Category Archives: Netflix

Amy Schumer’s Leather Special Keeps with the Schumer we Know All Too Well.

AmySNetflix1When it comes to comedian Amy Schumer and her stand-up comedy shows, we pretty much know what we’re going to get.  Themes of self depreciation, sex, fat jokes and offering her own take on the vagina monologues are constant in Schumers work, so much so, when bursting onto the scene, she was applauded for delving into those ‘no-go’ topics.

Now a best selling author and big screen actress (Trainwreck and the upcoming Snatched with Goldie Hawn), the jokes and topics that found Amy stardom continue to pull her along the dark and vulgar path she’s traveled down many a time before.  In her most recent outing for Netflix titled Amy Schumer: The Leather Special, jokes about her feminine hygiene, copious amounts of alcohol and oral sex are once again present and feel somewhat ‘old-school’ Amy Schumer and by old-school, I mean the Amy we first met back in 2014 when Inside Amy Schumer began to gain traction for being a very on point and wickedly blunt comedic sketch show.

Schumer, as witnessed in The Leather Special, rarely strays away from topics that seem to hit with audiences and while topics such as double standard within Hollywood, female sexuality and empowerment and body insecurities are tackled, there’s an uneasy feeling of ‘heard this once before’ as these topics feel rehashed but with added vagina.

But all is not lost for Amy as among all the smut and vomit jokes, she manages to set aside her vagina for a moment and approach the hot topic of gun control, a subject close to Schumer after a gunman (in 2015) opened fire in a cinema showing her film Trainwreck in which two people were killed and nine other injured.

It’s a sidestep into the real world that will undoubtedly get people talking and divide audiences (the special briefly cuts to a small number of audience members walking out when gun control is mocked) but also one that she should visit a bit more often as sadly, this ‘raunch comedy’ that has become so synonymous with Schumer has me fearing that she may never get out of this sexual gag cycle.

Amy Schumer: The Leather Special is currently streaming on Netflix.

Archie Goes Dark and Broody in Riverdale

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Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) and his father Fred  Andrews (Luke Perry)

There’s a sort of “you-know-what-you’re-getting” vibe when it comes to the world of Archie via the wildly popular classic comic strip with Archie and best friend Jughead continuously getting into mischief while Betty and Veronica bicker over the affections of the larrikin red head.  When it comes to the world of Archie Andrews in the new drama series Riverdale, what we get is the complete opposite of what we would expect.

The quiet and quaint town of Riverdale goes into a complete meltdown after the mysterious disappearance of local high school student Jason Blossom which forces the dark hidden hands of the townsfolk to slowly emerge.

The best way to think of Riverdale is Archie meets Dawson’s Creek meets Pretty Little Liars and it is this mix of shows that gives viewers a lot to take in within Riverdale’s opening episode.

Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) is struggling to find even ground for his promising football career and his wishful music career while trying to keep his woeful father Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) happy and his feelings for his music teacher Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel), with whom he had a summer fling with, hidden.  His best friend Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) has romance in her eyes for her read headed best friend but her uppity mother Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) is trying to stop Betty from venturing out at any cost.  Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) is a moody, brooding writer, taking notes about the mysterious disappearance that happened over the past summer while new girl in town Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) makes an impact right from her first meeting with the Riverdale gang before she locks lips with both Betty and Archie.

Splattered into this modern world of Archie, additional characters from the comic series including the flashy and gay Kevin Keller (Casey Cott), bitchy and privileged Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch)  and lead singer of high school band Josie and the Pussycats Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) all appear to shake things up in the once peaceful town.

This fresh take on Archie, made for the modern era teen, is a rather swell surprise that will fit easily into the viewing habits of those watching PLL or fans of Gossip Girl and even the failed Melrose Place remake.  Secrets, lies, murder, scandals….it’s all going down in Riverdale.

Riverdale is currently streaming on Netflix Australia.

How Miranda Sings became the new Ja’mie King.

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Angela Kinsey as Bethany and Colleen Ballinger as Miranda.  (c) Netflix 2016.

Coming off an eight episode binge watch of Netflix’s comedy/drama Haters Back Off, I quickly came to the realization that what works in one format may not actually work in another and it’s a point I have made before about a character very similar to that of Haters lead Miranda Sings.

The premise of the Netflix original series takes insanely popular YouTube star Miranda Sings (Colleen Ballinger) and documents her slow and grinding rise to her current internet stardom with the help of her eerily inappropriate Uncle Jim (Steve Little), her hypochondriac mother Bethany (Angela Kinsey) and her love-sick neighbor Patrick  (Erik Stocklin) which is all  to the detest of her introverted younger sister Emily (Francesca Reale).

As the eight episodes move along, Miranda, in her quest for undeserved fame using Uncle Jim’s five step plan, showcases a natural talent for narcissistic egotism and not much else as she drags down those around her while trying to claw herself to the top.  Even when the tables turn on her and a situation goes awry, Miranda, so wrapped up in the beliefs of her own talent, refuses to see when she’s being kicked to the ground and assumes those against her are jealous of her performing ability.

In the second to last episode, Miranda’s younger sister Emily takes the chance to leave the chaos of home and apply to go to art school.  Their mother Bethany, who is struggling with an actual health issue, at first fights it but then allows Emily to take that interview. Armed with her portfolio, Emily attends said art school interview only to discover her works have been ‘Mirandafied’ with pasta and glitter therefore destroying her chance at acceptance.

It’s the ensuing scene (which kicks off the seasons final episode) between a devastated and angry Emily and a cocky Miranda that brings the series one of its most conflicting moments for the viewers – Miranda is convinced she ‘fixed those paintings’ to help Emily get into art school but is shocked when Emily literally tells her that she ruined her work and that Miranda is dumb for thinking she was actually helping.  It’s a brutal scene between the chalk and cheese sisters, but one where you feel empowered that Emily is finally taking a stand yet saddened for Miranda who is copping that verbal beating from her sister even when she thought she was doing good.

Once it is over, you step back and begin to question why are we even feeling sad for Miranda and should we be feeling empathy for a character that showed not a single shroud of human decency to another person?  Which of course, harks back to my original point on what works in one format may not actually work in another.

Miranda Sings in YouTube format is hilarious and simply put – genius.  The short 5-8 minute clips allow us to pop in and out as Miranda tries international snacks, dances, offers make-up tips, visits other YouTube stars, displays DYI fashion and accessory tips and badly croons her way through hundreds and hundreds of videos that have racked up billions of views. It works because the videos are entertaining, Miranda is an utter odd-ball, we don’t have to become too invested in her at that moment and the time frame of the videos is short enough to avoid us from discovering that Miranda is actually a rather unpleasant character.

Most of that discovery though falls down to the introduction of Miranda’s family, the people she stumbles across in life and how her actions and the way she conducts herself are presented to those people…which had to happen when bringing the character into scripted television.

It’s the same issue I had with a similar character to Miranda Sings, in the form of comedian Chris Lilley’s alter-ego Ja’mie King from Summer Heights High.  When offered in smaller doses and accompanied by other unsettling characters to bounce to and from, selfish and delusional Ja’mie was an utter gem but when given her own platform and fleshed out surroundings in  the series Ja’mie: Private School Girl, she became an unpleasant and highly unlikable brat that had me wanting her to never have a platform to appear on ever again.

Now this is not to say that Haters is a complete miss.  There are some shining moments within the havoc of these eight episodes, most of which come from Miranda’s neighbor and (not so) secret admirer Patrick.

Erik Stocklin’s grossly awkward yet heartwarmingly adorable Patrick manages to step front and center to give Haters a character for us to root for – oddly more so than poor Emily.  Even though Miranda comes out of this incredibly unlikable, we get all mushy when Patrick finally gets that special moment with his long time crush because Patrick, while almost as delusional as Miranda, is genuine and connectable for the viewers and thats a huge kudos to Stocklin.

Haters Back Off is currently streaming on Netflix.

Series Review: Making a Murderer

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Steven Avery, the subject of Making a Murderer

I don’t know about you guys but the crime investigation channel is probably the most watched on pay TV in this household.  Everything from shows revolving around cold murder cases, rape, hostage survivor recount stories and killer wives are set to record as they air, feeding our desire for ‘true crime’ stories.

It’s “what’s hot” right now.

Netflix, seemingly picking up on this current viewer trend, recently offered up a 10 part, one hour episode documentary series titled ‘Making a Murderer’ that literally has hundreds of thousands of viewers enraged and intrigued all at the same time.

Put together over a space of a decade, this story is so crazy and farcical that  one could mistake it for being the plot of a major Hollywood movie or scripted HBO drama that after one single episode, I knew the next 9 hours of my life would be spent binge-watching the insane tale of Steven Avery and his battle to prove his innocence.

So by now, for those who haven’t seen it, you’ve seen the #MakingAMurderer tag flood twitter (it’s what got my attention) and seen your friends talk about Steven Avery on their Facebook posts and wondered ‘should I watch?!’.

The simple answer is YES.

Kicking us off in 2003, we meet up with Wisconsin native Steven Avery who is being released from prison where he served 18 years for a sexual assault and attempted murder – that he did not commit.  A mix of family squabbles, an aggravated (and corrupt) police department and a mayor not too keen on the less-than-perfect Avery family in his town saw Steven Avery classed as the only suspect and promptly found guilty.

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Ken Kratz – TV’s most hated villain of 2015/16

But things start looking up for Avery.  Determined to make a new life for himself Avery returns to the family auto yard business, he finds a girlfriend and becomes the poster child for judaical reform.  He’s even opened up a $32 million dollar lawsuit against the county for his time served, this however being at the behest of his lawyers who inform Avery to be wary about lawsuits against law enforcement as there could be repercussions.

Either way, Steven Avery is taking the road to reclaiming his life.

Then in the middle of Avery’s lawsuit, a young photographer by the name of Teresa Halbach goes missing and Avery – and his family find themselves reliving a similar nightmare.

To be clear here, the above starting from 2003….is just episode one….of ten.

I won’t reveal anymore (and I recommend to go in blind and not spoiled by a google search) but what follows over the next nine hours is some of the most mind boggling, enraging, infuriating, confusing, fist clenching, hair pulling television that will have you yelling at your TV, cringing every time District Attorney Ken Kratz opens his mouth or feeling sad for Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey who found himself drawn right into this horrible tale.  You will form opinions, you’ll change them, you’ll suddenly become the worlds best investigator and suspect everyone and constantly question items of evidence that are seen once and never heard of again.

If anything, you’ll be simply amazed at how the justice system failed Avery and how easily it was molded by those in charge to get the results wanted.

By the end of the ten hours you should have a pretty clear cut idea on Avery and Dassey’s innocence or guilt and then do your reading.  It might not make things as transparent as before.

Making a Murderer is available on Netflix Australia.

 

What the Bloody Hell is Sense8

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Sense8’s Main Cast of sensates.

I’m probably going to cop some backlash for what i’m about to say but I feel somewhat lost and need to express.  I’m four episodes down in Netflix’s brand new series Sense8 and I have no bloody idea what it is i’m actually watching…and i’m at breaking point to not continue on.

I don’t actually even know where to begin to describe what Sense8 is actually about.  The premise is so jumbled and overflowing with a mass introduction of characters that after the first hour, I couldn’t remember what I had just watched or picked out any specific event that took place with the exception of the opening scene where Daryl Hannah (I assume) gives birth (to something) then shoots herself in the head.

I had to go searching just to find a reasonable explanation of what I had just witnessed and the best I could find was “But the core premise of Sense8 is pretty easy to explain — it’s kind of like X-Men. The show’s central “sensates” (there are eight of them, hence the title) are the next step in human evolution. They live all over the globe, are of all genders and sexualities and races, and only find themselves “activated” after a woman named Angelica (Daryl Hannah) kills herself in the opening moments of the first episode.” – Vox.com

The story-telling in these four hours that I have just watched is so slow and sedated that I feel disoriented and stupid for not understanding something that perhaps is right in front of my face.  Yes, these eight strangers have become mysteriously telepathically connected thanks to Daryl Hannah but at what purpose?  Even when Naveen Andrew’s shady character was explaining to Cop Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith) about what was happening, the body transference that was taking place from car to car was so extreme that I left the scene even more confused than before.

The problem I’m seeming to come across with Sense8 is it’s over-reaching want to be flashy and artsy yet character driven but it’s at the sacrifice of moving the story along at a relatively respectable pace.  Why is it, that a quarter of the way though the series i’m sitting here asking myself “what the bloody hell is going on?”

Even when I asked my twitter followers about whether or not I should indulge in Sense8, the replies weren’t at all revealing…

I will applaud the incredible diversity in characters and casting for Sense8.  The trans-lesbian, the South Korean banker-slash-martial arts queen, the closeted Mexican actor, the African Van Damme bus driver, the Icelandic drugged out DJ…there’s not a cast like it on television, but the downside to such a big roster is trying to knit these eight personal dramas into one wearable jumper and sadly, to me, it feels like a jumper made for an octopus (see what I did there?!).

Part of me is hopeful that if I continue into hour five of Sense8, suddenly everything becomes crystal clear, but, there’s that dreaded feeling of knowing that after giving four hours of my life, there’s still no revelation or light at the end of the tunnel.

Are you struggling like me?  Am I missing something major and just an idiot for not seeing it?  Sound off in the comments below!

Get Ready to Pay a Little Bit More for Netflix and Other Digital Download Products

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It’s been floating around for awhile but now it’s official.  Digital goods offered by overseas providers into Australia (such as Netflix and Amazon) will be slugged with the 10% GST.  Movies, music, games, television shows and books offered by overseas providers like Netflix, Amazon, Google Play and Steam will all increase by 10% on July 1st.

Speaking with itnews, Treasurer Joe Hockey said “What we’re doing is going to digital providers overseas and saying ‘can you apply the GST to the products you provide into Australia?”  Companies such as Netflix have already stated they plan to comply with the request once local regulations were in place.  A spokesman for Netflix added: “Netflix has been and will be compliant with all applicable laws and regulations, and pay taxes as required under local and national law.”

Netflix’s local competitor Presto welcomed the tax as it was “critical” all players operate by the same rules.

Good news for those who buy physical goods from overseas retailers – those items will remain GST free, as long as the total cost does not exceed $1000.  Playstation, Xbox and Apple Itunes users will also be happy to know there will be no increase as the GST already applies.

How do you feel about the new so-called ‘Netflix tax’?  Sound off in the comments below.

Confirmed: Netflix Announced Full House Return

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80’s Sitcom Full House is Returning to TV

Everywhere you look, there’s a heart, a hand to hold on to.  Everywhere you look (everywhere) There’s a face of somebody who needs you.  When you’re lost out there and your all alone a light is waiting to carry you home.  Everywhere you look.”  We all know the lyrics and now they’ll be stuck in your head all day but that’s ok as Netflix is bringing back Full House!

The Tanner family will be returning for a 13 episode spin-off series thanks to Netflix with John Stamos, (who played rocker Uncle Jesse) confirming the news on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Monday night saying “I’m going to give you the exclusive, Literally just like five minutes ago they (Netflix) called, they sealed the deal.”
Currently titled “Fuller House”, the spin-off will focus on DJ Tanner (Candice Cameron-Bure) who is now a pregnant and recently widowed veterinarian (sounds like a hoot so far) and her two sons, her younger sister Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin) and her best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) with Stamos set to guest star in the spin-off.  The pilot episode is being touted as a one hour cast reunion special.

Read: Where are they now – The Kimmy Gibbler Edition

While half the cast has already signed on, Bob Saget (Danny Tanner), Dave Coulier (Uncle Joey), Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (Michelle Tanner) and Lori Loughlin (Aunt Becky) are still in talks with Netflix to return.  Said Loughlin to Access Hollywood “they made deals with half the cast, but not the other half.  I don’t have a deal, Dave doesn’t have a deal, Bob, we’re all in negotiations. I think we would all like to come back, if the powers that be are fair to all of us.”

As big fans of the original ‘Full House,’ we are thrilled to be able to introduce ‘Fuller House’s’ new narrative to existing fans worldwide, who grew up on the original, as well as a new generation of global viewers that have grown up with the Tanners in syndication,” said Cindy Holland, vice president of original content for Netflix, in a statement.

Read: Full House Reunion in the Works?

In a joint statement, executive producers Robert L. Boyett, Thomas L. Miller and Jeff Franklin said: “The continued support of ‘Full House’ fans of all ages for the last 28 years has been astounding. It is an honor and a thrill to catch up with these beloved characters and explore their lives today. The love you saw on the show was real. The cast has remained a loving family off screen all these years. We are as excited as our fans to finally bring ‘Full House’ back to life.”

Top Pick on Netflix Australia: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Now that Netflix has officially launched in Australia, I need to note my top pick for new content that is a must watch for any subscriber.

Located in the US TV category is a sweet yet not so sweet comedy called The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is discovering what modern life is like for the first time after being freed from a cult – a cult that lived in an underground bunker where Kimmy and 3 other women were being held hostage for 15 years (they had been told the world had pretty much blown up).  It’s a rather macabre premise for a show – especially a comedy.

Wanting to steer clear of the ‘Indiana mole women’ tag Kimmy and her fellow cult devotee’s have been so kindly given, Kimmy decides to make a break and start her life in New York City and in what seems like record time, Kimmy manages to find an apartment with a roommate in Titus (Tituss Burgess) and a job as a             co-dependent for wealthy socialite Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski).

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Kimmy adjusts to modern terms….

Kimmy’s sudden burst into the modern world and her adjustment to this new life away from the bunker provide the base story point for the season and the comedy revolving around dated slang versus modern technology.

As Kimmy, Kemper is perfection.  The doe eyed, clueless optimist plays well with Kemper (the role was created with her in mind) who breathes innocence into a woman not wanting to be seen as a victim.  her incessant happiness should be annoying but in Kempers hands, her sweet temperament  comes off a somewhat adorable.  Krakowski on the hand is my favorite. As the perfect image at any desperate cost (foot surgery and all), Jacqueline could be considered to be an older version of Krakowski’s other alter ego (30 Rock’s Jenna Maroney) but it’s easy enough to over-look it with the amount of fantastic one liners she constantly spews out.  Jacqueline is the kind of woman you hope doesn’t exist yet you know she does.

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The brains trust behind Kimmy Schmidt is of course Tina Fey and 30 Rock producer Robert Carlock.  The two working together have created a show that has a familiar feel to it (30 Rock fans should be all over this) but is so separate from the creators roots, new viewers should stick around.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, complete season one is available on Netflix Australia.

Getting to Know Stan

Bringing binge TV to the masses

Stan goes live in Australia on Jan 26th
Stan goes live in Australia on Jan 26th

Stan, the streaming subscription service created in a joint venture between Nine and Fairfax, has announced it’s official ‘live’ date – Jan 26th with the service going live just 12 days after Presto (Foxtel’s effort) went live.  Stan will cost subscribers $10 a month with no lock-in contracts (offering movies and television) and is cheaper than Presto who charge $14 per month for access to its movie and television catalog.

I’ve been playing around with Stan for the past week and wanted to share my thoughts on what to expect for those looking at possibly signing up.  Stan’s interface is simple, clean and easy to use with it’s landing page set up to showcase it’s draw-card programs and shows segregated into genres.  You want ‘groundbreaking comedies’ or ‘premium drama’ then it’ll be easy to find.

Dramas including Masters of Sex and Dexter will be readily available when the service launches
Dramas including Masters of Sex and Dexter will be readily available when the service launches

There’s an array of older content (which i’ll get to in a bit) and there’s also some selected new dramas being touted as ‘first on Stan’ including sci-fi cult Lost Girl, award winning drama Transparent and Amazon Original series Mozart in the Jungle all readily available when the service launches.

The rest of the programs available are made up of dramas, comedies and documentaries long since finished: Absolutely Fabulous, Will & Grace (only 4 of 8 seasons available), Dawsons Creek, The L Word and Deadwood among others or those currently airing but featuring seasons past – Hannibal, The Fall, Community, Masters of Sex and Nurse Jackie.

Like with Presto and the imminent arrival of Netflix (sometime before March), Stan’s catalog features a small selection of new content packed in between a slew of old programs we’ve all probably seen and long forgotten.  It’s best to think of these services as walking down the weekly isle at your local DVD rental shop where you can watch all you want but pay monthly for the ability to do so.

Do you need Stan?  To be honest, if you binge watch TV or your TV DVD library doesn’t exist then Stan will be useful.  If you have your weeknight free-to-air schedule worked out and can live without seeing certain shows as they go live, then no.

Stan goes live in Australia Monday Jan 26th.

Do you plan on singing up with Stan or Presto or Netflix?  Sound off in the comments below!

Orange is The New Black for Ruby Rose

Ruby Rose will be donning an Orange Jumpsuit for OITNB season 3
Ruby Rose will be donning an Orange Jumpsuit for OITNB season 3

How exciting!  The future is looking a little more orange for the stunning Aussie presenter/DJ/model Ruby Rose after announcing that she’ll be joining the cast for the hugely popular prison comedy/drama Orange is the New Black’s third season.

Making the announcement via US Elle magazine, Rose used twitter to let us all in on her characters name with the hashtag #StellaIsHere.

The upcoming third season will see Rose as Stella Carlin, an inmate “whose sarcastic sense of humor and captivating looks quickly draw the attention of some of Litchfield’s inmates.” including Alex Vause (Laura Prepon) and Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling).

The news of Ruby’s involvement in series three has already boosted the talented Aussie’s profile in the US with numerous news and entertainment outlets jumping on the Ruby Rose bandwagon.

Ruby Rose: 5 Things to Know About Orange Is the New Black‘s Newest Addition – People Magazine
Australian Model Ruby Rose Is The Newest Addition To The Orange Is The New Black Season 3 Cast! – Perez Hilton
Ruby Rose, model and DJ, set to appear on ‘Orange is the New Black’ Season 3 – New York Daily News
Meet the New Love Interest on Orange is the New Black – TIME

 

In addition to the casting of Rose to season three, familiar faces from season one and two including Samira Wiley (Poussey), Yael Stone (Morello), Dascha Polanco (Diaz), Selenis Leyva (Mendoza), Adrienne C. Moore (Black Cindy), and Nick Sandow (Caputo) have all been upgraded to series regulars!

Orange is the New Black doesn’t return until June where it will stream to Netflix subscribers while here in Australia, Foxtel channel Showcase airs the series.