Something I didn’t realise was happening is that Netflix UK and Ireland actually has a blog and what they have been doing  on the rare update is providing information on which ISP’s are actually providing the fastest service. For the last couple of months the top two have always been Virgin and BT with BT coming out on top. Surprisingly though this month it’s switched around and Virgin is on top, considering the negative feedback I always hear about them this is very interesting.

If you google ‘Netflix News’ then you can usually find this blog and check the updates because otherwise it’s not the easiest thing to find via the site. It’s not only a good way of checking that you will get a reliable service if you are just starting out but a good way of seeing whether or not it is worth switching if you are not satisfied with your service (which hardly anyone ever seems to be). Not only that but due to Netflix’s recent naming and shaming policy for poor service providers, it’s a pretty good way for them to highlight shortcomings and get ISP’s to up their game.

Speaking of Netflix, they have added a whole bunch of content this week, some new, some old recycled from previous expiry. Due to the continued absence of the ‘Recently Added’ viewing option, it’s no longer easy to quantify what’s going on but browsing around each section via your favourite genre will eventually make it obvious.

This week’s new additions of note are as follows:


Turbo (2013)

DreamWorks animation studios have suffered a bit of a downward spiral as of late. After the triumphs of Puss in Boots and How to Train Your Dragon, they maintained the quality into Rise of the Guardians but nobody showed up. Even How to Train Your Dragon 2 was something of a box office disappointment despite being one of the best films of this summer.

Turbo is a worrying move back to something more generic by DreamWorks. It’s about a snail that wants to race of course and win the Indy 500 and is an interesting spin on the tortoise and hare story. It must have seemed like an obvious blockbuster on paper but sadly it was not to be and Turbo disappointed at the box office.

It’s entertaining enough and the younger kids will lap it up but DreamWorks have proved they can and will do better and it’s only a matter of time before they have a colossal success along the lines of Frozen or Toy Story again.  In case you’re really into Turbo, the original animated series is over on Netflix after you are done here.

Available on Now TV

Closed Circuit

Closed Circuit (2013)

This was a very low-key release from last year that squeaked out in US cinemas in the spring and then did the same here in September with nary an eye batted. You could be forgiven for watching the trailer, seeing Eric Bana in it and thinking it looked like an overblown episode of something that would air Sunday night on the BBC. Closed Circuit follows a high-profile terrorism court case which throws two former lovers together on the defence team, throwing their lives into turmoil. Despite appearances that lean toward the bland, the few people who saw this seem to defend it though it is pretty far away from a proper thrilling thriller and a disappointment from writer Steven Knight who did so well with Hummingbird.

Available on Now TV


Big Bad Wolves (2013)

There are times when the critical consensus on a film really does baffle me and I find myself having to watch something again in order to understand what all the fuss is about, I may be turned around on second viewing or I may stand my ground and still consider it underwhelming.

Big Bad Wolves is such a film, lauded by everyone from Empire Magazine to Quentin Tarantino who considered it his favourite film of last year. At the moment I am on the side of thinking it was good but I don’t understand the adulation. Big Bad Wolves is a timely tale of a vigilante kidnapping of a suspected paedophile by people who are overwhelmed with their pain and want to take it out on the man responsible, although it’s possible they got the wrong guy.

Most of it takes place in one location and involves lots of bloody, wince inducing torture and some darker than black comedy. Undoubtedly worth a watch because you may well love it, me I’m adding it to my list for a second watch.

Available on Netflix

Red 2

Red 2 (2013)

It’s a real shame that Bruce Willis acted like he did on the press tour for this sequel to the surprise action hit of 2010 because the film he was supposed to be supporting is actually really decent. Yes I am of the opinion that Red 2 is a superior film to the first one and the reason is we have all the ‘ooh look their old, isn’t that funny?’ gimmickry out of the way so that now there is a thrilling story with these characters rather than the absurdity of the situation propelling things.

You still get the odd moment of comedy coming from the age issues present in the oddball killers played by John Malkovich and Helen Mirren but it’s largely on the backseat. What you do get is a fast paced action romp with a fairly intelligent script, twists and reveals and genuine laughs. The action scenes are directed with much more urgency than the first film and Mary Louise Parker and Bruce Willis ongoing relationship is really actually kind of cute.

Add into the mix Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee proving again that he should be a huge star worldwide and you have a film that is a real safe bet for a night of action entertainment.

Available on Amazon Prime


One Chance (2013)

When I went to see something at the flicks last October, this was playing at the same time and the young lady at the counter of our local Cineworld thought I had said two tickets for One Chance by mistake. When I corrected her mistake she said: “Yeah I would rather peel my own skin off too”.

An extreme reaction perhaps but there again James Corden, who still hasn’t recovered from his prolonged period of overexposure around 2008 and 2009, is playing a character that was made famous by Britain’s Got Talent, so it’s like a perfect storm of everything bad about British culture in one big film.

To be fair Corden has redeemed himself somewhat by an acclaimed turn on Broadway and some good supporting roles and the story of shy wannabe opera singer Paul Potts is a touching one that deserves telling. It’s just getting through those initial repellent layers to the heart-warming story beneath.

Available on Now TV


Thanks for Sharing (2013)

I like Mark Ruffalo; he was the best thing in Now You See Me and has given us a perfect representation of Bruce Banner on-screen. In between Marvel movies, Ruffalo still has a commitment to doing great work in low-key indie dramas. Thanks for Sharing is like the warm and fuzzy version of Steve McQueen’s Shame, with director Stuart Blumberg favouring pathos and comradery over the cold isolation of McQueen’s film.

So various sex addicts played by Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Josh Gad go about their lives in New York all struggling to maintain a façade of normalcy. It is not without its darker moments but ultimately this is uplifting and proves the group support session matrix around these afflictions really works. Tim Robbins is especially impressive in this and it feels like it’s been a long time since he has had a role this meaty, his character here could have a whole film by himself. Occasionally it feels like the sitcom Friends with heavy undertones but it’s still well worth watching.

Available on Netflix

Ted 3

Ted (2012)

So much has been said about Seth Macfarlane’s live action comedy debut already that I really don’t have much to add. Ted is still two years on, very funny indeed. Mark Wahlberg again proves his talent for comedy, Macfarlane packs in all the pop culture references you have come to expect from him and the film is surprisingly sweet amongst all the filthy jokes. Ted 2 has recently started production and aims to come out next summer.

Available on Amazon Prime


Batman: The Dark Knight Returns part 1 (2012)

As a long time comic and Batman nerd, I can honestly say hand on heart that Jay Oliva’s two part animated straight to video take on Frank Miller’s seminal classic is probably my favourite on-screen representation of the character. It just gets everything right, the voice cast, the story is beat for beat Miller’s graphic novel and the animation is beautiful.

Even if some of Miller’s story tropes and depiction of the future is very early 90’s (he did write Robocop 2 remember) I still had my heart in my mouth when certain moments from the book appeared on screen.  Amazon have put this up alone without part two which is a shame because watching them back to back is the way to do this. Hopefully you will be able to stream both through Amazon at the same time before too long.

Available on Amazon Prime


13 Assassins (2010)

Nothing in Takashi Miike’s previous resume quite prepared us for what he did with the samurai film even if the more overtly Miike parts were cut out for international release. 13 Assassins is epic, pulse pounding and bloody filmmaking on a scale we rarely see coming out of Japan anymore.

It’s a simple tale of a group of assassins going to execute a maniacal and insane lord who has sadistically ruined the lives of simple farm folk. This is one of those films where the bad guy is truly bad and just has to die by the hand of these badasses throwing a grey world into stark black and white. The final hour is just all battle with blood and mud flying all over the shop in a stunning manner. Simply put this is one of the best films of the decade so far and is a must see.

Available on Netflix


V For Vendetta (2005)

I think one of the first things that made me move towards never reading anybody else’s Reviews for anything until I had seen it for myself was the reception that greeted this film in the geek community. Delayed by around 5 months due to the 7th July terrorist attack in London, when the film was seen it had people claiming it had the power to overthrow the George.W.Bush era of government so strong was the love for it.

James McTeague’s adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal Thatcher era graphic novel isn’t quite as good as that but bear with me here, it really is one of the better comic book adaptations of recent times and has a dangerous feel to it. A lot of the things that are present if not in the Moore book then the Waschowski’s screenplay are really taking to task a lot of the injustice that was taking place in the world at that time and from a terrorist’s point of view as well.

Sterner critics will say that this justifies terrorism but the short answer is no it justifies freedom at any price and like the Guy Fawkes story; it’s something that shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s no coincidence that the anonymous movement have adopted the V mask as a symbol and if this film makes the largely passive UK public question their government then that is a good thing. V for Vendetta joins Children of Men and Arcade Fire’s Intervention album as one of the best pieces of art work produced during that awful period post 9/11 when it seemed we stood on the brink of destruction.

Available on Now TV


Copland (1997)

Back in the late 90’s Sylvester Stallone was becoming something of a self-parody and getting paid tens of millions of dollars to star in underwritten rubbish like Judge Dredd and Daylight. So in an effort to re-establish his credibility ala John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, he teamed up with at indie director James Mangold for this tale of an overweight and partially deaf small town sheriff exposing the corruption at the heart of a town made up of New York City cops.

Now let’s not forget that Stallone started out in Rocky which was nominated for Oscars and also gave an amazing performance in the first Rambo film First Blood, so the guy can act and considering he is surrounded by people like Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta, in Copland Stallone gives an amazing performance, holding his own like he’s been doing it for decades. This could have just been an acting showcase and to some extent it is but Copland also tells a classic Stallone underdog story in a really compelling hard-boiled manner.

After this Stallone chose more low-key scripts but didn’t work with any directors of note as per usual so he practically disappeared for a decade until coming back with Rocky and Rambo revivals until the ultimate self-parody of The Expendables films, a shame. If you haven’t seen Copland then seek it out immediately.

Available on Netflix


Toy Story 1, 2 and 3 (1995,1999,2010)

Whilst whispers continue about the fourth film which is neither needed nor really necessary, Now TV has made all three of the original Toy Story films available via streaming. The first was a game changer, based on a Joss Whedon screenplay and with ground breaking computer animation; it set the template for Pixar studios for the next fifteen years of entertainment.

Though the animation looks a bit primitive compared to what came later, Toy Story is still great. The second movie is even better, moving the action out of the bedroom and the garden and into the big wide world, it was originally intended to be straight to video but was simply too good for that. Toy Story 2 introduces new characters and has some real emotional beats rarely seen in animation. For the third film they waited a very long time until they had a story worth telling and my word, it’s rare that a third film in any franchise ends up the best of the lot but that’s what happened.

Toy Story 3 was the last film in Pixar’s incredible run of great films because then it was Cars 2 and Brave but it’s possible with 3 they just peaked because it’s a remarkable piece of work not just a great piece of animation but an astounding piece of writing with a maturity and thread of lost innocence that will go straight over most kids heads and evoke tears in the adults. Toy Story 3 is a natural and perfect end for a franchise that really should only now come back in those welcome holiday shorts that we seem to be getting.

Available on Now TV


Orphan Black

Orphan Black – Season One (2013)

Sometime last summer on the US-based podcasts I listen to, the hosts started to talk about a show that had debuted on BBC America called Orphan Black. It was quite good apparently but I had never heard of it and hadn’t even heard of it screening on our own BBC and I like to think I’ve got my ear to the ground.

So I waited for the DVD set to come out and then it sat in my Lovefilm queue for ages. Now it’s on both Netflix and Amazon and finally I watched the first episode last night. Orphan Black concerns a young woman from a troubled background who witnesses her exact double throw herself in front of a train one night and then steals the woman’s handbag and poses as her when it turns out she has some money saved. It turns out that the dead woman is a cop who is at the heart of some kind of cloning conspiracy.

Orphan Black is a Canadian production with a mix of Canadian and British performers and is filmed in Canada so it has a strange air of unfamiliarity where you can’t quite place where it could set be like most TV, it doesn’t seem to be Toronto or Vancouver and both have been used as locations for years.

Although it does have the odd air of ‘ooh look aren’t we edgy’ gratuitous sex and violence that so ruined a lot of BBC3, Orphan Black is the TV equivalent of a literary page turner. So much happens in episode one with twists turns and unexpected death all over the place and I will breeze through the ten episode first series this week. Knowing that series two has just finished and series three is on the way, I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Available on Netflix / Amazon Prime

Pay Per View

Available this week to stream for a fee:


The Double (2014)

You have a wonderfully talented writer, director and actor named Richard Ayoade working in the industry who made a great debut with Submarine a few years ago. His next feature is even more unique and based on classic literature by Dostoyevsky starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska and has received great reviews.

On the other hand your industry is throwing money at films featuring singing post men, talent show winning dogs and crappy musicals so which are you going to give more screens to? Yes it was difficult to find a cinema near you showing The Double when it came out this spring unless you wanted to trek somewhere for two hours.

Now it’s out on the home video markets, everyone will get a chance to see this unique piece of work the likes of which the British film industry distributors need to put more faith in for the future.

Available on Film4OD/Filmflex/Virgin Movies/EE/blinkbox


Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

After the Muppets triumphant return to cinemas a couple of years back with the life affirming brilliance of James Bobin’s reboot, it was inevitable the follow-up would be something more plot driven.

Much of the talent except for Jason Segal is still involved but somehow here it’s more generic and hasn’t gone down as well as the 2011 film. Still if your kids like colour and funny voices this will distract them long enough whilst you make dinner.

Available on Film4OD/Filmflex/Virgin Movies/EE/blinkbox

Labor Day (2013)

Jason Reitman has abandoned the somewhat satirical and human black comedy of Young Adult, Thank You for Smoking and Up in the Air for something a lot more classic and straight with Labor Day.

When initially screened, word of mouth on this was pretty poisonous but critical consensus has since come around to say this tale of a Josh Brolin shaped criminal on the run shacking up with Kate Winslet, is actually not bad at all.

Available on Film4OD/Filmflex/Virgin Movies/EE/blinkbox

Almost Human

Almost Human (2013)

Joe Begos throwback to the John Carpenter era of sci-fi horror got the pre-requisite good buzz at horror film festivals worldwide but has since struggled in the real world with a lot of claims that it’s boring or too low-budget to pull off its big ideas. There is a strong gore quota which should keep the more blood thirsty amongst you quiet for an hour and a bit.

Available on Film4OD/Filmflex/Virgin Movies/EE/blinkbox

Adult World

Adult World (2013)

Sometimes you hear about an indie flick full of promise which then goes nowhere for a couple of years and then magically appears on the streaming services from out of the blue (see also The Spectacular Now). Adult World is that film for this week and stars hot Evan Peters, middling Emma Roberts and a John Cusack who has seen better days.

Roberts plays a young woman who dreams of being a great poet working at a sex shop whilst trying to be mentored by Cusack’s recluse writer. I keep waiting for Cusack to make a comeback and Roberts to finally break out, this probably isn’t it but it may work on its premise alone.

Available on Film4OD/Filmflex/Virgin Movies/EE/blinkbox