Friday, July 12, 2013

Netflix This Movie! Vol. 34

 Watch these, not those.

Adam Riske: Rain Man (1988, dir. Barry Levinson) Rain Man is super entertaining. I'm pretty sure it's also offensive. Dear readers, should I feel bad for liking this movie? Is Valeria Golino hot? Her name sounds like an illness that would keep you out of school for a few days. Also do you think Raymond's (played by Dustin Hoffman) caretaker, Dr. Bruner, pulled a fast one on us? Let me explain. SPOILER: He gets control of the $3 Million inheritance at the end of Rain Man. 5 years later the same guy is "Dr. Gerry Harding" and taking care of a sick Triceratops at Jurassic Park. Did Dr. Bruner use the money to get out of Cincinnati, work out a deal with John Hammond, live in Costa Rica, get a gas powered Jeep and meet my Laura Dern? Was the Triceratops autistic? Where's Raymond? Did he get eaten by a dinosaur? Read between the lines people. Park's got secrets. Park's got layers, yo.
Heath Holland: The Grapes of Wrath (1940, dir. John Ford) I wrote about this movie in my weekly column, but I didn't mention that it's available to stream on Netflix Instant. This is the heartbreaking story of a family evicted from their farm and seeking a new, better way of life at the end of Route 66. John Ford paints a bleak view of life during the Great Depression. Gregg Toland's camera work captures the iconic landscape, but also stark shadows and wonderful silhouettes. This movie is as famous as it is for a reason. I'm pleased that Netflix is offering such a landmark film on their streaming service. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a watch. Be warned, though. It's quite a journey.
Mark Ahn: The Kid with a Bike (2011, dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, French language) A boy trying to come to grips with the absence of his father finds himself stuck between a caring foster mother and some unsavory elements. Thomas Doret gives a terrific performance as the young protagonist who is maniacally intent on finding stability in his life.
JB: The Conversation (1974, dir. Francis Ford Coppola) “He’d kill us if he had the chance.” This is the “little movie” that Coppola made between the two Godfather films, and it is a small masterpiece. Given all the brou-ha-hoopla lately about the NSA surveillance scandal, this film is weirdly topical once again. Gene Hackman, John Cazale, and Allen Garfield all turn in career-best performances. Watch for Harrison Ford, Teri Garr, and Cindy Williams in smaller roles!
Patrick: Hollywood Homicide (2003; dir. Ron Shelton) Since I've already established myself as the guy who recommends the movies that are widely disliked, I'm just going to go all in: I really like Hollywood Homicide. I like the way Josh Hartnett plays a kind of airhead actor, I like the way the movie uses Harrison Ford's late-period grouchiness to good effect. Mostly, though, I like the way it satirizes Hollywood life, where even the cops have side projects they'd rather be doing. It's a movie that just meanders and hangs out, about a lot of smaller cases instead of a single big one. It's breezy and fun and good for the summer. Great cast, too. I think I'm right about this.


  1. The Conversation is a very good movie, but I've always had a problem with the middle section. Coppola and Gene Hackman do an amazing job at creating Harry Caul as a very closed-in, paranoid individual. However, they then have him make a serious of stupid, reckless decisions that are completely out of character for him. Fortunately, the movie recovers for a finale that is both chilling and compelling. And that sound design (I believe by Walter Murch) makes the film worth watching all by itself.

    1. The Conversation is fantastic. If you haven't seen Blow Out (or even if you have) they make a fantastic double feature

    2. Blow Out is indeed an unqualified masterpiece, with DePalma working at the top of his game. I would argue that it has more in common with The Conversation than the movie it's usually compared to, Blow Up (although there are obvious similarities there). The key difference is that The Conversation came out at the height of Watergate, where paranoia and distrust of authority were peaking. Blow Out displays the same cynicism, but during the so-called "Morning in America." The fact that the movie takes place around the (fictional) holiday "Liberty Day" just enhances the irony of the proceedings.

  2. One other program note for the weekend, Saturday on AMC granted a little late for Junesploitation but they are running all 5 Death Wish movies in a row, it's more Bronson than we deserve.

  3. I remember not particularly liking Hollywood Homicide in theaters despite being a Ron Shelton fan (I'm the only person on earth who liked Play It To The Bone...damn my affinity for boxing movies). You've compelled me to give it another shot, though. I'll catch up with it over the weekend for sure.

  4. Hollywood Homicide deserves a watch if only for the epic moment when Ford steals a little girl's bike and literally roars at her.