Monday, 27 January 2014

New to Netflix UK - 27/01/14

Only two notable titles this week. Don't watch them one after the other though, not unless you're in a really good mood...

Winter's Bone - A teen goes out in search of her criminal father after his debts threaten the foreclosure of her home.An incredibly bleak portrayal of family life in rural America with a winning script and excellent acting, particularly from Hawkes and a then-unknown Lawrence.

The Secret In Their Eyes -  Many years after an unsolved brutal murder, the lawyer in charge of the case begins a memoir about it in order to find closure but instead finds himself looking at new facts relating to it. A riveting drama/thriller from Argentina that is brought to live by a solid script and human characters.

Monday, 20 January 2014

New to Netflix UK - 20/01/14

A decent amount of new content this week

The League (TV) - The adventures of a group of friends and they ways their fantasy football league disrupts their every lives. The gang return to their normal scheming ways, starting off the draft during Andre's wedding weekend.

Justified (TV) - A US Marshal is relocated to his hometown following the shooting of a fugitive where he utilises his own methods of justice against the many criminals who reside there. The critically acclaimed series returns with Raylan caught up in a decade long mystery involving the death of a parachutist who's body was found surrounded by bags of drugs.

Robot and Frank - An ageing man, and retired jewel thief, has a robot helper dumped on him much to his annoyance however they finally find a connection when he discovers the robot's aptitude for picking locks. The film is a poignant study on both the dependence on technology and the effects of living with Altzheimer's and Langella gives us a moving performance that makes for a heavily affecting drama.

The Iceman - Biopic of mob-enforcer Richard Kuklinski who was believed to have been responsible for over 100 murders. Given the dark nature of the story, the film doesn't always strike the correct tone, but Shannon is convincing and menacing at the notorious killer and his performance is worth the watch alone.

The ABC's of Death - 26 Letters of the alphabet, 26 directors, 26 horror shorts. As always with anthology movies, the segments vary in terms of quality (and with 26 of them, the majority are forgettable) but it's an interesting idea and there are some stand out shorts that mess with your head.

Step Brothers - After their parents get married, two 30-something-man-children have to find a way to live with each other. It's not a sophisticated movie but Ferrell and Reilly pull it off thanks to the great chemistry between them and the movie itself offers a good deal of laugh-out-loud moments.

Donnie Darko/Donnie Darko: Director's Cut - A troubled teen gets caught up in a mystery involving time travel and his own destiny after a plane engine destroys his house. Kelly's debut movie is a psychological-thriller masterpiece, weaving together cryptic science-fiction elements with urban family drama and teen angst, and both versions offer completely unique viewing experience of the same movie. The standard cut (watch this one first) leaves the mysteries for you to solve yourself while the director's cut reveals the true vision of the director (NOTE: Many people dislike the director's cut for this reason).

Flyboys - Two Americans become America's first fighter pilots when they join the French army at the start of World War 1. The story is heavily Americanised and the performances, while passable, are nothing special but the arial sequences themselves, though CGI heavy, are still thrilling enough to make this dud just about watchable.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

New to Netflix UK - New Year's Booty

It's not quite Monday but there's been a lot of content to trek through. I've done my best to track them down but I'm sure a few have slipped through my net.

The Unit (TV) - Follows the lives of a spec-op's outfit and their families back home. The show mixes the standard formula of watching army guys do their thing by showing the effect their jobs has on their families back home and it makes for an interesting blend of action and drama, propelled by an excellent cast and the watchful eye of master writer David Mamet.

Breakout Kings (TV) - A group of convicts are granted special leave provided they agree to help the US Marshals bring down the runaways. It's not the greatest example of the amateur/professional team-up genre but it's easy watching, particularly for fans of the Fugitive.

Virtuality - A crew on a long space mission pass the time using a virtual reality device on board, but a glitch in the system starts to warp reality for all the members. It may be the pilot for a failed TV series, and hence feels incomplete, but there's a lot of interesting ideas here that make for a compelling sci-fi experience and makes you question the ways the show could have ended up.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit - A lowly PI must put aside his hatred for cartoon characters after he gets involved in a murder conspiracy involving a rabbit. It's one of those films that you have to see only because the premise is so goofy, but there's a lot to love in this film even if it hasn't aged as well as it should.

Olympus Has Fallen - After failing in the line of duty, a secret service agent finds his chance for redemption after the White House is targeted by armed terrorists. The lesser of the two 'white-house-attacked' movies, it serves as a mild diversion for a quiet evening but is ultimately very forgetful.

Red Dawn (2012) - High school kids form a resistance following the sudden invasion of the North Korean army. The first movie, as great as it was, was a pile of American propaganda and racism, and unfortunately the world has changed too much for this near-direct remake to add any new social commentary making it completely unnecessary.

Hummingbird (aka Redemption) - A homeless veteran assumes another man's identity in an attempt to hunt down the people responsible for the murder of his friend. Better than average Statham movie that proves he has got good acting chops but the plot is a little too muddled at times to know whether it wants to be a serious drama or an action movie.

Bachelorette - Three friends find themselves throwing a bachelorette party for a girl they used to bully, and things get out of hand very quickly. Despite good chemistry between the leads and some funny moments, this still feels completely overshadowed by the highly superior bridesmaids.

Arbitrage - A hedge fund manager tries to quickly break up his empire before allegations of fraud reach the news, but unforeseen circumstances force him to confide in the people he's betrayed. Exceptionally well made drama-thriller that shows Gere in top form and is a powerful rendition of a man who knows he has done wrong.

Rapture-Palooza - Two teens left behind following the apocalypse find they must take down the anti-Christ, especially after he develops an attraction for one of them. One of those so-bad-it's-good movies, if you accept it for what it is there are a great variety of laughs to be had.

Rebellion - Historical drama inspired by the Ouvéa cave hostage situation which saw a group of New Caledonian separatists take hostages in a protest against French rule. One of the best hostage movies in a very long time, this film focuses just as much on the hostages as it does on the hostage takers creating a very engaging and endearing movie.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Captain Jack pits his head against Blackbeard in a race to find the Fountain of Youth. It's basically a 'best of' compilation of the best moments from the trilogy, which is either a good thing or a bad thing.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance - John McClane is brought back from his suspension after a mad bomber calls on him to play a game of Simon says, or else he'll blow up a school. It's not the best of the series but the chemistry between Willis and Jackson makes for some good buddy-comedy riffs and Irons hams it up as the villain in a way that makes this threequal incredibly entertaining.

The Blues Brothers - Two ex-convict musicians travel cross-country putting their band back together to raise money to save a convent while being pursued by the law, rednecks, a killer woman and Nazi enthusiasts. Cult classic that's the perfect mix of wacky comedy, insane car chases and toe-tapping music.

Zoolander - After a washed-up fashion model is brainwashed by a lead designer to assassinate a foreign diplomat he must team up with his sworn nemesis to thwart the plot. Completely OTT satire of the fashion industry that still stands as one of Stiller's funniest movies, probably because of the amount of fun it has at the expense of fashion.

Wayne's World - Two slacker rockers find their public access TV show has attracted the attention of the local station, though their sleazy agent is trying to ruin them. One of the more successful SNL sketch-come-films, the film is a riot from start to finish and hits all the right notes thanks to its own self awareness and killer soundtrack.

The 13th Warrior - After being exiled from his homeland, an Arab finds himself among Norseman helping them to fend of a mystical and dangerous enemy. Though it was panned upon release, there is still a certain level of guilty fun to be had thanks to some well choreographed action pieces and a cheesy-yet-humorous performance from Banderas.

The Addam's Family - Con artists impersonate the long lost family member of the very odd Addam's family in an attempt to swindle them of their vast fortune. Distribution quarrels has until recently meant the last time this was ever on home media was VHS, but it's still an incredibly funny movie with killer performances (sometimes literally) from all the cast members and a fitting modern take on the classic cartoon.

Dead Silence - While looking for answers over his wife's death, a newly-wed finds himself at ends with the ghost of a ventriloquist. Not the greatest horror movie ever made but Wan knows how to craft a creepy atmosphere and there are some decent (though predictable) scares to be had.

Goin' South - About to be hanged, a criminal finds himself saved by a legal loophole by marrying a mine owner but he must find a way to make their relationship work or else the sheriff will resume with the lynching. It's completely off-the-rails goofyness but it's also very funny in parts thanks largely to Nicholson's smarmy persona and a plethora of great comedy actors.

The Duellists - Two French soldiers embark in a bloody feud with one another that sees their duel last for over 12 years. Scott's first movie is a visual wonder, particularly given it's small budget, and while the lead actor's 'English' accents will raise many eyebrows, it is still a gripping drama of honour and futility.

Joseph: King of Dreams - After being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, Joseph finds himself with an incredible gift of interpreting the dreams of people that puts him in a favourable position with the Pharaoh though he must still find a way to forgive his siblings. Though not as good as King of Egypt, the movie is still pretty entertaining and has some good musical numbers even for a non-Disney movie.

Nevada Smith - A half Native-American, half white man embarks on a quest to track down his parents murderers. McQueen's casting was odd given the character's ethniticity but he makes the most of the role and the film remains a solid western and lingers on the edge between the classic style of the genre and the more violent, revenge orientated versions.

The Counterfeit Traitor - An American finds himself forced to spy on Nazi Germany where he slowly begins to realise the importance of his work. A great forgotten gem of a war thriller that sees Holden, in his later years, still manage to hold his own on the screen.

Chopper - One of Australia's most infamous celebrities reflects on his life from his humble beginnings to his ultimate goal - becoming Australia's most wanted criminal. It's a true story in that it comes from the real Chopper's mouth, but he was a compulsive liar who who knows how events really transpired, but it makes for a really fun crime movie and Bana completely dominates the film.

Enchanted - A Disney princess finds herself transported to real-world New York where she begins her search for Prince Charming. This is a movie that shouldn't have worked but the subtle pokes Disney makes at itself makes this one of the House of Mouse's better modern movies.

The Muppets - A human and his puppet brother team up to help Kermit and the gang raise enough money to save their foreclosed theatre. It's a return to form for Jim Henson's beloved creation, with enough material to please the grown-ups and usher in a new generation of muppet-loving youngsters.

Hot Rod - A daredevil-wannabe trains himself for his ultimate challenge - to jump a row of buses and impress his dismissive stepfather. It's not exactly the most subtle of movies but those with a taste for the crude will revel in the jokes the movie throws at them.