The Long Goodbye

People complain all the time that there’s nothing good to watch on Netflix, but the truth is, that’s just because we usually like to complain more than we like to do a little work. In reality, there are tons of good movies to watch on Netflix, you just have to do a little digging to find them. For instance, here are 20 movies, ranging from good to great, that just got added to their streaming service recently. No digging required.

Click on the films’ titles to be taken to their Netflix page so you can add them to your queue. Happy vegging.

Pick of the Month: The Long Goodbye (1973)

'The Long Goodbye' PosterProbably the best compliment a movie can receive is Joel and Ethan Coen citing it as an influence, so seeing as the brothers Coen have gone on record as saying that Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye is a big influence on their The Big Lebowski—which is one of the best movies ever—you know that it’s got to be something special. And it is. Not only is this modern-for-the-early-70s adaptation of the classic Philip Marlowe story full of interesting characters and great acting, it’s also absolutely gorgeous to look at, infinitely quotable, and it tells a story that somehow manages to be completely engaging in its mystery while ultimately being astonishingly simple when it comes to the details of its plot.

When you talk about the hall of fame of Altman movies, generally the movies you’re talking about are things like MASH, Nashville, Short Cuts, and Gosford Park, but for my money The Long Goodbye blows all of them out of the water and makes its star Elliott Gould an absolute icon of film noir, neo or otherwise. The fact that it doesn’t seem to get mentioned much or re-watched all that often these days is an absolute crime, so how about we take its addition to Netflix’s streaming service as an excuse to do something about that? Dare you to watch it without Googling “Curry brand cat food” afterward.

As Good as It Gets (1997)

It seems to me that As Good as It Gets is one of those movies that’s received a good deal of backlash over the years, likely because of all the success it saw when it first came out. Its Oscar hype was huge, the fact that it was a return to form for Jack Nicholson was turned into a talking point and driven into the ground, and seeing as the film is actually little more than a slightly fancied up romantic comedy, it has understandably gotten the reputation of being overrated. It should be remembered that this movie is actually funny though, and Oscar winners Nicholson and Helen Hunt really are great in it. Plus, it heavily features an always likable Greg Kinnear, and it’s pretty dang hard to find a reason to complain about that. Why not give it another shot with fresh eyes now that nobody is talking about it anymore?

The Bad News Bears (1976)

The Bad News Bears isn’t the sort of movie that could get made these days. Oh, sure, it got remade back in 2005, but that Richard Linklater-directed, Billy Bob Thornton-starring pretender didn’t have half of the grit or bite of this Michael Ritchie-directed, Walter Matthau-starring original. Or half of its charm. The Bad News Bears may be best remembered because it’s a dark comedy that went all the way in regards to letting its young characters behave badly (they drink beer, for the love of Mike!), but one should keep in mind that it’s also one of the best-loved underdog sports stories of all time, and that’s because of just how lovably ill-mannered this ragtag group of kids was, and just how charmingly inept their coach proved to be. The film focused on character, and that made even the smallest bits of growth the players went through feel like true milestone moments.

Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

If all you’ve heard about Blue is the Warmest Color is that it includes a handful of really hot and really lengthy sex scenes, then you haven’t gotten the full picture of what this movie is. It’s actually a really affecting and relatable story about youth on the verge of adulthood, anchored by an impressive lead performance from Adèle Exarchopoulos, which had to have been one of the most exhausting to film I’ve ever seen. This movie is long, it goes deep into every aspect of her character’s personal life, and director Abdellatif Kechiche keeps the camera shoved close in on her face for an absurd portion of its run time, studying her reactions for every little insight they might reveal. There are few characters in cinema you get to know as well as you know Adèle, and the process of getting there is a pure joy. The super-hot sex scenes just end up being the cherry on top.

Capote (2005)

The main reason to make it a point to watch Capote is clearly to take in the performance Philip Seymour Hoffman gives as the titular lead, especially now that we’ve been given all of the Hoffman performances that we’re going to get. He’s great here, playing an out-there character that required him to put on an affectation and do a crazy voice, but still managing to make sure that his portrayal of Truman Capote is always human and 100% relatable. Hoffman isn’t the only thing this movie has going for it though. It also benefits from its sense of focus. Too many biopics try to tell the whole story of a life from birth to death, and wind up giving everything short shrift in the process. Capote picks a very particular period of its subjects life and does its best to flesh that out so that it can represent everything you need to know about the man by itself. This is a much better strategy, overall.

Das Boot

Das Boot (1981)

It feels kind of rare, at least for people on this side of the world, to see a World War II movie told from the German perspective that isn’t trying to be a gimmick, but that’s exactly what Das Boot is, a World War II movie told from the point of view of the average German soldier, which makes it relatable to anyone who’s been caught up in the machinery of a huge, terrible organization. It’s also pretty much the quintessential submarine movie, and is pretty amazing as far as lived-in sets, claustrophobic situations, and amazing camera work that constantly runs from one end of the submarine to the other goes. Watching Das Boot is a visceral representation of how much it would suck to be a grunt soldier in war, and more specifically a grunt soldier stuck on a submarine. Just imagine all of that close-quarters humanity sealed in together airtight. Gross.

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Living somewhere inside of everyone is a squealing teenage girl who wants nothing more than to watch movies about inherently good characters who come out of their shell and achieve self-actualization through the power of putting together a pretty wicked dance routine, and everyone knows that Dirty Dancing is the absolute king of the dance movie genre. The problem with dance movies though is that, as satisfying as they can be, they seem to always show up carrying a pretty hefty load of schmaltz with them (I carried a watermelon?), so it can be kind of embarrassing to admit to people that you watch them. Because of that, there’s probably a whole generation of people who have wanted to re-watch Dirty Dancing but have been too ashamed to for years. Well, now you can discreetly check it out on Netflix, and nobody has to be any the wiser. Pull the shades closed, dance along in your living room, and rediscover why exactly it is that nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Donnie Brasco (1997)

This may come as something of a shock to anyone who has only seen the last 15 years or so of their careers, but Al Pacino and Johnny Depp used to actually act. That is, they used to actually portray real characters who felt like honest human beings, instead of just playing live action cartoon characters, and one of the last times either men did so was 1997’s Donnie Brasco. This isn’t the sort of movie that’s going to blow your hair completely back or anything, but it’s pretty fun for a crime drama that’s all about cops and mobsters and the blurred lines of morality that exist between them, and all of that usual crime/cop movie stuff. I mean, any movie that makes room for small roles for Paul Giamatti and Tim Blake Nelson is pretty much automatically likable, isn’t it?

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Stanley Kubrick is such a legendary director that it probably isn’t necessary to sell anybody on checking out his movies anymore. And Dr. Strangelove is such a highly regarded part of his canon that there certainly isn’t any need for me to urge you to check it out now that it’s on Netflix. Just watch it. Take in black humor that’s played so straight most people could probably sit through it and think that it’s a legitimate Cold War thriller. Marvel as Peter Sellers puts on a tour de force performance playing multiple characters. If there’s any better representation of what ridiculous children men remain, no matter how old they get or how high they climb in the world, I don’t think I’ve seen it.


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