We’re delighted to introduce a brand new feature to Spooool.ie. “I Streamed a Stream” will be a monthly column exploring the world of Netflix from our good friend Mick McGovern (@amawaster, amawaster.com).
Every couple of weeks I’ll be attempting to help you get the most out of your monthly subscription to Netflix, recommending the little gems that are hidden deep away in the catalogue. First off, some comedies that you might not have heard of or weren’t sure were worth a look.
First up is Slap Shot (1977) (★★★★½) starring Paul Newman and directed by George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting). On one hand, its a straightforward sports comedy about an ice hockey team that utilises violence and dodgy tactics in order to get the crowds in and stay afloat, but on the other, it is a brilliant skewering of male ego and alpha-maleness written by, you guessed it, a woman, Nancy Dowd who later won an Oscar for Coming Home. Also features three brothers by the name of Hanson, not the MMMBop ones though of course.
Written, starring and directed by Billy Bob Thornton, Daddy & Them (2001) (★★★★) deals with a man struggling to cope with his jealous wife, her sister and her mother who has to go home to help his own family when his brother gets sent to jail. The humour is a seamless blend of the sweet and the vulgar and the charming reasonably-slow pace of the movie allows for pitch perfect performances to be crafted, but what else would you expect from a cast consisting of Andy Griffith (Matlock), Jim Varney (Ernest Goes to Jail, ironically enough), Laura Dern, Kelly Preston, Walton Goggins, Ben Affleck, Jamie Lee Curtis, Diane Ladd and Brenda Blethyn. Mind you it’s folk singer John Prine who steals the show as one of the brothers.
Real Life (1979) (★★★★) is also written, directed by and starring its main actor, this time Albert Brooks. Sadly some people only know him as Hank Scorpio from the Simpsons, or the bad guy in Drive and may not know that he’s been a comic genius for years. Real Life is one of his very early works and brilliantly satirises reality TV that had just begun to rear its ugly head and take firm root in TV schedules. Brooks plays an over eager self-centred producer who thanks to advances in modern technology sets about to record the average American family as they go about their lives, not realising the problems he’s about to cause.
Dance crazes and doughnuts can save the world – or at least that’s what Greta Gerwig’s character thinks in Damsels in Distress (2011) (★★★½), Whit Stillman’s return to our cinema screens last year. Violet (Gerwig) heads up a group of girls hoping to elevate the minds of her fellow college-goers, even going so far as to date people in a lower social stratus in order to help them improve, and finds her views on life and college challenged by the arrival of a new girl to the group. It’s chock-full of daft characters, situations and dialogue that could be disastrously painful in lesser hands, but should raise a smile or a chuckle more often than not.
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