From comedy and thrillers, to Doctor Who and Orphan Black, Anthony O'Brien gives us a lowdown of all that is new on Netflix for the month of April.
Do you feel like you’ve watched everything on Netflix? The recent implementation of enhanced VPN and Proxy detection has raised a lot of anger from many subscribers in Ireland and internationally, but if you’re sticking with the service, here’s a selection of some of the best of what’s new on Netflix for April.
TV series and miniseries
Absolutely Fabulous (1993-2012)
Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley star in this classic BBC sitcom about Edina and Patsy, two badly behaved middle aged women who need to be taken care of by Edina’s responsible daughter Saffron. (5 Seasons and Olympics Special).
Doctor Who: Season 8 (2014)
Peter Capaldi made his debut as the 12th (Well, 13th. Let’s not get into it) Doctor in this season, and was well-received in his portrayal of the body-changing time traveller. He is well matched by Michelle Gomez as Missy, who brings a new spin to the show’s ensemble of villains.
Orphan Black: Season 3 (2015)
Tatiana Maslany plays MORE clones and finally was nominated for an Emmy last year for her half-dozen performances in this cult Canadian sci-fi series. The third season of the show further uncovers the backstory of the cloning conspiracy alongside Allison’s school board election/drug dealing escapades.
All 8 seasons of the BBC series about con artists that brought back the style of classic sixties series like Mission: Impossible, and led to the scam-exposing BBC3 series The Real Hustle.
The Honourable Woman (2014)
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a baroness trying to forge ties between Israelis and Palestinians, and stirs up international attention in this acclaimed spy thriller BBC miniseries.
Scrotal Recall: Season 1 (2014)
Yes, you read that name right. A smarter-then-it-sounds sitcom about a man who must contact all his former sexual partners when he diagnosed with Chlamydia. Sweet, smart and scrotal.
The Ranch (2016)
Alright, this looks awful, but it’s the closest you’ll get to a That 70’s Show reunion. Incidentally, Netflix does have ALL of That 70’s show.
Terrace House (2015)
A Netflix Original Japanese reality series similar to Big Brother that’s made a big splash in Japan and is available with English subtitles for the adventurous reality show connoisseur.
Warrior Women (2003)
Lucy Lawless, star of Xena: Warrior Princess, hosts this documentary series telling the stories of real-life “warrior women” throughout history, including Irish Pirate Chief Grace O’Malley.
The Gift (2015)
Thriller starring Jason Bateman about a married couple, Simon and Robyn, whose lives become complicated when an old high school friend of Simon’s shows up and doesn’t want to leave. A more nuanced thriller than it appears at first glance.
Mind-bending time travel sci-fi from Rian Johnson, director of Star Wars Episode VIII (i.e. the next proper Star Wars movie.) Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt both play Joe, a hitman in the future, with Willis coming back in time from Levitt’s future (the future-future) to stop the future-future from happening. The film makes fun of the silliness of it all before telling a really good story; watch it and relax about the premise.
45 Years (2015)
A romantic drama about an retired married couple, Kate and Geoff, about to celebrate their 45th anniversary, who must deal with revelations about Geoff’s past that upturn Kate’s understanding of their marriage and makes her reconsider everything about their life. Directed by Andrew Haigh, who previously directed the acclaimed romantic drama Weekend, this film is a slow and intricate portrayal of a long-term marriage and how it adapts in the face of a new understanding of each other’s history.
Non-narrative and dialogue free documentary film in the style of Koyaanisqatsi, about nature and civilisation and the capacity of humanity to both be a witness to natural phenomena and a source of wondrous marvels and barbaric acts. In the words of Roger Ebert:
“If man sends another Voyager to the distant stars and it can carry only one film on board, that film might be "Baraka." It uses no language, so needs no translation. It speaks in magnificent images, natural sounds, and music both composed and discovered. It regards our planet and the life upon it. It stands outside of historical time. To another race, it would communicate: This is what you would see if you came here. Of course this will all long since have disappeared when the spacecraft is discovered.”
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Describing a Wes Anderson film never does it justice. It just needs to be said that this film is him at his peak, his visual style and idiosyncratic narrative style having matured into oddball comedy classics and it was his best received film since The Royal Tenenbaums. You’ll either love it or hate it. There is little in-between.
I worked in Argos the last two Christmases, so I’ve gotten the impression this film is a wee bit popular with the young ones. It’s about sisterhood, letting go and everything being frozen.
The Ides of March (2011)
Written by Beau Willimon, creator of the American remake of House of Cards that launched Netflix’s original programming, it stars Ryan Gosling as a beleaguered idealist press secretary fighting against the mudslinging of a bitter presidential campaign.
I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor star as lovelorn gay inmates in this dark comedy that was swept under the rug due to uninterested US distributors.
Oscar-winning black comedy about a news anchor that loses his mind live on air and ends up improving the network’s ratings because of it. The film is considered to have been remarkably prescient about the modern media.
Grease: Live (2016)
A remake of Grease sounds like sacrilege, but this TV movie skirts the issue of trying to live up to the original film and simply succeeds as a well-received tribute to the John Travolta and Olivia Newton John - starring classic musicals that your grandparents watched when they were your age.
The Women’s List (2015)
Documentary interviewing fifteen American women who have been feminist trailblazers about how they rose to fame and fortune.
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Sidney Poitier starred in this acclaimed film about an African-American detective tasked with working with a racist southern sheriff on a murder case that won five academy awards.
TV series: Power: Seasons 1 and 2, Falling Skies: Seasons 1-4, Suits Season 4, Peaky Blinders Season 2, Better Call Saul Season 2 (Ongoing weekly until April 18th), Once Upon a Time Season 5 (Ongoing weekly), Wonders of Life (2013).
Turbo Kid (2015), Defiance (2008), Robot and Frank (2012), Remember Me (2010), Die Hard (1988), The Hunting Ground (2015), Deep Web (2015), The Woman in Black (2012), David Bowie: Five Years (2013).
Coming later this month:
Moneyball, Ronaldo, How to Train your Dragon, Shrek 1-3, Netflix Original film Special Correspondents, and Season 2 of the Netflix Original series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Leaving Netflix April 4th:
24 Seasons 4-8 and The Artist Is Present.