Netflix. YouTube. Hulu.
Here are several things from each of these outfits that we found odd, unique and entertaining that we thought you should check out:
YouTube by Pam Inglesby
I like talking cats and freakish twins as much as any cubicle dweller, but YouTube has a lot more to offer than the viral video of the day. Here I focus on animation, sharing just a few of my favorites. Tell us yours in the Comments section!
I wish I could remember who turned me on to “the twisted animation of PES,” because I seriously owe them one. This guy makes trippy and funny stop motion shorts out of candy, office supplies, and other everyday items. One that makes me laugh very hard is “Roof Sex,” featuring “XXX Chair-on-Chair Action!!!” You might recognize PES’s style from TV commercials – he did a pretty cool ad for Coinstar.
Gen Xers have fond memories of “Schoolhouse Rock,” a series of playful educational cartoons that aired on ABC in the 70s and 80s. I had a hard time choosing one to spotlight; “I’m Just a Bill” is a favorite among politicos, and I have been known to hum “Conjunction Junction” in the shower. But the decision was made for me when, at a recent business meeting, I suggested we pare a set of five talking points down to three, and someone replied, “Yes, three is a magic number.” Indeed.
Speaking of threes, my obligatory Warner Brothers entry is “Three Little Bops,” a hep cat version of The Three Little Pigs directed by WB veteran Friz Freleng with music by cool jazz great Shorty Rogers. I’ve probably watched this 30 times and keep coming back for more of its swingin’ silliness. Stumped by the Liberace reference? Off to Wikipedia with you!
Lego stop motion animation is a YouTube genre unto itself. My “like” goes to Bort McClineburg’s Spinal Tap concert series, especially “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight.” The details are delightful, from the repurposed traffic sign instruments to the unexpected appearance of a crane-mounted camera. I was turned onto these videos by the fab three themselves, when they showed one onstage during their 2009 Unwigged and Unplugged tour.
Another popular YouTube phenomenon is movie trailer mashups, where the audio trailer of one movie is illustrated with clips from another. A particularly brilliant animated example is the Toy Story 3/Inception hybrid, made by someone/thing called Screenrant. It features several uncanny audio/visual pairings, and even a long stretch of quick, random action images, just like a real movie trailer!
My final treasure truly was buried for a long time, at least to me. I’ve been trying to track down a surreal stop action film called “Jabberwocky” since I first saw it in the late 80s. It was made in 1971 by Jan Svankmajer, a celebrated Czech animator whose other films are available on DVD – but, at least the last time I checked, this one wasn’t. And now it’s on YouTube! I am too thrilled to even care if the poster has permission. Anyway, what has stayed with me are the haunting music and eerie images of Victorian toys gone amok. It’s a bit long to sneak in during a coffee break (13 minutes), but just right for a boring bus commute.
Hulu by Lisa Knight
Hulu, first introduced to us by hissing spokesman/alien Alec Baldwin a few years ago, is a great source of TV and movie entertainment for those of us with laptops who don’t want to pay the egregious cable or dish network bills. It is also handy for long flights or stretches of time when a good book just won’t do. Hulu has an expansive list of TV programs and a bizarre assortment of older movies, ranging from National Lampoon’s gross-out comedies and documentaries, to old action flicks. There is also a new feature called Hulu Plus, a pay-per-month subscription (currently $7.99/month) which has limited commercials and more TV and movie choices in HD for computers, gaming consoles and smart phones.
My favorite TV show to catch up on Hulu is Saturday Night Live. I can’t always stay up late to watch it, so it’s convenient to view online anytime. I can also select certain sketches, performances, and SNL shorts. There is a caveat, though: Not all of the material in the full episodes may be displayed, and some are only available for a limited time. There are restrictions on what can be cleared for online streaming, including some of the musical acts. There are also those annoying commercials that cannot be fast-forwarded like on a TV DVR. But the concept and laptop convenience is worth the brief wait.
Here are a few sketches, movies and shows worth checking out, but take heed the words of Mr. Baldwin: “Hulu. An evil plot to destroy the world. Enjoy.”
http://www.hulu.com/watch/87201/21-jump-street-21-jump-street-part-1 (ok, this was just too 80s to pass up…and Johnny Depp was pretty cute…)
Netflix by Jeremy Martin
I don’t have television, at least I don’t currently own the technology that allows me to watch shows on various basic or cable channels. I do however have a television set, as in a 15 inch silver cube with the word “Magnovox” written on it. I also have a shiny new X-box 360, the re-designed model with the black matte finish and the sexy new lines. Paired up they resemble a mechanical version of The Odd Couple, in fact when I hooked the two together my X-box let out a noise that sounded half way between a groan and a chuckle.
Though my total entertainment center package is far from state of the art, it is good for a few things. One of which is the streaming of a seemingly endless supply of films and TV programs directly from my video game console into my cozy living area, a pastime that has become a minor hobby of mine. By no means do I have a Tarantino-esq eye for film, but I do like to scour the seamy underbelly of the Netflix app, searching for hidden gems and obscure classics.
Here is a short roundup of a few of the films and TV shows, which I have recently discovered and found to be well worth a viewing.
This short documentary series was partially funded by the wonderful and always entertaining folks at Vice Broadcasting Service. The premise being two guys set out on an epic quest from Los Angles to New York with the intent of never paying for a ride. Train jumping, hitch-hiking and a hilarious inflatable raft ride down the Mississippi ensue. An all together interesting socio-political peak at a wide cross section of America, comically disguised as a sort of buddy road trip show. Season two finds the duo in Tijuana, Mexico attempting to get to Alaska.
I can’t possibly tell you how much I love Canada. Not so much the county itself or even its people, but just the general idea of it. I’m glad that it exists, and I’m glad I found this dramady based in the fictional city of New Burbage and centered on the lives and antics of the local theater company. Co-starring Kids in the Hall’s Mark McKinney, this wonderfully written and acted series paints a very believable portrait of the lives of working actors and the folks that stage plays for a living.
We’ve all heard about the “Paul is dead” rumors that circulated on FM radio around the time of Abbey Road’s release. But how many of you know the details behind the “actual conspiracy” and “cover up” of Sir Paul’s death? This documentary narrated by “George Harrison” as his final shot at ridding himself of guilt, uncovers clues hidden in the Beatles’ lyrics and on their record sleeves in an attempt to prove that in January of 1967 Paul McCartney died in a freak automobile accident. Highly entertaining, if taken with a grain of salt, though it can get a bit morbid at times, especially when the film plays a series of backwards messages which had supposedly been embedded in Beatles songs.
An intriguing documentary that traces the 2008 journey of surfer/explorer/wonderer Jeff Johnson as he himself traces the 1968 journey of mountain climbers/surfers/hipsters Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins from Northern California to the southern end of Patagonia. In the midst of leading a relatively aimless life, Johnson discovers film footage of Chouinard and Tompkins’ trek across two continents in the hope of climbing the fabled Mt. Fitzroy. Shipwreck, adventure, and a veritable laundry list of life lessons greet Johnson on his six month voyage. The film has a pretty sweet website too.
The often times brilliant Steve Coogan stars as Tommy Saxondale in this mock up of a former Rock N Roll roadie turned pest control specialist. His horrible temper issues, low paying job and slacker shop keep girlfriend often conspire to land the aging Saxondale in a slew of awkward and precarious situations. Certainly less obscure of a pick if you live in the United Kingdom, but here in the States I found the subtle humor, antiquated rock references and suburban London slang to be thoroughly esoteric.
What happens when a horny womanizer, a lesbian, a gay rights activist, a beautiful bulimic woman and an advertising executive all attend a body image support meeting? Hilarity
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, this film may be more well known than others on this list, but it’s low-budget, slow pacing and overall feeling of un-easiness help to keep it thoroughly left of center. Set squarely in America’s Rust Belt, Bubble follows the story arch of three employees at a baby doll factory. An intimate quasi-love triangle ensues, culminating in the murder of a young single mother. Everything about this film makes me unhappy and nervous. I actually discovered this a few years ago while working in a video store but it merits a mention since it’s streaming on Netflix.
Just kidding, but seriously is this not the best bowling movie ever? And don’t try and tell me that The Big Lebowski was about bowling.