The Netflix Watchlist Number Game #2

Partly because I’m horrendous at picking what movie to watch, and because my UK Netflix watchlist continues exponentially growing, I occasionally have started a game called the ‘Netflix Watchlist Number Game’ to thin the nerd and deal with my indecisiveness in one fell swoop.

Below you’ll find my thoughts on a group of movies I watched in this round of the game, thanks to people who were invited on Twitter to pick a number between 1 and 223. On my Apple TV Netflix app, each film on the list is numbered so thanks to this randomised system, it becomes easier to watch something on the list I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to view.

So my thanks to those I mention below for throwing me a number – maybe the rest of you will find a Netflix movie to check out you wouldn’t previously have considered.

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GAME OF THRONES 7×05 – ‘Eastwatch’

“I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger initiative.”

Before you call me out on it, no that’s not a quote from ‘Eastwatch’, the sixth episode of Game of Thrones gleefully satisfying seventh season, but rather the post-credits scene of Marvel’s 2008 franchise kick-starter Iron Man, in which S.H.I.E.L.D boss Nick Fury approaches Tony Stark about becoming involved in a world-saving squad. After watching this latest episode of Thrones, you may appreciate the sentiment, as forces conspire to throw behind Jon Snow the badass equivalent of an Avengers team he’ll need to achieve near-impossible odds.

‘Eastwatch’ dials down after the air-punching climactic escapades of ‘The Spoils of War’, which will go down in Thrones history as one of the most fan-pleasing episodes of the entire series no doubt, given we first saw Daenerys Targaryen ride her dragon into army-burning battle for the first time, certainly against her ultimate Lannister enemy. Dave Hill’s script now asks us to consider the consequences, both literally and morally, with an episode very much continuing the pragmatic sense of reality which has carried through the surviving main characters as more of the deluded, pompous or just plain ignorant characters have died across the previous few seasons.

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GAME OF THRONES 7×04 – ‘The Spoils of War’

“No more clever plans.”

‘The Spoils of War’ is an apt title for the fourth episode of Game of Thrones‘ seventh season because its an hour (or just under at 47 minutes, the shortest episode of the season) all about battles. Battles on horseback between armies and savages and dragons, battles between the old ways and new, battles between young and old, and battles of the mind. Wars are not just the province of empires and vast legions but rather the ongoing struggle between the myriad, disparate elements that make up the world of Westeros and beyond.

What becomes clear in the most straightforward of ways by the end of ‘The Spoils of War’ is that the end game in Game of Thrones is going to come down, in no small part, to money. Gold becomes the investment hedge fund of George R.R. Martin’s feudal construct, a literal grounding of financial capital the all-powerful, monolithic Iron Bank will use to pick the side they believe has the best chance of winning. Last week it became clear that capitalism was going to play a major role in how the landscape of Westeros will look beyond the ultimate wars to come, and here that point is hammered home: if the numbers line up, the game will be won.

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GAME OF THRONES 7×03 – ‘The Queen’s Justice’

“She’s a monster. And she will be the end of you.”

A great many prophetic words cast their way through ‘The Queen’s Justice’, the third episode of Game of Thrones’ truncated Season 7, spoken both by seers, machiavelli’s and plain old noble lords and ladies coming to understand the swift revolution surging its way through Westeros as the ‘great war’ for the Seven Kingdoms truly begins. Olenna Tyrell’s final proclamation may turn out to be the most pointed, as on the face of it the Queen’s primary justice is no justice at all.

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The Big Sick (2017)

Kumail Nanjiani is a comedian and writer much better known in the United States than in the UK, but he was familiar to me due to his association with my favourite TV series, The X-Files. Nanjiani famously hosted a successful podcast on the subject, The X-Files Files, which partly led him to gaining a guest starring role on a recent episode of the show’s revival. Nanjiani’s love of The X-Files is lightly referenced in The Big Sick, his debut feature as star and co-writer, in which he plays an extension of himself.

To an extent, Nanjiani playing Kumail is akin to Larry David’s extreme persona in Curb Your Enthusiasm or even Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s extensions in The Trip and its sequels, but the difference with The Big Sick is the tone. It’s one of the funniest comedies of the year, without question, but it’s also much sweeter, filled with charm and touching on a multitude of themes about relationships, societal barriers, religion and loss. How it manages to balance these disparate elements is the most impressive factor.

A major reason why perhaps comes down to the naturalism employed by Nanjiani and director Michael Showalter. The production stable of Judd Apatow lies behind the script which Nanjiani wrote with his wife Emily V. Gordon, and the story is theirs. Kumail and Emily (Zoe Kazan) in the movie are the narrative version of the story of Nanjiani and the real-life Emily, which allows for a deeper sense of autobiographical honesty, fused with the kind of laid-back Americana comedy Apatow (when on form) does so well with his movies. The Big Sick, even before making you laugh, makes you feel.

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What Does God Need With Star Trek: Discovery?

Or more aptly, perhaps the question should be reversed – what does Star Trek: Discovery need with God? The question has been raised by a recent article which reported how, on set for the brand new CBS All Access (or Netflix if you’re international) show reviving the 50 year franchise on the small screen, Jason Isaacs—playing Discovery’s Captain Lorca—was stopped mid-performance for improving a mention of ‘God’ in his dialogue. God, of course, does not exist in the Star Trek 23rd century.

Except for the fact, y’know, he (or she) kinda does.

Even if the story is tabloid fodder or turns out to be apocryphal, that one of the series writers Kirsten Beyer actually made the effort to correct Isaacs for saying the very natural human phrase “oh my God”, it raises an interesting question as Star Trek makes its long overdue return to television – what place does religion have on a TV series which on the face of it has always shied away from depicting a future where worship is prevalent, but in truth has long had a fascinating, complex relationship with religion and the future?

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James Bond Will Return – Should Continuity Come With Him?

After quite some time in the shadows, the James Bond rumour mill has kicked into overdrive with the announcement this week that the 25th film in cinema’s longest running franchise will be arriving in November 2019 (or very late October if you’re in the UK). That’s a whole year later than most Bond fans were expecting, given the usual three-year cycle most of us have come to expect. An interesting debate has arisen around the usual questions, however, and it concerns continuity.

Before we get to that, here’s the current state of play. MGM have announced the release date, as studios are often wont to do with major franchises (look at how Marvel let us know what they’re up to years in advance), but since the release of Spectre in 2015 the producers of the franchise, EON, have been locked in a difficult financial back and forth over distribution. Last year, Sony’s distribution rights expired and it seems Bond stewards Barbara Broccoli & Michael G. Wilson have struggled to find a replacement. This no doubt accounts in no small part for why 2019 and not 2018 is when 007 is returning.

There is also the unresolved issue of Bond himself, Daniel Craig. A lot of misreporting has circled around the actor, especially since his clearly flippant comments about not wanting to play the role anymore were taken seriously by many, and while almost certainly Craig has made his choice by now, the MGM announcement wasn’t accompanied by confirmation Craig is coming back in the role that made him a household name. This could indicate negotiations are still ongoing, that maybe Craig wants extra time to finish other projects, or indeed that he’s not coming back at all. Right now, it’s uncertain.

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