Instant Picks of the Week 12/11/2015
Gone are the days of scrolling mindlessly through your queue! No longer will you have to sift through the vastness of what’s coming to the instant viewing wastelands this month! Whether you’re looking for a stellar film or an exciting new show to binge, Instant Picks of the Week brings you the hottest releases in film and television on instant viewing platforms that we know you’ll love, or at the very least not despise.
TRANSPARENT: SEASON TWO (Amazon Prime)
With a surprisingly low amount of fanfare, the second season of Amazon’s most widely recognizable television content made itself available for streaming today. Existing within the same tonal ballpark as GIRLS, TRANSPARENT continues to offer complex and layered looks at its exceptionally dysfunctional characters, with a generally less sensationalistic tint than its aforementioned peer. Although Mort’s transition into Maura meets less immediate conflict on a day-to-day basis than in the show’s first ride around the merry-go-round, the second season continues to focus on the intricate and intimate relationship dynamics of the major, and often disruptive, life decisions of all of its characters. Shelly and Maura’s “will-they-won’t-they” rekindling of their marriage (transition included) is so far the second season’s strongest calling card, although Sarah’s attempts to deal with the aftermath of her falling-outs with both Len and Tammy continue to add dramatic weight. An admirable follow-up to the ground-breaking first season, TRANSPARENT will always impress for the realistic situations it puts its characters in, continually making its audience question just when “living your truth” crosses the border into a selfish lack of regard for your truth’s implications and aftermath. [Thomas Seraydarian]
SAFETY LAST! (Hulu)
I recently rewatched silent slapstick classic SAFETY LAST!, one of several Harold Lloyd movies on Hulu. Lloyd’s antics, being purely physical, still hold up for a modern audience. While movies like THE KID BROTHER and THE FRESHMAN are similarly hilarious and available to stream, SAFETY LAST! is the most accessible of the bunch, if only by virtue of its simplicity. Lloyd is equally endearing and captivating, creating comedy out of nothing, while never himself becoming the butt of the joke. This is an era where comics were more akin to adventurers than fools, where routines were as conceptually impressive as they were funny. The extensive climbing sequence remains one of the most iconic images in cinema, but there is more to SAFETY LAST! than nightmare fuel for acrophobes. The underrated department store segment is even more fun than that famous ascent, with Lloyd’s “Glasses” character juggling multiple jobs and identities in an absurdly chaotic workplace. Several gags are rather Buster Keaton-esque in their daring, and there even some moments of self-awareness that are reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy’s routine. It’s obvious where these other greats got their inspiration from, and I don’t think there can be a better recommendation than that. If you haven’t seen this classic already, you have no excuses now. [Ed Dutcher]