I’m always baffled when I hear people complaining about the lack of quality entertainment on Netflix. There are undoubtedly hordes of trash occupying the site’s precious catalog space, but to think there aren’t silver linings around those black clouds is silly.
Here are a few streaming titles begging for your unavoidable procrastination.
Colleen Ballinger and her YouTube personality Miranda Sings have generated the new series “Haters Back Off,” a cringe-comedy that has drawn divided critical responses.
The similarly absurd Christopher Guest has returned to his successful mockumentary format for “Mascots,” a close look at the inner lives underneath the giant foam heads that inspire legions of sports fans. If those programs don’t quite scratch your comedic itch, there are also new stand-up specials from Russell Peters, Cedric the Entertainer, Ali Wong and Patton Oswalt.
Anyone in drastic need of Henry Fonda’s daunting screen presence can fill that void with John Ford’s “Young Mr. Lincoln,” about Honest Abe’s early days as an Illinois lawyer. Also available is “Once Upon a Time in the West,” Sergio Leone’s magnificent western epic about the encroachment of industrialization into the lawless haunts of outlaws and antiheroes.
If you’re inclined to seek out further westerns or films about modernity, then look no further. The Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” are at the ready and eager to prove 2007 might have been the greatest year in cinema history.
Foreign cinema is thriving on Netflix, and there are no better examples of this than the Holocaust drama “Phoenix.” I began writing a review of this film last year, but my words fell flat again and again. There is no describing the ache in “Phoenix,” the depth of inhumanity its director Christian Petzold explored.
Other available foreign language masterpieces include “Two Days, One Night,” “About Elly” and “Winter Sleep,” which are realist examinations of emotional distance, depression and humanity’s capacity for perseverance.
If your interests are more dramatic, there is still plenty on offer. “Jessica Jones” was Marvel’s best foray into live-action entertainment so far. The company is looking to expand on that success with “Luke Cage,” a spinoff promising plenty of great action alongside an earnest look at contemporary race relations.
On a similar note, director Ava DuVernay’s new documentary “13th” is a haunting and incisive history of the American penal system’s patterns of racial discrimination.
Hopefully, this short list of suggestions has provided you with many hours of worthwhile entertainment. As long as Netflix is around, we will never need any other means of putting off preparations for that 15-page final.