I can't help but add here that, from home, I feel it's a disgusting aspect that we even have to deal with bandwidth caps as a society.

Top 10 Scifi Movies on Netflix - June 2011

Here's this month's science-fiction Top 10 list! You know, I really think that most of the people who don't like Contact don't seem to "get" it. I really don't know how much there is to "get" about the movie, but to me, it really takes the cake when it comes to scifi, so that's why it finds itself at the top (or bottom?) of this month's list!



30 Rock: Netflix Streaming Surprises

Click to watch it on Netflix streaming here!

I know I've mentioned 30 Rock a few times already on various humor and TV-related Top 10 lists, but I just realized I never actually got around to calling it an actual Netflix Surprise.

I know a lot of people would complain that a show like this couldn't possibly be a "hidden gem" because of how famous and successful it is, but it's continually surprising to me how absolutely unheard of this show is in so many of my social circles.

I still really know a lot of people who haven't given this show a shot, and if I personally know a lot of these types of people, there have to be plenty more where they come from.

30 Rock is basically about a show within a show, very obviously supposing to be a fictionalized version of SNL. Tina Fey created this show after she left writing for SNL, only to put herself into writing herself writing SNL in a sort of way.

The thing about this show is that it's so overwhelmingly whacky that if you're not laughing at something, you're just being too serious. The show is off-the-wall in a Simpsons-in-its-prime sort of way, because while it gets really crazy at times, the character development is solid, with hundreds of characters being designed to be able to each have a story wrapped around them.

That's, I think, why I love this show so much. There are so many different varying characters in this show, and each of them could very easily have a show themselves. It doesn't hurt that people like Alec Baldwin happen to be on the show (rumor has it that's why the show was even picked up in the first place) and, although you wouldn't expect it, he has superb timing.

If you've never given this show a shot, watch a couple episodes. I was wary, but I'm so glad I tried watching. I hope that by posting this blog post, I can get that many more people to start watching the show, because if this show gets cancelled, I will be an incredibly sad panda. Go add it to your Netflix streaming Instant queue!

Coming Soon to Netflix Streaming - July 2011

Here's the list of titles that we feel are notable that are going to be coming (or in some cases, returning) to Netflix streaming next month! This is kind of a wide assortment of movies (and let's hope that they all actually come...) but I think the most notable thing on this list is the fact that, after a long wait, all the Star Trek television shows are going to finally begin streaming!

I know I'm pretty pumped to begin streaming Star Treak: TNG once it's made available. Anything specific that you're looking forward to?

The Larry Sanders Show: Netflix Hidden Gem Surprises

Click to watch the television show on Netflix streaming here!

I decided to give The Larry Sanders a shot when it was mentioned in our Netflix Forum, as well as from an interview I watched with Tina Fey. In the interview, she was asked what she thought was "funny" when growing up and what she thought really seemed to influence her humor. She named The Larry Sanders Show in there.

The Larry Sanders Show was a show on HBO, starring Garry Shandling and Jeffrey Tambor (of Arrested Development fame), about a fictional late-night talk show. The talk show inside the show is of course titled, The Larry Sanders Show.

So, just like shows like Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO, this show kind of started the wave of celebrities playing sort of "impressions" of themselves on this show. It's a completely fictionalized show, and when celebrities come to be guests on the talk-show, all the background conversations are written to be how the real person would talk, but of course it's all basically a parody of the person.

I think I'm making this all out to sound more complicated than it really is, so I'm just going to stop talking about the pseudo-versions of the people and simply state that, just like Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm, it's so fun to see people you know and recognize come into a new atmosphere and make you laugh, even if it's not what you're particularly used to from them. A lot of awkward moments arise.

I enjoy this show because it's fascinating to me to see the workings of the "background" of TV shows, and especially the dynamics of having to work with big-name faces on a regular basis. What's funny about this show is that so many of the celebrities are still so young, so it's funny to see a younger version of the people I recognize.

Check it out if it sounds like something you'd be interested in. I know that I've had PLENTY of people recommend it to me over the past year, on Twitter and other places, and finally getting around to see it, I found it very enjoyable. Word of warning though, that this show, while old, wasn't shot in the greatest of quality. If that's the kind of thing that bothers you on Netflix streaming, you might not enjoy this show as much as some.

The Joneses: Netflix Streaming Surprises

Click to watch the movie on Netflix streaming here!

I checked out The Joneses because, growing up an X-Files fan, and currently a Californication fan, I'm obviously a big fan of David Duchovny. It helps that Demi Moore is in this film, because, ignoring the fact that her body is mainly plastic by now, she's hot.

But I really enjoyed this movie. I went in with admittedly rather low expectations (I had accidentally seen Rotten Tomatoes's 61% rating that, while "Fresh," it's not exactly superb), and I came away really feeling good about it the movie as a whole.

The movie centers around a family that has moved to a new town, and they have a downright uncanny ability to have basically unlimited funds to spend on gadgets and toys to show off to their new friends that they're meeting in social circles. This is all good and fun, but this process, as you learn while watching the movie, has consumed their lives to the point that they're hardly a family by the end.

I don't want to give away much more than this, because it's fun to experience movies on your own, without too many spoilers regarding plots. The way I've described it so far, it probably sounds like a full-on drama, but the movie has a lot of really funny aspects to it. It really is more of a dark comedy than anything, as it's really a satire on the consumer lifestyle and big business.

Add it to your queue and at least give it a shot. It may not be one of the more famous titles you'll hear thrown around as a "hidden gem" on Netflix Streaming, but it's absolutely an enjoyable flick if that's what you're looking for.

The question is, can you keep up with the Joneses? AHAHA I'M SO FUNNY

Doodling on Netflix DVD Envelopes

I know that this site is catered towards streaming, but I just discovered something outside the world of Watch Instantly that felt would be worth mentioning here. I figured you guys would get a kick out of it.

According to DoodlersAnonymous.com, There are apparently a host of people that are taking out their pens and doodling all over Netflix DVD envelopes, then sending them back through the mail.

I really like these because not only are they pretty cool to look at, but I enjoy the idea of a mail carrier or Netflix employee taking the Netflix DVD in hand, and it bringing a smile to their face. I wonder if Netflix employees are told to put away anything that looks especially interesting, to put towards a larger collection.

Who knows, maybe Netflix is slowly but surely amassing a large amount of art to put on display on some website sometime soon.

Have you ever doodled on a Netflix DVD envelope?

Top 10 Funniest Netflix TV Shows - June 2011

This is one of those "get to know my sense of humor" type lists. As I've said time and time again, I'm a sucker for good writing in a show or movie, but sometimes it's a little difficult to really tell the difference between good writing in humor and what's actually funny. I don't know if I'm absolutely an expert on the issue, but I feel I've adequately stacked this list with a load of very well-written funny TV shows.

If I really had to point out the "best written" funny show on this list, I'd probably have to say Arrested Development takes the cake, but, as always, my personal preference makes the difference in the placement near the top of the list.

10. Scrubs

Tina Fey is awesome.

Top 10 Netflix Streaming Alien Movies - June 2011

One of my favorite aspects of having this website is putting together fun, specific/niche lists like this. I know, no matter what, there are going to be people who disagree with these types of lists - but hell, I managed to fit a Muppets movie on this one! Therefore, almost all arguments against it are likely flawed to some extent, because seriously, Muppets are downright infallible.

Here's this month's list of the Top 10 Alien movies available on Netflix streaming!


Party Down: Netflix Hidden Gem Surprises

Click to watch the TV show on Netflix streaming here!

I've become a big fan of Parks and Recreation, and one of the biggest stars of the show within the past season or so has been Adam Scott (you may know him best from Step Brothers), but he's come on to the show and really brought a good balance to the humor by playing an excellent straight man.

He plays a great straight man (straight man is a humor term, by the way, you always have the comedic people and the people that play it "straight") in Party Down as well, and it's basically the same character. So if you're familiar with Parks and Rec of late, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

If you haven't watched Parks and Recreation recently, I guess I can address you as well...

Party Down is a hilarious show about a bunch of servers who are working for a "party planning" company in Southern California. Each of them have tried and failed so far to really make a big impact in Hollywood (hence, they have to get a night-job of hosting parties).

The show consists of them not really caring about their jobs, being cynical about what they're doing and for the most part, life in general. All the characters pretty much hate each other, and the whole show sounds like it would be miserable and uncomfortable to watch, but it all comes together to be quite hilarious.

The show has a host of cameos and such that you're bound to see people you recognize, but the cast is what makes this show work. It's funny, witty, and I wish the show was able to run longer. There are two seasons available on Netflix streaming, and I'm about to finish the second season. This depresses me greatly. It's just too bad that, although Netflix streaming allows me to discover new and amazing shows like this, I'm also very often left with a sadness knowing that the show is no more.

Oh well, it's still fantastic, and if you're in the mood to check out something that's going to make you laugh, this is a great choice. Add it to your queue if it sounds like something you'd be interested in!

Sports Night: Netflix Streaming Hidden Gem Surprises

Click to watch this TV show on Netflix streaming here!

As I've said time and time again on this Netflix blog (and actually pretty recently), I'm a huge sucker for good writing in sitcoms, TV shows, films, movies, whatever. If it's written well (ie either has good dialogue or is regarding something outside the box - but not over-the-top) then I usually am undoubtedly a big fan.

And, as I've continually talked about on this site, I'm a big fan of Aaron Sorkin. I'm really running out of "new" things (to me) to watch of Sorkin's, and it's beginning to kind of worry me. I usually always have one more big TV series or film of Sorkin's that I haven't yet had the time to sit down and watch, and with the watching of "Sports Night" on Netflix, I'm down one more.

Either way, Sports Night was truly worth it to watch, and it's really fun to see Aaron Sorkin's dialogue and writing style mix into a different kind of atmosphere. This is a sitcom... with a laugh track.

Yeah, you read that right. When I heard that, I didn't really believe it myself. Why would Aaron Sorkin write a show that has a laugh track? To me, it didn't seem logical or.. right.

But then I watched the show, and it was everything I really thought it would be. The laugh track seems to almost fade away completely after the first couple of episodes, as the show (and Sorkin's writing) just doesn't need it. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a laugh track wouldn't be able to really keep up with the quick-witted stylings of his authorship, and to think they could for an entire series would be to say you don't really understand how fluid the conversations of his characters can be.

Nonetheless, this was the early days of Aaron Sorkin, so he hadn't really made a name for himself with things like The West Wing. It's really cool to see (with some familiar faces that pop up) how his writing was honed back in the 90's with shows like this.

Add it onto your Netflix streaming queue if you want to watch a show about a show, with a focus on sports. If you don't like sports, you should shut up, because this show is hardly about sports, and more about characters. I mean, even if you don't like sports, you're going to be able to fully appreciate and support the characters' love of sports, just by the expression of the full humanity of it all. Go add it to your Instant queue!

Top 10 Netflix Horror Films - June 2011

I love horror films, but it saddens me that it seems like Netflix has been slowly but surely minimizing the amount of horror flicks that are currently available for streaming. I checked and some of the really good ones (ie The Orphanage) have, at least for now, disappeared from Watch Instantly. But alas, there are still plenty of other great ones available.

I'm not including Zombieland within this Top 10 List, because although Netflix seems to think it's a horror film, it's very much not a horror film. If anything, it's more of even a comedy than it is a horror film.

But here's the current list of Top 10 Horror flicks available on Netflix streaming!

10. Saw VI
9. ThanksKilling (I had to put it on this list. HAD TO.)
8. Scream 2
7. The Fog
6. Hellraiser
5. The Crazies
4 .Paranormal Activity
3. The House of the Devil
2. Poltergeist
1. The Evil Dead

Get Old Netflix Streaming Page Back

UPDATE: A Chrome extension has been released, enabling the old Netflix site to come back in full, just the way we loved! Click HERE for the link!

If you're like one of the many, many people I've talked to within the past 24 hours, you're absolutely aggravated by the the new (downright unusable) style of the new Netflix Watch Instantly streaming computer site.

Well, it looks like we've found, at least right now, a solution.

CLICK HERE for linking to the OLD version, that we came to love.

Hopefully Netflix realizes their fault here and reverts back to the old style as soon as possible, so that we don't have to constantly be finding workarounds for Netflix Streaming like this.

Edit: Apparently it's not working for some, but it's working for me. Hopefully it works for you.

Chasing Amy: Netflix Streaming Surprises

Click to watch the movie on Netflix streaming here!

I love Kevin Smith movies (well, for the most part, some of his movies are awful) and when he did Chasing Amy, he really was in his prime. He was still young, still enthusiastic, and able to write in a way that wasn’t to sell tickets – but rather to make a work of which he could be proud.

To me, many of Kevin Smith’s latest “achievements” haven’t stacked up to the level of quality that works like Chasing Amy achieved. Meaning , his latest movies have been a load of crap and he used to be good before he sold out to the man… more or less.

Chasing Amy stars Ben Affleck basically playing that “Ben Affleck” character again in this movie, alongside Jason Lee, who both starred in the Kevin Smith movie “Mallrats.” This chemistry works, and although this is a bit more of a serious tone than something like Mallrats, it’s still showing how they’re able to work together to captivate an audience for a film.

This movie in particular deals with a lot of homosexual/bisexual/whatever issues, with the characters having a lot of qualms with coming to terms with how other people are. The Ben Affleck character finds a homosexual female and falls in love with her. There, that’s the plot of the movie. I don’t really want to tell you much more than that. Now go watch it on Netflix streaming tonight!

Top 10 Netflix Hidden Gem Streaming Movies - June 2011

I have yet to create a list that's based solely on the notion of "hidden gems" (I don't think I have, anyway) and I figured I'd try to do one now.

This list consists of varying types of films, but the order in which they're in is based on a combination of two things:

1. The popularity of the movie (how many people know about this movie), and
2. The overall quality of the movie

It's a little more complicated, the means in which I decided what goes in order, than that, but that's the overall key notion that you need to understand where I'm coming from by listing these streaming movies in this order.

So without further ado, here is this month's list of hidden gem streaming movies!

1. Exam

Top 10 Funny Streaming Movies on Netflix - June 2011

A plethora of new titles have been unloading onto the already large collection of available streaming movies within the comedy section on Netflix, so this month's Top 10 list has a few new entries that haven't made a list yet. All of these movies are worth watching, even though the humor in some might be a little more "subtle" than in others.. either way, they're all funny in their own way!




Reservoir Dogs: Netflix Streaming Surprises

Click to watch the movie on Netflix streaming here!

Reservoir Dogs is one of those movies that really defines “good” acting. The movie itself is a heist movie, but to the best of my knowledge, it’s basically the only heist movie ever that doesn’t actually show the heist itself.

The whole movie takes place in the bad guys’ hideout. They’ve narrowly escaped an ambush by police during the aforementioned heist, with those involved that survived seriously considering the notion that someone, anyone, could be a rat.

So the movie is very dialogue-driven, wherein the characters argue and fight over who could possibly be a rat among them. Though this sounds like a lot of talking and not a lot of action (which it is), it’s incredibly exemplary of what you don’t need to show in a movie to make it work, and to make it exciting.

This movie, for me, really shows how dramatic a scene can be (and really, a whole movie can be) simply by people being able to rise to the occasion and bring a whole level of intensity through nothing more than spoken word.

Oh, and if you didn’t know, this is a Quentin Tarantino film, so if you like him as a director, of course you’re going to like this. I guess I could have mentioned that a little sooner, as anyone who’s a Tarantino fan knows how he is able to easily work long (but fun) dialogue into any scene and just make it work.

Go add it to your Instant Netflix streaming queue to be witness to some great acting.

Sharing Netflix Password Illegal. Jail? Seriously?

Everybody knows that it's not really "okay" with Netflix's Terms of Service to share your password. I know lots of you probably do this, but come soon in the United States (or at least Tennessee) you might have to seriously consider if it's worth the risk, because apparently, it's to become a jail-able offense.

From The Tennessean:
State lawmakers in country music’s capital have passed a groundbreaking measure that would make it a crime to use a friend’s login — even with permission — to listen to songs or watch movies from services such as Netflix and Rhapsody.

The bill, which has been signed by Gov. Bill Haslam and takes effect July 1, was pushed by recording industry officials to try to stop the loss of billions of dollars to illegal music sharing. They hope other states will follow.
My first reaction: "Wow, seriously?"

The Tennessean continued...
Stealing $500 or less of entertainment would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Theft with a higher price tag would be a felony, with heavier penalties.
I can't imagine it being that hard to rack up $500 in streaming movies on Netflix streaming, so this seems like an easy crime to punish severely, doesn't it?

Clerks: Netflix Hidden Gems Surprises

Click to watch the movie on Netflix streaming here!

I remember the first time I watched Clerks. I was in high school, and I was hanging out with a group of friends. We walked a mile or so to a video rental store, and picked out Clerks because, as my friend said it, "You've not seen anything like this before" (or something along those lines).

It's true. Granted, I'd not had a very good grasp on the entire notion of "indie movies" in those days, but even with my current "grasp" of indie movies, Clerks really stands out as something different and refreshing when comparing it to the vast amount of redundantly repetitive classic-style movies.

What makes Clerks (and really, every Kevin Smith movie) great is the dialogue. That's what Kevin Smith is known for - writing great dialogue.

It's not that the dialogue is "real" or natural, but it's so fun and crisp that it works on a different kind of level. Similar to the way that Aaron Sorkin writes things, the way the people talk to each other in Clerks seems to rise above the level of what everyday conversation is like, but still be funny enough for you to catch on quickly and think it's incredibly witty, especially from a witty level.

Kevin Smith is an admitted geek, and it's really obvious when you get to the famous Star Wars conversation within this movie, that's still rather burned within my memory.

Granted, this flick is full of extremely derogatory language, so if you're not keen on hearing a lot of disgusting language, I'd absolutely avoid this movie. And we're talking really derogatory language, by the way (it's a Kevin Smith movie).

But, if you've got an open mind and are willing to watch a black and white movie on Netflix streaming, this is an absolutely fantastic way to really understand that a movie doesn't have to be big budget to really be impacting and imaginative. Kevin Smith did this movie with only a few thousand dollars when he was about 24, and it shows. But it also shows in a good way. Just watch it!
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