Psychologist Barry Schwartz called it The Paradox of Choice. The idea that in the 21st century a surfeit of mind-freezing options at every juncture is increasing our levels of anxiety and wasted time. Telly, for example. In the past, if you wanted to “watch something funny” of a Tuesday night you’d resort to Wedding Crashers for the sixth time simply because Will (back when he was still fun) left the DVD at your house four years ago. Now you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want. The end result? Total paralysis followed by Wedding Crashers again. What you need is a steer in the right direction. So what’s it to be…
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (Netflix) is a cinematic love letter (by Mike Myers, no less) to the titular human being – a sort of ultra-genial, Hollywood uber-fixer. Much funnier than it sounds. Heads up: Kung Fu Hustle is currently showing on MUBI. You might have seen the poster for this at the time and dismissed it, but trust us: Stephen Chow, the film’s creator and lead actor, is as good at OTT comedy as he is at kicking people hard and fast in the side of the head. If none of that floats your laughter boat you could always stick on this Bo Burnham stand up special, available in its entirety on YouTube. Or there’s always Coming To America on Netflix (for this, basically).
Ever see Hard Boiled (Netflix)? Chow Yun Fat is the archetypal Hong Kong 1990s action schmuck. Slightly podgy. Always has a tab on the go. And absolutely unequaled when it come to firing handguns while jumping sideways in slow-motion. Elsewhere, you might want to check out Boss (Amazon Instant Video), in which Kelsey Grammer abandons his avuncular Frasier schtick to become a terrifyingly malevolent mayor of Chicago. Also on Amazon is A Prophet, Jacques Audiard’s French mob epic with a stylish, supernatural side.
Because sometime you want to be struck dumb by the infinite majesty of creation. What about Twenty-Four Eyes (MUBI), a film that follows a devoted Japanese school teacher through successive generations of pupils? It’ll have you ruminating about the passage of time and everyone knows you love ruminating about the passage of time. Reality (Netflix), is a mind-bending Italian film that came out a few years ago, dealing with a man whose obsession with reality television distorts his perception of actual reality. Over on Amazon Prime you can always watch Werner Herzog (a man who has not just stared into the abyss but bought property there) interview men who are condemned to die in TV show On Death Row.
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