Archive for the ‘Netflix Pix’ Category

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The History of Future Folk

I love horror movies.  I think they speak to my jaded world view and my taste for the morbid.  This is not a horror movie.  This is a high concept comedy with an ultra-low budget and a big heart.  And yes, I kind of loved it.

The film opens with Bill.  He’s a father telling his daughter a bedtime story, the tale of General Prius who left his home planet of Hondo in hopes of finding a new world for his people.  It’s clearly a tale he has told the child on many occasions.  It then cuts to the man performing folk music in front of a mildly curious and amused crowd at a dive bar.  He’s wearing a costume very similar to that of the general in his daughter’s illustrations of the story.

It’s the first charming moment in a film that features many like it.  It is at time quirky, at times silly and I never lost the smile that the first clever song Bill plays in the bar puts on my face.  Eventually, Bill meets a stranger from his…hometown.  Though their relationship is initially contentious the two discover a common love for music and what was once a solo act becomes a duo.  And that duo will have to save the world.

If you want to catch something off-beat, something unexpected, something goofy and just plain good…well this is that.

Highly recommended!

The History of Future Folk is available on Netflix Instant

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American Mary

Stepping out on a limb for you fine folks and recommending a niece piece of ‘body horror’ that just dropped on Netflix Instant.

I saw this a few weeks back on a Blu-ray that had been cooling its heels in my collection for some time.  Direct-to-video horror is always a dicey proposition.  For every 10 or so I watch, there is a true diamond in the rough and that was exactly what I found when I watched this second feature from the twin sisters, Jen and Sylvia Soska known affectionately as The Twisted Twins.  Their first feature, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, is a throwback and homage to the zero budget grindhouse fare they grew up watching and while it wasn’t necessarily to my liking they obviously learned a lot from that experience.

Here they were working with a similarly small budget but whatever money they did have shines on the screen.  Katharine Isabelle plays Mary, a university med student having some difficulty keeping up with her bills.  Desperate for some fast cash, she finds herself in the wrong place at the right time while ‘auditioning’ to be a dancer in a local strip club.  Her medical skills are put to task to help out an associate of the shady club owner and she receives a sizable hush payment.

Her money problems behind her she resumes her normal life but falls victim to some predatory doctors at an after hours party and finds her career derailed.  Emboldened by her actions at the club, she sets down a new path performing back room body modifications all the while seeking vengeance on those who wronged her.

There is some nudity though it’s never TOO gratuitous and, yes, some of the body mod stuff and violence is a little upsetting but it all serves the story quite well.  My only real problem with the flick was the ending where a minor story element from the first act comes back unexpectedly to provide a too tidy, if bloody, conclusion.

Ms. Isabelle is an absolute knockout in the lead role.  It may be one of the best individual performances I’ve seen in a movie in quite some time.  I had seen her in Ginger Snaps (of the cult fave teenage werewolf series) and little else.  I’m hoping that she as well the Soskas keep churning out great films like this one.

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In the Loop

I didn’t watch too many flicks on Netflix Instant in June having watched little else in May but I did catch this whip-smart 2009 British political comedy and damn if I’m not glad I did.

Directed by Scottish-Italian filmmaker Armando Iannucci, the film (a spin-off of the BBC series The Thick of It) centers on the build-up to the UK and the US launching the war in the Middle East.  Inspired by the real life events, the thinly veiled counterparts to the actual government officials involved in that dramatic 2003 decision, hem and haw, wrangle and make backroom deals all to serve their own devices and motives with little consideration or thought as to what the decision towards conflict could mean.

It’s dirty business brought to light with comedic genius and features wonderful performances throughout highlighted by the most foul-mouthed turn in recent history by Brit Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker, the Director of Communications for the British Prime Minister.  His ever-evolving use of and derivations for the f-word  are a revelation.

I laughed throughout the film all the while hoping that the actual officials involved in the actual war weren’t so similarly inspired.  I fear my hopes would be crushed when faced with the truth.

In the Loop is available today on Netflix Instant.  Iannuci and his writing team (nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for their work here) went on to create the HBO comedy Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which has quickly become one of my favorite television programs.  It’s not currently available on streaming but I highly recommend you check it out wherever you might be able to find it.  It recently completed its second season and will return in Spring 2014 for a third.

Netflix Pix #3 – Archer

Posted: March 13, 2013 in Netflix Pix, TV
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Archer

It’s almost unfathomable to me that some people might never have seen this show or maybe even heard of it.  Those poor souls have been deprived of the ceaselessly entertaining adventures of Sterling Archer and the other eclectic characters that staff spy-for-hire agency ISIS.

At first gloss, Archer is a New World James Bond, a smooth ladies man dressed to the nines and deadly with any weapon.  But scratch away the very thin veneer and one will find a stunted man-child who is more likely to be found passed out whiskey drunk next to a high dollar escort than to be sipping martinis in the company of a high-class dame.  Part of the problem is that Sterling has mommy issues which are no doubt exacerbated by the fact that his mother Mallory, the shrewish harridan who has so dominated his life, is his boss at the oft inept covert organization.  He also keeps getting sent on missions with Lana, his Amazonian ex-girlfriend, who is repulsed by him despite and because of his repeated and unwanted attempts at reconciliation.

The animation is sharp and stylish.  The voice actors are superb, led by the incomparable H. John Benjamin who some may remember voiced Coach McGuirk on the late, great Home Movies.  The writing is witty and clever, often setting up standard spy plots before veering into complete chaos all while cleverly incorporating obscure pop culture references from Gator to Fandango and anything and everything in between.

Archer is easily one of the best comedies on television.  It’s currently in the middle of its fourth season on the FX Network and it was recently announced that a fifth season would be forthcoming.  The first three seasons are available right now on Netflix Instant.  Do yourself a solid and check them out.

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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Christmas is just a couple of days away. Hopefully, you’ve completed your shopping and will be able to survive the onslaught of family and friends you will be forced to endure. For my part, it will be a relatively quiet day and a bit different than Yuletide’s past but that’s okay. I’m a grown man. I can deal.

That said, I wanted to give my faithful readers a little bit of a gift. Now, I can’t personalize something for everyone. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. But, I can give you this nice treat of a Finnish film that in my single man, single cat household has become a holiday tradition.

In the shadow of a great mountain being torn apart by a corporate sponsored archeological dig, a Finnish village sits in idyllic peace. On the outskirts of town, a young boy, Pietari, has a strained relationship with his father, Rauno. The mother has passed away and Rauno is stressed with the responsibility of supporting and providing for the precocious child. It doesn’t help that Christmas is just days away.

The locals rely on the local reindeer herd to provide meat which they can sell for income throughout the year. On the day of the hunt, they gather together but are shocked to find the herd has already been slaughtered and the meat has gone bad.

Wolves are blamed for the Rudolph massacre, most likely coming through a hole in a fence between the dig and the town. The little boy feels guilty knowing he was responsible for the hole as a result of an earlier visit when he and friend were spying on the excavating at the mountain. It is going to be a very sad holiday.

Strange things continue to occur around town. Heaters and furnaces are being stolen from homes. Children are going missing. Pietari finds strange footprints in the snow on the roof outside his upstairs window. And then, there’s the strange almost feral injured man he and his father discover in their wolf trap.

The man has a long, white beard and an affinity for gingerbread cookies. His arrival will set into motion a series of events that will see a band of friends gather together to protect their town and cause a father and son to reevaluate their relationship.

Fair warning to those of you who are parents. The movie is rated R. There’s a good amount of cursing and some Santa junk in this flick so you might want to check it out at least once before letting any little kiddos watch it. Your call. For us grown ups, what you’ll find is a hell of a tale with a darkly humorous but strangely uplifting ending.

This little Christmas miracle carries with it my highest recommendation!

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is available right now on Netflix Instant Viewing. It might be dubbed or it might be subtitled. Don’t let that deter you, though. You shouldn’t be afraid to read your movies!

All of these lovely films are available to you right now on Netflix Instant

At the beginning of this month, in a blog titled “There’s Nothing Good on Netflix!”, I challenged you, faithful reader, to take advantage of the profundity of choices available to you on Netflix Instant Streaming and to seek out new, exciting and unfamiliar movies to sample and hopefully enjoy.

I accepted the challenge myself and thought I would share with you some of the highlights of my May of instant streaming.

Marwencol

A man is viciously attacked outside a bar.  Left severely brain-damaged and in financial ruin from huge hospital bills he retreats to the relative safety of his country home.  Attempting to deal with the mental trauma of the attack and as a unique form of therapy, he begins to build a 1/6 replica of a European town in the midst of World War II.  He populates his city with action figures and Barbie Dolls loosely based and named after the people in his life.  He creates a life for himself in the simulated city so much better than anything he knows in reality.  He takes artistic photos of the tableau which one day fall into the hands of New York art gallery.  They want to put his work on display.  He just wants to be left alone to create a better world that he has control over.  This is a fascinating documentary about a fascinating man.  Very moving.  Highly recommended.

Everything Must Go

Will Ferrell doesnt’ do ‘serious’ often.  So when he does, I actually take notice.  The last time he played anything so straight was in Stranger Than Fiction, a divisive film amongst those I know, but I liked it.  Here he plays Nick, who is having a really bad day, maybe the worst.  One of those lose your job, lose your car, lose your wife kind of days.  In bitter protest of being thrown from his home along with all of his belongings, he camps out on the front lawn.  When informed he can not, in fact, live on his lawn, he skirts the law and decides to sell everything he owns in a yard sale.  He strikes up a friendship with a neighborhood kid and slowly realizes he needs to get his shit together.  Never overly sentimental, the movie draws you into Nick’s plight and reveals a character who may actually deserve everything that’s happened to him. 

Submarine

If you can manage to look past the heavy influence of Wes Anderson’s Rushmore on this little Welsh gem, you’ll find the rather tidy story of a 15-year old looking to save his parents’ marriage and to get laid.  Though not necessarily in that order.  Lloyd Tate is a typical teenager in the throes of his first real love.  Confused by the whimsical nature of his would-be firebug paramour, he is more often content to be in her mere presence and enjoys their “friendship” while silently praying for more.  To make matters worse, his parents have grown steadily distant, a state of affairs no doubt exacerbated by the return of one of his mom’s ex-boyfriends who has moved in next door.  Too smart for his own good but not adult enough to realize it, Lloyd precariously balances the tight rope  between his precarious relationship and his dissolving home life.

Boy Wonder

A young boy sees his mom brutally gun downed in a carjacking gone wrong.  Years later, that same boy, now a young man approaches a pimp in a darkened park late at night.  A vicious fight ensues and a gun is drawn.  A bad guy dies.  This is how we are introduced to the hero of this dirty mirror version of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass.  The film eschews the superhero costumes of its distant cousin and instead chooses to focus on the vigilante mission and broken life of the troubled teen.  He has a detached relationship with his father who chalks up the various bruises on display on the boys face to afterschool workouts at a local gym.  He’s a social outcast at school with very few friends.  Meanwhile, a freshly promoted detective with her own troubled history is on the case of the park murder.  She starts to make connections to other vigilante incidents in town and takes a special interest in the intense, sad young man who often sits at a retiring detective’s computer looking at mug shots of vicious criminals trying to identify the person who killed his mother.

That’s all I’m going to give you.  You’d do well to watch any of these flicks.  Now go watch them.  Or go find some of your own and tell me about them.  Do it.  I’ll be here.  Waiting for the next great flick.