Friday, March 15, 2013

Netflix This Movie! Vol. 17

This week's recommendations range from one of the best movies ever made to one of the worst.

Adam Riske: Chasing Amy (1997; dir. Kevin Smith) Boy am I glad I finally saw this for the first time! Chasing Amy is one of the most honest and perceptive movies I've seen dealing with the topic of dating. I give it lots of credit for being brave enough to say "Yeah, it's great you learned something from the experience, but the important thing to remember is you f**ked up...don't f**k up again!" I love this movie!
Erich: A Talking Cat !?! (2013; dir. David DeCoteau) If you watched the trailer Doug posted a few weeks back, you know this is a special movie. Or should I say, "special?" This direct-to-video flick tells the story of Duffy, a magical cat (voiced by Eric Roberts) who helps two neighboring families find love and happiness, by virtue of an enchanted collar that lets him talk to people. The dialogue and effects are atrocious, the music is worse, and Roberts' voiceovers sound like they were recorded from a payphone. Even so, the movie has an infectious optimism that almost transcends its many, many, many limitations. Did I mention that the cat on the movie poster is different from the cat in the movie, or that the closing credits play over a synth-reggae cover of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"? You're welcome.
Erika: Hoop Dreams (1994; dir. Steve James) I've talked about Hoop Dreams (also available free online at a lot on FTM (on my favorite movies show), so I apologize if you've already heard me say before that OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE THIS DOCUMENTARY SO MUCH. If you watch this movie -- and I mean, really watch it (without texting, checking email, or making out with your significant other) -- and your heart does not overflow with emotion, don't tell me. Really. I want to think we are friends, but if you are not moved by the lives of Arthur Agee and William Gates, we can't be friends. Steve James's style is genuine and fair. His camera never exploits, it just lets the viewer in. Allow yourself to become Arthur and William. To dream with their families. To feel what it was to work hard and persevere before our culture required one to write a FB status about such things. Arthur and William did not simply strive to be noticed or showered with attention; they strove to change their lives and the lives of their families. By the end of the film, you'll want to meet the filmmakers. You'll want to spend time with the boys and find out where they are now. You'll want to read as much as you can about it all. The pieces in the Criterion Collection Hoop Dreams DVD are fantastic. Make sure to read the filmmakers' "Dedication" piece, too.

Full disclosure: yes, I am biased. But I really love what this writer says in the Evidence section of this review. And you MUST watch this and this AFTER watching the film. I could go on. Just go watch. Then call me so we can talk about it.
Heath Holland: Big Fish (2003; dir. Tim Burton) The last decent movie directed by Tim Burton before he descended into mainstream, children-with-ADD-Only lunacy (taking Johnny Depp with him), Big Fish is a sentimental story about an America that may or may not have existed. It finds wonder in the details, and tells a story not just for kids or for goth-leaning outsiders, but for everyone. It’s  new to Netflix Instant.
JB: Side by Side (2012; dir. Christopher Kenneally) This documentary about Hollywood's big switch from film to digital was the subject of a popular and award-winning F This Movie! podcast last September. Back then, I had to pay good money to watch it on my cable company's On-Demand Pay-Per-View service. Now, it is steaming on Netflix Instant. Although some of our listeners were angry with the documentary for not answering enough questions definitively, the film does ask all the right questions and at least starts a conversation on this important topic. Some people griped about Keanu Reeves's participation in the film (he produced, narrates, and conducts some of the interviews), but this is the first time I have liked a "Reeves movie" in a very long time.

The classic film clips are very well chosen and look pristine. In fact, Netflix asked me to download a new plug-in (Microsoft Silverlight) before I was allowed to watch it to "optimize my viewing pleasure," or something. Face it-- I will watch ANY movie that begins with Eadweard Muybridge's motion studies and the famous shot of that cowboy "shooting the audience" from The Great Train Robbery.
Mark Ahn: Supercop (1992; dir. Stanley Tong) Seems appropriate to recommend a Jackie Chan movie after writing about him last week. Chan teams up with the incomparable Michelle Yeoh to take down some drug smuggling bad guys; "Bond girl" is pretty far down the list on her resume, believe me. Probably my favorite Jackie Chan offering on Netflix.
Mike: The Evil Dead (1981; dir. Sam Raimi) With the remake coming out, I thought it might be a good time to encourage anyone that has not seen the original to do so. The Evil Dead is a more straight-forward horror film then its sequels, and while Evil Dead 2 is considered by many the best of the trilogy, it's the first film that holds a special place in my heart.
Patrick: Dead Man (1995; dir. Jim Jarmusch) A slowly-paced, black and white anti-western that is not for everyone. "Offbeat" doesn't come close to describing it, but it's also beautiful and haunting and sad. Maybe pretentious, too, but I don't think so. Neil Young contributes a loud guitar score that's at least half feedback. Well worth your time.


  1. Very exited about the ED remake. I will be seeing that opening night... Groovy.

    1. Took me a sec to realize you weren't talking about the Matt LeBlanc/chimp baseball movie.

  2. Nice recommendations this week guys, I actually watched a few minutes of A Talking Cat and I am convinced this movie was just a college student film that Netflix posted because the director's mom pestered them about how hard her son worked on the movie.

    Chasing Amy while visually has nothing going for it is indeed a great film and my 2nd fav Kevin Smith flick behind Clerks.

    Side by Side- Another one to add to the queue thanks JB

    Supercop- Another great Chan film and I think to my knowledge the only one where he had a lady partner who could also kick some ass. Normally the best a lady can do in a Jackie flick is scream a lot or break a lamp over the bad guys head.

    Evil Dead- One of the first movies to ever truly scare me as I saw this when I was 10. And it also taught us an important lesson reading books is a horrible terrible no good evil thing

    Hoop Dreams- been meaning to see it, will add it to the queue

    Big Fish- I really like this movie and agree with Mr Holland it was definitely the last really good thing Burton has done although he think he came close to redeeming himself with Corpse Bride.

    Finally Dead Man- Aint never heard of it but for half a second I thought it was an onset pic from the Lone Ranger movie coming out albeit I bet Dead Man is the better movie

    1. Yay, Tom Bartman454! Find a quick 3 hours in your schedule, watch HOOP DREAMS, and then make sure to come back and talk about it with me. I watch it at least once a year and am a little obsessed. ;)

  3. Eric Roberts playing a talking cat...

    Okay, he's suffered enough for playing The Master in that Fox Network "Doctor Who" movie now.

    1. After your nonplussed reaction to The Baby, I'm curious what you'd think of this one.

    2. I think was more "nonplussed" at your reaction to that movie than that movie but anyway...

      I don't have Netflix (don't judge me) but if I can locate a copy I'll have a look.

  4. Well Erika I finally sat down to watch Hoop Dreams and gotta say excellent film I really can't believe those directors followed them for that many years. I dont think even directors behind full length animated movies have to spend that much time on one film.

    While I have always considered my fav basketball film to be Hoosiers (what no love for Coach Carter you say) on first watch Hoop Dreams definitely takes the cake for best basketball flick for me. I would definitely say while overall I agreed with the philosophy of the St Joseph's coach's methods it seems like maybe he could have lightened up a little bit on his players once in a while. Hoop Dreams tended to show him as being a bit of a curmudgeon even though he seems to have his heart in the right place.

    The best compliment I can give this movie is that I finished it and wanted more. Best doc since Conan O'brien Cant Stop.

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