Thursday, July 26, 2012
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 2
You're Gonna Miss Me (2005; dir. Keven McAlester) This is one of those documentaries about someone you've probably never heard of before, but will never forget. Roky Erickson was the lead singer for psychadelic rock pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators before drugs, shock treatments, and an over-protective mother turned him into the oddball recluse we see in this film, which chronicles his musical past while following the family court case that will decide his future.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010; dir. Jalmari Helander) What better way to cool off this Summer than an evening of reindeer innards, naked elderly men, and a giant demon Santa Claus? This Finnish Christmas-Horror fairy tale doesn't deliver on all of its promised mayhem (blame budgetary constraints), but it's weird enough to warrant a recommendation.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008; dir. Sacha Gervasi) Because everyone deserves a second chance.
Special When Lit (2009; dir. Bret Sullivan) I might love this documentary about pinball just because I love pinball, but I don’t think so. The film does many things and does them well: it provides a thorough history of the game, affords us a peek into a niche geek culture (not unlike The Rock-afire Explosion, which Patrick recommended on the Batman podcast), and most especially provides a thoughtful meditation on how much popular culture has changed over the last 25 years. Watch for the scene where the Stern Pinball employee explains how easy it is to play one of their new games -- it is hilarious.
Howl (2010; dir. Rob Epstein/Jeffrey Friedman) I really enjoyed this film when it was first released and applauded its unconventional structure. The film is simultaneously a) an historical recreation of the celebrated poem’s SF obscenity trial, b) a biopic about Ginsberg starring James Franco, and c) a free-form animated presentation of the poem itself. We need more movies like this about poetry. So there.
War of the Arrows (2011; dir. Han-Min Kim, Korean language) Sorry I keep mentioning Korean films, but once you watch one thing in Netflix, it likes to keep giving you similar things. This one popped up in my suggestions and I played it with little forethought, and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a little hectic in terms of narrative, but the fighting is mostly practical effects, and the arrow-work is unique enough to be set apart from the flying projectile visuals of Legolas or The House of Flying Daggers. Hae-Il Park, as the protagonist (who is the best archer in the land), is straightforward, like much of the movie. The political backstory doesn’t add much, but the villains are solidly menacing and relentless in pursuit, and there is a kingdom (and a sister) at stake. It’s good, mostly empty-headed fun; it passes the “I can watch this while checking email and folding laundry” test.
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010; dir. Jose Padilha, Portuguese language) Found this one looking up Jose Padilha, who I was curious about after hearing that he’s doing the Robocop remake. The movie deals with Captain Nascimento (played by Wagner Moura), who is the leader of an elite police force in Rio de Janeiro, and is the one bastion of integrity amidst an ocean of corrupt politicians and cutthroat crooks. The movie has a rather heavy-handed political stance on corruption, which, since I’m not Brazilian, I can’t comment on its authenticity, but it leads me to believe that there is hope that Padilha can do something interesting with Robocop. A good recommendation for those who like gritty crime stories and highly stylized cinematography that looks like Tony Scott’s (in a good way).
Thirst (2009; dir. Chan-wook Park)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975; dir. Sidney Lumet)
Meet Joe Black (1998; dir. Martin Brest) My people-say-it's-bad-but-actually-it's-good pick for this week is Martin Brest's maligned three-hour remake of Death Takes a Holiday. I might be the only person alive who loves this movie. Give it a chance. Slow and bloated? Of course. But also a beautiful movie about family, legacy, growing old and letting go. The ending gets me every time. All six of them.
Not Quite Hollywood (2008; dir. Mark Hartley) Kick-ass documentary about Australian exploitation (Ozploitation) cinema in the '70s and '80s. I defy you to watch this and not want to see every single movie it covers.