THE REEL: Five films to induce finals procrastination

THE REEL with Ben Conniff

By: Ben Conniff

Finals week is rapidly approaching. That means it’s time to procrastinate with a little Netflix time. The number of fine selections available this year could make short work of available study hours, so be sure to manage your priorities responsibly.

 “Trading Places”

This 1983 comedy classic from John Landis features riotous performances from Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, who appears in a breakout motion picture role. Louis Winthorpe (Aykroyd) becomes the guinea pig in a wager with his employers over whether one’s success in life depends on their environment or their heredity. When Winthorpe bumps into Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy), a common street hustler, he has Valentine arrested for attempting to rob him. Eventually, Winthorpe’s employers switch the men’s roles with Valentine taking a job as a commodities broker and Winthorpe losing everything. 

You’ll be “lookin’ good” and “feelin’ good” after watching the hilarious “Trading Places”!


All my Louisvillians should appreciate this biopic about boxing legend Muhammad Ali, with Will Smith in an Oscar-nominated performance. Aside from intense depictions of boxing action, director Michael Mann also fares well to focus on the sociopolitical climate of the day, with the Civil Rights Movement and fallout from Ali’s resistance to enter the Vietnam draft heightening the tension. With a runtime just over 2.5 hours, the film’s biggest drawback is its bloated length. 

If you’re in the mood for something shorter, the entire “Rocky” series is also available on Netflix.

 “20 Feet from Stardom”

We always give all the credit to the superstars of popular music, but our biggest idols would be nothing without the people harmonizing with them just behind the spotlight. This film profiles different backup singers from The Rolling Stones and Sting to Michael Jackson and Josh Groban. “20 Feet from Stardom” successfully accomplishes what it sets out to do – bring these lesser-known talents into the spotlight so that their stories and talents can gain the attention they deserve. The film won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

Lots of other riveting documentaries are available as well, including “Blackfish,” “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” “The Act of Killing,” “The Lady in Number 6” and “Room 237.”

 “Dirty Dancing”

The 80s favorite starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey is now streaming on Netflix. If you’re really unfamiliar with the story, it’s about a girl named Baby who falls in love with her summer camp’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle. When he returns to rescue Baby from her corner, Swayze makes the audience fall in love with him too. The “big move” is unforgettable.

If you want some more 80s teen fun, “Say Anything,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink” are also available. 


Director Sam Mendes brings Agent 007 even further into the post-“Dark Knight” blockbuster landscape with “Skyfall” — the grittiest, grimmest Bond tale to date. Carefully-staged action sequences and a reverent affinity for all things classic Bond make this the finest film of the Daniel Craig era. 

Other major blockbuster selections include “Marvel’s The Avengers” and Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man.”