Eight Netflix Films in July

         
 

01 August 2011| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Titles alphabetically I happened to check out on Netflix in the month of July:

Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984) is one of the cheesiest movies you are ever likely to fall onto, but that’s what makes it friggin’ great. It’s a footloose breakdance movie that has a ratio of more dance numbers per minute than most big glossy Hollywood productions put on. The people who made it could care less that they have put together the hammiest storyline known to ’80’s hot pants history, and money poor characters like Turbo (Michael Chambers) and Ozone (Adolfo Quinones) only pile on the cheese. Their privileged friend Kelly (Lucinda Dickey), a professional stage dancer, has uptight Beverly Hills parents who disapprove of her hanging out with scuzzballs at an inner city community center for teens. An evil real estate developer wants to tear down the center to construct a shopping mall, and the gang needs $200,000 to save their building and bring it up to code. I wish there had actually been a few more scenes of the hero posse settling arguments with dance-offs. “Oh, this movie is bad,” you might say, but I ask you, is it boring? In my eye-popping perspective, practically in disbelief, feel that is one of the most ridiculously wonderful B-movies ever made. A-

The Burbs (1989) is a low energy, limp and listless comedy-thriller about a middle-class block (Tom Hanks in top billing) suspicious of their new hayseed neighbors with a macabre aura. Hanks is on vacation leave from his job and wants to stick around to spy on the odd beetle-eyed neighbors, but his wife Carrie Fisher is dismayed because she wants to head out of town to a lake resort. Bruce Dern, Corey Feldman, Rick Ducummun and Gale Gordon are the other neighbors that join in on the spying. Supernatural oddities take place, but it’s all so droopily handled by the usually dependable director Joe Dante (“Gremlins”). The ending drags on with Hanks as a hero while spectators stand around on their front lawns. D+

Copycat (1995) has the overacting Sigourney Weaver as a criminal psychologist who survives an attack from a serial killer and a year later, fighting fits of agoraphobia, reluctantly comes out of retirement to be a consultant to the police on another series of attacks. Much more interesting is the byplay and dialogue between police detectives Holly Hunter and Dermot Mulroney. There’s something superficially dime-store about the serial killer that is terrorizing San Francisco and that makes this thriller on the distasteful side. The killer is mimicking the Boston Strangler, the Son of Sam, the Zodiac, Ted Bundy and you name the predator from the past. The real offense is repetitively, and unconvincingly, putting Weaver through multiple threats on her life. C

The Court Jester (1956) is a once upon a time ago slapstick fable with Danny Kaye that would star Jim Carrey if made today. In medieval England, a flurry of intrigue goes on that involves the King being dethroned and rebels like the Black Fox (Edward Ashley) attempt to restore order for the commoners. It’s really just a silly showcase, a tamer “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” predecessor of Kaye making a minstrel fool out of himself, goofily trying to seduce Angela Lansbury, and getting into klutzy but gallant swordfights with villains. There’s a dialogue exchange or two that are deliberately nutty tongue-twisters and there’s an out of nowhere catapult that is cleverly employed. Kaye was equally famous for playing Walter Mitty a decade earlier. B

One from the Heart (1982) is a bizarre, self-indulgent project by Francis Ford Coppola of “The Godfather” (1972) and “Apocalypse Now” (1979) that somehow screams art mania as the director’s preoccupation over concern for multifaceted characters. He filmed it entirely on a massive soundstage that is meant to double for Las Vegas. Extreme artificial lighting and continuous moody jazz and blues music by Tom Waits underscores everything. Starring in this broken love story and rococo musical is Teri Garr and Frederic Forrest as a squabbling toxic couple who decide to take a short break from each other and find new potential lovers in Raul Julia and Nastassja Kinski. One Vegas boulevard musical number with tons of extras and a cherry red motorcar festooned with glittering neon lights is nonetheless a dazzler. Garr shows some bare naked breast shots, never has nudity been so bafflingly needless! Kinski uses her blue eyes to develop her character. Julia is surprisingly effective as a seducer. Forrest just shouts a lot. Strictly for fans of cinematic follies. C-

Pretty in Pink (1986) is penned by John Hughes of “Sixteen Candles” (1984) and “Ferris Bueller” (1986) but directed by somebody else. Molly Ringwald is the heady scholarship girl in High School with morals. Jon Cryer as Duckie is just a really strange guy in self-conscious hipster clothing who never stops beckoning that he’s in love with Ringwald. Oh my God, he is just way too much. Ringwald is the poor girl in love with the genuinely nice and rich kid Andrew McCarthy. High school movies of the ’80’s by this point seem a lot more of an easy social stride than the cliquish times of today. But there’s a long stretch of blandness that wears you thin. Radically the movie gets much, much better because of Harry Dean Stanton as a single father whose saving angel is his daughter and James Spader as a white sports-blazer rich kid with unparalleled arrogance. These two are far more gripping than the annoying Cryer and as good as McCarthy is it’s a strain to see him put up with his unendurable woes. Frosted on is an obligatory ending. C

Them! (1954) is a black & white creature feature encompassing radioactive mutated giant ants. Where else are you ever going to find a campy movie with giant hungry ants, really? But don’t invite your friends over just yet. While it gets off to a good start, the middle has nearly thirty minutes that nearly roll to a creep up until the final showdown picks up again. The flame-throwers to battle the insects though are a decent touch. But it is hard sitting through the whole thing without using the fast-forward button – if you start the movie with a buzz eventually this movie will wear off your buzz. James Whitmore stars, and some forty years later he indelibly became Old Man Brooks in “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994). But you won’t uncover any hidden talent in Whitmore’s early performance in this flick. His acting just barely rises above the level of wood. C

Time After Time (1979) is one of the great pleasures that I’ve stumbled upon in quite awhile. In 1890’s London, the indomitable Jack the Ripper (David Warner) hijacks H.G. Wells’ (Malcolm McDowell) time machine and leaps into 1979 San Francisco where serial killing comes even easier to him – he eerily blends right in with social contemporaries. McDowell up to this point in his career was typecast as anti-socials since making his landmark “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), but this new career direction as a prissy, bookish but brave scientist was unexpectedly perfect for him. Shortly after his grappling with modern times, he meets a very quirky but amorous bank teller Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen) who shows him around to her apartment. After they hit it off, Wells is able to locate the Ripper but can’t stop him nor can he get the police to get on his side (he unwittingly introduces himself as Sherlock Holmes as a ploy to be anonymous). This flick works as a sci-fi fantasy, a kooky romantic melodrama, a fish out of water comedy, a suspense thriller and as a blood-dripping horror. The satisfying relief is that it paces efficiently without short-changing attention to character. A

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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