Hallowe'en is a time when the veil between past and present, living and dead, goes soft; and of course, so too we find the line between what is available and what is no longer or temporarily unavailable ever so slightly permeable, on the last day of the month, when it comes to Netflix. Imagine if you will that you are in for the night, not even daring to hope that you will catch the changing of the queue at whatever arcane time Netflix does that: Now you will be the one to see the lights go out in some eyes, and come on in others, as the Circle of Life once again replenishes the vast Lawnmower Oceans of our digital delights.
The legend goes that if you are there at precisely the stroke (whatever it is) of time when this occurs, if you do not blink, then just like with Daylight Savings you will be visited by three spirits who will ask you to refine your preferences by rating a few films and TV series, so as to bring you higher quality recommendations in this world and possibly the next. But we have a map to that strange new world, November; and with you it can surely manage whatever mischief you like.
AVAILABLE QUITE RECENTLY
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: in this little-known, undermarketed sequel to the popular The Hunger Games: A New Hunger, a young lady's personality disorder and flat affect throw her entire country into genocidal chaos, because she is on TV.
- Django Unchained: won Christoph Waltz his second Supporting Actor Oscar, which must feed those demons within him in some fashion when he is up in the wee hours, contemplating his past acts and furious history.
- Bound by Flesh: A documentary about conjoined twins, if you're into that this weekend. Maybe because that's how you get your kicks or maybe it's because if you had a conjoined twin, you would never be alone again. Either way it's fine. Nobody's gonna tell you how to feel.
DUE IN ON SATURDAY
- Addams Family Values (1993) is the one with Joan Cusack and the wonderful summer camp Thanksgiving Pageant that I can't remember actually getting explained why they were doing that at summer camp, I just remember it was great.
- Airplane! (1980) so you can watch Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, and Leslie Nielsen invent the concept of vehicle-based, ever-so-slightly-racist ensemble comedy, right before your eyes.
- The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003): Listen if you're blind a good job to have would be masseur, because it's tactile, and a bad job to have would be swords, because think about it. Well this guy is both. And this town is not ready for his blind, massaging swordsmanship. Not one bit.
- Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992): Anti-immigration fable gets AIDS makeover. It's weird to remember the 1990s that way, controlled by blood, thinking sex equaled death on some primal level. Seems like it fucked us all up a little bit. Anyway, worth it for Sadie Frost's Lucy Westenra; Lucy is the only worthwhile part of any Dracula.
- In Braveheart (1995), William Wallace leads the charge against the Jews threatening Scotland. Starring Tilda Swinton as "Colonel Sugartits Insidejob."
- Breakheart Pass (1975): Charles Bronson runs into trouble on a train, then runs a train on trouble, if you know what I mean.
- Cleopatra (1963): Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton channel their previous historical incarnations, like when I tried to spread that rumor that I was often referred to as "the Paz de la Huerta of American Letters."
- The Core (2003): Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, and Delroy Lindo make pinched and angry faces at each other until they reach the Earth's core, which they flip going back the other way and that's how electricity works.
- Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988): Steve Martin and Michael Caine was pretty much my Doomsday Scenario—second only to any Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor joint—growing up, so I have never seen this movie. It looks kind of harsh to be honest.
- Fatal Attraction (1987)—Michael Douglas fucking asks for it, and then Michael Douglas fucking gets it.
- In Harts War (2002), Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell must defend Terrence Howard from accusations that he has super fucked up ideas about gender and domestic violence.
- The Haunting (1999): Catherine Zeta-Jones is way bisexual and Lili Taylor fights a ghost with a magic necklace. Very dumb movie, no offense.
- In Heartburn (1986) —Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson play Nora Ephron and her husband. So like imagine Woody Allen and take everything out that is identifiably Woody Allen, and then all those holes cram 'em full of Nora Ephron, and you've got this. Also with Jeff Daniels, back when his hair used to do that thing.
- How to Steal a Million (1996): Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole steal a lot of things—smiles, glances, little touches, each other's hearts—but one of those things is some art.
- Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (2001): I mean obviously Silent Bob would suck Jay's dick. That's not even that gay. There's stuff you can do that's way gayer than that, I've seen it in films.
- The Preacher's Wife (1996)—Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, and Angela Bassett's Husband star in a movie about a preacher couple and this angel who's just all over the place.
- The Quick & The Dead (1995)—Sharon Stone is a gunslinger obviously. Gene Hackman and Russell Crowe are in it too, so but the trick is they never tell you which one is "quick" and which one is "dead." Spoiler alert, at the end it's like, "We were both both."
- Road Trip: Beer Pong (2009) —DJ Qualls ...and I'm goin' ghost. No thanks.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) — Mr. Kirk and Captain McCoy are pulled out of their space retirement to start a Star War.
- Trading Mom (1994)—Anna Chlumsky's mom is Sissy Spacek and you know how much of a bummer that can be, so she puts a magic spell on her. I maybe should have started with this being that kind of movie.
- Artifact (2012) Director Jared Leto makes a documentary about the process of musician Jared Leto recording an album with Jared Leto's band The Jared Letos.
- Hell Is for Heroes (1962) but also for Germans, as the unruly Steve McQueen lets them know. Also stars Bobby Darin, Bob Newhart and James Coburn as "flamethrower-wielding Henshaw." Haha Dear Mr. Henshaw, please stop flamethrowing me.
- Kingpin (1996) A Farrelly Brothers movie with Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and Bill Murray? You don't say. Oh, and it's about bowling? I'll add that to my queue immediately, that sounds like exactly my kind of thing.
- The Rocketeer (1991) Rockawho? The Rocketeer. It's really good. Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton? Terry O'Quinn? I think what you meant to ask was, "Who isn't in it?"
- Total Recall (1990, so it's the) Paul Verhoeven one, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone acting all like she does. One thing you should really think about when planning your vacation is: What if it's just a weird dream? You run the risk of returning to your normal routine more stressed than when you started!
- Babes in Toyland (1961): Victor Herbert's operetta starring Annette Funicello as a nursery rhyme is not as good as you remember it being, but way better than it should be. I refuse to watch it and I know you're saying "who doesn't love a nice operetta" but it's because of a very personal, painful story I will relate to you.
I had a storybook of this Disney operetta for years and from the illustrations had formed an impression that the film starred Tommy Kirk, for whom I lived solely from about 1982-1988. The way some kids are about dinosaurs, or musical theatre, or occasionally trains. But see it wasn't Tommy Kirk, it was cockadoodie Tommy Sands who doesn't even look like Tommy Kirk so why did they draw him like that, and who later married Nancy Sinatra and then got blackballed by her dad when they divorced, none of which matters, because the second I found out it wasn't Tommy Kirk I was like, "What is the point of this movie then? What is the point of life?" and presumably faked my own death like usual.
- Also Season 9 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Season 4 of Portlandia, but at this point I don't know anybody who could discern one season from the next for either of those shows. It's like being the person who knows the actual titles of the most Liz Phair songs. The only person you're impressing is you.
3-Nov: The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)—Don't do it. I'm serious, this is the most disappointing sequel ever made to an existing movie. Worse than the Mean Girls sequels, worse than the Romy & Michele prequel with Katherine Heigl, worse than Legally Blonde 2: Red White & Blonde. Maybe not worse than those things, I just said some pretty nasty things there, but do you dare find out?
4-Nov: Pretending to still respect someone you no longer even like is not doing your, or their, younger self any kinda of favor
- Season 2 of The Newsroom comes out a week before the third-and-final season starts, so if you for some reason find the show enjoyable enough to watch a first time, yet did not, you are in luck.
- Altman (2014) Director Robert Altman narrates a documentary about the life of auteur Robert Altman, called Altman, after its principle subject and narrator, Robert Altman.
5-Nov: Fading Gigolo (2014) John Turturro wrote and directed and starred in this movie, in which he is paid to have a threesome with Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara. Gross, yes? Well, his pimp is played by friend and co-pro Woody Allen. How's that workin' out for ya?
6-Nov: Doug Benson's new standup special, directly with Netflix like many of his compatriots over the next year. This one's called Doug Dynasty, which is no skin off my ass.
7-Nov: Scream 4 (2011) is actually one of the best in the franchise, but not enough people have seen it, or in the right spirit, to back me up. Big fan. Emma Roberts's breakout role in my opinion.
8-Nov: Two kinds of Generation X family stress that can be hard to understand from the outside
- Louder Than Words (2014) is some kind of dead kids/hospital/sad family/hugs-for-all kind of thing, I don't trust it. Duchovny, Timothy Hutton who will do anything, Hope Davis and Mary, Queen of Scots from Reign are in it.
- Nebraska (2013) seems to be about Will Forte tricking Bruce Dern into being less of a shitty old man before he dies, and then they go on a road trip. Worth it for Will, I guess, as he figures out his career, but man does Bruce Dern play a lot of befuddled b-holes. Not how I'd wanna go out.
10-Nov: Season 1 of probably the most boring television show I have ever been addicted to, Helix starring Billy Campbell. It is about: Soldiers, a little boy with a knife, Inuit switcheroos, silver contact lenses, the immortality virus, the zombie virus, possibly other viruses, and Eskimo brothers who are also just regular brothers. I don't know why I like it so much, which is rare for me. Have you seen it? Do you find it like, hypnotically boring? And yet desire more?
11-Nov: Quartet (2012) is a movie about old British people saying snarky things to each other in an unusual setting. Do you really care what or why? No, and I sure as hell don't. As long as they drink a buncha tea and yammer about tea and Maggie Smith is knockin' around somewhere, everybody's gonna be fine.
12-Nov: La Bare (2014) Joe Manganiello from True Blood and Magic Mike goes around to the other side of the camera where taking off his shirt won't help him, as he tries to sell us on the artistic and cultural merit of an entire documentary about a male strip club. I'm sure their stories are very authentic and moving and it'll change the way we look at strippers probably. Just kidding there is only one way and that's through your waffled, interlaced fingers because it's a sin.
13-Nov: Small Town Santa (2013) Sherriff Dean Cain accidentally arrests Santa for breaking into his house, which coincidentally happens when his faith in Christmas is at its lowest ebb. So look for that movie on Netflix in about two weeks when it becomes available for you to watch it any time you feel like watching happen what I just described to you.
14-Nov: The wonderful Chelsea Peretti's one-lady special, One of the Greats, comes to Netflix as another exclusive/original Netflix offering, described as "dark yet silly." I don't mind telling you that I will be watching the fuck out of this, probably at midnight that night. I don't get to see a lot her now that she's on that show I can't stand, so it'll be a real treat to get her to ourselves again.
15-Nov: Four things that you might like! Who knows?
- Season (Sorry, "Series") Six of Doc Martin, the British situation comedy about a doctor who can't stand blood! Drollery, farcical misapprehensions, country witticisms, the whole fuckin' thing.
- Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage (2014) is notable for looking incredibly crappy and having crappy-looking people in it, plus Patrick Stewart. Sometimes it's just like who the hell knows, man.
- Trailer Park Boys: Live At The North Pole (2014) In a special flashing back to 1997, the inscrutable titular Boys rob a mall or maybe they're actually doing it and this is some kind of outsider art. I still don't get that show at all and it's almost as old as we are.
- Season 2 of Wolfblood, a British werewolf teen show that is about your body going through changes, some of them expected, some surprising, and some of them are full-on horrific because guess what you are a werewolf. A cursed teenage beast under a silvery moon.
16-Nov: Dream House (2011) In which Daniel Craig drags his wife, who is either Naomi Watts or Rachel Weisz, out of Manhattan and into the haunted house of a thousand brutal murders and Elias Koteas is there also. But is it Crash Koteas or TMNT Koteas? Depends on whose dream this is, in this dream house.
19-Nov: A survey of different kinds of charm, from quirky to nonexistent
- Donald Glover: Weirdo (2012)—Another standup special from the kind of people we like a lot. In this one, Donald comes clean about the disproportionate strength, out of control parkour skills, and web-shooting abilities that he's developed since he was bitten by a radioactive arachnid on an 8th-grade field trip, during his third season as a writer on 30 Rock.
- Sabotage (2014) internationally appealing personalities Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, and Terrence Howard provide the key elements of a successful film adventure.
21-Nov: Season 3 of Netflix Original series Lilyhammer: Kinda disturbing Little Steven/Miami Steve/Silvio Dante runs into a third season of Norwegian problems, up there in Norway.
22-Nov: Three artifacts of, ultimately, vestigial Cold War paranoia
- Snowpiercer (2013) Visually stunning, emotionally compelling, philosophically risible and obnoxious in that particularly intricate, post-Jeunet, mindlessly adorable aesthetic that's come increasingly to define a whole vibe of French and French-influenced cinema: Your Amélies and Micmacs, but also Hugo, your chirpier Gondrys. A very personal, very subjective line that is different for everybody so don't think I'm yucking your yum: In this case we're talking about a Matrix: Revolutions that for some reason gets treated like it's Matrix: The Matrix. I don't hate it, at all, I really like it, but it does take itself way less seriously than its provenance would have you receive it, which always creates more static than it's worth.
- Ida (2014) Unsatisfied even by the dreariness of being a novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, Anna seeks out any further family darkness she can dig up from during the Nazi occupation, and guess what, it's Poland, so obviously she does.
- Season 4 of Nikita: Maggie Q, Shane West, and Lyndsy Fonseca spy on other spies, who are spying on them in turn; Devon Sawa got old but kept it tight, which is the best of both worlds in my opinion.
23-Nov: Happy Christmas (2014) Anna Kendrick pulls a "Rachel Getting Married" meltdown on her brother's family, but since they're not awful like the family in that movie, it works out. (This one is pretty good. I would also recommend Home for the Holidays, The Family Stone, and the absolutely stunning Margot at the Wedding, if you are into awkward family reunions. If I had my way August: Osage County would be its own Netflix category and we'd all be invited.)
25-Nov: Three challenging things I probably will never personally watch
- Beyond the Edge (2013) Edmund Hillary's 1953 ascent of Mt. Everest was never fully explained, until this recent documentary: Turns out it's because it was there.
- Running From Crazy (2013) Mariel Hemingway decides to let some air in after looking the white elephant in the room eyebrow-to-eyebrow: If her famous family is bound and determined to commit suicide one by one, the best thing she can do is make a documentary about it.
- War Story (2014) Libya, PTSD, abortions, photography, Catherine Keener, Ben Kingsley, Tunisian immigrants, what else do you need? "What else you got."
26-Nov: Two things that seem kind of wholesome
- Season 3 of Bomb Girls, in which Meg Tilly and some other Canadian women build munitions and have period piece problems, but one things those Girls never forget is, they are the Bomb.
- VeggieTales in the House (2014) in the house.
27-Nov: Bill Cosby '77 (2012): How about we circle back to this one, Netflix. How about we just let one ball go by without swinging. Whattaya say.
29-Nov: Two things that what even are they, in actuality?
- The One I Love (2014) Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss go to a cottage and that's all you need to know, just watch it. There aren't even really spoilers because the twist happens in the first ten minutes and the whole movie is working out the ripples from that twist, but still. Don't ask questions, just watch it. It's very good.
- Trailer Park Boys 3: Don't Legalize it (2014)
30-Nov: Two things that sound truly horrible
- About Cherry (2012) in which a girl gets into porn, coke, and lawyers, and who is there but James Franco and Heather Graham, exactly the kind of normal, not-harrowing people to be involved with at a time like this.
- The Grand Seduction (2013) in which a place called Tickle Cove, which right away I have a question, needs Taylor Kitsch to be a lawyer for them! What a grand seduction that will be. "Tickle Cove needs you, Taylor Kitsch." That is literally the grossest sentence I have ever written.
Matthew McConaughey incorrectly explaining to you how a carburetor works even though you did not ask him how a carburetor works. Cameron Diaz performing at a poetry slam. Jemima Kirke giving Lena Dunham a stick-and-poke. Benedict Cumberbatch cuddle party snuggle voucher.
And of course 1-Jan: Friends