If you liked

I have a confession. Sometimes I don’t know what to watch on Netflix. Sometimes I’ve just had enough of watching Doctor Who and Upstairs, Downstairs and even Paul Newman. Sometimes I just want to see something I haven’t seen before. So what do I do? I turn to Netflix to see what it can suggest … Continue reading

Parallel universes In which Netflix becoming Qwikster makes sense

Doing Two Things Is Confusing The year is 2000, Amazon, the burgoning internet book seller, splits off their new music department into a website called Nile.com. By 2011 every river has a .com address and is a commerce portal operated by Amazon.com. Over the next 10 years the internet is entirely dominated by single-serving sites. … Continue reading

Movie sign with Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I watched it on Comedy Central back in the day, and followed it to its new home on the Sci-Fi Channel in the late 1990s. Heck, I even watched the Mystery Science Theater Hour, which broke episodes up into two-part, 60-minute … Continue reading

Tonight on Netflix

Search = “popular” Tangled Winter’s Bone I Love You Phillip Morris Search = “indie + cred” Fish Tank Leaves of Grass Brick Search = “date + movie” Four Weddings and a Funeral Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Before Sunset Search = “get + me + laid” Moulin Rouge Romeo + Juliet The Red Violin … Continue reading

A broken world of bedsheets and bicycles

In “What Novels Can Do That Films Can’t (And Vice Versa),” Seymour Chatman argues that in film, “the dominant mode is presentational, not assertive. A film doesn’t say, ‘This is the state of affairs,’ it merely shows you that state of affairs.” Consider a key scene in Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 Ladri di Bicyclette (Bicycle … Continue reading

The Netflix b-list

Netflix instant viewing has been both a blessing and a curse for an indecisive movie fan like me. Finally the video store has come to your living room and I, for one, am a bit overwhelmed. Sometimes, I’ll lose a whole hour of my life to aimlessly scanning the catalogue finding myself attracted to so … Continue reading

I got yer “best films of 2010” list right here!

It’s 2011.  Another year bites the dust.  The last thing the world needs is another “best films of the year” list, right?  Every film site has one, not to mention the “official” lists compiled by SAG, The Hollywood Foreign Press and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the later of which is far too long, … Continue reading

When the laughter stopped

Chappelle’s Show is a strange hybrid. The cinematic clips uproot it from the live experience, but the recorded audience pulls it back down again. The big laughs are all things that a 2004 audience found funny or shocking. And some of them just aren’t that funny or shocking any more.

On top of this, so many of Chappelle’s sketches have become comedy classics that it’s hard to genuinely find them surprising anymore. “I’m Rick James, bitch!” was hilarious. Then your mom’s skeezy brother said it ten times at one holiday party a year after the show aired, and it didn’t feel so funny anymore.

Chappelle’s Show also gets bound up with what we know about Dave Chappelle’s history afterward. Dave famously quit the show because he felt that he was creatively tapped and was increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that jokes he’d intended as racial satire were getting laughed at for their silly, minstrelsy qualities. He even felt that his co-creators were complicit in this—he no longer felt comfortable working with them, so after recording several sketches for a much-anticipated third season, he briefly disappeared. There were rumors about his mental health and the possibility of drug abuse. Nobody could seem to grasp that somebody so successful didn’t like what he was doing anymore.

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Laughing again, streaming this time

The decade’s five best, most influential comedies are all on Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” online streaming service. What are the odds?

In this short series, I’m going to watch each of them—notice I’m using the future tense, even though I’ve totally gone back and watched all of these—and pick them off and break them down one by one. How have they held up? What do we learn about them (and about us) by rewatching them? I’ll also pull in some additional commentary—some from earlier in the decade, some later—that helps offer some perspective on (re)watching these series. And I’ll definitely be letting you know what I think, offering my take on how we got here.

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