Friday, March 11, 2016

Netflix This Movie! Vol. 168

by Patrick Bromley
Our weekly roundup of what to watch on Netflix is getting a makeover.

After more than three years and nearly 170 Netflix This Movie! columns, something had to give. Time constraints and the need to find something new to suggest week in and week out has taken its toll on some of the contributors and the column was becoming both increasingly difficult to write and smaller over time. With this in mind, I'm going to attempt to keep the column going (it does pretty well for us and seems to foster discussion, both good reasons for it to stick around) by myself for now. It could change again in the near future. Bear with me.

What I hope to do is offer a few picks ever week centered around a specific theme. It might be related to the big theatrical release that week. It might be just some stupid tenuous connection I find between a couple of movies. I can't promise anything. Hopefully you all will still enjoy reading the column and maybe get some use out of it. Here we go.

Victoria (2015, dir. Sebastian Schipper) This German import from last year appeared on the Top 10 of 2015 lists from both me and Doug. It's the story of a young Spanish woman named Victoria (future Mrs. Doug Laia Costa) working at a cafe in Germany who, one night, accepts an invitation to hang out with some guys she meets. Things get interesting from there, but I won't say what happens (and you shouldn't read about it either). The big hook of the movie is that it is told in one continuous long take -- not a fake long take like Rope or Birdman, but a legitimate 138 minute single shot. Aside from just being a technical marvel, the movie tells an involving story (made more involving by the format, I'll readily admit) and goes to places I couldn't have expected it to go. You might see it as just an excuse for a trick, but you've got to admit...it's a hell of a trick.
Oldboy (2003, dir. Park Chan-wook) Oh, really Patrick? Oldboy is worth watching? Fucking Oldboy? Why not just recommend The Beatles? In trying to stick to a theme and being limited by the options available on Netflix, I'm going to be making some obvious or repeat choices going forward. Sorry about that. Oldboy is still a masterpiece and one of the best movies of the 2000s -- arguably the high water mark of Korean revenge thrillers.
Snake Eyes (1998, dir. Brian De Palma) As a De Palma apologist (a De Palogist), I dig Snake Eyes. I know it is a mess. I know that Nicolas Cage is in full cocaine mode and that the mystery doesn't quite work. I know that the whole reason the movie is even talked about anymore is for that incredible long take at the beginning, which is still worth talking about. Do I wish that it didn't seem like De Palma started with that idea and worked backwards from there? Of course. Can I still find a lot to enjoy in the movie? Yes. Yes I can. It's weird that the film gets shit on so much, especially when everyone always includes "Except for that opening shot..." Guess what? Most movies do not even have that much going for them.
Serenity (2005, dir. Joss Whedon) Confession: I am not the biggest fan of Firefly. I like it fine! Cool world building, fun characters, neat concept, some performances I really like (and some I like less). On my list of favorite Joss Whedon shows, though, I'd rank it third -- and I still haven't watched the second season of Dollhouse, so it could realistically drop another notch. I think if the show had the opportunity to go for a few seasons it could have become something truly great. Instead it moved to the big screen for a decent (if somewhat forgettable) wrap up that exists mostly to kill a few people in shocking fashion. My reactions to both Firefly and Serenity are undoubtedly informed by their rabid cult status, because in a vacuum I'd be telling everyone that Serenity is a fun Saturday afternoon space adventure but instead find myself not quite seeing what all the fuss is about. Still, dat long take though.

23 comments:

  1. I got so excited to see VICTORIA listed on Netflix earlier this week. I've been waiting until I can commit the full run time before sitting down to watch it.

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  2. Truly, one can never recommend Oldboy too many times. Dat hallway scene.

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  3. Thank you for Victoria. I've been checking VOD for the past month. Now I don't have to wait anymore.

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  4. I appreciate this column because it often highlights title I've overlooked. Recetly, however, I find myself gravitating towards Amazon, Hulu, and Shudder to find movies to watch. Probably have subscription service overload at my house, but Netflix just isn't delivering the way it used to. Or, maybe I've seen too many movies. Not sure it was the type of discussion F This Movie! is looking for, but I wish Netflix put the gems out front more and sought out more back catalogue titles. That aside, it sounds like I need to get on Oldboy.

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    1. I'm in a very similar situation. One thing I thought about doing with this 'reboot' is to recommend a movie from other streaming services each week. Not sure if it's realistic, but it's something I've considered.

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    2. I've found Amazon to be a little thin, especially once you take out stuff that overlaps with the other services. Hulu seems to have a pretty good selection though. The Criterion movies maybe recommend themselves but would still be worth writing about.

      Another possible angle is that usually towards the end of the month various sites post a list of everything that's coming to Netflix in the next month and what will be leaving (I'd just like to point out that apparently Netflix lost American Pie and American Wedding this month, but made up for that by getting two of the direct to DVD spin-offs). I'm sure we all own the 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray of Hackers, but for the few who don't they could have been told why they needed to watch it before it was taken off of Netflix this month

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    3. Adding Hulu to the program seems like a really good idea. If nothing else, the nearly 1000 titles from the Criterion collection they've got offer a lot of fresh territory to recommend.

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  5. Ah, Snake Eyes. I am in love with this batshit crazy movie, from the opening shot to Carla Gugino's blurvision to Nick Cage's end-of-movie puffyface. There's nothing quite like De Palma when he well and truly doesn't give a damn anymore and lets his id run wild. The direction is flamboyant, the acting crazed. Oh, and that score by Ryuichi Sakamoto is great. No, it's no Femme Fatale, but it's still awesome.

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    1. Michael GiammarinoMarch 11, 2016 at 9:30 PM

      What you said. Everything you said, I second.

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  6. Snake Eyes is dangerously near the top of my favorite De Palma movies. Like, DANGEROUSLY.

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    1. What would be number one? For me it's Blow Out - the cliche choice, to be sure, but there's a reason for that. Other De Palma faves include Dressed to Kill, Carrie, and of course Femme Fatale. I have to re-watch Phantom of the Paradise, if only to hear that great music and see Jessica Harper again.

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    2. That has to be my top 5, too. I have much love for Body Double and The Untouchables, too, though I don't think they crack my Top 5. The fact that The Untouchables could be my seventh favorite De Palma movie is a testament to how many great movies he's made.

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    3. Michael GiammarinoMarch 11, 2016 at 9:35 PM

      I showed Phantom of the Paradise to some friends one night after a screening of the "One More, With Feeling" musical episode of Buffy and Repo! The Genetic Opera. It didn't really hit like I was hoping. Only one person was truly fascinated with the film, who had fun comparing and contrasting characters and events with the Victor Hugo story. (I also like to cite a comparison it seems to share with not only Star Wars as a whole, but Episode III.)

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    4. Michael GiammarinoMarch 11, 2016 at 9:37 PM

      Edit: I think I meant Gaston Leroux, didn't I?

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    5. Although I have no issue with the argument for these being all of your fav DePalma films; you, my friends, are REALLY overlooking "Sisters" which is my favorite DePalma film and what I think is most representative way early on of his style, sexiness, flashiness and inhibition to take things to another level.

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    6. Michael GiammarinoMarch 12, 2016 at 6:35 AM

      Sisters is great.

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    7. Sisters is a great movie. That score by Bernard Herrmann is fantastic stuff. If you get the Criterion disc, the booklet features a great article written by De Palma about working with Herrmann.

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    8. Steve, my #1 would be The Untouchables because I'm such an old WB gangster films nut, but I concede that I have still not watched Blow Out. I know. I KNOW.

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    9. Michael, considering you showed the greatest episode of television ever created first, everything else was going to pale in comparison. It could be midgets...

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    10. Michael GiammarinoMarch 13, 2016 at 5:06 AM

      Haha, you can't blame me for trying.

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  7. Michael GiammarinoMarch 11, 2016 at 9:23 PM

    Okay,pass the Kool Aid. I'm part of the Brian DePalma/DePalogist cult too. Now that Raising Cain is becoming a Scream Factory release, I've been unrealiatically hoping its original version -- where the first act of the theatrical release is actually the beginning of the second act -- would be a feature on the disc (in the meantime, you can see a fan re-edit of Raising Cain on vimeo), I'm also hoping someone will release the original version of Snake Eyes, with the typhoon striking the stadium and leaving everyone a bit waterlogged.

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    1. Wouldn´t that be a great idea for a podcast, comparing the theatrical cut vs the Re-edit of Raising Cain?

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