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It’s March, and that means new movies on Netflix! We’ve culled 13 fantastic films, new and old, that you can stream right now. We’ve included movies to make you laugh, movies to make you cry, movies to keep you on the edge of your seat, and movies to make you think. Some will show you worlds you never knew existed, while others can show you your world in a whole new way. So fire up the popcorn popper, call a few friends, and get set for some movie magic.
Titles on Netflix that will keep the whole family happy you decided to stay in!
1. The Breadwinner
This animated feature is set in Taliban ruled Afghanistan. It’s not a Disnified tale with singing animals and plucky princesses. But it is a terrific film that the whole family will enjoy. After Parvana’s father is arrested, the young woman disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family. At the same time, her story is paralleled in a fable she tells to her young brother. In the fable, a boy vows to reclaim his village’s stolen crop seeds from the Elephant King and his demons. Parvana isn’t your typical animated heroine, and this story has the ring of real life urgency. And the animation is absolutely gorgeous.
2. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Now this is just, plain, silly fun. Every parent of a four year old knows Captain Underpants. Our kids sucked us into the books, and we found ourselves snorting at the potty humor in spite of ourselves. And come on, for toilet laughs, it really is pretty clever. Now here’s the movie. For the four year old in all of us.
The title character, Moana, tells demigod Maui “I’m not a princess.” He replies, “If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.” And yes, she is a princess. Because, for the most part, if a female is the lead character of a Disney animated movie, she must be a princess. That said, her journey steps out of the princess mold. It’s a true hero’s journey — and for once, it doesn’t involve a love story. And, true to Disney style, the characters are engaging and witty. And the animation is top notch.
4. Kubo and the Two Strings
The titular hero, Kubo, is the keeper of a magical shamisen, a two-stringed instrument. In a classic hero’s journey, he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit from the past. Armed only with his instrument, Kubo must battle the Moon King and other evil entities to save his family. He must also unlock the mystery of his own family history, and dismiss the vengeful spirit. There’s a surprisingly complicated and multilayered plot going on, here. But it’s told in a deft and engaging style that is a delight for the whole family.
Action and Adventure
Titles to get your action/adventure loving heart pumping while you enjoy your favorite spot to binge Netflix.
5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
If you thought Star Wars was over as a franchise, you’re wrong. Rogue One breaks the mold in a couple of key ways. First, the story is a standalone. It begins and ends with Jyn Erso’s story. In addition, even though it does take place in a recognizable part of that long, long time ago galaxy far, far away, it doesn’t carry the burden of setting the stage for, or continuing the story of the canonical films. Finally, it’s just a darn good heroic war story. And who doesn’t like that?
6. The Assassin
Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s film is more than just a martial arts movie. It’s the ninth-century, and China’sTang dynasty is beginning to unravel. Shu Qi plays Nie Yinniang, a young woman who was abducted by a nun when she was only ten years old, and trained in martial arts. Now Nie must return to her homeland to assassinate the warlord to whom she was pledged in marriage when she was a child. It’s not just a good, multi-layered story. It’s also gorgeously shot, with lush sets and costumes. People who enjoyed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will enjoy this one as well.
How does the idea of a Korean, child led, animal rights thriller comedy strike you? Yes, it’s weird. It’s also wonderful. A genetically engineered super pig, Okja, escapes from a corporate lab facility. A child befriends it. The corporate baddies want it back. And then the animal rights extremists arrive. It’s a thrilling ride, and it never lets you know how it will end. But this probably isn’t one for the kids, despite the child protagonist. There are some disturbing scenes of animal cruelty that will make most adults want to fast forward. In addition, there’s some gnarly human on human violence as well. So probably best to watch it when the kids are with Grandma.
Food for Thought
Netflix also serves up a heaping helping of documentaries that’ll give you a full serving of brain food.
Did slavery in America end with the 13th amendment? Or did it just continue in a different form? Director Ava DuVernay argues the latter. Slavery merely changed shape, thanks to a loophole that allows legal slavery through mass incarceration. The school-to-prison pipeline — in which prisoners produce goods for America’s biggest corporations for pennies on the dollar — is a continuation of the original system. It’s a well argued, thoughtful film that will make you question the ideas of freedom and progress. And it’s an important film for anyone who is interested in what justice actually means.
9. Man On Wire
This is a captivating documentary about Philippe Petit. Petit, if you didn’t know, was the French high wire artist who walked the line between the twin towers in 1974. Before attempting this feat, Petit planned the caper, which he dubbed “the artistic crime of the century,” for six years. He and his crew used fake IDs and multiple disguises to gain access to the site, which was still under construction. Police arrested Petit after he descended. The title of the movie is how the arresting officer described the incident on the police report.
10. Fire At Sea
One hundred miles south of Sicily, the island of Lampedusa is the first glimpse of land for the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Africa and the Middle East. With no voiceover and little explanation, Fire at Sea shows the lives of these refugees, juxtaposed with the comparatively luxurious lives of the people living on the island. What is happening, unseen, at the fringes of your society? And where would you find yourself in these scenes?
Just Darn Good
Movies that you must add to your mental collection, simply because they are just that good!
11. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Can we all just agree on one thing? That everything Wes Anderson touches turns to gold? Good. Thank you. That said, this Wes Anderson movie is true to form. At turns funny, touching, tragic, and thoughtful, it’s a weird little film, but it will make you laugh. And how can it not? Featuring (of course) Bill Murray as a once famous oceanographer who has grown cynical about life, and about the ocean. Anderson might alternately have chosen to call it How Steve Zissou Got His Groove Back. Delightful.
12. Y Tu Mama También
A Boy meets boy meets girl coming of age story. Two teenage friends plan a road trip. They invite along a young woman who is way out of their league, and of course, she laughs them off. But when she discovers her husband is cheating on her, she agrees to go along. Yes, it’s sexy. Yes, it’s hot. But it’s not just sex for its own sake. A delicate exploration of class conflict underlies the story, along with the ideas of growing up and growing apart, and of self-discovery.
Another beautifully staged Wes Anderson story. Dysfunctional white families? Check. Eclectic soundtrack? Check. Sets littered with objects vibrating with pop culture resonance? Check. Bill Murray? Of course. A warm, innocent adolescent romance with the obligatory quirkiness that is Anderson’s trademark.
March is looking magnificent on Netflix. So pick your favorite, and get going!
Featured Image CC by SA 2.0, by Ginny, via Flickr.