Netflix, Netflix, NETFLIX!!!


I've been letting me email pile up over the past few days, doing my best to cut myself away from the Oscars and move on with life. I do hope to go to the theater soon and see "Get Out." And I had hoped to see "Fifty Shades Darker" as well. But I'm starting a new day job tomorrow and have no clue what my schedule will be. There is also the Netflix release of Sundance winner "I don't feel at home in this world anymore." That should be easier to squeeze in when I get a couple of hours free.

Speaking of Netflix....

When I started cleaning up my inbox I noticed 3 press releases from Netflix. Netflix is an interesting beast. There is so much there, and I've dabbled. The only original series I have completed are "Orange is the New Black," "Love" and "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." I touched on some of the rest ("Haters Back Off," "Santa Clarita Diet") and simply ignored the rest.

I did see the Oscar nominated Netflix documentaries "Virunga," "The White Helmets" and "Extremis." But didn't manage to watch "The Ivory Game" and couldn't tell you the names of any other docs, shorts or features. I am only guessing that there are more. This is Netflix.

And I watched the phenomenal "Beasts of No Nation."

It seems that Netflix is not going to stop anytime soon. I somewhat miss the days when they only had a few bits of must see new programming. But even then I didn't finish "House of Cards."

Of the new entries, "Five Came Back" seems the most interesting. Not counting the upcoming "The Irishman" directed by Martin Scorsese.

Five Came Back, March 31


Adapted from Mark Harris’ best-selling book, “Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War,” and directed by Laurent Bouzereau, the three-part docuseries tells the extraordinary story of how Hollywood changed World War II – and how World War II changed Hollywood, through the interwoven experiences of five filmmakers who interrupted their successful careers to serve their country, risk their livesand bring the truth back to the American people: John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens. To guide viewers through the different personalities, interweaving chronologies and globe-trotting locales, the Five Came Back team turned to the voices of fivemodern cinematic masters: Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo Del Toro, Paul Greengrass and Lawrence Kasdan. Three-time Oscar-winner Meryl Streep provides the narration for Five Came Back.

“Film was an intoxicant from the early days of the silent movies,” says Spielberg in the opening moments of Five Came Back. “And early on, Hollywood realized that it had a tremendous tool or weapon for change, through cinema.” Adds Coppola, “Cinema in its purest form could be put in the service of propaganda. Hitler and his minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels understood the power of the cinema to move large populations toward your way of thinking.”

Tracing the ways patriotism and industry existed side by side, and the role Hollywood played in mobilizing and shaping the consciousness of a divided America, Bouzereau and his team gathered over 100 hours of archival and newsreel footage; watched over 40 documentaries and training films directed and produced by the five directors during the war; and studied 50 studio films and over 30 hours of outtakes and raw footage from their war films.

The stories in Five Came Back reverberate with meaning. We are still living through their coda.

Says director Laurent Bouzereau, “These filmmakers, at that time, had a responsibility in that what they were putting into the world would be taken as truth. You can see a lot of echoes in what is happening today. It became clear as we were doing this series that the past was re-emerging in some ways, including the line we see that separates cinema that exists for entertainment and cinema that carries a message. And politics is more than ever a part of entertainment. I find it courageous of filmmakers then, as with artists today, to speak up for those who don’t have a platform.”

“It’s the hardest thing to convey to young, contemporary audiences – even if you understand it intellectually, you don’t understand viscerally that you had to wait a really, really long time for news,” says writer Mark Harris. “We’re in a context now where we have five different ways of knowing what is making news this morning. But you’re truly in another universe when you’re talking about the 1940s. There were newspapers and radio, but visually, the movies were the only way people could see the war.”

“Five Came Back is a wholly immersive journey through film history and a sweeping look at the vital role storytellers play during our most tumultuous times. This rare vantage where we witness these titans of cinema forego their lucrative careers and embrace a new form of filmmaking, the documentary form, in the name of patriotism is absolutely breathtaking,” says Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentary Programming. “This series is an added dimension to Netflix’s slate of diverse content, a cinephile’s dream that will also introduce a new generation of viewers to these legendary directors and their classic films.”

In conjunction with the launch of Five Came Back, Netflix will also present 13 documentaries discussed in the series, including Ford’s The Battle of Midway, Wyler’s The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, Huston’s Report from the Aleutians, Capra’s The Battle of Russia, Stevens’ Nazi Concentration Camps, and Stuart Heisler’s The Negro Soldier.

Directed by Laurent Bouzereau and written by Mark Harris, Five Came Back is an Amblin Television, Scott Rudin and IACF Production in association with Passion Pictures and Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment. The series is executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, Angus Wall, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Eli Bush, Jason Sack, Linda Carlson, Jason Sterman, Ben Cotner, Adam Del Deo and Lisa Nishimura. Producers are Bouzereau and John Battsek.

BRIGHT
,  December



Set in an alternate present-day where humans, orcs, elves and fairies have been coexisting since the beginning of time, this action-thriller directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad, End of Watch, writer of Training Day) follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Ward, a human (Will Smith), and Jakoby, an orc (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it. Battling both their own personal differences as well as an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to protect a young female elf and a thought-to-be-forgotten relic, which in the wrong hands could destroy everything.

The Netflix original film stars Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, Ike Barinholtz, Enrique Murciano, Jay Hernandez, Andrea Navedo, Veronica Ngo, Alex Meraz, Margaret Cho, Brad William Henke, Dawn Olivieri, and Kenneth Choi. The film is directed by David Ayer and written by Max Landis. David Ayer, Eric Newman, and Bryan Unkeless serve as producers.

WAR MACHINE
An absurdist war story for our times, writer-director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) recreates a U.S. General's roller-coaster rise and fall as part reality, part savage parody - raising the specter of just where the line between them lies today. His is an exploration of a born leader's ultra-confident march right into the dark heart of folly. At the story's core is Brad Pitt's sly take on a successful, charismatic four-star general who leapt in like a rock star to command NATO forces in Afghanistan, only to be taken down by a journalist's no-holds-barred exposé.

The Netflix original film is inspired by the book The Operators: The Wild & Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan by the late journalist Michael Hastings. Joining Pitt in War Machine is a highly decorated cast including Tilda Swinton, Sir Ben Kingsley, Anthony Michael Hall, Topher Grace, Will Poulter, Lakeith Stanfield, Emory Cohen, John Magaro, RJ Cyler, Alan Ruck, Scoot McNairy and Meg Tilly. Ian Bryce and Plan B's Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Brad Pitt serve as producers. James Skotchdopole serves as executive producer. The film will be released on Netflix on May 26, 2017.

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