Arts & Life

Navigating Netflix: The vastness

The premiere source for streaming video content into your home has definitively become Netflix. Whether it is over your computer, your gaming system or even your mobile device, the wide variety of content offered could keep you busy for years. But where do you start? Netflix offers TV and movies in all genres as well as both fiction and nonfiction. It truly has something to satisfy any taste.

In the first instalment of Navigating the Netflix Stream, let’s take a look at three exceptionally different offerings that should give you an idea of how vast your choices truly are…

Hugo: This period piece set in 1931 Paris tells the story of a young orphan named Hugo who lives in the walls of a train station. While attempting to repair an automaton he believes contains a message from his father, Hugo runs afoul of a toy store owner played by Sir Ben Kingsley as well as the Station Inspector played by Sacha Baron Cohen.

This film is both beautiful and moving, offering one of the most unique stories on the silver screen in the past several years. At times, it is almost like reading a children’s book brought to life, which make sense being that it is based on the 2008 Caldecott Medal winning book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

New to Netflix, Martin Scorsese’s 2011 film was one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. Nominated for dozens of awards, and winning four Academy Awards and a Golden Globe for Best Director, Hugo found itself on virtually every critic’s must see list for 2011. It was, unfortunately, not as great a commercial success though being on Netflix will give it another chance to reach audiences.

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest: As hip hop continued to gain prominence in the 1980s, a group burst on to the scene that is still respected as one of the greatest of all time; A Tribe Called Quest. Between 1990 and 1998, A Tribe Called Quest released five gold and platinum albums and a string of hip hop classics that continue to find new ears. Unfortunately, the group broke up just prior to the release of The Love Movement, a move that shocked fans and the hip hop community. They have since reunited a couple of times, including a 2006 tour and headlining the Rock the Bells concerts in 2008 and 2010, but have yet to release a new album.

In 2011, actor and massive Tribe fan Michael Rapaport released the documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest. Following them on their 2008 Rock the Bells tour, Rapaport constructed this ode to his favourite group, almost as an answer to anyone asking what is next for these hip hop icons.

While the documentary does, at times, focus too much on the negativity between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg that ended A Tribe Called Quest, it is overall a good look at one of the most influential hip hop groups of all time. It is only natural that the relationship that caused the self-destruction would take centre stage, though plenty of insight into the formation of the group and why it gained this level of ongoing popularity is also offered. Beats, Rhymes & Life is a must watch for fans of A Tribe Called Quest, hip hop and music in general.

Farscape: There have been a surprising number of great science fiction shows on TV in the past 15 years that have been cancelled before their time that were not made by Joss Whedon. One of those shows was Farscape, a series about a scientist and astronaut named John Crichton from Earth who gets sucked through a wormhole to the other side of the galaxy. Once there, he ends up on a living prison ship with a group of escaped prisoners and runs with them from their mutual pursuers. The crux of the show is the knowledge of wormhole technology that Crichton possesses and the desire of different factions to weaponize it.

Running from 1999 to 2003, Farscape aired on the Sci-Fi Channel until it was cancelled due to the expense of production relative to its ratings. Its cliff-hanger Season Four ending left fans wanting and eventually a mini-series that tied up the loose plot line was produced. Produced by The Jim Henson Company, high quality puppetry plays a huge role in the show giving the series a level of realism that CGI alone cannot create though CGI effects are still important.

Farscape is absolutely one of the most unique science fiction shows of all time, particularly due to the deepening levels of insanity Crichton’s character delves into. Portions of more than a few episodes actually take place within Crichton’s subconscious as his enemies plough the depths of his mind for the information they seek. Brilliant writing and a fantastic cast combined with stellar effects make Farscape a must watch show.


Ian Goodwillie is a columnist for the Spectator Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @ThePrairieGeek and on Tumblr at


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