Friday, February 7, 2014

Netflix This Movie! Vol. 63

Our selections for what to watch on Netflix Instant have been a little esoteric lately. This week should fix that.

Congratulations to our own Erich Asperschlager and family on their beautiful new addition!
Adam Riske: The Hard Way (1991, dir. John Badham) My favorite movie from box office champ Nick Lang and an example of just fantastically entertaining trash, The Hard Way has a little bit of everything: manic energy, over-the-top Hollywood action sequences, great location shooting, solid chemistry between mismatched partners (Michael J. Fox and James Woods) and not one but two inside LL Cool J jokes in the first 5 minutes! This is a movie that shows you James Woods cannot act eating a hot dog convincingly, that LL Cool J should have only acted opposite Michael J. Fox his whole career ("Frog Dogs!  MMMMMMMM!!!! Tasty!!!"), how Annabella Sciorra might be New York: The Person, that Stephen Lang is the scariest human being to have ever been born etc. Other fun facts about The Hard Way: James Woods had a $6,000/week personal hairdresser on set and said this was one of his toughest roles because he had to be angry at MJF, a person he found very likable in real life.
Heath Holland: Patriot Games (1992, dir. Phillip Noyce) Patriot Games is my favorite of the Jack Ryan films, and one of my favorite Harrison Ford movies. I remember seeing it when it first came out and thinking that it was kind of boring because of the focus on politics and real-world conflict. Ford wasn't playing Indiana Jones or Han Solo, so I thought he wasn't doing much. It only took a few years for me to realize how wrong I was and how much Ford brings to this movie. Patriot Games marked a new phase in the actor's career in which he played an older, more thoughtful action hero. He may have stayed in that mode for too many years, but it's fresh here. Also worth mentioning are the fantastic performances by Patrick Bergin and Sean Bean, as well as appearances by Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, and Richard Harris. The list of actors who have played Jack Ryan keeps growing, but I think Ford did it best in Patriot Games.
JB: You Only Live Once (1937, dir. Fritz Lang) Scarlet Street (1945, dir. Fritz Lang) During this upcoming frigid weekend (assuming that you are not going to the big anniversary Beatlefest in New York) why not pop a little corn, put on your jim-jams, stoke the fire in the fireplace, and enjoy this Fritz Lang double feature? Though best known for his sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis, Lang emigrated to America before World War II and made some terrific films here. These two film noirs were made eight years apart, but both share an obsession with crime, fate, and human weakness that label them as classic Lang.
Patrick: A Life Less Ordinary (1997, dir. Danny Boyle) I generally like to use this space to recommend a movie you probably haven't seen, but when I can't do that I like to recommend something you've seen and didn't like. Danny Boyle's third movie (his follow up to Trainspotting) is widely hated, which I've never understood. He's a filmmaker that makes movies in every genre, and this is his weird take on the romantic comedy. Boyle had 20 different movies he wanted to make and appears to have stuffed them all into this one; it's a screwball comedy, a road movie, a romance. It has musical numbers and '90s-style bullet comedy and homicidal angels and claymation, plus a cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Cameron Diaz, Ian Holm, Delroy Lindo, Holly Hunter, Stanley Tucci, Timothy Olyphant, Dan Hedaya and Tony Shaloub. This movie is due for a reappraisal. I love it.

Mom: You're finally good to watch any of these this week. That's good, because it's freezing outside.


  1. Has anyone watched Bo Burnham's new special 'What'? I never would have guessed I'd be so excited about the future of Bo 'The Kid From Youtube' Burnham's career, but between this special, his now canceled TV show and his book, I will check out anything he does. I'm not sure if I'm crazy though, my two or three comedy fan friends didn't think it was anything particularly good, so I'm really interested in others opinions.
    Signed, not Bo Burnham (I swear)

  2. I love how you've summed up A Life Less Ordinary being 20 different movies stuffed into 1. Can you agree that it's also not a very well made film but just so lovable anyway? It always stands out to me for this reason.

    It was really reaching for something. It had a vision behind it somehow. I guess that was evident to me because it was TRYING to make sense of big big things. Big, huge, inexplicable things like Love, God and fate. I super appreciate that.

    It was so interesting to see Slumdog Millionaire knowing it was the same director. Totally different approach - one movie reached for concepts, the other illustrated them through one story. I love Danny Boyle just for that.