Friday, September 5, 2014

Netflix This Movie! Vol. 93

This week, we've got space invaders, hadron colliders, racial barriers, Tom Cruise and Joan Rivers (RIP).
Adam Riske: Jack Reacher (2012, dir. Christopher McQuarrie) You know, just another underrated Tom Cruise movie. Promise me you'll watch this movie. It's good!
Adam Thas: Particle Fever (2014, dir. Mark Levinson) A very straightforward documentary about the Large Hadron Collider and its first few years in search of the Higgs Boson particle. Okay, I know you probably went to sleep just reading that sentence, but I really liked this movie. It follows the project in general, but specifically six scientists who are all working on different phases of the project. I was not aware that there are two competing theories on how the universe works (both too complicated for me to explain). That causes a lot of friction between people way smarter than you or me. Based on the results of the Collider experiments, half of the scientists in the movie will see their life’s work crumble. That might not sound huge, but we are taking about theoretical physicist who have 40 years of work and reputation based on their theory. I really liked the people in Particle Fever for their awkward charm, and the movie gave me hope in humanity that we could come together for something so huge.
Erika: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010, dir. Ricki Stern & Anne Sundberg) Rest in peace, Joan Rivers. You paved the way for women in comedy, and you will be missed.
Heath Holland: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967, dir. Stanley Kramer) Netflix has recently added the 2005 film Guess Who to its offerings, but if you find yourself considering pressing play on that movie about interracial relationships with Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher, and Zoe Saldana, be aware that the 1967 classic that the remake was based on is also on Netflix and arguably has much more to offer. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner stars Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy, and Katherine Hepburn (all three are Academy Award winners), and is a classier and better-acted film all around. Yes, the 1967 film is dated in some of its attitudes and it's a much different kind of movie than the remake, but the message is still valid (maybe now more than ever) and there's still a weight and realism that makes this version the one to reach for.
Patrick: Invaders from Mars (1986, dir. Tobe Hooper) When I first started doing these Netflix recommendations, I was trying to make a point to recommend movies I felt had been unfairly dismissed. When I saw that Tobe Hooper's remake of Invaders from Mars had hit Netflix Instant this week, I was thrilled for a couple of different reasons: A) it's EXACTLY the kind of movie I like to recommend, as I think it's better than its reputation (while still far from perfect); 2) It will give everyone the chance to read the essay I wrote on the film last year in which I suggest that this whole movie is Tobe Hooper's critique of Steven Spielberg; D) Hopefully seeing it in 2014 gives everyone the chance to appreciate all the things that are charming about the film. Plus, Scream Factory is putting it out on Blu-ray soon, because at this point I'm convinced they are choosing titles that only I like. DO THE MATH.


  1. Blood Sport should be on this list. Van Dam GOLD!

  2. I second Jack Reacher. Loved it. Rosamund Pike has never looked better.

  3. Invaders From Mars so creeped me out as a kid; until I heard you guys mention it in a podcast, I thought I'd imagined the entire movie. Will definitely check it out again, see how it holds up.

    1. If you're talking about the remake, I definitely wouldn't revisit it expecting to be scared. I think you will be disappointed. Let us know what you think!

    2. The beginning of the movie set a great tone: a kid and his dad gazing at the stars and bonding. That might be my favorite part, it felt the most natural. Overall, this movie felt very forced and stilted---I found Hunter Carson's reaction shots completely distracting (and wonder if they were shot separately). When this movie changed scenes, I kept getting jerked out of the experience and reminded that I was watching a movie. The acting of all the adult characters was very heightened and I wasn't really sure why Nurse Rachet was so hellbent on getting David, he wasn't much of a threat. Just a completist? All that being said, I would absolutely watch it again. The movie itself is bonkers but I enjoyed it and feel a nostalgic attachment to it. (It also didn't explain much: what did the alien invaders want? why did they take over humans but yet there were other different alien types in that underground lair? what was with the copper again?)

  4. I've only watched Jack Reacher once, but I have re-watched that bathroom fight at least three times. Bonkers.

  5. Saw "Particle Fever" earlier this year on the same week I saw "Jodorowsky's Dune," and they both kind-of kickstarted a rediscovery phase of documentaries that hasn't left me yet. Even if you don't know jack about science the filmmakers (who are also scientists) make the material accessible and the cast of scientists (particularly the attractive female one whose name escapes me and the main scientist for whom the science being researched is named after) interesting without condescending. Adam's got a winner here, even if it's on, sigh, Netflix Instant. ;-)

  6. Sometimes you just see the cover and its yeah or neah instantly. Not a good way to judge films I agree
    But Particle Fever. Big Yeah. Got my just by the title and the cover. Adams great review is just the lovely chocolate icing on the cake

    Also another Yeah for Jack Reacher here. I love Lee Child. I've read all the series. But when I heard Tom cruise was playing Reacher I nearly died from laughter. Havent they even read the books!
    But in all fairness its a great movie . Its took from one of my favourite Reacher books "One Shot " If you can get past that casting issue there is a lot of fun to be had here.
    And if you don't know Reacher and dont know that he is 6'5" tall with a 50-inch chest, and weighing between 220 and 250 pounds your all good