Friday, March 4, 2016

Netflix This Movie! Vol. 167

We've got historical epics, erotic thrillers and bad British accents for you this week!

Adam Thas: Side Effects (2013, dir. Steven Soderbergh) A great cast, directed by Steven Soderbergh, and I liked it. That just about wraps up this week’s recommendation. Okay. I’ll elaborate. Side Effects' cast is pretty awesome, with Rooney Mara and Jude Law as the two main characters, and it’s apparent that Rooney Mara is becoming one of my favorite actresses. Everyone in the movie is solid. The direction is great and has a plot that will keep you interested. Side Effects isn’t perfect in that the overall plot takes some pretty big leaps of faith in regards to events that happen, but the “thriller” aspects of it are interesting enough and Soderbergh is a good enough director that the problems it has are with the story and not much else. I’m going to go with the fact that 2013 was the year my son was born and I spent much of that year in a haze as the reason why I never heard of Side Effects until recently, but I’m glad I did.
Heath Holland: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991, dir. Keven Reynolds) My favorite movie of all time has returned to Netflix. It's not that it's an excellent movie (it's pretty good), but it filled a Robin-Hood-shaped hole in my life that I didn't know I had back in 1991. It's just a really fun flick, and it came along at a time when movies weren't afraid to be a little corny and goofy. It's interesting to look back on it now, because for a long time this was the "adult" version of the Robin Hood story until Ridley Scott showed us how bleak the story could really be. No, this is a movie that enjoys itself and relishes the tropes of its time. The late Alan Rickman's performance (the reason to watch this movie) is insane and genius and unlike anything he did either before or after. The entire cast (except for the lead, a dour Kevin Costner) seems like they're having a blast playing dress up in the woods. For me, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was the beginning of my love affair with a certain kind of movie, but it's also a harbinger of coming change. By 1993, movies like Jurassic Park had marked the cinematic landscape indelibly and the movie-going public would crave a more ambitious spectacle from their summer blockbusters. But for a few years when I was a kid, movies like this one were simply untouchable. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves means everything to me.
Patrick: Kagemusha (1980, dir. Akira Kurosawa) One of Akira Kurosawa's last five films is one of my favorites from the director (though there are several I still haven't seen, including both Ran and Dreams, which came after this one). A common thief is enlisted to act as a decoy, impersonating the lord of a feudal Japanese clan to dissuade enemies from attacking. When Toho Studios ran out of money to finish the film and realize Kurosawa's epic vision, American directors Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas -- both admirers of the great Kurosawa -- stepped in and urged 20th Century Fox to supply the rest of the money, making this one of Kurosawa's only Japanese/American productions. The movie is crazy gorgeous, with eye-popping color and insane production design, plus a massive scope and a climax that is haunting and genuinely moving. I first saw the film when Criterion originally released it on DVD several years back and at the time thought it was one of the best movies I had ever seen. I have not returned to it for fear of breaking the spell. One of you guys watch it this weekend and let me know what I should expect when I revisit it.

15 comments:

  1. Holy cow. Patrick, WATCH RAN! Kagemusha is a terrific film. Ran is one of the all-time greats. Also well worth watching by Kurosawa, High and Low.

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    1. Seconded on RAN. Amazing movie.

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    2. Thirded(?) on Ran! Please watch it. You highly doubt you would regret that decision.

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    3. Here's one for "Dreams" which I personally like better than "Ran" but, hey, it's AK so you can't really go wrong.

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    4. Another vote for Dreams. I like Ran more but Dreams is too underrated for me not to vouch for it.

      The watermill village, man…

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    5. Michael GiammarinoMarch 6, 2016 at 5:00 AM

      What would this be... fifth?... for Ran? Incredible film. Also, it's getting a new Blu-ray restoration if I'm not mistaken.

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    6. Michael GiammarinoMarch 6, 2016 at 5:05 AM

      I like Kagemusha a lot, too. I watched it about a month ago. I would say the George Lucas connection might go beyond his producing the film (with Coppola). I see some parallels in Kagemusha with Phantom Menace -- all those group deliberations, and the theme of doubles (decoys) and symbiont circles.

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    7. Just saw Ran for the first time last weekend on the big screen. It's so weirdly balanced between upsetting and satisfying. Particularly the battle sequences.

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  2. Revisited Prince Of Thieves recently. Outside of Rickman's performance it was rough. I loved it when it came out and I only hold Heath partially responsible for my ownership of the blu ray.

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    1. I also bought a used Blu ray of Prince of Thieves after Heath's top 5 podcast. Re-watched it for the first time in at least a decade. Aside from the production design, score, and Rickman, I really really hated it. I'm a big Costner fan too but he sucks the life out of every scene he's in. Sorry Heath.

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    2. Ah, that's a bummer, guys. Every time I watch it, it loses nothing for me. It's just a testament to the subjective nature of film, I guess.

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  3. After listening to some old podcasts (particularly the Favorite of 2013) I was compelled to check out Drug Wars and The Act of Killing on Netflix. I'll have to watch the Look of Silence at some point also now, but I'm going to need a bit of time before that one.

    Now that I have a Hulu sub, I watched Beauty and the Beast since I think that was the only one of Patrick's top 5 I hadn't seen. Really amazing set design there. I also got around to watching Breaker Morant which is something I had been meaning to watch for ages. So many great performances there and subject matter that's still relevant today.

    And Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a fun movie. It's not a great movie but it's incredibly rewatchable for me.

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  4. Which Beauty and the Beast was that?

    I watched The Big Short. It was okay and mostly informative for me. I guess he bothers some, but I love Steve Carell. I just can't not watch him.

    Because I was doing a young Mel Gibson thing last week, I watched some of Braveheart, which (I find it hard to believe now but) was too scary for me as a kid. Although I can't sit through the new CGI- heavy war/battle movies, I still found the old Braveheart design jarringly um...simple? I wonder if there will be a happy medium. I'm still waiting for Patrick's write up of Snow White and the Huntsman, which was really CGI heavy, But I thought it felt different. Like the CGI choices had a different angle that made it fresh.

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    1. It's the 1946 French Beauty and the Beast directed by Jean Cocteau.

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