Every month I put together a list of top picks on Netflix over on Apartment Therapy. For the good of our psyches, it’s good to be reminded that it doesn’t always freeze and snow and look shitty outside. Doesn’t really matter where you are in the country, that seems to be the gist of it. So, here’s a preview of some of my picks on Netflix which may offer a temporary reprieve from the snowball blues:
1. Pretty in Pink: John Hughes movies are like a healthy dose of Vitamin D. They’re sunny, heartfelt, and always leave you wanting more.
2. An Idiot Abroad: Arguably one of the best travel shows ever created, this travel log sends Ricky Gervais’s longtime pal Karl across the globe in adventures so hilarious, you’ll book a trip to relive his experiences.
3. Some Like it Hot: Though the title doesn’t refer to temperatures, I wouldn’t argue with 80 degrees right about now. No, this Marilyn Monroe classic is all about appeal and lust, and is definitely worth checking out.
It’s pretty rare for me to find myself sitting in the theater, taking in a movie and being totally struck by just how much I’m loving the story to the point where I absolutely MUST lean over to the person next to me to say, “I’m fucking loving this.” That happened to me last weekend at Her. And no, I didn’t whisper the F word into a stranger’s ear. I was totally on a date.
After the credits rolled, I eagerly expressed to said date that the film was my favorite artificial intelligence - human love story of all time. High bar, Liz, high bar. There’s what, 6 movies on the topic? So let me amend my prior assessment. It’s the best “falling in love in less than ideal circumstances” story I’ve ever seen.
Ok, now that’s too broad. Break it down and nearly all romantic movies are based on the trope that the two lovers must conquer distance or time or war or erectile dysfunction to find happiness.
What I need to properly credit Her for filling me with so much joy is a Netflix micro-genre. Short of that, I’ll just go with this: see the damn movie. Not convinced? I’ve made a list of non-spoilery reasons why you must stop hanging out with internet people right now and go hang out with a talking Operating System and a dude named Joaquin Phoenix for a couple hours.
1. In Her, the future is non-judgmental about romantic partnerships. Yeah, it’s that big.
2. If you’ve ever been in love, you know that love is not sex. Not many directors and screenwriters seem to remember this though. Love is that quiet moment at night when nothing is being shared but silence and mutual understanding. Her reminds us that connection is about seeing more than another person’s private parts. It’s about seeing the world together.
3. There’s set design and then there’s art direction. Her is a Master Class in expert art direction. Except the pants. I can’t forgive the pants. Or maybe I can? Maybe I hate them so much I like them?… Hm, think about that.
4. Joaquin Phoenix is raw and pure and pained. I wanted to know him. I wanted to dance with him. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to buy him a belt.
5. Oh my ellipsis, this script. There’s so many gems about life and love and self-discovery in here. I have a feeling there’s a Pinterest board out there right now with quotes written in swirly fonts from this movie. Spike Jonze wrote many a Pinterest worthy line. Bet you never thought you’d read that.
I love my Kindle like a small pet companion who never leaves my side… like an adorable text filled hedgehog. But there’s one kind of book that my Kindle will never be able to complete with: the epic coffee table book.
It’s no wonder Kramer was so enamored. A great coffee table book is like a passport to eyeball drunken wonderment. Here’s five I love so much, I say screw the coffee table and would happily tuck them into bed at night.
This Is Mars: What? This is? Holy shit. NASA’s Rover images are printed in high resolution in what amounts to page after page of astonishing space themed joy. ($64.99)
London Underground Maps: Art, Design and Cartography: The tube is the best networked transportation system in the world, so it’s no wonder it has a rich and beautiful history. But really, it all comes down to maps, people. So many amazing, beautiful maps. ($51.64)
The Wes Anderson Collection: My love of the Wes way is not undocumented here, but this book is a joy because it’s got so many interviews with the master mixed with hand drawn storyboards and doodles which are basically in existence to function as some kind of low level Zoloft for film nerds. ($39.99)
The Art of Movie Storyboards: While we’re on the topic of film, why not spend another minute diving into the amazing artistry of storyboards. There’s nothing quite like seeing a favorite movie through a simple black and white sketch. If you don’t love it, well, I don’t get it. ($30.46)
The Flower Recipe Book: This might strike you as an odd choice. I have literally never spoken of flowers here before. But is there anything more enchanting than a wonderful bouqet? Who doesn’t feel more glamorous whilst in the presence of a lovely collection of blooms? Suddenly, this once foreign, but admirable, concept is a possible skill I can acquire all thanks to this gorgeous guide. ($16.63)
A huge portion of the United States is literally being attacked by clouds filled with snowflakes. It’s lovely when you’re sitting inside your warm place, fire roaring, coffee brewing. Then you go outside and the oppressive cold and impossible driving make it completely unreasonable to consider leaving the house again.
So don’t. Just stay inside. Watch these great movies on Netflix instead:
I know, this is hardly some amazing recommendation. It’s freaking astoundingly perfect as far as Bond movies go. It’s like recommending ice cream. All the flavors are good. Who doesn’t love at least five flavors of ice cream? BUT! As you are listening to the fire crackle and admiring the flakes outside, take a moment to appreciate the insane gorgeousness of Scotland in the winter. This is undoubtedly one of the most perfect film sets in all off Bond movie history.
This isn’t for everyone, I get that. And the accents are hilarious. But as a Minnesota native, this movie just GETS winter. Like, real winter. Not Christmas movies winter. Not the final scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary winter. Real winter. And it’s great.
How can I say that this movie is one of the most under rated movies about robots ever without sounding trite? Ok, I guess I can’t. How about I just tell you this: this movie is astoundingly underrated. It’s such a critical and beautiful take on aging, technology and loneliness - all of which don’t get enough attention.
Want to escape the snow? Want to feel like it’s not 10 degrees outside for even one minute? Then partake in this Alfonso Cuaron masterpiece and thank me later.
The alternative title for this movie should be: Black Friday. Huzzah. Tim Burton has never really been better. It’s on Netflix this very minute. You have no excuse. Just enjoy it.
Fall in Minnesota is all kinds of beautiful. This weekend in the Twin Cities was so perfectly crisp and sunny and colorful and gorgeous - if I was a child or a small dog, I would have been rolling around in the leaves in the sun. (Note: I might have done that anyway, even though I’m not a small dog or a child.)
Robot & Frank
For whatever reason, fall always reminds me of the cycle of life. Perhaps it’s the way the plants die so they can come back to life. Or perhaps it’s the way we all tidy our lives up for the winter when we will spend quiet time reflecting and gathering with those we care about most. This movie captures much of that time beautifully.
Indie Game: The Movie
When October 31 rolls around, don’t you just get the sense that the year is about to end and go: what the hell did I get done this year? Well, I do. It gets worse when Nov. 15th arrives. Indie Game is beautiful because it’s about what time can do. Time and passion and vulnerability.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The colors, art direction and style of this film feels like an ode to fall. Or maybe it’s just the references to hunting. Doesn’t matter. It’s a Wes Anderson movie and it’s perfect.
When Harry Met Sally
This one gets on the list because most of it takes place in the autumn. BUT, it also deserves a spot because falling in love in the fall is so magical. You should try it sometime.
Big shock, another Wes Anderson movie. This is my blog after all, and new school years and fall are basically synonymous. So are cuteness and Jason Schwartzman.
Every time I get on an airplane, I think the same exact thing:
Humanity never believed you could put hundreds of people into a chunk of aluminum with metal wings and make it fly across the globe until suddenly, you could do just that.
I want to believe that 100 years from now, the people of earth will be saying the same thing about time travel. Either because we are physically able to do it or because we have mastered a technique for preserving time in some way.
But until it’s perfected, I’ll write poems about the human method of time traveling:
She closes her eyes and parts her lips,
Her mind returning to a moment since past,
A body in motion without choice,
The cortex envisions a twisted bend of knuckles,
Two hands clutched tightly,
Running through the streets in laughter,
The preceding argument since lost,
Time ticking by and stripping away the mundane,
Leaving only traces of truth,
It’s London in the summer,
No recollection of bank overdrafts or late rent,
Only glorious sunsets and cheeky gentlemen,
The narrative is refined,
Stripped of any sign of banality,
Perfect hair days with spotless manicures prevail.
I was lucky enough to get into an early screening of About Time (it’s delightful - go see it) this week and it made me realize that we as humans would totally make a mess of our lives if we had the power to change even the most mundane of circumstances. So it’s probably OK if it takes 100 years. For now, I’ll time travel the best way I know how. With my memories.