Film, Recommending -

Film Diary: Netflix instant watch gems, Part 1

A lot of people these days have Netflix instant and it seems like they're always searching for some good movies to watch on it as it's mostly a way to watch old episodes of Cheers (at least for me). I dug around and thought I'd make a list of art movies I enjoyed that maybe you haven't watched yet (and a few that are well known that you should return to). I never studied film and really am just a person who loves movies and loves to talk about movies and so these are not professional recommendations if-you-will, but just a movie-lover's picks. With that, I say "enjoy" (hopefully)!

**note: I am not endorsing Netflix in any way as there are certainly better sources to find movies like your local indie video store, but since so many people use it I thought it was worth making a list.

scene from Les Bonnes Femmes

Les Bonnes Femmes, 1960, directed by Claude Charbrol. A lesser-seen movie from the French New Wave. At times charming, suspenseful, violent and atmospheric, and always beautifully shot. The ending alone is worthy of a long conversation.

Metropolitan, 1992, directed by Whit Stillman. This is my favorite movie; a comedy of manners about a group of friends that goes to deb parties in the late 80s. Whit Stillman writes dialog like no one else, full of literary charm, youthful questioning and the heightened reality that is (was?) the Upper East Side. The cast of first-time actors makes it more realistic and awkward. See it twice to get more references.

The Bicycle Thief (aka Bicycle Thieves), 1948, directed by Vittorio De Sica. Considered one of the best movies ever made, this Italian neo-realist film is a must-see (it should be noted that this isn't the best print of this movie, but worth seeing anyway). Done entirely with non-actors, it is bleak, beautiful and yes, totally depressing.

32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, 1993, directed by François Girard. An unconventional biopic co-written by Don McKeller (who wrote and starred in the cult classic tv show Twitch City) which presents the life of genius and all-around weirdo Glenn Gould as 32 different short vignettes, structurally referencing Gould's most famous recording, Bach's Goldberg Variations. Even if you have no interest in classical music this is worth seeing for its originality. Famously there was a Simpsons episode inspired by the movie called "22 Short Films about Springfield" (which I also recommend).

A Woman is a Woman, 1961, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. A French New Wave color wheel starring Godard's then-wife and muse, Anna Karina. Not my favorite Godard, but a great movie that is definitely worth seeing if you love '60s aesthetics and Pantone swatches. 

Alice, 1988, directed by Jan Svankmajer. A retelling of Alice in Wonderland by this incredible and creative Czech director & animator. Using live actors interacting with stop-motion animation, this adaptation is bizarre enough to do justice to the writing and create a dream-like world that is genuinely unique. All art students should see this. NOTE: not for kids, it's too scary!

The Gleaners and I, 2000, directed by Agnes Varda. (UPDATE: The Gleaners and I is not longer available on Netflix Instant streaming, but it is still a great movie and definitely worth renting from somewhere.) A documentary by New Wave director Agnes Varda (who's one of my favorite directors: see dvd versions of Cleo from 5 to 7, La Pointe Courte, etc) about gleaners in modern day France inspired by the Jean Francois Millet painting "The Gleaners." I'll admit that sounds extremely boring, but it's the "and I" of the title that makes this film. Varda is so charming and relatable to the gleaners in the movie that you find yourself smiling throughout and looking at what we leave behind in a different way. Ok, maybe it still sounds boring but trust me, it's not--it is truly great.

So there are a few recommendations to start with. Please tell me what you think and in the future I'll post more. Thanks!


  • Little Otsu

     Great suggestions, thanks!

  • @aperte

    I was a member of Film Movement, and now a lot of their titles are available on Netflix – check out Le Grand Voyage (!!!), Ali Zula, The Road to Kobetel (I’m remembering, so it’s something close to that) are all top of mind

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