That Thing That’s Going Around (A Viewer’s Guide)

WELL, I HAD NO PLANS FOR CHRISTMAS other than watching a whole lot of TV – actually, I was also going to do a podcast and prep my kitchen for painting – but, I got sick. Got that cough/cold/flu thing that a whole bunch of people I know have had. Christmas Eve night I could feel it, and then bam! Merry Christmas! And I’m never sick, but when I am, I really am.

So, glued to the couch, trying to stay warm (it’s been below zero starting Christmas) I’ve been watching a lot of TV. Despite having a lot on my Netflix and Hulu lists and a lot on my mental list, the paradox of choice can lead to not being able to decide at all! I’m always amazed at what’s not on Netflix, and other entertainment content providers.  Surprisingly, I didn’t only watch stand-up specials, or movies I’ve seen several times before, or start on yet another binge-worthy series.  Rather, I watched a couple of classics I’ve never seen before.

Never the less, I did find a lot to watch – though it was tough to decide, despite having few options to do much else!

Mr. Roosevelt Immediately after reading, go to Netflix and watch this movie! It’s the directorial debut of Noel Wells (amazing in Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None). She plays Emily, a struggling actress/comedian who goes back to Austin, TX to see her ailing cat Mr. Roosevelt and to face her messy past – while staying with her ex (played by stand-up Nick Thune) and his amazing new girlfriend. Self-discovery, closure and hilarity is the result. A witty and touching movie. Great line: “you’re a good person, with really bad execution.”  So damn good, and I nearly missed it – heard and new nothing about it until I saw it sitting in a list.

El Camino Christmas  A Netflix original. Crime/comedy/drama starring Dax Shepherd, Tim Allen, Vincent D’Onfrio, Kurtwood Smith and Luke Grimes. Small-town Nevada cops, a guy looking for his Vietman vet father he’s never met and a hostage situation. Better than it sounds.

Midnight Cowboy  Believe it or not, I’d never seen this before!  Dustin Hoffman as Ratso Rizzo, Jon Voigt as Joe Buck.  Shocking for 1969 and for good reason; this movie actually got an “X” rating when it was first released. Showed a dark side to NYC and a seedy sexual nightlife and lifestyle. And Hoffman – greasy, sleazy, sweaty, twitchy…you shouldn’t be sick with the flu and watch Ratso get sick…whew!

The Wackness  Ben Kingsley  is a shrink with a mid-life crisis who buys pot from a patient played by Josh Peck (remember the kids show Drake & Josh?) who is in love with his stepdaughter. A bit too-stylized with its late 90’s hip-hop/NYC themes. Peck is really good and I’ll see Kingsley do anything.

Bright Kind of a cross between Alien Nation and District 9. Tries to be a sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian crime drama with an anti-racism message movie with mixed results. You know doing Netflix-exclusive movies are a big deal when you land Will Smith for one.

The Pope of Greenwich Village A subdued and cool Mickey Rourke, and an over-the-top Eric Roberts are cousins and small time crooks with big dreams. Roberts is beyond hammy and over acts (and over reacts) in virtually every scene he’s in:  “Char-lee!!! They took my thumb!!”

Wormwood  Errol Morris, the CIA, government conspiracies. A six-part docu-drama about a scientist who takes part in a secret government biological warfare testing program, his mysterious death and his son’s 60 year quest to find out what really happened. Interesting and chilling. Worth watching.

We Are Twisted F****** Sister!  I grew up in this band’s stomping ground of Long Island and it was a great trip down memory lane to a place I only heard about because I was just a few years too young – the rock club scene on the Island. TS ruled this scene,  and it was big – they could draw over 3,000 people nightly and did this for several years. With original music, no airplay, no internet. They did it with an amazing work ethic, great songs, and over-the-top live shows that fueled word-of-mouth via passionate, real rock fans.


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