I Put the 'Ma' Back in Cinema

Netflix is the greatest invention since sliced bread. And since I can't watch bread--well, I could, but it wouldn't be very entertaining--I daresay Netflix is ever better.

Case in point: The cheery red envelope delivered a strong dose of innocent exuberance this week when it unveiled the TV Disney movie High School Musical, which I immediately fell in love with. According to my best friend, I'm late to the party on this one. But then again, she's seen it 10 times, cries throughout the whole thing, and knows every dance move. She may be an outlier.

Sure, the acting is a tad wooden, the songs have catchy beats but forgettable lyrics, and the romantic tension is sanitized to the point of blandness. Regardless, this sunshiny flick featured sincere performers, energetic choreography, and an all-around, thumbs-up, apple-pie, ethnically diverse, zit-free dream universe of how high school should be (and never is).

Is it Spielberg? Of course not. But Spielberg is not one for making me giggle. Let's not underestimate the power of movies like this as popcorn for the brain: It feels like a guilty pleasure, but is actually healthy for you ... especially when stripped of extra saccharine or fat.

See the EW review for a professional opinion. Also, a look at the numbers.

Along more IMS lines, I also have Netflix to thank for Pane e tulipani (Bread and Tulips). Accordion lessons, galoshes, exotic flowers, and stick-on bindhis pile up the whimsy as the love story unfolds in the Venetian canals. A great pick for a steamy summer night when you don't feel like moving.