Friday, February 27, 2015
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 118
Save the Date (Michael Mohan, 2013) Chances are you missed this intelligent and entertaining romantic dramedy from a couple of years ago. Now you have no more excuses. It stars Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie. If you need more reason than that to watch it, we are different people.
Crawlspace (2012, Justin Dix) I usually hate movies with psychics. I think that it’s a cheap plot device that is used too often to fill holes in shitty screenplays. However, I’m going to make an exception: If a psychic in a movie at any point uses their abilities to make someone’s head explode, I am okay with said psychic ability. Crawlspace is an Australian action/sci-fi movie that follows a group of Australian Special Forces into a maximum security research facility that has gone silent. It’s got a very “Aliens” feel to it without the high budget and expertise of James Cameron. but as far as sci-fi action movies go, you could do a lot worse. Crawlspace feels very claustrophobic by design but I also wonder if part of it had to do with the budget, as it seems like a majority of the film was shot in a basement. They do manage to fit some good action sequences with just the right amount of violence that it doesn’t go over the top. Crawlspace uses psychics the way they should be: to keep you guessing on the plot and to blow up heads.
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010; dir. Sam Dunn and Scot McFayden) This film takes me back to my high school days, listening to classic rock bands in my basement room, picking up cheap records from the local shop, transcribing lyrics about pleasure domes and caves of ice onto my history binder. In 1994. Yeah, the '70s missed me by a couple of decades, but no band embodied my time shifted youth like Canadian prog rockers Rush. Beyond the Lighted Stage is in many ways a standard music doc. It follows Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart from their early days in Toronto up until today, with archival footage, music, and talking head interviews with the band and famous musicians they inspired. It's enough to make it a must-watch for any Rush fan, but I think there's something to be gained for even casual viewers. For all their talent, fame, fans, records, and longevity in the music business, Rush has never been "cool." Beyond the Lighted Stage isn't an attempt to rectify this injustice. Rather, it shows that coolness and popularity aren't as important as doing good work and staying true to yourself. One of the best things about being a fan of musicians who aren't "cool" is seeing them last long enough to earn cultural respect. Like Weird Al and They Might Be Giants, Rush is never going to play the Super Bowl halftime show, but they will continue to do what only they can do, making the music they want to make and reaching the people who dig it. I can't think of a more important legacy than that.
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957, dir. John Huston) After writing about how much I've come to appreciate Robert Mitchum this week, I want to recommend one of his movies for you to watch this weekend. Unfortunately, Netflix is seriously lacking when it comes to representing the actor's huge body of work. Of the five titles that they have in which the actor appeared, only four of them are actual movies, and only one of those features Mitchum in the lead role. However, you could do worse than Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, a 1957 survival movie directed by one of the great directors, John Huston, and starring Mitchum as a marine and Deborah Kerr as a nun, both trying to evade Japanese soldiers on a Pacific island during World War II. Huston steers clear of many of the standard war movie plot devices, moves the story along at a decent pace, and doesn't rely on emotional sentiment to trump logic and realism. Deborah Kerr was nominated for a best actress Oscar and Mitchum, as always, delivers exactly what we expect from him.
Shadow of the Vampire (2000, dir. E. Elias Merhige) God, I love this movie and its irresistible premise: F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) is shooting his famous film Nosferatu and hires a real vampire, Max Shreck (Willem Dafoe) to play Count Dracula. Bloody hijinx ensue. This is yet another movie that is worth watching for the supporting cast alone: the inimitable Udo Kier, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack, and Eddie Izzard as Gustav Wangenheim. This movie is 91 minutes of creepy wonderful.
Also, please note! According the Slate.com, the following films will be booted from Netflix Instant Streaming as of March 1st, so you all have one final weekend to enjoy them: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Almost Famous, The Blair Witch Project, Cool Runnings (Boo!), Desperado, The Elephant Man, Fright Night (1985), Glengarry Glen Ross, The Graduate, Grosse Pointe Blank, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Leaving Las Vegas, Old Yeller, Ordinary People, Pretty in Pink, Rachel Getting Married, Saturday Night Fever, Seven (What's in the BOX?!), Swiss Family Robinson, Thief, and Winged Migration.
Housebound (2014, dir. Gerard Johnstone) I have been shouting the praises of this New Zealand horror comedy since I reviewed it last October. It was my number two horror movie of last year and one of the best horror comedies in a long time. The plot is simple: a petty criminal (Morgana O'Reilly, who is the bomb) is put on house arrest and discovers her childhood home may have some supernatural visitors. This is an incredibly assured first film from director Gerard Johnstone; the humor is deadpan and character-based, the moments of gore perfectly executed and all of the performances pitch-perfect (particularly O'Reilly and Rima Te Wiata as her scatterbrained mum). Netflix is the perfect way to discover a movie like this, as the risk is low but the reward incredibly high. I love Housebound.
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Just a tip: You don't have to be a big fan of Rush (I'm not - don't tell - it could cost me my citizenship) to enjoy Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage - awesome doc.ReplyDelete
I started watching Housebound last night but fell asleep - nothing to do with the movie, just my exhaustion - love what I've seen so far (the lead really is amazing) and looking forward to finishing!
JB: I appreciate that list but oh the anxiety! A lot there I didn't even realize was there that I want to see - this is why physical media can't die folks!
Housebound was pretty terrific.ReplyDelete
May I also recommend throwing on an original series Star Trek this weekend in honor of the passing of Leonard Nimoy.ReplyDelete
I'm sure these were written before the news of Nimoy's passing, but I agree. I'll definitely at least be watching at The Wrath of Khan tonight, too.Delete
I recommend, in particular, "The Galileo Seven" (S1, E16).Delete
I cried in class when I heard the news.Delete
Does anybody know which episode is the one where Spock cries because of his feelings for Nurse Chapel?
"The Naked Time."Delete
"Three Men and a Baby" or play "Seaman" on Dreamcast :)Delete
MeTV is doing a tribute this weekend - starting tonight with "Perry Mason"Delete
JB - Shadow of the Vampire is amazing. Why oh why has this never gotten a proper Blu Ray release?! Even the DVD, which is overpriced, looks below quality. That and "Begotten" overrated but an important cult film in my opinion, need a proper treatment. Also - although "Suspect Zero has it's merits, it's not a very good film, but Merhige has shown that he can make a good film. I wonder why he doesn't really work too often.ReplyDelete
And the DVD isn't even proper ratio. It's just the TV copy with black bars added.Delete
When they would show "Shadow" on pay cable you could see night sky above Shreck's head during the "I read Dracula" scene - on the DVD the "letterboxing" cuts off just above his head.
Shameful. I guess the studio has no love for the film.Delete
The idea of Weird Al playing the Super Bowl halftime show has me intrigued...ReplyDelete
I tried watching Rachel Getting Married a couple times and couldn't get past twenty minutes. Not sure if it's the acting or shaky camera, but there is an undertone of, "We're making a mooovieee."
I watched the whole thing. It gets better after those show-off, disorienting 20 minutes, to the point you stop noticing it. Great flick but it hits way too close to home for me and made me cringe and look away from the screen a few times, which I assume is what Demme wants you to feel. Definitely worth catching whenever it gets back to streaming or they show it on TV, the cast and multi-cultural aspects of the non-denominational wedding are compelling.Delete
Thanks for the heads-up about the movies that were leaving Netflix Instant on March 1st, JB. I did an unplanned binge and wound up seeing the following (all new to me except for the first one):ReplyDelete
-Honey, I Shrunk the Kids ('89): still OK though practical SFX are dated, a reminder of how much Rick Moranis is missed. Too bad there's no "Lost Soul"-type documentary here about how Stuart Gordon left and Joe Johnston was brought in.
-Grosse Pointe Blanke ('97): excellent. The scene in the high school with Nena's "99 Luftballons" in the background automatically shoots to my pantheon of greatest movie scenes evah! :-)
-Rachel Getting Married ('08): engrossing, a combination of old Demme storytelling and latter Demme's obsession with music documentaries. How did Patrick and his inability to watch uncomfortable scenes ever get through this movie?
-Emma ('96): Cute and harmless dress-rehearsal for "Shakespeare in Love," a mid-90's time capsule of a bygone era when the Weinsteins' Oscar bait movies were classy.
-Glengarry Glen Ross ('92): A little talky and stage-bound but compelling film version of the Mamet play. Early calling card for Kevin Spacey dominating a movie he's 6th billed in.
I almost watched "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," but since I haven't seen Costner's "Robin Hood" I decided to wait until I watch the real deal before the parody. Watched "The Running Man" with a fan commentary track instead. :-)
I took the opportunity to watch Leaving Las Vegas and Glengarry Glen Ross. The former, which I was watching for the first time, was incredibly depressing, but I guess one of the best things that Nic Cage has ever done. Glengarry Glen Ross is still great, and a tour de force of acting. Jack Lemmon has slowly but surely become one of my favorite actors from days of old.Delete
Loved Housebound...but i am completely blown away by the fact that it cost less than $300 to make. (300NZD) It is ALL on the screen, and the creep factor is very high. and i found then ending to be quite satisfying. Between what's coming out of NZ and what's coming out of Scandinavia, I almost don't care that hollywood has just run out of ideas.ReplyDelete
I think you're mistaken, J. Housebound was 350,000 NZD. Maybe your thinking of The House of Him which was about $2000.00 to make?Delete