I watch way too much TV. At the end of a long day, I love curling up on my bed or on the couch and becoming engrossed in a film or TV series. Since we don’t have cable, I watch a whole lot of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime which I stream through my PS3 and Roku. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much, since I love not having commercials and being able to pick what to watch when I want to watch it. Netflix in particular seems like an endless supply of viewing material, some well known and some less so. Today I want to share some of my favorites that you might not have seen yet.
1. Black Mirror
Although it’s safe to say this British television anthology is more well-known in the UK than it is in the US, it has a small cult following here and was only recently was added to Netflix. These sci-fi shorts each have a different cast and setting, exploring the darker side of technology and modern life. Like many fantastic sci-fi narratives, these stories explore issues of the modern condition through the lens of disturbingly possible futures.
This foreign film is set in 1950s France and tells the story of a young, provincial lady named Rose who heads to Paris to become a secretary. She gets a job with a handsome ex-athlete turned insurance man who quickly discovers while Rose is a terrible secretary, she has an incredible gift for typing and becomes her coach in a worldwide typing competition. This quirky, silly romantic comedy is so much more playful and goofy than the average click flick, and it had me laughing and grinning the whole way through.
One of my favorite documentaries of all time, this film profiles 85-year old, world renowned sushi chef Jiro Ono. His ten seat restaurant in Tokyo has three Michelin stars and costs $300 a plate, all while focusing on simple, high quality ingredients served with the upmost care and attention. Jiro is truly a fascinating man, as is his 50 year old son who still works under his father at the restaurant and it obliged to take over one day.
Another series that may be more familiar to my UK readers, The Bletchley Circle is a murder-mystery mini series that was created after the popularity of Downton Abbey. The story follows four women who once worked as code breakers at Bletchley Park during WWII as they begin solving crimes, frustrated with the incompetence of official investigations. Interestingly, the series is based on the real women who worked at Bletchley Park, but did not continue in intelligence work after the war and, due to law, were unable to share the nature of their work.
5. Hit & Miss
A rare TV show that features a trans main character, this British series stars Chloe Sevigny as a pre-op transexual hitwoman named Mia who discovers she had a son with a recently deceased, former lover. Mia is named as the guardian of the boy and his half-siblings who live in a rural farmhouse, and she must struggle to balance her complicated relationship with them and her life as an assassin.
This new release sci-fi action movie is based on a French graphic novel where Earth’s remaining inhabitants are confined to a single train circling the earth. The row of cars is a blatant metaphor for the class system, in which those at the back of the train begin fighting their way to the front. A little heavy handed with the metaphor, Snowpiercer is still a brilliant, thought-provoking exploration of class struggle and capitalism.
7. Holy Rollers
A documentary following the lives of the largest and most well-funded card counters in America… who also happen to all be Christians. The film explores their reasonings for counting cards professionally, their relationship with the casinos, and how they wrestle with following God while gambling. These men aren’t MIT graduates but average, blue collar people who are exploring ethical and spiritual questions while putting hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line.
A black comedy that’s shot entirely in one house and feels almost like a play, this indie film is about four disfunctional couples who get together for brunch only to hear news of dirty bombs exploding in major US cities including one 12 miles away. Faced with the knowledge that the world may or may not be ending, the eight men and women are forced to deal with their relationship issues.
9. Mary and Max
I could have included a lot of animated movies and TV shows on this list, but I decided Mary and Max was the sweetest and most unexpected of them all. This clay animation feature is about a chubby eight year old from Australia and an obese New Yorker with Asperger’s who become unlikely pen pals. Very quirky and a little dark, this film is not for kids and is unlike anything else out there.
What hidden gems do you love on Netflix that people haven’t heard about?