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All The Good Stuff Coming To Netflix In March

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March on Netflix offers a few notable titles to charm kids (and the young at heart).  See Los Angeles history taught via friendly ghosts in a new series from an “Adventure Time” director.  Travel around the world with former First Lady Michelle Obama to see how cooking is fun.  Or get your cute fuzzies on with a series featuring guinea pigs that are also cars.

Far older kids haven’t been forgotten either.  “Napoleon Dynamite”’s director recounts a true tale of forgery and homicide in the Church of Latter Day Saints.  Trashy entertainment can be had watching some attractively horny and scantily clad app developers or following three sex workers trying to outrun their really pissed-off pimp.  Or else  see Clive Owen long before he became a hot actor in a tale of gambling both in games and in life. 

Now Available

City Of Ghosts–Emmy Award-winning director Elizabeth Ito (“Adventure Time”)’s new kids series mixes live-action and animation to introduce children to the history and diversity of Los Angeles.  City of Angels-based Zelda and her friends form The Ghost Club.  They find and talk to friendly neighborhood ghosts who recount the past of their particular part of Los Angeles.  The ghosts’ voices come from actual residents of an episode’s featured neighborhood.

Men On A Mission

     

Men On A Mission Season 2--Think nothing new can be done with the celebrity talk show genre?  Try this popular series from South Korea.  The hosts and guests are dressed as high school students in a classroom.  The guests are transfer students whose “application forms” are “commented on” by the hosts.  Later, in the “Guess About Me” segment, the hosts try to guess the answers to a guest’s question regarding a personal bit of information they’ve never revealed to the public.  Other show skits have included Three No’s (hosts and guests ad-lib a comedy skit without dialogue or even a definite storyline beforehand), Dancestagram (guess the title, lyrics, and dance moves for a song based on only its opening note or syllable), and Knowing Lunch (hosts and guests compete to eat one of a group of side items for lunch by answering questions posed by the production team).

Murder Among The Mormons–Directors Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite”) and Tyler Measom (“An Honest Liar”) go into true crime territory with this tale of how the LDS Church was rocked by the crimes of Mark Hoffman.  Dozens of supposedly rare documents related to LDS Church history were forged and sold by Hoffman.  Later, he would murder two people.   Despite occurring back in the mid-1980s, these crimes still casts a shadow over the Mormon church to this day. 

Pacific Rim: The Black–Craig Kyle (“Thor: Ragnarok”) and Greg Johnson (“X-Men: Evolution”) helm this animated iteration of Guillermo del Toro’s giant robots (“jaegers”) vs. giant monsters (“kaiju”) tale.  This series is set at a time when the jaegers are no longer around to stop the kaiju from running wild.  One result is that Australia has now been overrun by kaiju and the human population is forced to evacuate.  Teen siblings Taylor and Hayley have not joined the evacuation, as they’re trying to find their missing parents.  Their search seems hopeless until they encounter the long-abandoned Jaeger known as Atlas Destroyer.  But getting up to speed on piloting the old Jaeger, fighting off kaiju, and finding their parents is a very tall order.

A Perfect Day For Arsenide (Season 1)–Writer/director Sunny Lau adapts ten stories from Hong Kong writer Pizza’s titular novel.  These stories, which dip into such genres as suspense, comedy, and fantasy deliver off-kilter portraits of life in the city of Hong Kong.

Seven Souls In The Skull Castle–This is the filmed version of the blockbuster Japanese historical stage play.  It’s the year 1590 and Toyotomi Hideyoshi is on the verge of unifying all of Japan as one country.  However, the ambitious Tenmaoh plans to oppose Toyotomi’s efforts.  Backing Tenmaoh is his Skull Clan, all of whom are headquartered in the pitch-black Skull Castle.  When warrior Sutenosuke rescues Sagiri, a woman pursued by the Skull Clan, his efforts to find shelter for Sagiri results in his being reunited with Mukaiya Ranbe.  But something more than chance brings the two men together, for Sutenosuke and Ranbe have a shared past with Tenmaoh.  And those two warriors plus five other companions must stop Tenmaoh by mounting an assault on Skull Castle.

Seven Souls In The Skull Castle

March 8

Bombay Rose–Gitanjali Rao’s debut feature is an animated hand-painted urban romance which pays homage to Bollywood story-telling.  Kamala works as a flower-seller by day and a nightclub dancer at night.  It’s a hard life, but far better than getting stuck in an arranged childhood marriage.  Meanwhile, the widowed retired schoolteacher Shirley’s mourning for her late husband soon reveals a forbidden secret from her past.  Add to the mix a police crackdown on child labor (which threatens the nightclub Kamala works at), Kamala’s meddling pimp, a story which wanders from the present to the past, and an incredible animated evocation of Mumbai life.  The result is a film packed with color and drama.

March 9

The Houseboat–This German documentary series follows the efforts of musicians Olli Schulz and Fynn Kliemann to restore and remodel Germany’s most famous houseboat.  The craft’s previous owner was famed German singer/composer Gunter Gabriel, who introduced German audiences to American country music.  Schulz and Kliemann plan to turn the houseboat Gabriel lived on for 20 years into an artist oasis.  Can they succeed in creating a place that can be an artist retreat, a concert location, and a music studio?

March 10

Last Chance U: Basketball (Season 1)–This spinoff of Greg Whiteley’s Netflix docuseries takes viewers into the world of community college basketball.  This season follows the fortunes of the East Los Angeles College Huskies.  The team, which consists of former college Division 1 recruits and athletes who want to show they’re ready to move to the next level, has an unexpected shot at a California state basketball championship.  As the pressure and stress mounts, the players will learn firsthand the truth of head coach John Mosley’s maxim that basketball reveals character. 

March 11

The Block Island Sound–Harry lives on Block Island, an East Coast island separated from the mainland by the titular strait.  His ordinary life of drinking and hearing his buddy Dale spin conspiracy theories about chemtrails and lizard people comes to a crashing halt one day.  Harry’s fisherman father has vanished from his boat in the middle of the night.  Could that disappearance be connected to the ten tons of dead fish which recently washed up on Block Island’s beach?  Or how about Harry’s sudden losses of patches of time?  Harry’s sister Audry returns to the island to investigate these happenings.  But could the cause of these mysterious events be supernatural in nature?

The Block Island Sound

March 12

Love Alarm Season 2–It’s the new season for one of Netflix’s most popular K-comedies.  The title refers to a viral dating app which tells the user if someone within a 10-foot radius has romantic feelings for them.  Unfortunately for Jojo, a love triangle gets created after the app says both Lee Hye-yeong and Lee’s friend handsome model Hwang Sun-oh possess such feelings for her.  The new season sees further romantic chaos brought on by the app’s upgrade, which can now tell within a 10-meter radius if someone loves the user.  Now that Jojo knows both Lee and Hwang love her, what choice will she make? 

The One–This adaptation of John Marrs’ novel set in the near future comes helmed by Howard Overman, who created “Misfits.”  The premise asks: what if a simple DNA test can determine who you’re genetically predisposed to fall passionately in love with?  Would you leave an existing and supposedly happy relationship for the promise of something even better?

Paper Lives–In Istanbul, Mehmet runs a solid waste warehouse in one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods.  He’s beloved in the community for helping out homeless kids and teens.  Then one day, an 8-year-old boy is discovered hidden in a waste sack.  Mehmet’s original plan to return the boy to his parents soon contends with his own growing attachment to the child.

March 14

Audrey: More Than An Icon–The passage of decades has not dimmed the allure of seminal film star Audrey Hepburn.  But as shown by Helena Coan’s documentary, Hepburn’s personal life was filled with its own share of complications and disappointments.  For example, Hepburn’s mother admired Hitler for a time and the father who abandoned her was a full-on fascist.   

March 15

The Last Blockbuster–Once Blockbuster Video stores peppered the whole of America.  Now, there’s only one left, located in Bend, Oregon.  This documentary tells two stories: one about how manager Sandi Harding struggles to keep her store afloat in an age of streaming, the other about how Blockbuster went bust (Hint: the “no late fees” experiment really wasn’t a good idea).  Along the way, the viewer hears from people who worked in Blockbuster stores…such as Kevin Smith, who drew on that experience for “Clerks.”

March 16

Waffles And Mochi

Waffles And Mochi Season 1–Know a kid intimidated by the prospect of cooking?  This new show might help.  The title characters are two puppets who want to become great chefs.  Helping them on their journey will be ex-First Lady Michelle Obama, who will take the duo around the world to meet famous chefs, encounter such guest stars as Rashida Jones and Jack Black, and of course eat delicious food.

March 17

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal–The documentary team behind “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” return with this look inside America’s biggest college admissions scam.  Rick Singer was a fixer who helped the children of wealthy parents cheat their way into prestigious universities.  Two of his more prominent clients were actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.  What will make this documentary of particular interest are recreations of the actual (wiretapped) conversations Singer had with his clients.

March 18

B: The Beginning Succession (aka Season 2)–After a long wait, Production I.G. has returned with this series which ably mixes both crime drama and science fiction.  The setting is the technologically advanced island nation of Cremona.   In the first season, eccentric Royal Investigative Service detective Keith Flick (aided by the incognito humanoid alien Koku) stopped a crime wave by the vigilante Killer B as well as several sinister plots, including a deity resurrection project.  The new season starts up months after the end of season 1.  Keith has returned to actively working with the Royal Investigative Service.  But Koku’s peaceful life gets shattered by the unexpected return of the supposedly dead Kirisame.  

March 19

Sky Rojo

Sky Rojo–It’s the new comedy-thriller series from Alex Pina, creator of “Money Heist.”  Coral, Wendy, and Gina are exotic dancers/sex workers operating out of the sleazy Club Las Novias under the thumb of pimp/boss Romeo.  Following a “fatal turn of events” at the club, the three women escape from the brothel and go on the run.  Their goal: to stay alive for five more minutes.  Romeo and his henchmen Moises and Christian are determined to track the women down.  As the female fugitives navigate the criminal underworld, their working together may be the key to their survival.

March 22

Navillera Season 1–This Korean TV drama follows two very different men pursuing their version of the same dream.  In his younger days, Shim Deok Chool put aside his dreams of being a ballet dancer to hold a regular post office job to support his family.  Now that he’s 70 and retired, he joins a ballet company to finally pursue his deferred dream.  There, he meets Lee Chae Rok.  The 23-year-old man has found ballet is something he’s good at.  However, financial hardship is undercutting his desire to continue pursuing his dream.  Can his relationship with the far older man change things around?

March 25

MIllennials Season 3–Why not Netflix and chill with something hilariously trashy?  This  Argentine series involves six young impossibly beautiful Buenos Aires wannabe app developers.  They alternate between worrying over the direction of their lives and careers and sleeping around a lot.  Yes, the characters are frequently in various states of undress.  And if you want to pick up sometimes naughty Spanish slang you won’t hear in your language class, here you go.

Pui Pui Molcar

  

Pui Pui Molcar Season 1–If you thought the Pixar “Cars” films lacked cuteness, then you need to see this stop-motion anime.  They’re guinea pigs!  They’re furry living cars that people and animals ride around in!  They’re unbearably cute and lovable!  Go watch!

March 26

Croupier–Clive Owen gave a star-making turn in this crime drama directed by Mike Hodges (the original “Get Carter”).  Jack Manfred (Owen) is an aspiring writer who still hasn’t seen any commercial success.  His father, a gambler, helps his son out by lining up a job for him as a London casino croupier.  Jack’s facility with card manipulation makes him a wizard at the job, yet emotionally distant from it as well.  Maybe that’s why he’s intrigued by casino client Jani De Villiers’ (Alex Kingston aka “Doctor Who”’s River Song) scheme to cheat the casino…

The Irregulars Season 1–In the Sherlock Holmes canon, the Baker Street Irregulars were a group of street kids who helped Holmes and Watson find clues for their investigations.   Creator Tom Bidwell (“Watership Down”) gives a darker turn to this set-up by putting a supernatural edge to the crimes the Irregulars investigate…and making Holmes and Watson more sinister and manipulative. 

March 31

At Eternity’s Gate–Julian Schnabel’s biopic follows the last years of tortured artist Vincent Van Gogh’s life.  It’s filled with deviations from historical fact, such as Van Gogh being played by the far older Willem Dafoe.  Yet that matters less than the director’s capturing the personal struggles of an artistic genius who lived as a perpetual outsider.  These struggles include bouts of madness and lack of appreciation by his contemporaries.  Featuring Rupert Friend as Vincent’s sympathetic brother Theo and Oscar Isaac as artistic frenemy Paul Gauguin.

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Peter Wong

Peter Wong

I've been reviewing films for quite a few years now, principally for the online publication Beyond Chron. My search for unique cinematic experiences and genre dips have taken me everywhere from old S.F. Chinatown movie theaters showing first-run Jackie Chan movies to the chilly slopes of Park City. Movies having cat pron instantly ping my radar.

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