Eight Netflix Films in June


01 July 2011| No Comments on Eight Netflix Films in June     by Sean Chavel


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

52 Pick Up is the lean Elmore Leonard story about a rich man’s revenge against vicious blackmailers who snuffed his mistress. Roy Scheider is the Los Angeles rich man who refuses to pay $100,000 to the bad guys, and prefers to tell his wife (Ann-Margret) about his affair with a stripper (Kelly Preston, thankless role). John Glover makes an unexpectedly fantastic turn as a smarmy villain who refuses to back off, and starts to mess with Scheider’s home and with his colleagues. Scheider doesn’t play a sad-sack adulterer even despite his apologies, instead he goes after and hires, and interviews, other strippers and porno girls in the industry to trace down the bad guy’s whereabouts. The final “pay-off” is fiendishly clever. This John Frankenheimer thriller reminds you of the days when thrillers were actually written with intelligence, it’s only a demerit that the film doesn’t plunge into deeper emotional depths. B

Pick of the Month

Cat’s Eye (1985) is an entertaining anthology horror film penned by Stephen King, two of them previously published in his short stories collection book “Night Shift.” The stories are held together by an omnipresent cat that pays as witness. The first one, with James Woods, is a freaky (and will be repulsive for some) tale of a man who goes to a shady clinic to quit smoking cigarettes and then finds that for each infraction comes an awful, severe punishment that will be enacted upon his loved ones within a torture chamber – for this he has to beat the addiction since he is always under watch wherever he goes. In the second one, Robert Hays is a man who has stolen a mobster’s wife, and so is ordered to walk around the ledge of a high-rise – to survive he gets the wife and a money bag, but he has to suffer through taunts he never would have anticipated. In the third, Drew Barrymore (as a little girl), has parents who don’t believe her when said a goblin comes out at night to try and steal her breath. Director Lewis Teague makes some moments a little too blunt, but this is a late-night movie that still retains a vicious charge. More than a few spine-tingling thrills. B

A Little Princess (1995) is a rare sumptuous children’s film most appealing to young girls that often has touches of greatness but is a little too protracted and short on retribution when it needed more of it. Let’s consider: In the period of World War I, a wealthy father leaves his precocious and imaginative daughter Sara Crewe (Liesel Matthews) at a boarding school for girls that’s built like a black and ivy green mansion. Her inquisitiveness and wild storytelling – she was formerly an inhabitant in culturally rich India – wins her popularity with schoolmates but jealousy of headmistress Miss Minchin (Eleanor Bron). When Sara’s father is declared dead and enrollment funding ceases, Miss Minchin pulls a V.C. Andrews and expels her to the attic and remakes her into a full-time servant with no interactive privileges with the others. Bron does a masterfully nasty job at playing an autocrat meanie who relishes in dispensed punishment of girls. She steams you up so bad that you want the worst revenge for her, but the girls don’t plot against her as often as they should. This is nonetheless the kind of classy film I’d show my daughters if I ever put away my bachelor ways and have any. B

Mississippi Masala (1992) presents an uncommon love affair between black man Denzel Washington and Indian woman Sarita Choudhury. The girl’s family operates cheap motels, having fled their home two decades ago from South Africa following the inauguration of Idi Amin’s dictatorship. They escaped racism, and now they are bigoted towards Washington when he attempts to date their daughter. Washington, as a proprietor of his own carpet cleaning business, has tremendous sway over Choudhury’s feelings – she’s always put her parents above her own desires. There is a particular spiciness as the film’s title promises, but just as the carnal lover’s heat reaches its peak, the film takes on the backburner story concentrating on the parents’ perspectives and flashback ordeals. B-

Red Dawn (1984) is the blockheaded adventure story of high school kids fighting back against Russian troops that have attacked on U.S. soil. Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen are self-trained soldiers who spend the next several months in the wilderness, with seemingly no baths or laundromat to change clothes, to draw up attacks on the Russian troops that have put their Colorado towns under siege. There is action every five minutes but done in a way similar to other ’80’s barefaced shoot ’em ups – implausibly and indifferently. The dialogue is just what you’d expect from young spited teenagers. This is in preparation of the upcoming remake which I fruitlessly hope is better than this picture. D

Sirens (1994), by director John Duigan, has Hugh Grant as a sexually repressed minister with Tara Fitzgerald as his cautious wife who goes to visit painter and sculptor Sam Neil who fetishes in erotic art. The minister’s assignment, journeyed to the removed countryside, is to warn Neil’s character Norman Lindsay (based on the life of Augustus John) that the Church of England will blow horn of blasphemy if he publicly exhibits his art. This is undoubtedly for art film connoisseurs on the struggle of social mores in the less liberated times of the earlier half of the 1900’s. But the enticement for men is to view ample shots of Elle MacPherson’s boobs – ahem breasts ahem bosom – uh oh, you got me tongue-tied. Macpherson is one of three lovely art subjects that love sex and love flirting and love love, mostly flirting and enticement. As for dramatic tension, Grant has a hard time curtailing wife Fitzgerald’s curiosity. B       

The Time Machine (1961), based on H.G. Wells’ splendid sci-fi novel written in 1895, is an often hailed classic. Rod Taylor is a scientist and inventor from the late 19thcentury who has built a time machine so he can travel forward until he finds a free society where man has transcended beyond the debasement of greed and war. The time lapse special effects of Taylor throttling forward are marvelous, nothing unflattering there. But by the time Taylor travels 800,000 years into the future to commune with the ignoramus Eloi tribe, the whole fantasy grates considerably. The Elois’ get collected and processed in a food chain to be consumed by the Morlocks. Our time traveler finds one beauty Morlock he likes named Weena (Yvette Mimieux, absurdly favored with lip and eye makeup), and instead of treating her like the poor uncultivated child she is, you start to think that he has a crush on her. If you read the book, the Elois’ are not dumb enough. B-

What’s Up, Doc? (1972) looks a little embarrassing on first impression with fashion and music that is a little too tacky and outmoded by today’s times. The screwball comedy scenario involves a mix-up with four identical suitcases vied by lawmen and criminals at a posh hotel. The idea of mixed-up suitcases sounds admittedly insipid, but the desperate personalities and antics might win you over. Barbara Streisand is a tomboyish grifter chasing after free lunches, while wandering around she spots Ryan O’Neal as a geek geologist in town for a seminar. Jewels, top secret files, rocks, underwear – contents akin to a game of fast-paced musical chairs. Fires, crashes through windows, revelry underneath dining table cloth, pants down on the dummy – that’s all part of the anarchy, too. What’s got my chin up is the chase climax down the slopes of San Francisco with three cars after a wood wagon with Barbara and Ryan aboard. Like the more complex Coen Brothers film “Burn After Reading,” (2008) nobody can explain the plot at the end. B

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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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