New feature… as Netflix now has about twice as many streaming subscribers than DVD subscribers, according to a company financial statement during the first half of this year, it means more of you continue to sign up for Netflix streaming accounts, specifically.
And a common complaint I hear is that, available streaming titles aren't as robust of DVD titles – especially when it comes to recent releases.
Unfortunately, there's nothing I can do about that. But I'm sure Netflix is aware of that popular complaint; however, it's my understanding that these matters aren't so simply resolved, especially as film studios continue to test the digital distribution waters, trying to find some balance that, at the very least, doesn't negatively affect their bottomline.
But what I can do is alert you to films (old and new) that are streaming on Netflix, that you may not already realize are available in that format, and may be interested in checking out. I'll start doing this weekly – picking 5 films at a time; many, if not all of the films I mention, will be titles that we've covered on S&A, so you may recognize.
Without further ado, here are this week's 5:
1. There are a total of 3 Ousmane Sembène films streaming on Netlfix right now, but I'll include them all here as 1 selection (after all, he's one of the early pioneers of African cinema): his seminal 1966 drama, Black Girl (La Noire de, or as I like to call it, The Help, before The Help), and 2 comedies that skewer post-colonial Senegalese bureaucracy: Mandabi (1968), and Xala (1975). I was actually pleasantly surprised to find all 3 streaming on Netflix. You won't find much there in terms of African cinema from the time period these were made. So see them before they disappear. Netflix streaming titles usually come with an expiration date.
2. White Wash (2011) – Narrated by Ben Harper and Tariq "Black Thought" of The Roots, the 75-minuted documentary, directed by Ted Woods, explores the history of rarely detailed surfing culture within the African American community, told from the POV of black surfers from Hawaii, Jamaica, Florida, and California, and includes archival footage and conversations with professors, historians, authors, and of course professional surfers. Not to be confused with another recent documentary about black surfers, Splinters, which looks at the evolution of indigenous surfing in the developing nation of Papua New Guinea. That one isn't out yet.
3. The Tested (2010) – A timely film in light of recent events – events that continue to plague this country; The Tested is based on an award-winning 2005 short film of the same name by Russell Costanzo, and looks at the long-term ramifications of a single tragic event. A New York City cop accidentally kills an unarmed African American teenager; a year after the incident, the film follows the lives of 3 people linked to the incident – the cop, the victim's mother and the victim's brother – and the different paths each take, ultimately leading all three of them back to one another, and eventual redemption. It's a searing, slow-burn of a drama that stars Aunjanue Ellis, Armando Riesco, and Michael Morris Jr.
4. Our Song (2000) – With Scandal season 2 kicking off exactly 2 weeks from today… this was Kerry Washington's very first feature film. She was just 23 years old, but she gives a really good performance. So see it, if only to see early Kerry Washington at work. The film was directed by Jim McKay. You'll watch it and, like some, you likely wouldn't believe that this was a film directed by a white guy. It focuses on the bond between three high school girls (a black American, a black Latino, and a Latino American), and the choices the girls face once their school closes down because of the need for asbestos removal. The naturalistic performances make the film.
5. The Thing With Two Heads (1972) – I had to throw in one nutty pick, to balance out all the drama. I won't even bother with an intro, because you probably wouldn't even believe me anyway; instead, just watch the trailer for the film below. It's all in there! I'm surprised Hollywood hasn't remade this yet. I'll be back with another selection of 5 next week.