Friday, December 13, 2013
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 55
The Polar Express (2004, dir. Robert Zemeckis) The Polar Express is a fascinating misfire that would be just as appropriate for Scary Movie Month as it is for Christmas. Based on a really great book by Chris Van Allsburg, Robert Zemeckis, Tom Hanks and co. fashion it into a spectacularly animated Freddy Krueger nightmare for kids with a seemingly bipolar train conductor drugging a bunch of kids with hot chocolate and making them hallucinate roller coasters, evil toys, pissed off elves and a skiing hobo. These kids are in constant peril. If you had a drinking game each time one of these kids almost dies falling off that train, you would be smashed by the end of the first act. And I haven't even mentioned the pod people who have possessed all of the children and bled the life out of their eyes. This movie is fucking crazy. I kind of love it and I kind of hate it. Either way, I feel the need to watch it once every few years. Stay in bed kids! There is nothing positive happening happening outside in the middle of the night. The Polar Express does for the North Pole what Jaws did for the ocean.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989, dir. Jeremiah S. Chechik) So, a few days ago I was not feeling the Christmas spirit at all. Then, boom, over the weekend I just turned all ho ho ho and holly jolly. I've been giving candy canes out to strangers and wassailing (I don't know what wassailing is). There aren't a ton of Christmas classics on Netflix, but National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation definitely ranks as one of the Christmas movies worthy of the label "classic." Also, this may be the last time I really enjoyed a Chevy Chase performance. *quick trip to IMDB* Hey, what do you know, it SURE WAS! So fire up National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation sometime in the next week or two in honor of jolly old Saint Nick and the really funny guy that Chevy Chase USED to be.
Crystal Fairy and the Magic Cactus (2013, dir. Sebastian Silva)
Frances Ha (2013, dir. Noah Baumbauch)
The Iceman (2012, dir. Arial Vroman)
All of three of these films are worthy of your attention and seem to be ideally suited to Netflix Instant. All three received limited distribution and might not have been considered worth a drive downtown, high-priced reparatory theater tickets, and parking. While not perfect films, they are all perfectly entertaining and feature performances that deserve to be seen. Gaby Hoffman in Crystal Fairy, Michael Shannon in The Iceman, and Greta Gerwig in Francis Ha were among the best performances I saw this year. Gerwig just got nominated for a Golden Globe. Pour yourself a margarita for Fairy, a cup of Irish coffee for Frances, and a stiff belt of whiskey for Iceman this weekend and enjoy.
Sightseers (2013, dir. Ben Wheatley) I couldn't decide how I felt about Sightseers when I saw it earlier this year. It pulls off the dark comedy, which is notoriously tricky to do, and has a definite low-fi, deadpan charm. Like every Ben Wheatley movie I've seen, though, I want it to be something a little more, or to go some other place. I suspect that's my hangup. The movie is interesting and different and worth seeing, and if nothing else it will give us a chance to talk about it in the comments.