Friday, May 1, 2015
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 127
All Relative (2014, dir. J.C. Khoury) I watched this movie because Sara Paxton was in it and...oh boy, did I not know what I was in for. It's a "comedy" about a young man who meets the Paxton character and falls for her but not before being rebuffed and drowning his sorrows by sleeping with an older woman. Then he goes to meet her parents one weekend and -- record scratch -- it turns out the older woman is Paxton's mom! This movie is fascinating because it's alternately chauvinistic and sensitive, horrible and decent. There are many movies that are better on Netflix but few that are this ill-conceived and it's worth watching as a train wreck viewing.
Ask Me Anything (2014, dir. Allison Burnett) I really am looking forward to more Allison Burnett movies after watching Ask Me Anything, a movie that feels exactly like getting into a new relationship. At first everything is happy and you are entranced by the person, thinking they are perfect. Then the more you dive into their lives you start to see the dark things that most of us keep hidden from each other. Britt Robertson plays Katie Kampenfelt, a bubbly, overly-cocky teenager who feels invulnerable and way smarter than she actually is. Katie decides to take a year off and “find herself” before going away to college. Initially the movie made me feel uncomfortable because I almost felt like I was watching porn, as it’s very overly sexual and while it doesn’t completely lose that feeling, it scales it back very quickly. Ask Me Anything is about a lot of things without ever feeling like it’s hitting you over the head. It dabbles in sex, relationships of all kinds, and different levels of sexual predators. There a lot of solid small roles that I think were intentionally cast with known actors, including Christian Slater and a really great performance from Martin Sheen. I really don’t want to spoil the ending, but the ending is very important, and I’m not 100% sold on it. More than any other movie I’d want some of you to watch it and comment what you thought of it, because at the very least the movie has stuck with me more than I thought it would.
Hot Fuzz (2007; dir. Edgar Wright) Whatever this Summer's Ant-Man ends up being, it won't be an Edgar Wright movie. Drown your cinematic sorrows with this Wright comedy classic from an improbable eight years ago. Hot Fuzz is my kind of blockbuster—packed with action, humor, gore, and humorous gore. It features peak Nick Frost, Simon Pegg (on the cusp of super-stardom), a very game Timothy Dalton, and a host of hilarious Wright regulars. You don't have to get all the action movie in-jokes to enjoy what is a spectacular action movie in its own right (Wright?). It's good enough to ruin almost every other movie you'll see this Summer. ...Come to think of it, maybe you should skip it and watch a Pixar knock-off instead.
Tapeheads (1988, dir. Bill Fishman)This is such a bizarre, wonderfully weird little movie. It's technically about two night watchmen becoming music video producers and directors, but that doesn't begin do it justice. Starring Tim Robbins a few months after Bull Durham and John Cusack coming hot on the heels of One Crazy Summer and Hot Pursuit, it feels like two moderately popular actors committing career suicide. With his tiny cigars, greased-back hair, and a sleazy little mustache, Cusack delivers a performance that seems specifically designed to destroy his teen heartthrob image. I guess it didn't work, because a year later he was Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything, and we all know how that turned out. Tapeheads is a movie that couldn't have been made at any other time than when it was. Everyone looks like they're having a fantastic time, and you can't help but feel that when you watch it.
The Bad News Bears (1976, dir. Michael Ritchie) With baseball season underway and the first hints of spring in Chicago, the time is ripe for this funny, funny film. Groundbreaking and transgressive when it was first released, Michael Ritchie's The Bad News Bears just gets better with age. The kids in the movie swear, kind of a lot. Were children ever portrayed on film realistically before this? (That's not rhetorical; I'm asking). As Melissa Uhrin mentioned in a recent column, Walter Matthau was never better. (He gives beer to little kids!) This is your chance to see Jackie Earle Haley as a creepy teenager before he began his successful string of playing really creepy adults. This movie is also an antidote to "helicopter parents who want to over-schedule and manage their children's every waking moment." I say, just let the kids play. NOTE: Yes, I am aware that our very own Heath Holland recommended this film just a few weeks ago. He was right.
The Defender (1994, dir. Corey Yuen) I first saw this movie by accident. I was trying to order a used a copy of the 2004 Dolph Lundgren actioner of the same name (in which Jerry Springer plays the President!) after my main man Hollywood Heath sang its praises. This movie arrived instead. I figured I would give it a watch. And it's really cool! There's way less kicking and punching than the usual Jet Li movie, replaced by guns and shooting. But really cool shooting. He plays a bodyguard (the movie is also known as The Bodyguard from Beijing) who is hired to protect a witness to a mob murder (Christy Chung); much violence ensues. The Netflix version is better than my lousy wrong DVD because it's anamorphic and subtitled, not dubbed. If you're an action fan and this one went under your radar as it did mine, check it out. Even though Jerry Springer's not in it.