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Paul Rudd stars in Mute (2018)
Paul Rudd stars in Mute (2018)
Keith Bernstein, Netflix

13 Must-See Movies Coming to Netflix in February

Paul Rudd stars in Mute (2018)
Paul Rudd stars in Mute (2018)
Keith Bernstein, Netflix

The movies popping up on Netflix in February are a grab bag of comfort food for Millennials, prestigious Oscar winners, and brand new wonders all swaddled in a huge nest of Netflix Original series. And stand-up specials. Oh, the stand-up specials.

The best of the bunch offer you a chance to either relax your brain with nostalgic familiarity or challenge it with complicated human challenges that run from the Civil War to a mute bartender dismantling a sci-fi gang operation.

Plus, since we’re in the age of infinite entertainment, if none of these titles perk your ears, our picks for the 25 best movies currently available to stream await your judgment. In the meantime, here are 10 can't-miss titles that are coming to Netflix in February.

1. GOODFELLAS (1990)

Spoiler alert: That guy was talking to Joe Pesci. The Godfather rightly gets a lot of accolades, but Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece of ambition is always in the running for best crime film of all time, anchored by Nicholas Pileggi’s real-life experiences, Thelma Schoonmaker’s peerless editing, and Ray Liotta’s manic portrayal of rising mobster/cocaine trade star Henry Hill. Endlessly quotable, now you can do your best De Niro in the comfort of your own home or while riding the bus.

2. MEN IN BLACK (1997)

On the lighter side of things, here's a movie where Will Smith catches an alien squid baby covered in what looks like runny mayonnaise. Smith’s follow-up to his career-launching turns in Bad Boys and Independence Day was a perfect showcase for his action and comedic chops that treated the end of the world with a smiling intensity. Smith got a chance to crack wise while Tommy Lee Jones bristles and Vincent D’Onofrio’s skin falls off his bones.

3. AMERICAN PIE (1999)

Paul and Chris Weitz’s surprisingly empathetic look at a group of insecure high school dudes promising to lose their virginity by graduation revitalized the sex comedy genre with a poppy soundtrack and the most advanced dial-up webcam technology of the day. The first two movies and three of its direct-to-DVD spinoffs are all coming to Netflix, so, you know, watch the first two movies and then go canoeing or start a glee club.

4., 5., AND 6. OCEAN’S ELEVEN (2001), OCEAN’S TWELVE (2004), AND OCEAN’S THIRTEEN (2007)

Steven Soderbergh captured an incredible magic with Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen, creating heist films with the biggest stars on the planet that somehow felt fresh and thrilling while promising at every turn that it would all work out just fine. George Clooney’s devil-may-care swagger and Brad Pitt’s constant snacking gave the movies wings, but they took a backseat to the real star: the labyrinthine plot winding through Las Vegas.

7. AND 8. KILL BILL: VOL. 1 (2003) AND VOL. 2 (2004)

Before John Wick, The Bride was revenging all over the place, leaving stylish bodies in her wake. Quentin Tarantino’s four-hour epic—which was eventually broken up into two films—updated grindhouse aggression for a 21st century audience, offering Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah, Lucy Liu, and Vivica A. Fox a platform to chew gloriously through scene after scene of destruction and dark revelations.

9. WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY (2007)

Criminally underrated, the John C. Reilly-starring spoof is still sharp and hilarious—more than 10 years later. Reilly twists the self-seriousness of figures like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan into parodic genius, and the script from Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan takes exactly none of it seriously. It’s a pitch-perfect sendup of both protest-era musicians and their biopics.

10. THE HURT LOCKER (2008)

Percussive and harrowing, Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Picture winner was a sensation just five years into the Iraq War. Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) is a kind of superhero who’s an expert at disposing of bombs, using a sniper rifle, and sneaking off post without consequence. But even if his actions offer a comically inaccurate version of military operations, the movie is still profoundly compelling, and Renner digs as deep into his character as an actor can.

11. LINCOLN (2012)

If you happened to miss Steven Spielberg’s biopic of our 16th president’s courageous push to pass the 13th Amendment through an unfriendly congress, now’s your chance for a stunningly beautiful history lesson. Daniel Day-Lewis’s Oscar-winning performance as Abraham Lincoln is astonishingly layered, offering us a look at a man dwarfed by the crucible of the moment finding the intestinal fortitude and honor necessary to bend the arc of history.

12. THE RITUAL (2017)

A new release that played at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival, this woodsy horror flick is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Adam Nevill. The concept of old friends heading into the forest to relive warm memories and rehash old arguments is familiar, but the execution is surprising and clever. Directed by David Bruckner (who made his name with indie The Signal and the V/H/S anthology), it’s also gritty, unnerving, and should make you want to seal your camping equipment in your attic (if you feel safe going up there).

13. MUTE (2018)

A spiritual sequel to his breakout sci-fi meditation Moon, Duncan Jones has been trying to get Mute made for years. It focuses on a mute bartender (Alexander Skarsgård) looking for his missing girlfriend (Seyneb Saleh) in futuristic Berlin. Jones has shown incredible strength when playing in the science fiction sandbox, and the prospect of him riffing on Blade Runner is fantastically exciting, especially since it includes a cameo from Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell, reprising his character from Moon and tying it into this new adventure, which Jones hopes will be the second of a trilogy.

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Paul Rudd stars in Mute (2018)
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entertainment
12 Very Special Facts About Punky Brewster
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

Sitcoms about kids abandoned by their parents and left to fend for themselves are few and far between. Fortunately, Punky Brewster, which ran from 1984 to 1988, was able to fill that need. Starring Soleil Moon Frye as the aggressively optimistic Punky and George Gaynes as her adoptive father, Henry, the show was famous for Punky’s distinctive fashion palette and its obsession with Very Special Episodes. (In “Urban Fear,” Punky learns a serial killer is stalking her neighborhood; in another, Punky learns a valuable lesson about peer pressure and drug use.)

On the 30th anniversary of the series' finale, check out these 12 facts on alternative casting, a failed spinoff, and the real origin of the infamous refrigerator episode.

1. PUNKY IS A REAL PERSON.

Though she probably didn’t dress like a rainbow vomited on her. In the mid-1980s, the Federal Communications Commission insisted that networks use the 7 and 7:30 p.m. slots on Sunday for news or children’s programming. Instead of competing against CBS’ 60 Minutes with more topical content, NBC President Brandon Tartikoff decided to counter-program with a show about a spunky little girl. He wanted to name her after a teacher's daughter he knew in prep school, Peyton “Punky” Brewster: Peyton gave NBC lawyers her approval. As reported by Mental Floss's own Stacy Conradt, the "real" Punky even appeared in a later episode as a teacher.   

2. VICKI THE ROBOT AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE.

When NBC’s casting call went out for Punky, more than 3000 adorable, elfin actors campaigned for the role. Among them was Tiffany Brissette, who later appeared as the monotone Vicki in the kid-robot series Small Wonder; Melissa Joan Hart (Clarissa Explains It All) was also a contender. But producers knew the relatives of Soleil Moon Frye, a 7-year-old with three TV movies under her tiny belt, and decided she had sufficient Punky Power.

3. HERMAN MUNSTER WAS UP FOR THE HENRY PART.

Before actor George Gaynes (Police Academy, Tootsie) was awarded the role of Punky’s adoptive father, Henry, producers were fielding another possibility: Fred Gwynne, best known as Herman Munster on The Munsters. Gwynne was said to be eager to distance himself from Munster and agreed to audition with Frye. But when the actress asked if he was Herman Munster, a disappointed Gwynne slinked out.   

4. THE SHOW WAS KIND OF GRIM.

When Tartikoff had the idea for a kid show, he passed it along to writer David Duclon, a producer on the network’s hit series Silver Spoons. Duclon told TV Guide in 1986 that he researched topical issues and found an alarming number of girls were victims of abandonment. It was decided Punky’s parents would be deadbeats; future episodes threatened to have her locked away in an orphanage, helping Henry cope with a bleeding ulcer, and addressing his sleeping pill addiction—unless, of course, she was busy tending to her dog, Brandon, who was hit by a car.

5. COLUMBIA PICTURES SUED SOLEIL MOON FRYE FOR $80 MILLION.

Being precocious apparently isn’t enough to keep a battalion of lawyers from trying to devour you. According to the Associated Press, Columbia Pictures (which took over production of the show when it went into syndication for its third season) sued Soleil Moon Frye for $80 million in 1986. The reason? Frye failed to report to work. Her attorney, Dennis Ardi, asserted Frye was under no legal obligation to perform once the series left NBC. Since the show ran for two more years, it's safe to say things were worked out and no Punky punitive damages were assessed.

6. THE INFAMOUS FRIDGE EPISODE WAS THOUGHT UP BY A KID.


NBC

To help stir up publicity for the series, NBC ran a contest in 1985 that solicited story ideas from kids. The winner was Jeremy Reams, who submitted a premise that involved Punky having to perform CPR on her friend, Cherie, who had gotten trapped inside an abandoned refrigerator. While this was an actual danger for older appliances with latches that couldn’t be opened from the inside, by 1956 the government mandated magnetic handles. In New York State, it was also illegal to discard fridges without removing the door.

7. SOME EPISODES WERE ONLY 15 MINUTES LONG. (THANKS, KNIGHT RIDER.)

While Punky usually occupied the normal 30-minute sitcom slot, the fall arrival of football on NBC prompted some format changes. Because games airing in the afternoon often run late, NBC decided to avoid joining a program in progress by scheduling 15-minute mini-Punky episodes to follow NFL broadcasts: It also guaranteed their hit Knight Rider would start on time at 8 p.m. Three episodes were structured to be “broken" in half, making for six truncated installments. It was the first time a major network had aired a 15-minute show since news programs in the 1960s.  

8. T.K. CARTER (A.K.A. “MIKE FULTON”) WAS ARRESTED FOR STEALING A CAR.

Fans may remember actor Thomas Kent Carter as Punky's “cool” teacher Mike Fulton. According to the Associated Press, Carter behaved in a very uncool manner when he approached a woman in December of 1991 and demanded her car. She refused; he allegedly punched her in the stomach before speeding away. Carter was arrested after a high-speed chase and having taken out two highway dividers. He was released on $10,000 bail.

9. PUNKY RETURNED AS A WEB COMIC.

Punky Power could not be suffocated for long: in 2014, publisher Lion Forge obtained the license to a number of 1980s series (Miami Vice, Airwolf) and began churning out a line of digital comics. The prequel sees Punky homeless in Chicago after being abandoned by her mother, “sleeping in empty apartments and mattress stores.” Eight issues have been released.   

10. IT ADDRESSED THE CHALLENGER EXPLOSION.

When the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986—killing all seven people on board—it left a lot of people shaken. The producers of Punky Brewster quickly packaged an episode with the help of psychologists that depicted Punky watching the telecast with her classmates and then struggling to cope with her feelings over the tragedy. Buzz Aldrin appeared in the episode as himself.    

11. THERE WAS A SPINOFF ABOUT AN ORPHANAGE.

During Punky’s first season, NBC considered a spinoff, Fenster Hall, about an orphanage full of wayward kids. T.K. Carter was set to reprise his role as Mike Fulton; producers also invited a pre-Saturday Night Live Dana Carvey to join the cast. (He declined.) The series was considered for a fall 1985 premiere but never made it to air.

12. IN 2009, FRYE DRESSED AS PUNKY FOR HER TWITTER FOLLOWERS.

After hitting a milestone 1 million followers on her Twitter account in 2009, Frye celebrated by dressing in her signature Punky gear. The then-33-year-old filmed a five-minute video thanking her fans and pointed out that Punky’s many bandanas were “gangster before there was gangster.”

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Paul Rudd stars in Mute (2018)
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Food
How to Make Miles Davis’s Famous Chili Recipe
STF/AFP/Getty Images
STF/AFP/Getty Images

Miles Davis, who was born on May 26, 1926, was one of the most important and influential musicians of the 20th century, and changed the course of jazz music more times in his life than some people change their sheets. He was also pretty handy in the kitchen.

In his autobiography, Miles, Davis wrote that in the early 1960s, “I had gotten into cooking. I just loved food and hated going out to restaurants all the time, so I taught myself how to cook by reading books and practicing, just like you do on an instrument. I could cook most of the great French dishes—because I really liked French cooking—and all the black American dishes. But my favorite was a chili dish I called Miles's South Side Chicago Chili Mack. I served it with spaghetti, grated cheese, and oyster crackers."

Davis didn’t divulge what was in the dish or how to make it, but in 2007, Best Life magazine got the recipe from his first wife, Frances, who Davis said made it better than he did.

MILES'S SOUTH SIDE CHICAGO CHILIK MACK (SERVES 6)

1/4 lb. suet (beef fat)
1 large onion
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground pork
salt and pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin seed
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can beef consommé
1 drop red wine vinegar
3 lb. spaghetti
parmesan cheese
oyster crackers
Heineken beer

1. Melt suet in large heavy pot until liquid fat is about an inch high. Remove solid pieces of suet from pot and discard.
2. In same pot, sauté onion.
3. Combine meats in bowl; season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin.
4. In another bowl, season kidney beans with salt and pepper.
5. Add meat to onions; sauté until brown.
6. Add kidney beans, consommé, and vinegar; simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
7. Add more seasonings to taste, if desired.
8. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, and then divide among six plates.
9. Spoon meat mixture over each plate of spaghetti.
10. Top with Parmesan and serve oyster crackers on the side.
11. Open a Heineken.

John Szwed’s biography of Davis, So What, mentions another chili that the trumpeter’s father taught him how to make. The book includes the ingredients, but no instructions, save for serving it over pasta. Like a jazz musician, you’ll have to improvise. 

bacon grease
3 large cloves of garlic
1 green, 1 red pepper
2 pounds ground lean chuck
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 jar of mustard
1/2 shot glass of vinegar
2 teaspoons of chili powder
dashes of salt and pepper
pinto or kidney beans
1 can of tomatoes
1 can of beef broth

serve over linguine

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