Friday, February 5, 2016
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 164
Full Metal Jacket (1987, dir. Stanley Kubrick) Because you should see every Stanley Kubrick movie.
Closer to the Moon (2014, dir. Nae Caranfil) Soon after World War II and during the Russian occupation, a group of Romanians rob a bank by convincing everyone that they are filming a movie. That’s pretty much the description on Netflix, and to tell you much more would spoil it. What I can say is that historical dramas are not a genre I usually end up watching on Netflix but this one was satisfying. I was initially worried because usually movies that involve film as a major plot point have a tendency to become self-indulgent, but Closer to the Moon didn’t venture down that path. It's anchored by three very good performances, most notably Vera Farmiga, who is wonderful and charming. It’s a movie that explores a lot of ideas from the illusion of security to the legacies we leave behind. Probably the most interesting and lasting theme that I grabbed from Closer to the Moon was the longing to recapture youth and its power to influence us. Nae Caranfil put together a beautiful movie about a true story that takes place during a time period and group of people you don’t usually hear about.
Indie Game: The Movie (2012; dir. Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky) I feel like I might have recommended it at some point, but this 2012 documentary is back on my radar thanks to me playing the long-awaited indie puzzle and exploration game "The Witness" -- whose creator, Jonathan Blow is one of the four indie developers profiled in this film. Indie Game provides a window into the solitary creative process, where programmers and artists can spend years of their lives and all of their money working on a game without knowing if anyone will like it. In this case, the developers of "Braid," "Super Meatboy," and "Fez" all ended up having hits on their hands (the movie might be more interesting if the filmmakers had backed a dud), but Indie Game: The Movie is full of crises, self-doubt, and technical difficulties. The documentary is geared toward video game fans. Viewers with no connection to the culture or creators profiled may have less tolerance for the egos on display, but anyone who has played these games will appreciate the exhaustive effort that went into making them. It's something we should all keep in mind when composing a snarky tweet or dismissive review. Indie Game: The Movie could just as easily have been made about struggling filmmakers or songwriters. When intentions are honest and passions are real, creation is difficult and costs more than a ten buck download or the cost of a monthly streaming subscription.
The Sheik (2014, dir. Igal Hecht) I've spotlighted this movie here before, but after seeing The Resurrection of Jake the Snake, it's interesting to juxtapose the two documentaries and look at how similar (and different) they are. They're both about wrestlers who self-destructed after their careers declined and struggled with substance abuse and physical decline. However, they have two very different ideas of a happy ending. I'm not a fan of how in love this documentary is with social media and the cult of celebrity, but I think it's definitely worth watching to see the story of the Iron Sheik. He ran the roads when being a bad guy in wrestling could get you stabbed, shot, or worse. Watch it for the amazing life story of an extremely brave and interesting man, not for what the documentary considers success or relevance.
The Fury (1978, dir. Brian De Palma) I know, big surprise, I'm recommending a Brian De Palma movie. But not just ANY Brian De Palma. It's fucking The Fury. This is one of De Palma's most underseen and underrated movies, probably because he was dealing with telekinesis so shortly after making Carrie. Kirk Douglas plays an action hero, future softcore stare Andrew Stevens plays a telekinetic, Amy Irving has never been foxier, Carrie Snodgress is great, William Finley shows up and John Cassavetes is a truly great movie villain. Chicago plays a big part. There's a great scene at a carnival. It has one of the best exploding person scenes EVER. I love, love this movie.