our Twitter page asking if we had ever published a list of recommendations for Netflix Instant. We had not. But we recognize a great idea when we hear one, so TA-DA! Every week, some of us will be offering suggestions of stuff to watch that's available on Netflix Instant. DO AS WE SAY!
Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians (2011; dir. Bryan Storkel) As if to prove that there really is a documentary for everything, Holy Rollers follows a team of pastor card counters who use the winnings to fund their churches. While the movie leaves certain questions unanswered, it’s a nuanced examination of faith-in-practice, wrapped around a story that pits Casinos against Christian Robin Hoods.
Tyrannosaur (2011; dir. Paddy Considine) No one makes bleak character dramas like the British. Paddy Considine’s directorial debut isn’t for the faint of heart, but those willing to brave brutal violence and gut-punch revelations will be rewarded with powerhouse performances from Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman, as lonely strangers who forge a dangerous friendship.
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2011; dir. Constance Marks) A documentary about Kevin Clash, one of the nicest people I've ever seen in a movie. Surprise! I cried.
The Freebie (2010; dir. Kathryn Aselton) I like movies in which the characters talk about relationships. There's a lot of that in this. It addresses some interesting questions.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948; dir. Charles Barton) Still the most successful merging of comedy and horror, a real hoot.
The Trip (2010; dir. Michael Winterbottom) Unique and thoughtful, stick with it.
The Charlie Chaplin Collection (1916-1917) Especially episodes 1, 2, and 10 -- good prints, passable scores, great shorts.
You Can Count On Me (2000; dir. Kenneth Lonergan) Interesting point of view, good dialogue, and a fine Mark Ruffalo performance.
The Man from Nowhere (2010; dir. Jeong-beom Lee) We mentioned this little Netflix gem on the Dune podcast. The story follows an anonymous drifter who runs a pawnshop and befriends a little girl from next door. Unfortunately, the little girl’s mother gets into a whole lot of trouble, and the drifter literally springs into action. As the story moves forward, we also find out more about the drifter and his turbulent backstory. Bin Won as the title character and Sae-Ron Kim as the little girl have good chemistry, the villains are deliciously awful, and the action compares favorably to the Jason Bourne movies. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for an action movie with a little more narrative weight in it than the average action film.
Submarine (2010; dir. Richard Ayoade) Also from the same year, Submarine is about Oliver (Craig Roberts), an awkwardly idiosyncratic teenager trying to navigate through his own social tics and his parents’ unraveling marriage. It’s dry in humor but warm in spirit; I’d recommend it for those of you who like Wes Anderson films. You might be put off a little at how much it borrows from Anderson’s visual aesthetic, but I happen to like Richard Ayoade, and think his directorial debut shows promise.
Into the Abyss (2011; dir. Werner Herzog)
Lifeforce (1985; dir. Tobe Hooper) I'm going to try and use this space every week to recommend a movie I think has been unfairly trashed or forgotten. This week, it's Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce. a sci-fi/horror hybrid featuring space vampires, naked Mathilda May (she's naked the whole time) and London being overrun by murderous zombies. Few movies are willing to be as go-for-broke crazy as this.
Running Scared (1986; dir. Peter Hyams) Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal star in one of the best buddy cop movies ever made. Great Chicago photography.