Friday, December 26, 2014
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 109
Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 (2014, dir. Lars von Trier) I took the Pepsi challenge and watched this last spring and I must say it's probably my favorite Lars Von Trier movie in a while. Your mileage may vary but I found it to be often funny and not as bleak as the usual output from the director. Vol. 2 is his usual mean-spirited bullshit so I don't know if I recommend watching the movie in its completion.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991, dir. Nicholas Meyer) I know if you’re on this site, you’ve probably already seen The Undiscovered Country, but I’m saying you should go back to watch it. I originally saw it in 1991 and enjoyed it but haven’t really gone back to it. Since 1991, however, I’ve managed to watch every single thing Star Trek has put out and it made me look back on it with different eyes. It’s very interesting because Star Trek VI was written, shot, and filmed while The Next Generation was still on the air, and was really written to bridge the gap between the world of the Original Series and TNG. This could have been incredibly boring, but manages to mix in enough Hollywood Spectical that it makes for a really fantastic movie. There are some really great jokes that hardcore fans of the movies and show can appreciate, but it's still enough of a mainstream movie that it will please most sci-fi fans. Wrath of Kahn is still the best of the Star Trek movies, but I think that VI has overtaken First Contact as my second favorite.
A Knight's Tale (2001, dir. Brian Helgeland) I think enough time has finally passed that I can watch Heath Ledger movies without the tragedy overshadowing the work itself. Thankfully, A Knight's Tale is on Netflix Instant and has a lot to offer. For starters, it's a movie that casts jousting in the same light as modern sporting events, showing it as a spectator sport that had passionate fans on both sides. The classic rock soundtrack is another innovation, unconventional for a story set in medieval times (the historical period, not the dinner theater). The supporting cast is pretty great, mixing relative newcomers with old stage pros, though I've always felt like Shannyn Sossamon failed to make much of an impression in her big-screen debut. Brian Helgeland is a writer and director (and does both here) that I've always connected with, and this film is probably the one that's the most accessible and fun of his to watch.
Mystery Road (2014, dir. Ivan Sen) I first saw this Australian thriller at this year's Chicago Critics Film Festival and was immediately impressed with its patience (it is what is often referred to as a "slow burn") and, above all, its gorgeous sense of place. It's a contemporary western in which an Aboriginal detective (Aaron Pedersen) investigates the murder of a teenage girl that may or may not lead to corruption on his own force. Ryan Kwanten and (especially) Hugo Weaving do great work in supporting roles. I love how often Weaving gets to show up and be a total badass in character parts these days. Yes, the movie is slow but always compelling, telling a story about Australia that we don't often get to see. Plus, if you hang in for the long haul you are rewarded with an amazing shootout. This is a gem that fell completely through the cracks. Now's your chance to help fix that.