Netflix & Skill: Fine Cinematography from the Depths of Netflix

Face it: part of being a millennial is watching Netflix religiously. We all do it, so why not make sure it’s at least quality cinematography? The following are four Netflix offerings that I feel can’t be missed; all of them are well-developed, beautifully shot, and, refreshingly, defy the (often mundane) predictability of your typical cinema and TV. So, once you finish streaming Psych, Stranger Things, or Gilmore Girls for 100th time (me, me, and also me), try one of these on for size. 
Twin Peaks
Are you a fan of murder mysteries? Of pie? Of quirky characters that are so weird, you’re a bit afraid of them? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, Twin Peaks is the show for you. The early 90’s cult classic TV show follows FBI Agent Dale Cooper’s efforts to solve the tragic murder of Twin Peaks’ high schooler Laura Palmer. In doing so, he also inadvertently uncovers more than a few metaphorical skeletons in the closets of the charming small town. The show is a bit slow to start, but ultimately extremely gripping, especially as you fall in love with the beautifully weird and flawed characters. A perfect mix of bizarre subplots, endearing characters, adrenaline-inducing cliffhangers, and Dale Cooper’s signature quotable one-liners, Twin Peaks is a perfect storm of cinematic prowess, with a healthy dose of 90s aesthetic to boot. 
Hit Record on TV
A variety show featuring a mixed-bag of creative talents, Hit Record on TV is a genius series born of the eponymous website and produced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Since discovering it last spring, it’s been one of my go-to’s for unconventional inspiration ever since. Fairly avant-garde in nature, each 20-minute episode is centered on a theme of varying complexity, and each of the ‘shorts,’ (for lack of a better term) reacts to the theme in some way, and is a compilation of work submitted to the site—everything from poetry and short animations to original songs and interviews, all created by the community of artists and makers that makes up the Hit Record website. The emphasis on collaboration is one of the things I find most beautiful about the show; it makes each short more special, and more impactful, knowing it was created by ‘regular people’. My favorite episodes from the two seasons so far are “The Number One,” (Season 1, Ep. 1) “Fantasy,” (Season 1, Ep. 2) and “The Dark (Season 2, Ep.1), and I can’t wait to see where the show goes from here. Check both seasons out on Netflix, and peruse the site here!  (Seeing as Things was made to be a community of creatives, I encourage all of you reading this to check out the site, and maybe even consider joining/submitting your work! Their projects are extremely thought provoking, and it’s a great way to expand your artistic horizons and work with fellow artists all around the world.)
Moonrise Kingdom
First of all, it’s Wes Anderson, so we all know it’s got to be great. But in all honesty, while Moonrise Kingdom isn’t my favorite Wes Anderson film (hello, Royal Tenenbaums), it’s still a lovely story in its own right, and it’s definitely something you can’t miss on Netflix. I hope at least most of you have seen it, but if you haven’t, it is a fantastic commentary on what it’s like to grow up, be misunderstood, fall in love with your pen pal, and run away from home with said pen pal, your housecat, and a suitcase full of stolen library books (because who doesn’t wonder about that?). If that’s not a coming of age story, I don’t know what is. Moonrise Kingdom is a film you’ll get lost in, and, like every other Wes Anderson film in existence, will leave you wanting to step into Wes’ world and live your life in the color palettes he creates. 
Echo Park
Echo Park, in a delightful twist on a classic romance film, follows Sophie, played by the lovely Mamie Gummer, on a journey to find herself again after leaving a relationship that was strangling her. Sophie abandons her upscale life on the West Side in favor of LA’s newly hip Echo Park district, and meets Alex (played by Tony Okungbowa), who has given up on his iteration of the American Dream, planning to return to his hometown of London in a few short weeks. The brevity of Alex and Sophie’s relationship is part of what I love about this movie—the romance really isn’t the point, it’s about the effect their time together has on each of them. As Sophie is introduced to more and more of the easygoing and friendly culture of Echo Park and its inhabitants, she becomes increasingly disillusioned with the life she left behind. What I love most about Echo Park is its gentle ease; the casual nature of Sophie and Alex’s relationship is paralleled by the slow-burning flame of the plot. It’s a quietly beautiful film—it's shot in a way that makes the viewer feel like a casual onlooker, experiencing life along with them. The soundtrack matches the film’s vibe perfectly, and further evokes the ease of the movie. Especially recommended as a remedy to a stressful week—Echo Park streams in like the California sunlight.
text: jackie andrews
visuals: netflix
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