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“I Streamed a Stream” – Netflix reviews for Rushmore, Swingers, Barton Fink & Airplane!

“I Streamed a Stream” is a monthly column exploring the world of Netflix from our good friend Mick McGovern ( Read his previous entries here.

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This month I’m recommending films that I think are perfect just the way they are which I’d give five stars to, and I’ve seen at least five times. So here’s five four of them!

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Rushmore (1998) (★★★★★) aka “my favourite film of all-time”. Why? Well it’s a film I could watch at any time of day, year, be in any kind of mood and still love it. Every single aspect of the film fills me with giddy glee, not only does it possess possibly my favourite soundtrack of all time, superfluous cinematography, perfect pacing, crackling dialogue but also deadpan humour at its best. It has note perfect performances from Bill Murray, Olivia Williams and a career making turn form Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer who over-achieves at everything to do with school except his actual schoolwork, he’s a walking ball of enthusiasm but with little real aptitude for anything important. World-weary Herman Blume (Murray), a rich businessman and patron of the school, is frustrated with his own kids and takes a shine to him. However their friendship is tested early on when they both fall for the new teacher, Miss Cross (Williams). Anderson’s films are often criticised for being style over substance but here there’s a real heart to everything that goes on, possibly this is what Owen Wilson brought to the table as co-screenwriter, who knows.

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Although they were doing some good work beforehand, Swingers (1996) (★★★★★) is the film that gave careers to Jon Favreau, Ron Livingston, Doug Liman and very much Vince Vaughn (he was great once you know and could be again!). Centred around a group of guys who come to Hollywood to make it big, one of them Mike (Favreau) is stuck in cycle of self-pity due to the breakup with his long term girlfriend and lack of work, and his friends particularly the brash Trent (Vaughn) a master of mild coercion or gentle bullying is determined to help him get over it and get him back in the dating scene. While there’s plenty to enjoy in this movie it is mainly the interaction between the two main characters that keeps bringing me back, it beautifully captures the love/hate or push/pull you can find in some of your more meaningful friendships with people who call you out on your crap or challenge you when you need it.

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Barton Fink

Barton Fink (1991) (★★★★★) is a film that I absolutely loved growing up as a kid although I didn’t understand what was going on half the time and guess what I still don’t. The third act always leaves me speechless but in a good way. Written and directed by the Coen Brothers, this is the story of a successful and righteous playwright played by John Turturro who wants to bring the struggle and plight of the common man to the big screen but gets hired to do wrestling pictures by a major Hollywood studio, which thanks to writer’s block and a sense they are below him, he just can’t bring himself to do. The film has so much going on, it satirises the early studio system, pompous writers, and the imagined glamour of Hollywood at the time. But it does all this with the heightened reality, or I suppose more accurately unreality that the Coens can do so well, for example the hotel almost takes on Shining levels of horror and a fantastic turn from John Goodman as a possibly dangerous salesman living in the room next door. Incidentally Michael Lerner who plays Jack Lipnick, the studio head was deservedly nominated for an Oscar and the film was the first to win the big three in Cannes, Best Actor (Turturro), Best Director and Palme D’Or so if that’s not recommendation enough, to hell with you.

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Let’s make it official. Airplane! (1980) (★★★★★) is the funniest movie of all time. Directed by Jim Abrahams and Jerry and David Zucker (yup three directors!), Airplane! is a parody of the Airport movies and disaster movies that were popular at the time, but actually based its plot mostly on a film from the fifties called “Zero Hour” which is a little hokey drama about a plane whose crew is all taken ill and the only man on board who can land the plane is an ex-war pilot with survivor guilt and a fear of flying. With that already laughable framework to work on, amazingly ridiculous dialogue, every great pun and visual joke they could think of is thrown in for good measure. The film, like most successful parodies, works brilliantly because most of the leads play it dead straight and the earnest look in the faces as they throw away another line of lunacy makes you laugh even harder. The sheer greatness of Airplane! can reduce you to tears just thinking about anything those gits Friedberg and Seltzer do and try to pass off as parody.