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Netflix recommendations by the CLTure staff

CLTure Staff

We here at CLTure are dedicated to guiding you toward the very best entertainment in Charlotte, especially if you’re already paying $7.99 a month for it. Our staff writers and creatives will help you sift through the myriad of options on Netflix to help you find the very best movies, documentaries and TV series. Here is what we’ve been watching this month:

BACK IN TIME (Documentary) — Great Scott, we’re in the future! Yes, Back to the Future fans, we are finally in 2015, and while we don’t have hoverboards, we do have this documentary showing the impact the films have had on society. Hop in the Netflix DeLorean and travel back to the late-‘70s and early-‘80s to see how Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale and Steven Spielberg created the greatest time travel movie of all time. You will also see how the fans were affected in their lifestyles, as well as being inspired to create some of the technological advances shown in the movie. You don’t need roads to enjoy this documentary. — Eric Cutchin, Photographer, Writer

BATTLE ROYALE (Movie) — starring Chiaki Kuriyama (of Gogo Yubari fame) and acclaimed Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, this film adaptation of the gory novel takes an amplified approach to the survivalist Lord of the Flies, and pits an entire Japanese middle school class against each other in a bloody, last-man-standing fight amongst 14-year-olds. Largely regarded as the book The Hunger Games stole its premise from, this film executes the plotline with all of the culture quirks you would expect from a Japanese film, while still being relatable enough to make you think about your own behavior in a survivalist scenario. — Alison Tracy, Writer

CHEF (Movie) – After dabbling in big-budget Hollywood blockbusters for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man 1 and 2), and misfiring with the disappointing Cowboys and Aliens, writer/director Jon Favreau gets back to his indie roots with this charming and endearing story about Carl Casper (Favreau), a chef whose career gets derailed following a viral video and a Twitter war with a famous restaurant critic (Oliver Platt), leading him to pick up the pieces and start anew with a food truck. With a stellar supporting cast that includes Dustin Hoffman, Marvel friends Robert Downey, Jr., and Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale as Carl’s scene-stealing friends, Chef is a love letter to great food made with care, road trips and father/son bonding. The dialogue is sharp, the laughs are plentiful, the soundtrack is upbeat, and the cinematic approach to cooking something as simple as a grilled cheese will make your mouth water. One bit of advice: don’t watch this film hungry. — Sean Titone, Music Writer

THE FLASH (Series) — After a major scientific explosion occurs in Central City, Barry Allen is struck by lightning and is left comatose. Nine months later, Barry wakes up in a flash– and soon becomes The Flash, the iconic superhuman speedster. He develops his powers to fight emerging threats in the city, along with the demons of his past that come back into play. The incredible first season of The Flash tampers with your emotions. It forces you to constantly question character motives. But overall, it proves that comic book adaptations are still legitimate storytelling forces to be reckoned with.  — Patrick Bogans, Music Writer

MUSCLE SHOALS (Documentary) — As a music lover, I was both mesmerized and humbled by how much I learned from this documentary. The sheer number of recordings that have been produced in this small Alabama town– from Aretha Franklin to The Rolling Stones– is staggering. If you ever wondered what Lynyrd Skynyrd meant by The Swampers “picking me up when I’m feeling blue”, you’ll understand, and surely agree, after watching this film. — Nick Bequette, Music Writer

THE REF (Movie) – Featuring an all-star cast, the 1994 comedy The Ref is a holiday romp unlike any other that always puts me in the spirit– if that spirit is frustrated, armed and Irish. Starring Dennis Leary, Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis, and a spectacular supporting cast, the film centers on Gus (Leary), a cat burglar, who can’t catch a break on Christmas Eve. When a simple B&E goes awry that puts the cops on his tale, he takes Lloyd and Caroline Chasseur (Spacey and Davis) hostage as a means of using them to hide from the cops and find his way to the marina. Things escalate further when the Chasseurs’ extended family arrives for Christmas Eve dinner and Gus, Lloyd and Caroline must band together to keep everything as normal as possible. Not a commercial hit by any means, the film’s ludicrous premise mostly serves as a vehicle for Leary’s popular comedic fast-paced riffs that made bits like “I’m a A**hole” a radio hit.  Some people have National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to get them in the holiday spirit, I have the infinitely-quotable The Ref.  — Douglas Davidson, Film Writer

TOP OF THE LAKE (Series) — Acclaimed filmmaker Jane Campion brings extraordinary insight and texture to this patient and beautiful long-form crime story. Starring Mad Men alum Elisabeth Moss in a Golden Globe-winning turn as detective Robin Griffin, the series’ seven episodes center around the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl from an isolated New Zealand town. Campion’s touch can be seen in the uncommonly-gorgeous cinematography and in the refreshingly gender-aware approach to the series’ characters. Dark, steady, intelligent and criminally unknown to most viewers, Top of the Lake is one of my most treasured Netflix finds — Dan Cava, Film Editor

WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIO SHORT FILM COLLECTION (Collection) — When feeling nostalgic as the holidays roll around, look for some down home vintage Disney animation sprinkled with a couple contemporary stories with Disney’s Animation Studio Short Film Collection. Each short has its own unique emotive quality, brought forth through the classical erupting symphony of sound, color and line. Enjoy behind-the-scenes explanations of the creation of each film, the animators who made their dream a minuscule masterpiece, and of course, the shorts themselves, while cuddled up with family and friends during your holiday break. — Nikki Panos, Food Writer

CALIFORNICATION (Series) — David Duchovny flawlessly portrays a shamelessly-wanton and alcoholic best-selling author who has more conquests than sense. The show follows Hank Moody through his day-to-day home life, where he is constantly chasing after his baby momma (who’s completely out his league) and perpetually screwing it up, and raising a hipster-goth teenaged girl who, in a lot of ways, has a better head on her shoulders than her father. His personal life is ever-comical (and oddly entangled with his professional life), as Moody traverses questionable moral lines in both his overly-active sex life and dysfunctional professional life. Supporting character, Moody’s agent, Charlie, adds just the right amount of hilarious WTF to the show to make it memorable and addictive. — Liz Thomas, Music Writer

BACKSTAGE (Documentary) — In 1999, Dimension Films, Rocafella Records and Def Jam documented one of the highest grossing hip-hop tours in music history. The tour included animated hip-hop personalities and legends of the era, such as Jay-Z, DMX, Method Man, Redman, Beanie Sigel, Dame Dash, Kevin Liles, Memphis Bleek and many more. Covering the height of mainstream commercial hip-hop success, the documentary exposes many stereotypes about hip-hop culture, as the underlying motif attempts to eliminate prejudices about young African American rappers. Regardless, it affirmed the viability of hip-hop culture and influence on mainstream american society. The documentary is pure entertainment, as the landscape of hip-hop music has changed drastically, and some of the subjects in the film have taken catastrophic paths since the release of the film. — Cameron Lee, Founder

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