Beth Mann's Blog

Beth's Urban Tales of Wonder and Decay

Beth Mann

Beth Mann
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, USA
November 11
Hot Buttered Media
I'm a writer and creative consultant. I have years of experimental comedy and strange theater under my belt. I surf. I cook. I love wine, men and song. And puppies. I effin' love puppies.

JANUARY 21, 2012 7:25PM

My Top Ten Netflix Streaming Suggestions

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It doesn't take much to excite me at this point of the winter. It's cold, dreary and desolate at the Jersey shore and I wear pajamas and my "suicide robe" (as I affectionately call it) entirely too much. Teeth are brushed only if they're lucky. And one day last week, I actually watched dust settle. I swear.

BUT Netflix has been quite enjoyable. I don't have cable television. My TV is my computer now. And thanks to all the great shows and movies available, I can be entertained by something other than taking out the trash.

The following list contains shows that can all be streamed CURRENTLY. No DVD needed!

1. Wire in the Blood

Wire in the Blood is one of the finest criminal investigations dramas I've seen (and trust me, I watch a lot of them). Psychologist Dr. Tony Hill (played by the amazing Robson Green) is teamed up with a tough female detective to track down serial killers. (After watching this series, you'll think that the UK is just teeming with them, when in actuality, they are a rarity.)

The acting is what really makes this show standout. Robson Green's character truly immerses himself in the mind of each serial killer, so we really get a deep sense of their inner workings. Each show is more like a mini well-crafted movie. (Apparently this lead to the program's demise; they consistently went over budget.)

(Beware: this show is not for the meek at heart; there is seriously disturbing content in some episodes.)

2. The Guardian


My boyfriend Simon Baker. Shh...he doesn't know yet!

I never heard about this show, nor had I seen Simon Baker in The Mentalist (which, after viewing recently, isn't even in the same league as The Guardian). But after one episode, I was hooked. It's a smart premise, ripe with possibility: a cocky, coke-addicted corporate lawyer is busted on a drug charge. His punishment: serve 1500 hours as a child advocate at a legal aid service.

Nick Fallin becomes incrementally more human and vulnerable with each touching case. I'm not sure how he didn't win an award for his performance. His portrayal is extremely subtle but resonant. And Dabney Coleman, as his father, is wonderful as always.

The stand-out supporting actor in the series is Raphael Sbarge, Nick's good-natured associate. His portrayal of a man deeply struggling with his sexuality is poignant and complex. Wendy Moniz as Nick's love interest is damn cute and likable.

3. Trust


Directed by David Schwimmer of Friends fame, I did not expect much from this movie. But it's smooth, taut and genuinely spooky. It follows a teenage girl's seduction by a middle-aged Internet predator and the affects it has on her family after she's assaulted by him.

The teenage girl (played by Liana Liberato) is spot on; you couldn't ask for a more well-crafted performance of a girl her age. And Clive Owen and Catherine Keener as the parents wrestling with the aftermath are both in top form.

David Schwimmer...who would have thunk, right?

4. The Guilty

The Guilty actor Michael Kitchen, my other new boyfriend. (Don't tell Simon.)

The Brits just do television and film a bit better. It's true, admit it. Sure their production value often lags behind ours (why does everything they do look it's shot in the 80's?), but they make up for it with superb nuanced acting, better comedic abilities, and a certain "regularness" to their characters (meaning they don't look like supermodels so are therefore more relatable.)

I won't say much about this two-part TV show because it would be too easy to give aspects of it away. In short, three wildly different people's lives collide in a rather catastrophic way. Very worth the watch.

5. Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Cave Dwellers

I'm guessing most of us have watched this "guilty pleasure" show in the past, where three critics mercilessly rip apart B-movies of yore. I find it the perfect recipe if you're sick and in bed or a low-key party where weed is involved. It's just the right amount of mindless entertainment.

I was going to suggest Mitchell, one of my personal favorites, but you have to order the DVD for that one. Manos: the Hands of Fate is in the process of being remastered, so you might to check out that eternal crowd pleaser.

And here's a best of list I found that's pretty on point. Make sure you check out the list - not all MST3K episodes are created equal.

(I generally fast forward through the opening and the show hosts comedic bits in between; they're just not that funny.)

(Mitchell! Forward to 5:15, past the unfunny.)

6. Law & Order - The Whole Lot of Them

I used to be preferential to only early Law & Order (the original) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. But the truth is, they are all good in their own right (though I confess, I never have seen or plan on seeing the court room drama one).

I also used to avidly dislike Law & Order: Criminal Intent because I have such a love/hate issue with Vincent D'onofrio. But guess what? At this point of the year, I love him again. He's really an amazing actor; he's just annoying sometimes.

But Law & Order SVU is professionalism to the nth degree. A well-oiled machine. Dick Wolf and and his gang just know how to put a TV show together, formulaic as it may be. Can't stop watching the damn shows. It's the Pringles of television.

7. Goodbye Again

I'm not sure how I stumbled across this movie, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Interestingly, it's not very well-reviewed and I'm not sure why. Anthony Perkins is so energetic and endearing in his portrayal (almost a shame he's so inextricably connected in our minds with Psycho).

And I'll tell you a secret: I never understood why Ingrid Bergman is considered a good actress. She always felt a bit...flat to me. But in this movie, I got it. She's very understated in her approach, which I mistook.

In short, Anthony Perkin's character, in his 20's, falls hard for Bergman's character, in her 40's and unhappily involved. Bergman begins to have feelings for him, which she's conflicted about.

Here's a 5-minute clip that gives you a good idea of Perkin's abilities:

8. Charmed (The Shannen Doherty years)

Laugh if you must, but I'm a big Charmed fan. I don't know why. Why does one like cupcakes or skinny menthol cigarettes?

Do I have to explain the plot? Okay, it's about three witches who have high-level supernatural abilities. They team up to fight crime, evil, blah, blah, blah.

As you may have noted, I suggest the early years only. Once Prue dies, the show goes to pot. Alyssa Milano wears ridiculous outfits where you're forced to look at her well-trained abs for a half hour. And Rose McGowan just does not have the cajones that Doherty had. (Doherty played a witch for a very good reason...and you can guess what that is.)

9. Behaving Badly

Suggested to me by Open Salon's mumbletypeg after writing my last piece about proudly releasing your inner bitch, this mini-series is fun and unusual.

Judi Dench plays a woman who has hit a certain limit in her life and begins to act out in "strange" ways. I don't want to give away much more than that, but her portrayal is contained yet daring. She weaves so much class into her bitchiness. My bitch is much more sophisticated after watching her bitch.

Production value is lacking a bit, but again, it's streaming and available; I don't care as much if I'm not in a theater or ordering a DVD.

10: I Know Where I'm Going

pamela brown_thumb
Not the lead actress, but a thoroughly enchanting supporting role by Pamela Brown. angry! This isn't available for streaming anymore. But this was definitely one of my favorite finds so I just had to add it. This is an adorable, magical little movie filmed entirely in Scotland.

 It follows headstrong Joan Webster (actress Wendy Hiller) who knows exactly what she wants in life, until she's stranded in a rugged Scottish village by the sea. It's there she begins to re-evaluate her decisions.

Okay, so you'll have to order this one then. There are bonus features on it apparently. And you can tell me all about them. Just loved this slightly surreal, special film.

Also want to tip my virtual hat to Monsieur Chariot, who writes amazing and entertaining reviews for Open Salon and inspired me to try my hand at it.



A Place of Execution

Sherlock-  BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch (suggested several times)

The Secret Parrots of Telegraph Hill  (on DVD)

Goodbye Solo (on DVD)

House of Cards

Thirty-two Short PIeces about Glenn Gould (suggested several times)

Strictly Ballroom

 Kagemusha, by Akira Kurosawa. Great samurai movie.

 Ridicule. A marvelous French movie, both hilarious and profound.

The Cove. A great documentary about the whale slaughter in Taiji, Japan. Given the difficulty of filming, this is a kind of "Mission Impossible Meets National Geographic."

The Journey of August King. Very moving film about a man who risks everything in order to help another person.

Monsters. A very interesting and different kind of monster/sci-fi movie.

Downfall. Movie about Hitler's last 12 days as seen through the experience of his secretary.

Precious. A pregnant and abused teenage girl works to better her life.


Trees Lounge

The Grifters


The Third Man

The Burning Plane

Witness for the Prosecution

Winter's Bone


Hannah Takes the Stairs

Down to the Bone

The Fighter

Downtown Abbey

Busting Down the Door (great surf movie on Hulu)

Peep Show

Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Jack Frost

The High Cost of Living 

Place of Execution

Queen: Making of a Night at the Opera (LOVED IT!)

Let the Right One In

Doc Martin


Macho - an indie about a doomed love affair

The Mighty Boosh

The Royle Family








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Shoot, I had "I Know Where I'm Going" in my instant queue for the longest time, but never got around to watching it. Why are some things available for streaming sometimes, but not others?

I'll add two more here, "A Place of Execution", a two-part BBC series with Juliet Stevenson (murder mystery) and the three-part "Sherlock" BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (from the British version of "The Office").

Thanks for all the great recommendations!
Thanks Beth for the great recommendations. I havn't tried streaming videos yet but these are good suggestions, none the less.
MST 3K is always a treat. You have to not watch the movie and pay attention to the non-sequituers
I have seen a few of the TV series, but I was pleased to see you include "I Know Where I'm Going," which is a delightfully understated film. Too bad it's no longer streamable.

Last year, I streamed an excellent little American indie called "Goodbye Solo." However, I just checked Netflix and it too is no longer available for streaming.
Trust and The Guilty both sound pretty good to me Beth. I've seen Michael Kitchen in a few shows and have always liked him. He played the King in that fabulous BBC mini-series House of Cards; the best TV I've seen aside from I Claudius. He also stars as a detective during WW2 in the delightful Foyle's War.

A big Ingrid Bergman fan here. No surprise as Casablanca's my favorite movie.
Great choices all. I don't have Netflix, but sometimes I can find them on YouTube.
Here are a few worthy instant play things that you may have missed:

1) Thirty-two Short PIeces about Glenn Gould. A strange and eccentric biopic about the strange and eccentric world-famous pianist Glenn Gould. When I was a young piano student my favorite pianist was the Russian Sviatoslav Richter, but no one has made a movie about him. Anyway, Gould was a fascinating character, and the movie really captures his genius and eccentricities.

2) Strictly Ballroom. Very enjoyable and funny dance movie from Australia.

3) Kagemusha, by Akira Kurosawa. Great samurai movie.

4) Ridicule. A marvelous French movie, both hilarious and profound.

5) The Cove. A great documentary about the whale slaughter in Taiji, Japan. Given the difficulty of filming, this is a kind of "Mission Impossible Meets National Geographic."

6) The Journey of August King. Very moving film about a man who risks everything in order to help another person.

7) Monsters. A very interesting and different kind of monster/sci-fi movie.

8) Downfall. Movie about Hitler's last 12 days as seen through the experience of his secretary.

9) Precious. A pregnant and abused teenage girl works to better her life. Terrific story with great acting.

Not on instant view but available on DVD is Carlos Saura's flamenco trilogy: El Amor Brujo, Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding), and Carmen. If you like flamenco and haven't see these, do not walk but run to your Netflix queue and put them in, along with "Flamenco," by director Saura.
OMG, Strictly Ballroom is streamable!!!

Best. Movie. Ever.
The thing about Netflix streaming -- no investment. You can stop anytime and try something else.,

Here are some things that are more than good enough for netflix, but I wouldn't pay $5 or $10 (or whatever a movie costs these days).

1. Criminal.
2. Trees Lounge. (Steve Buscemi)
3. The Grifters. (Based on Jim Thompson noir Novel)
4. Helvetica.
5. The Third Man.
6. The Burning Plane.
7. Witness for the Prosecution.
8. Winter's Bone.
9. Klepto.
10. Hannah Takes the Stairs.
11. Down to the Bone.
12. The Fighter.

I just looked at my 'see it again' list. This stuff is all over the place, with a few classics, some really quirky films, etc.
Thirty-two Short PIeces about Glenn Gould

This is a perfect Netflix movie. I loved the visual showing his daily drug intake.

It's the sort of thing that you will either love or hate and you can just try it out.
Hi, Beth! I do streaming from netflix, too. Isn't it great? Thanks for sharing this list.
I must check out The Guardian as I a huge fan of British television as I grew up on it. I am going to check this out after finishing the seasons of Downton Abbey. Really hooked on this.
Good thoughts Beth!!
Will add suggestions tomorrow. (I think that's why I secretly did this list: I need some new stuff to watch!)

Nick, exactly: streaming movies or TV shows is very different. Something like Trust, I probably wouldn't have seen in the theater or even wanted to watch on DVD....but streaming, perfect.

Linda, The Guardian isn't British. Should have clarified. That's shot in Pittsburgh. By far, one of my favorites on the list though. Like Friday Night Lights, its a show with a heart.
Thanks for this. I am currently a Netflix streaming junkie. I'm going to check out the The Guardian. Would you mind sharing Simon Baker?
Ooh, thanks for this. And kisses to Mr. Chariot.

Streaming for free, for You, right now- The Real Story Of It All!
Don't have netflix either but some great food for thought! Good information...well presented.
First, I love your list, and will be looking for these...I'm already a fan of "Wire in the Blood," MST3K, and "Law and Order," and am looking forward to checking out the other suggestions. I'll add the British comedy "Peep Show," if you can get it. It's probably not for everyone, but damn, it's funny...
Interesting list. Loved Wire In the Blood.
Thank you for the list. I have to admit, I"m not a big fan of crime/legal stuff - but then I got to "Mystery Science Theater" and was like, "Oh, YEAH!" In terms of a great episode of MST3K, have you seen "Jack Frost"? That's my absolute favorite. And I love your question about why British shows always look like they're shot in the eighties. I feel like maybe it's a budget thing and they can't invest in HD cameras? I've always wondered that, too. "Downton Abbey," one of my current TV addictions (though season 2 was a bit of a letdown), is a British show that actually looks up to par with a US one in terms of camera work. I think they must have pulled out all the stops.

Thanks again for this great list - I very much enjoyed it, and though I can't get Netflix here in France (and I guess from what you wrote it doesn't matter), I'll see if I can find "I Know Where I'm Going" on DVD - it sounds really cool.
♥╚═══╝╚╝╚╝╚═══╩═══╝─╚because nobody could pick them better...
Thank you! I was languishing in Kardashian-style reality hell and dying for an actual scripted something to watch. Netflix here I come.
The High Cost of Living starring Zach Braff. Very well made Indie film from 2010. As for David Schwimmer and directing, I believe that's where he and Braff excel. Schwimmer is an all business guy. His movie choices for acting I believe came from his Ross typecast.
Thank you for these excellent suggestions. I shall explore. We share the lack of a television, missing of Monsiuer Chariot, and imaginary boyfriends, although yours are safe from me. I am holding out for Sir David Attenborough, while crushing on Mr. Bates in Downton Abbey. What is it with those proper Britty men?!
Netflix rules! Thanks for this shout out. My husband told me about the Guradian some time ago. When he noticed I was watching The Mentalist he said the same thing about how The Guardian was much better but unfortunately short-lived. I will add it to my instant queue today. Oh, and thanks for mentioning Goodbye Again....loved it!
nice well written reviews, R. see also sexy relationship movies
Another vote for "Sherlock". You'll fall in love with every one of the characters (well, except maybe Moriarty ... and even he is VERY well done.) Also, check out The Secret of Kells. A wonderfully lyrical story told in non-traditional animation.
Hi, Beth. My latest blog is a list of eleven selections for you on Netflix. I loved your list because there were some things I had not seen. Enjoy!
So glad I stumbled upon your list and well-crafted descriptions and reviews! Thanks for pointing out some new directions for interesting entertainment.
I feel ya on the whole winter thing. I'm a summer person, most definitely. I don't have Netflix, but I definitely love movies and Trust sounds very interesting. I'm a "Friends" fanatic, so go figure, David Schwimmer caught my eye.
bravo beth! well done. I'm so fortunate to have caught this terrific post during one of my late night tippy toeing through here. I'm going to queue these babies up. THANK YOU.


# 8 rocks! I love the indie movie Macho about a doomed love affair-exquisite!
Hi fellow Scorpio :) 'The Mighty Boosh' is great British comedy, my ultimate favourite however is 'The Royle Family'- Caroline Aherne is an amazing talent- I hope they're available. Toodles
I think my favorite thing about this post is your "suicide robe." Hysterical. I love it! Will check out "Wire in Their Blood." Right now I am obsessed with "Damages," even though when I watch five in a row, the flashback technique becomes less smart and almost ridiculous, but it beats American Idol.
Watched Macho. Sweet, simple. Very indie. Liked lead male particularly.

Watched Winter Bones. Interesting movie. Support cast was amazing. Lead actress also very good. Very different kind of movie.

Added the latest suggestions.

Moving along.
I rarely watch television because the good shows hide when I'm trying to find them. Thank you for the list, I'm inspired to try again.
Kick ass. I'm in need of some good stuff to check out. Gotta love the Netflix!