Tuesday, 12 August 2014

New to Netflix UK - 11/08/14

Only two new movies this week.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Part two of the epic story sees Bilbo and the Dwarves finally reaching the Misty Mountains and coming face to face with the dragon Smaug. It's more fluid in terms of plot and action than the first however the entire success of Jackson's return to Middle Earth still feels like its put all of it's dwarven gold on the final entry of the series.

Rififi - A group of criminals begin to slowly turn on one another following the events of a bank robbery. Seminal French classic crime movie that has influenced nearly every heist-gone-wrong movie since.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

New to Netflix UK - 04/07/14

The last few weeks have been fairly dry however things seem to have finally clicked into gear at Netflix HQ.

White Collar (TV) - A suave conman partners up with the FBI agent who caught him in order to stay out of jail and find out the people responsible for killing his girlfriend. White Collar continues to be an expectationally entertaining, albeit light, comedy/drama and the newly added forth series doesn't drop a beat.

Machete Kills -  Machete is hired by none other than Mr President to track down a psycho revolutionary who intends on bringing and end to the world's governments. It's the same schtick as the first movie, with all the OTT moments no longer seeming so OTT, but it's worth watching if only to see every favourite actor you ever knew unleash their inner madman.

Harlock: Space Pirate - A rogue spaceship captain strikes back at the evil Gaia Coalition who are trying to take control of the universe. Fans of the original anime will find that all the depth and plot have been removed to make way for a shallow feature that values visuals over brains...but it is still one hell of a good looking movie to watch.

The Fog of War - Documentary following the life of US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and his perspective on warfare. Highly engaging documentary from Errol Morris, who paints a human portrait of a man who was responsible for millions of deaths through warfare

Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different - A random assortment of the comedy group's greatest sketches, each remade with better production values. It's Monty Python. Enough said.

Stake Land - A worn-hunter takes a young man under his protection as they make their way across a vampire-ridden America. One of the best vampire films to emerge in decades, this movie manages to focus more on the characters than the action and highlights director Jim Mickle as a worthy John Carpenter successor.

13 Assassins - A group of samurai join together to take down an evil and powerful lord who's on a bloodthirsty rampage across Japan. Takashi Miike delivers a solid remake of the '66 classic, offering a samurai movie that's part Seven Samurai, part Wild Bunch but all Miike.

Klown - Determined to prove he would make a good father, a man kidnaps his girlfriends nephew and drags him along on a fishing trip with his reckless best friend. Highly uncomfortable viewing but very funny if you can endure the increasingly tasteless situations the leads find themselves in.

Let the Bullets Fly - During a routine heist, a notorious thief kidnaps the local governor and sets about impersonating him in order to swindle the local town crime-lord. Mad doesn't even begin to describe this highly entertaining Chinese comedy that mixes screwball antics, excellent action and some extremely interesting takes on classic western tropes.

Monday, 28 July 2014

New to Netflix UK - 28/07/14

I expected to come back from holiday and find the entire catalogue had changed, but this appears to not be the case. In any case, at least the majority of the new additions are actually pretty good.

Hemlock Grove (TV) - Netflix Original series that's like a lite version of some weird cross between Twin Peaks and True Blood. Continuing from the events of the first season, Roman and Peter struggle to accept their true nature as a new and powerful creature begins to rise up from the dark.

Gurren Lagan (TV) - After escaping from their oppressive underground village, two brothers find that the surface of earth is torn between a battle between mechanised robots and human freedom fighters. Quite possibly one of the best mecha-animes ever created, Gurren Lagan manages to be both uproariously fun to watch as well as an emotional tour-de-force at times. Only the first season is available however I'm sure if it's popular enough the deeper and more intense second season will likely be added too.
[EDIT: The first and second parts have been combined into the one season to make for one essential viewing experience]

Kill la Kill (TV) - A stranger seeks answers about her fathers death in a city where totalitarian oppressors are super-powered members of the local school council. It takes only 5min into the first episode to realise that this series is going to be a hyper-kinetic feast for sugar-crazed senses and yet every subsequent episode manages to outdo itself in the bat-shit crazy department, cementing Kill la Kill as one of the finest [weirdest] anime's of recent years.

Utopia (TV) - A group of strangers, who are all part of the same internet message board group, find themselves hunted down by a mysterious killer who believes they are carrying an important artefact. Surprisingly decent thriller from Channel 4 that's just about to start its second season, so is well worth catching up on here (ad free).

Secret State (TV) -A devastating oil spill and the mysterious disappearance of the prime minister thrust the deputy PM into a dark world of corruption and political conspiracy. It's not groundbreaking material in terms of corrupt politics, but what the series does do it does very well and Byrne is compelling to watch.

Filth - A sleezy and corrupt police officer embarks on a quest to get promoted to Chief Inspector, however his unorthodox habits send him into a spiral of depravity and insanity from which he may never return. It's certainly not for everyone, however this is still the finest Welsh adaptation since Trainspotting and McAvoy excels at bringing the disgusting Robertson to life.

Monday, 7 July 2014

New to Netflix UK - 07/07/14

Some decent new additions this week, particularly in the TV department.
A lot of 4oD content has been added, but smart people will likely have already watched it through other channels already.

Knights of Sidonia (TV) - With the remains of humanity confined to large spaceships, a it's up to a group of soldiers to defend them from the attacks of a deadly alien race. Netflix's first foray into anime (which is good, considering how sparse the anime collection currently is) may have shades of Battlestar Galactica but it is a true example of how uproariously entertaining Japanese animated series can be.

The Shield (TV) - Follows the exploits of a LAPD detective and his corrupt squad of officers as they use all the power they have to keep order in the streets. Before The Wire, this was the definitive cop show on TV, combining drama with edge-on-your-seat action and thrills, and it hasn't gotten any less exciting.

Have I Got News For You (TV) - Series 40, 41 and 42 of the incredibly funny BBC show have been added. While the episodes are from a few years ago, they are the longer, 'cruder' versions.

Le Week-End - An ageing couple head to Paris in an attempt to reignite the spark in their relationship, despite a few bumps along the way. The film is charming in it's own right, and the lead actors do an incredible job, but it never amounts more than a 'watchable' experience.

Insidious Chapter 2 - Starting almost exactly after the first movie, the Lambert family do their best to move on but find themselves haunted once again. The first movie worked because it was the right kind of scary and crazy but this time round the crazy goes of at odd tangents and the result is a meaningful, though sloppy, attempt to rehash the fun of its predecessor

Starlet - A rising adult film actress befriends an elderly lady when she finds a large stash or cash in an old vase she buys. A well acted and surprisingly touching drama about two people from completely opposite ends of society.

Monday, 30 June 2014

New to Netflix UK - 30/06/14

Last week saw nothing new added. This week fares somewhat better...

You're Next - A family reunion quickly turns nasty when they are attacked by masked killers, but the killers themselves did not anticipate for themselves to be targeted back. A really good horror film that keeps throwing twists and turns to offer something new to the 'home invasion' genre.

Carrie (2013) - A bullied teenager finds her angst amplified by growing telekinetic powers, which soon become too much for her to control. It offers nothing new from the de Palma classic and what results is a watchable, though somewhat unenthusiastic, excuse to redo the notorious prom scene using cutting edge CGI.

Tron: Legacy - 20 years after his father disappears, a son finds himself transported to a mysterious digital game world where he has to fight for his survival. The first movie, while watchable, was more of a CGI showcase than an intellectual pursuit and the same could be said for this emotionless sequel.

Hair - A young man gets side-tracked from joining the Vietnam War when he befriends a group of activist hippies. Cult musical that, while dated, is still a fun trip down memory lane.

Monday, 16 June 2014

New to Netflix UK - 16/06/14

An interesting selection this week...

The Great Beauty - After spending nearly all his life living extravagantly from party to party, an ageing journalist is forced to reconsider his priorities in order to make sense of his accomplishments. It's hard not to be reminded of the love and energy of Fellini films, but Sorrentino has managed to both pay tribute to the great auteur while also carving his own unique gem of a movie.

Lovelace - Biopic of adult film actress Linda Lovelace, who suffered much abuse from her husband before finally taking her life into her own hands. Seyfried does a good job at making us care about Linda, but the whole movie lacks any real depth to make us care about anything else that goes on.

Upstream Colour - After a woman is drugged with a strange substance, which forces her to divulge all her financial assets, she meets a man who suffered a similar incidence and finds that their lives are linked by the strange substance. Carruth's follow-up after the mind-numbingly complex time travel movie Primer is not exactly any more straight-forward, ditching conventional narrative for something else entirely, but even if you are unable to follow what is happening you can still marvel at the amazing cinematography on screen or the haunting music that Carruth himself composed for the film.

His Girl Friday - After finding out his wife is leaving him for another man, a newspaper editor will use every trick in the book to stop this from happening. Classic Cary Grant movie full of quick-fire wit and that level of class that Hollywood has been unable to reproduce.

Vacancy - After checking into a motel during a storm, a couple find themselves at the hands of a voyeuristic snuff-film enthusiast. It's a dumb movie, but it's also watchable thanks to good lead performances from Wilson and Beckinsale.

Archer (TV) - Follows the exploits of spy organisation ISIS, whose agents are not always exactly competent. Still as funny as ever, season 4 picks up following their return to earth after destroying the space station while season 5 changes the pace slightly with ISIS having been disbanded and the group resorting to drug running to pay the bills.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Orange is the New Black - Season 2

The latest episodes of this (sort of) true story continues the story of Piper, a middle-class woman sent to jail due a past relationship with a female drug dealer.

The new season sees the focus shift more onto the other inmates, especially with a violent new inmate trying to take over the joint. Piper, meanwhile, begins to do some investigative work on the prison's dodgy finances.