XMAS 25 Day 17- The Stream Machine: Six Christmas Favorites to Stream

NOTE: As always, this is for Netflix in the US. Hopefully the international choices fair a bit better.

The weather is outside is frightful, but watching Netflix inside is so delightful. And when there is no place to go, The Stream Machine’s picks make it snow, make it snow, make it snow. That’s right, Christmas is right around the corner ready to make families come together to unwrap gifts, sit around the table at dinner telling stories of Christmas’ past and watching a couple of classic. The glory that is Netflix has blessed the Holidays with some classics worth watching on the Holiday, so let’s not delay with these six Christmas picks.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Families can be dysfunctional, but the Griswolds see that statement and follow through with it Christmas Vacation. Not so much a vacation as they stay home this time around with Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold having to deal with Cousin Eddie’s family, a cat that won’t shut the hell up, Christmas going down all around him and his boss being a complete cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit of a person he is. If you have seen it, then do not be afraid to watch it once more. If you have yet to see it, prepare for the happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

A Christmas classic that is also a Halloween classic that many do not forget to watch every year, this Henry Selick directed masterpiece takes the story written by Tim Burton and brings it to life in beautiful stop motion that Ray Harryhuesen himself would deem worthy. It still is a marvel 20 years after it’s intial release with music that makes you sing as Danny Elfman’s booming voice echoes the walls. Personally, not only is it one of my favorite holiday films, but one of my favorite animated films. Do not forget to watch as Jack Skellington of Halloween Town takes on the holiday of Christmas to become jolly old Saint Nick and delight (or is it terrify?) local children on Christmas night.

Jingle All The Way

First off, this movie is in no way a great movie, nor is it a bad movie. In fact, it’s quite juvenile, but why does it still get watched every year on Christmas? Because it is an over-the-top and goofy as hell ride with everyone’s favorite action hero of the 80’s and 90’s, Arnold Schwarzenegger taking on the jerkass mailman of mediocrity known as Sinbad. Whether Arnold is fighting a band of kung-fu Santas, getting harassed by a reindeer or flying through the air as Turboman, the cheese is laid on thick trying to win the love of a son while being a unique satire on the modern consumerism that plagues the holidays every year. If you feel like killing a good 90 minutes, this is worth watching to experience the goofiest Arnold has ever been.

White Christmas

Speaking of Bing Crosby and Danny fucking Kaye, White Christmas is also available for streaming and, sadly, I have never seen it. I do not know whether that is a good or a bad thing, but it’s considered a holiday classic with the music of Irving Berlin setting the tone. The only thing I know about this one is the title song and the fact that Bing Crosby is one hell of a singer. The duo of Kaye and Crosby sing along side a sister act in order to save an inn from failing miserably or at least that is what I got from IMDB. Maybe I will give it a watch alongside you readers this year.

Nutcracker: The Motion Picture

It would not be Christmas without seeing a performance of the magnificent ballet that is Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in the aptly titled Nutcracker: The Motion Picture. Yes, I am a bit of a sucker for the work of Tchaikovsky and enjoy a great performance set to the beauty of his masterpiece with the imagination of sets and costumes created by illustrator and author Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are fame. Those familiar with the story of The Nutcracker would be delighted by this darker telling of the tale by the Pacific Northwest Ballet and is a feast for the eyes for the whole family and music lovers.

The Polar Express

Like most viewers watching this film, I was quite skeptical at first of the borderline uncanny valley animation and taking the beloved children’s book and stretching it out to feature length. Luckily, my skepticism was proven wrong and one gorgeous as hell movie was born. The Polar Express manages to capture the wonder and joy many of us experienced reading the book growing up by taking the wonderful illustrations of Chris Van Allsburg to a whole new level and giving a true heartwarming and profound experience. Tom Hanks as The Conductor seems to be having a ton of fun and it shows in his characters he plays. Seriously, give this film a chance and you will be taken on a trip to the North Pole you won’t soon forget.

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The Stream Machine: 8 Films, 2 Shows for November

Welcome to a new little thing on the site called The Stream Machine were we take a look at what is streaming on Netflix (US & Canada Netflix specifically) that are arguably worth your time. Netflix has a wide range of films and shows that are vying for some much needed love, to be uncovered or need a nice revisit. Since this is the first time a post like this is done, some of the picks may have been on there for quite awhile and possibly a new pick that has started to stream. Let’s see what the old stream machine has for us this November.

Skyfall (2012)

James Bond is back in this heart pounding thrill ride that became the biggest Bond adventure to date. Helmed by American Beauty director Sam Mendes, Skyfall celebrates Bond’s 50th anniversary with a stellar and clever tribute in a dramatic fast paced thriller. After being shot and believed dead, Bond returns to find the man responsible for leaking the identities and whereabouts of other MI6 agents with M, played by Dame Judi Dench, as the prime target. Javier Bardem also star as the villianous Mr. Silver and plays it with such terrifying flamboyancy. The action is fast paced a la the Bourne series of films, the suspense is pounding as tension builds between Silver and M and Craig pulls off classic Bond quips and moments along the best of them.

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

It may not be the best film in the action genre and a bit cliched (hell, even I gave it a mediocre review at best), but upon second viewing, Olympus Has Fallen is just right for action junkies. With Gerald Butler as Former Secret Service Agent Mike Banning, he must go back to the White House to save President Benjamin Acker, played by Aaron Eckhart, from a North Korean terrorist group lead by Kang Yeonsak, played by Rick Yune. As this happens, Morgan Freeman becomes the acting president as Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull in order to lead Banning to save the day. The plot is exactly like Die Hard in the White House, but that is far from a problem enjoy Gerald Butler kick ass and take names, including a epic fight between him and Dylan McDermott. It is a film from the 90’s that just ended up being made in 2013.

Pirates of the Caribbean  The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Before becoming the mega franchise it was, Pirates had its humble beginning as a film based off a theme park ride making many theatergoers question “How in the hell is that going to work?” Luckily, the powers that be managed to create an instant summer blockbuster sensation. Will Turner, played by Orlando Bloom, teams up with Captain Jack Sparrow, played flamboyantly by Johnny Depp, to find the nefarious Captain Barbossa, played ever so cooly by Geoffrey Rush, to get back Elizabeth Swan, played by the gorgeous Keira Knightley. Disney filled this one to the brim with a clever story, stunning action and quotable lines from Depp’s Sparrow before it became stale and never seems to bore. It’s an instant classic from start to finish.

Senna (2010)

Senna is an intriguing documentary about world famous Formula 1 racer Ayrton Senna and his struggles through the politics of Formula 1 and his bitter rivalry between Alain Prost. The tale of his career is quite interesting relying mostly on audio interviews intertwined with Senna’s on-board camera, archival footage, home videos and never before seen behind the scenes footage from the driver’s meeting. It also show the sad end of his life and does not shy away from the details of the incident that occurred. It’s heartwarming, heartbreaking and will make you cheer for Senna in the end.

Doctor Who Series 1-6 (2005-2012)/ Classic Doctor Who (1963-1989)

With the 50th anniversary coming up on November 23, newcomers or long time Whovians can catch up with the beloved character from Gallifrey roaming time and space in the TARDIS to help save not only the world, but the entire universe. From William Hartnel to Tom Baker, Peter Davidson to David Tennant and current doctor Matt Smith, all the Doctors (with the exception of the Sixth and Eighth Doctor) are ready to stream to stop Daleks, Cybermen and team with various companions. Key episodes to watch are ‘Pyramids of Mars,’ ‘The Aztecs,’ ‘The Empty Child,’ ‘The Christmas Invasion,’ ‘The Eleventh Hour’ and the ever so awesome ‘The End of Time.’

Caligula (1979)

It is very rare something this trashy and delightful comes out to stream for your pleasure. 1979’s Caligula is no stranger to this site with Malcolm McDowell in a sleazy exploitive epic only Penthouse Productions can produce. It’s extreme and risque, but does have magnificent performances by McDowell and a young and seductive Helen Mirren against the sheer pornographic imagery throughout. Netflix did not skimp on this one because Netflix is streaming the glorious Director’s Cut with the unesscary porn sequences in tact. Just make sure to put the kids to bed or the sock on the door for this film.

Of Dolls & Murder (2012) Recommendation Written by Jennifer Berrueta

This documentary is perfect for anyone with an obsession for true crime or someone interest in becoming a detective. Narrated by John Waters, the documentary is about heiress Frances Glessner Lee who had an interest in forensic pathology, but was discouraged by her family. However, in the 1930’s, she made a series of dollhouse-style diorama, known today as The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Deaths. The film also shows how her dioramas are used in today’s modern world of forensics, leading to a fascinating study in the untold history of the field.

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Lars and the Real Girl is not only one of Ryan Gosling’s smaller film most have not seen, but arguably one of his greatest performances. As Lars, Gosling portrays an awkward antisocial man who is not ready for anything drastic after the death of his father living with his brother Gus, played by Paul Schneider, and his wife Karin, played by Emily Mortimer, who are trying to help Lars break away to enjoy life. Lars looks for comfort and peace in a Real Girl sex doll named Bianca in order to be his girlfriend and, as one would expect, everyone in town is shocked, but discovers there is more to Lars than they would have guessed. It’s a beautiful and tragic comedy and an intriguing character study on a man who does not seem ready to be himself again.

The American Scream (2012)

Halloween may be over, but watching this documentary will give viewers a warm fuzzy feeling for the holiday all over again. Following three different families in Fairhaven, Massachusetts who take this holiday in stride, The American Scream documents the dedication and struggles that go into making haunted houses from the ground up in order to scare up the town and trick-or-treaters who pass by and enter at their own risk. Michael Stephenson, best known for the Troll 2 doc Best Worst Movie, creates another heartwarming documentary that gets viewers engaged in the madness and root for the families as they brave mother nature and infighting in the family itself.

Bob’s Burgers Season 1 & 2 (2011-Present)

One of the most hilarious animated shows on television next to ArcherBob’s Burgers manages to be a modern day classic with the essence of classic episodes of The Simpsons and an impressive voice cast. H. Jon Benjamin (ironically also the voice of Archer on, well, Archer) voices Bob Bleecher running his beloved burger joint near the wharf in Wagstaff with his darling and odd wife Linda, voiced by John Roberts (yes, a male voice actor). His children are just as strange with the oddball Gene, voiced by Eugene Mirman, the crazy and possibly insane Louise, voiced by the gorgeous Kristen Schall, and awkward teenage nerd Tina, voiced by Dan Mintz. The show is an impressive show and will having you having in its first episode ‘Human Flesh,’ where Bob is shut down for possibly serving human flesh in his burger. Other key episodes that are ripe for viewing are Season 1 episodes ‘Sacred Cow,’ ‘Bed & Breakfast,’ ‘Lobsterfest,’  and from Season 2, ‘The Belchies,’ ‘Burgerboss,’ ‘Bad Tina’ and ‘Moody Foodie.’ It’s terrific animation, amazing comedic writing and characters we can somehow all relate to.