Friday, May 2, 2014
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 75
Short Term 12 (2013, dir. Destin Cretton) I just saw Short Term 12 a second time at Ebertfest and it's a movie I admire so hey, why not champion it? Above all else, Short Term 12 is well acted, with standout performances from Brie Larson as Grace and Keith Stanfield as Marcus. I didn't love the movie but it was definitely overlooked last year and has something worthwhile to say. I appreciated that the movie takes a look into a character that is a care giver with her own problems she has trouble working through. I have met a person similar to that in my own life and wondered why that is; this movie shed some light on that situation. Short Term 12 is a movie about how friendship and kindness trumps fear. It gives you characters to rally behind because they're all trying to save each other and be saved themselves.
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999, dir. John McTiernan) My appreciation for The Thomas Crown Affair has grown over the years as I've come to really appreciate the performances and the undeniable chemistry between stars Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo, not to mention the film's relaxed pace. It's hard to believe this romantic heist movie, which is a remake of a 1968 film, was directed by John McTiernan, the man who brought us Die Hard and Last Action Hero. This film has a playful vibe that makes it easy to watch and it's compelling enough to engage me any time I run across it. It's flawed, but also eminently watchable.
Happy Gilmore (1996, dir. Dennis Dugan) This is one of the few Adam Sandler films I like and takes us all back to the days before he was self-satisfied, lazy, and used his annual film commitment to go on a vacation (This Summer: Africa!). There are jokes in this that just come out of nowhere: the grandmother wearing a Kiss mask, Happy's golf coach, Chubbs, appearing in a vision at the end of the film with an alligator and Abraham Lincoln, the Bob Barker brawl, and most especially, the "Happy Place," which I still think about whenever a doctor takes my blood pressure, so I do not allow the anxiety as the cuff squeezes my arm to screw up the results. This might actually form the basis for a definition of successful comedy: it has to contain a lot of JOKES. Happy Gilmore features Ben Stiller in the minor role of an abusive senior citizens home attendant; this seems to be a rough draft of his White Goodman character in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. "Go in your hole. You belong in your HOLE."
Patrick: You guys, there is SO MUCH stuff on Netflix Instant right now. I would normally hold off on recommending too many titles for fear of blowing my wad for future weeks, but I don't see myself running out of suggestions any time soon.
6 Bullets (2012, dir. Ernie Barbarash) Another good modern Van Damme movie in which he plays a mercenary who hits rock bottom after a job goes bad. He's called out retirement to help rescue the kidnapped daughter of an MMA fighter (Joe Flanigan, aka Col. John Sheppard of my beloved Stargate Atlantis, sporting a neck tattoo). Like with his previous Van Damme collaboration, Assassination Games, director Ernie Barbarash does a good job balancing solid action with real character drama. At this point in his career, Van Damme is great at playing sad men. Maybe that's because I saw JCVD and now I just think he's sad in everything.
Ravenous (1999, dir. Antonia Bird) This is coming out on Blu-ray from Scream Factory this summer, so check it out now and confirm that yes, you do want to buy it. The late Antonia Bird directs a terrific horror movie with snowy atmosphere and grisly violence. One of my favorite cannibal movies ever. Maybe my favorite. Cool score by Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn from Blur.
Diggstown (1992, dir. Michael Ritchie) Don't be fooled by one of the worst movie posters ever put out by a marketing department -- Diggstown is one of the great con movies of the last 30 years. It's one of those movie that never got/gets much attention but which, like Heath mentions above with The Thomas Crown Affair, I'm incapable of turning off should I come across it on TV. James Woods plays a con man (because James Woods) who makes a bet that his washed-up boxer friend (Louis Gossett, Jr.) can knock out 10 fighters in one day. Bruce Dern is characteristically great as the town villain, young Heather Graham is crazy hot, Oliver Platt is in it and makes every movie better. Watch this one knowing as little as possible except that it's a lot of fun and one of the great underrated films of the '90s.