2020: the year of Netflix. With record screen time being clocked up each month, here are my five top picks on what you should watch on Netflix in May 2020.
Chris Hemsworth (AKA Thor) is no stranger to being a superhero on screen. A stalwart of the Marvel universe, he makes his foray into the world of Netflix Originals with Extraction; a high octane thriller that sprints for the majority of its 1 hour, 57 minute run time. He stars as Tyler Rake, a gun-for-hire who is sent into the Indian underworld to extract the teenage son of a drug lord who has been kidnapped by a rival gang. Playing out in real time, debut director Sam Hargrave makes full use of his background as a stunt coordinator in the fight scenes. Arguably the star of the show alongside Hemsworth (the plot is a little light), the handheld camera work catapults you from fist to bullet and really does carry the bulk of the film with no real twists and turns after the hour mark. The verdict? A Netflix film that isn’t too serious, doesn’t have any profound meaning, and is generally an easy watch.
Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? The platform is a very timely analysis of the human psyche and how capitalist society shapes behaviour. The premise is this; the film’s main character, Goreng, wakes up in a concrete room with a companion who begins to explain the system of the “Vertical Self-Management Center”. Those who are lucky enough to be allocated a higher floor each month are the first to feast from a platform of food that slowly descends through a very visual metaphor for hell. Over the course of thirty days, those on the lower floors inevitably starve as those above gorge themselves and leave only the meat carcasses and silverware on the table. The real allure of this Netflix fantasy world is the sense of depravity and depravation that ensues, despite a very simple equation; there is enough food for everyone if each floor only eats what is needed.
The Last Dance
Easily one of the most recognisable names in sports and a basketball player who truly transcended from the court into popular culture itself. The story of Michael Jordan’s rise to dominance in the late-Eighties and early-Nineties is a fantastic watch set against the unmistakable backdrop of retro Americana. This Netflix series beautifully interlinks an extended highlights reel with input from NBA players, politicians, actors and more, all while scrutinising the world of the NBA in the Jordan era. It is quite simply incredible how much talent Michael Jordan had, and his ensemble cast of Pippen & co. provide plenty of commentary on how the Chicago Bulls operated during their glory days. Even if you aren’t a basketball fan, this is worth a watch purely to see how an elite sportsman becomes an elite sportsman (talent aside). If all else fails, the stories and attire from Dennis Rodman will easily put a smile on your face.
Proof, if ever you needed it, that drug dealing isn’t always illegal. This four-part miniseries from Netflix is a harrowing story of loss that quickly evolves into a one-man crusade agains the pharma giants who fuelled the opiod epidemic that plagued early Noughties America. It is extremely well-paced and the narrative of The Pharmacist seems to go on for infinitely longer than it’s total four-hour run time. The main protagonist, Dan Schneider, is dogged in his pursuit of the corporations that pumped Oxycontin into US society; uncovering a network of illicit prescriptions-for-hire dished out by shady ‘doctors’ in Louisiana. For a story that stems from the tragic loss of his son, it is quite simply incredible how Schneider’s obsession to fight the cause becomes a modern day David v Goliath . A must-watch.
Imagine Adam Sandler on rocket fuel. Then throw in more bling than any East Coast rapper could ever need, a very expensive stone, and then imagine the whole scene playing out in an almost acid-trip trance-like state. I would love to compare Uncut Gems to another film, but I just can’t. Sandler is the lead in this rollercoaster of a performance as Howard Ratner; a high end New York jeweller with a gambling habit that is almost as out of control as his temper. The film centres around the concept of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’; the pay being the sale of an illicitly obtained blood diamond from a nondescript mine in Africa. The film is worth watching for Sandler’s standout performance alone, but you’ll stay for the never-ending descent into sheer ridiculousness that’s played out at an unflinchingly fast pace. The entire two hours feels like an impending (metaphorical) heart attack.