Movie reviews courtesy of cheese and livestreaming

The weekend quickly disappeared in a fast-forward WHOOSH of chatting and talking and discussing and many other synonyms for flapping our gums endlessly at one another. True, Kira and I speak several times a week on the computer, anyway, but something about being together, in person, for that one weekend a year makes it suddenly VERY IMPORTANT that we discuss everything from the Good Old Days That Really Were Kind Of Sucky back when we were both single moms and despaired of life ever getting better to how we can possible arrange for her Max to marry my Chickadee and the kids to think it was all their idea and we had nothing to do with it.

Inbetween all of that talking, and also sometimes DURING it, we figured that another benefit of our time together with NO CHILDREN OR SPOUSES was that we could partake of some movies we otherwise might not see. This would’ve been fine if we’d been hitting up our local movie store, but instead, we settled in with my Netflix account to see what was available via livestreaming.

I have a bit of a mental block when it comes to Netflix, it turns out.

The thing is—no matter how many times reality proves this not to be true—I remain convinced that the ability to livestream movies from Netflix is the greatest thing since sliced bread. This is probably because we have had Iron Man 2 sitting here on DVD for the last six months. I mean, we have a Netflix queue, sure. But what happens when you have two very different people putting movies into that queue is that a disc arrives and whomever didn’t order it turns to the other person and says, “REALLY??” and then the disc sits there, collecting dust. Back in the old (read: pre-livestreaming) days, we merely wasted $6/month or whatever it was, playing that game. But now we justify the money because we can livesteam programming even as Iron Man 2 continues to serve as a passive-aggressive drink coaster.

I guess if everything you could get on disc was available to livestream, we wouldn’t have this problem. But Netflix employs a complicated algorithm to determine what’s available via livestreaming on any given day. I can’t be positive of exactly how it goes, but I believe it’s something like this:

Collective review < 2 stars = +5 to livestreaming Currently in Mir's queue = -400 to livestreaming Starring people you've never heard of = +10 to livestreaming Starring people you've heard of in a movie you've never heard of = +500 to livestreaming

Kira and I combed through the available offerings and began adding movies to my queue. Because I have a Roku! And we could watch all kinds of things without having to drive to Blockbuster! And that gave us more time to drive to the grocery store and purchase a nutritious dinner of a giant hunk of Brie, fruit, nuts, and crackers.

On Friday night we settled in to be entertained while hardening our arteries. But to counteract the possible health ramifications of all that cheese, we also had some wine. This turned out to be a good thing, because the movies we watched? Required wine.

First up: The Joneses, starring Demi Moore and David Duchovny. The offered summary of this movie is: “A seemingly perfect family moves into a suburban neighborhood, but when it comes to the truth as to why they’re living there, they don’t exactly come clean with their neighbors.”

Kira and I, naturally, translated this to mean: “A seemingly perfect family moves into a suburban neighborhood, but there is a plot twist that involves David Duchovny getting naked.” (This is how The Joneses ended up on my Roku.)

Spoiler: David Duchovny doesn’t get even a little naked. Which means this movie is completely pointless. But at least the plot has multiple, gigantic holes in it, and the movie has a trite and predictable ending.

Undeterred, we moved on to our second selection, Chocolate. The summary here is: “An autistic woman with powerful martial art skills looks to settle her ailing mother’s debts by seeking out the ruthless gangs that owe her family money.”

Kira and I translated this to mean “This is a somewhat campy foreign film that may actually portray autism in a positive light and also—judging by the title—have something to do with chocolate.”

Spoiler: This movie has absolutely nothing to do with chocolate. At all. Apparently when this film was released in Thailand it was titled Fury, which makes a lot more sense. It is not campy or amusing in any way, but extremely violent and sad and also confusing. But at least it stars perhaps the most unflattering and unrealistic portrayal of an autistic person that we’ve ever seen, so there’s that! We spent half this movie discussing how the quality of Monkey’s life might be improved if he, too, were a furious martial arts savant. Kira may have pointed out that because I am not entangled with the Japanese mob that might not be as useful as it sounds, really.

Please note: a wheel of Brie only lasts through two truly awful movies.

The next day we attempted to watch our final selection, The Hebrew Hammer. The summary is listed as, “An orthodox Jewish blaxploitation hero saves Hanukkah from the clutches of Santa Claus’s evil son.”

Kira and I translated this to mean: “… blaxploitation is a real word…?”

It is worth noting here that of our three selections, this one had the lowest aggregate rating, but was BY FAR the most entertaining.

Spoiler: I’m not entirely sure that Andy Dick is playing a character, here; I think it’s possible he actually IS the evil son of Santa Claus. Kira and I agreed on this point. Still, this movie is regularly laugh-out-loud funny if you don’t mind your humor a little irreverent and creepy.

The sad news, here, is that halfway through the film we were hit with a big thunderstorm, and we lost power. Woe! Sadness! The power came back on a few minutes later, but then my Roku was all, “Hello? Is there a network? I think there’s a network problem! Log in! No, don’t! Netflix? I’ve never heard of Netflix!” and we never did see the rest of it. Which is kind of tragic, because I’d like to know if any of the Jewish characters in the movie ever eat anything besides bagels.

We soothed our sadness over this tragedy by going out for a ridiculously delicious dinner thoughtfully provided by my husband, and I have to say that seared scallops went a long way towards making us forget that our movie had been rudely interrupted. By the time we got to the creme brulee it’s possible I no longer cared about the fact that Andy Dick had killed Santa Claus.

So as you can see, the answer to “Did you and Kira have plenty of quality time, Mir?” is a resounding “Hell yes.”


  1. Cheryl

    I don’t know whether it is good or bad that I’ve never heard of any of those movies.

    FWIW, the last Netflix I watched (not counting my kids’ obsession with Phineas and Ferb) was Did You Hear About the Morgans? – which had a fairly accurate portrayal of life in Wyoming. So if you find yourselves hunting for something to watch next year and the movie is in fact still available, you might give it a try.

  2. Jill W.

    Yay, quality time with the long distance bestie! I am heading to Virginia (from Louisiana) to spend a week with mine. We will have children in tow, but they have to sleep sometime, right?

    Netflix streaming is good if you like British period dramas- that’s mostly what I end up with on mine. I do love a British period drama. Also, the Swedish film versions of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books are on there and they are great (if you don’t mind your movies a bit subtitley and graphic). I think Lisbeth Salander is well cast.

    But most of what gets watched on our Netflix on the Wii is stuff like The Fairly Odd Parents, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Veggie Tales. It is great for my 6 year old- loads of stuff for her to choose from.

  3. Sharon

    Now these are movie reviews I can understand. I have learned to add “instant” movies to my queue to have for just such an occasion, and that’s usually when Netflix decides that that movie will no longer be “instant.” I love Netflix, though, especially since the digital conversion has played major havoc with our television reception. Being able to watch three seasons of “In Plain Sight” instantly? Priceless.

  4. Megan

    Ah yes, THAT’S why I haven’t watched a ‘movie’ movie in yonks (note: Doctor Who is not a movie so does not count. Also note: it’s possible that I slip-of-the-tongue referred to it as a documentary the other day.) These sound quite bearable so long as there is someone truly fabulous to make snide comments with – the brie and wine are definitely useful as well! As I never seem to be in a movie-watching mode at the same time as anyone of this description I think I’ll stick with my DVR’d bits of it’s-on-PBS-so-it’s-CULTCHAH!

  5. addy

    Grrrr hate thunderstorms – so inconvenient!

  6. Morgaine Fey

    I love Netflix BECAUSE of the frankly ridiculous movie offerings allowed by streaming. My husband and I had to cut off our cable about a year ago, and decided that $14 a month was MUCH more manageable than opening a cable bill and having a heart attack. In that time, I have watched every 70’s horror movie imaginable and have come to this conclusion. The 70’s was a painful, painful time period when plots were not yet domesticated and had to be hunted, perhaps by men in pith helmets, which is why no film from that era seems to feature one. But, they certainly try to make up for it with oddly placed nudity and not-very-convincing screams! Please watch “The Devil had a Daughter” (1976, featuring Christopher Lee WHO STILL HAD HAIR COLOR and gets a bit naked) and tell me they didn’t just give up halfway through and toss some weird hand puppets and blood in!

  7. Morgaine Fey

    Non-stop Twin Peaks is also a big bucket of win for Netflix. Just sayin’.

  8. Daisy

    The cheese part sounds best. Brie and quality friend time – that’s a winner in my book!

  9. Holly

    Ahh, Netflix streaming only offers crappy movies. That’s my scientifically sound opinion!

  10. Lynn in Mass

    Sounds like a great weekend. Quality friend time, who cares the movies were bad…it gave you more time to chat.

  11. Tracy B

    I happen to love Netflix and we experience the same problem and so I’ve changed the password on the account and now, we only get movies I want to watch. ;o) And yet, they still sit on the counter for weeks at a time. I probably stream more than I actually watch on disc. What does that tell you??? I know, I have poor taste in movies. I’ve been told that before, so I’m ok with it. Now, Brie and wine. I’m gonna try that this weekend.

  12. Scottsdale Girl

    Did you say anything after “Brie?”

  13. Samantha

    Yes! Your algorithm is 100% accurate. Stupid Netflix streaming. Every action film from the 90s is pretty terrible. Also, I am now wishing for a weekend with my bestie who is so far away…the last weekend we spent together she was 6 weeks post partum and trying to finish her thesis and schedule a gallbladder surgery before her husband was deployed. I mopped her floors and held her baby, but there were no terrible movies.
    (Delurking! I’ve been reading forever; I think I came here from Mary P. originally.)

  14. Brigid

    Netflix = lots of great Canadian and British cop/cold case/morgue shows. I’ll swear by them.

  15. Kira

    I told Clay sadly that I was going to have to go back to Georgia – soon – because I didn’t know how the Hebrew Hammer ended. He was…less than supportive.
    Maybe I should have waited to tell him some other time than the drive home from the airport, when the kids were dishing out their “WELCOME HOME MOM!” tantrums.

  16. Katie in MA

    Hooray for fun! I am trying to resist dancing about and singing “Neener neener” because my long distance BFF (aka, my sister) is coming to stay for allllll of August!! I don’t think they’ve invented a cheese and wine budget big enough for us.

  17. Teresa


  18. Pamela

    Whoever is avoiding Ironman 2 is Wrong. (Just sayin’.)

  19. Peggy Fry

    We don’t do netflix but I can vouch for the SyFy channel having some truly wonderful AWFUL movies. The one about the flying giant piranha shark was my favorite…..much fun can be had watching these and snarking away. it helps that you cannot tell the actors apart from each other, all being young, good looking and featureless. There is usually some z-list celeb who obviously needed to pay off a boat or house or something in a small role.

  20. Russell

    So If you are looking for David Duchovny I suggest Californication. Its a Showtime series. And its pretty much sex.

    Also? I love Netflix intstant streaming. Right now my wife and I are in the middle of watching all 11 seasons of Law & Order SVU. Next month all the Star Trek tv series go live so we will be watching all those.

    The quality of movies gets better as each month goes by. Last month they signed a deal with miramax so now you can get movies like Clerks, Reservoir Dogs and Shakespeare in Love.


  21. tuney

    1. Because I am a sheep, I had to watch Hebrew Hammer. I am scarred for life, but I CAN say the second half was better than the first.
    2. I have never seen a more accurate nf algorithm. Congrats.
    3. I can second Californication if you want to see DD nekkid. I must warn you, he is a skank in it, but..naked. So. I downloaded one of the eps from itunes, and now I live in fear of dying and having somebody find it on my comp. Heh.

  22. Lise

    Awww. I liked The Joneses. A bunch of my friends worked on it, so I actually went to see it in a theatre. The other two sound absolutely terrible.

  23. Alice

    Lise, you’re not alone! We saw The Joneses on a whim in the theater and loved it, but I can see where the marketing would be a pretty big misdirect. Mir, I’m deeply curious as to what your queue looks like, that Netflix would end up recommending these three films all together – I have a feeling that if you & Otto are combining your requests, you’re giving their algorithms a massive workout. :)

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