Ten Netflix Films in February 2014

         
 

26 February 2014| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Titles I happened to check out on Netflix in the month of February 2014 listed from best to worst:

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999, 138 Minutes, R) had me wonder for years if I had overrated it in my head. Seeing it again, the rest of the world has underrated it. It’s 1959, Matt Damon’s peachy sociopath goes to Europe to track down ladies man Jude Law (as Dickie Greenleaf), and becomes so enamored by the lifestyle that he slyly finds a way to assume his friend’s identity. Gwyneth Paltrow is the increasingly suspicious girlfriend of Dickie, Philip Seymour Hoffman is the brazen and brash bluebood friend who figures out the phony shell of Ripley. Stunning cinematography throughout, there’s not a dull image in it. Anthony Minghella made several classy but stuffy films, but this is the only one that’s in ecstasy with itself. As for Damon, it’s my favorite – he is the creepiest chameleon in what is his most complex performance. A

PSYCHODRAMA / ADULT ORIENTATION / MASTERPIECE VIEWING

Talented_Mr.Ripley_Review

Groundhog Day (1993, 104 Minutes, PG) is the Bill Murray time-warp comedy when he is stuck repeating February 2nd that was breezy and heartwarming fun the first time you saw it, and some twenty years later is a major classic with deeper existential questions,resonant with big philosophical questions about life. Murray’s rascal TV weather man Phil Connors gets away with anything he wants until his gift becomes soul-crushingly repetitive. Andie MacDowell is the perfect love story object, too refined for sloppy Murray, she brushes off his phony ingratiation. All that’s left to avoid the pitfall of endless eternity is to change the one thing that’s most difficult: the desire for Phil to change himself. Directed by Harold Ramis (1983’s “National Lampoon’s Vacation” is his #2 movie), who just deceased. A

COMEDY / MILD & CHARMING / MASTERPIECE VIEWING

Groundhog_Day_Movie_Review

Owning Mahowny (2003, 107 Minutes, R) is one of the key Philip Seymour Hoffman performances to understand his pathological intensity and his method acting style. This gambling addiction movie is only famous for fans of gambling junkie movies, but it deserves a broader reputation. In this true story, Canadian assistant bank manager Dan Mahowny gambled millions of other peoples’ money at an Atlantic City casino. Mahowny is a fussbudget when it comes to the ordinary purchases in life, he has a girlfriend he ignores, and is tunnel-visioned to gamble. John Hurt, it should be noted, is memorably snaky as the casino boss. A-

DRAMA / ADDICTION / LATE NIGHT FASCINATION

Owning-Mahowny_Movie-Review_2003-Philip-Seymour-Hoffman

Blackfish (2013, 80 Minutes, PG-13) is the attack on Sea World and expose of abused killer whales, and while it has somerepetitive padding, the archival footage is unmistakably credible and testimonies too convincing to ignore. Most importantly, I felt I really understood the thought processes of these complex marine mammals for the first time. B+

DOCUMENTARY / ANIMALS / NIGHTTIME FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Blackfish_ 2013_ FlickMinute-Documentary

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989, 105 Minutes, G, Japanese dubbed into English) is one of Hayao Miyasaki’s plot-lite but visually wonderful animated films. Miyasaki is the ultimate master of Japanese animation, but it took twenty years before his films began reaching American audiences (see “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Spirited Away”). Kiki, a 13-year old witch in training on a flying broomstick, is encouraged to leave her small village to go find adulthood in a bigger city. City dwellers are mostly rude and dismissive but she meets one shopkeeper who lets her have a job delivering parcels to customers. The experience teaches Kiki responsibility in how to promote and expand her business, and how to juggle multiple tasks at once. Tombo is the local boy with a big crush on Kiki, whom is apprehensive at first towards him, then later a rescuer of him. Pure innocence, even as an adult, you sigh with joy. B+

ANIMATION FOREIGN FILM / KIDS MOVIE / MILD & CHARMING / AFTERNOON COUCH

Kikis Delivery Service_Movie-Review

The Train (1964, 133 Minutes, NR) needs a few minutes to get going, but once it does, it’s pulsating (and holds you, unlike the current dud “The Monuments Men”). When the Nazis occupied France in WWII, the generals issued a directive to pilfer priceless museum works of art. Burt Lancaster plays a heroic French-resistance member out to sabotage the Nazi train exodus. This must be done by not blowing anything up – art must be preserved. Paul Schofield, as General Colonel von Waldheim, has a great climactic monologue. B

DRAMA / WORLD WAR II / SATURDAY AFTERNOON MOVIE

Train_1964 Burt Lancaster Film Poster

Machete Kills (2013, 108 Minutes, R) gets everything outrageously right that the rusty 2010 original got wrong (Christ, that first one was boring). Danny Trejo is the anti-hero with a leathery face who gets throttled into a preposterous plot in Mexico and will, by the end, be launched into space. Mel Gibson is one of several outlandish bad guys. Director Robert Rodriguez goes larger than cheese for his post-modern grindhouse bloodbath. It’s way dumb (for a tad too long). B

ACTION & ADVENTURE / MINDLESS FUN / WEEKEND PANDEMONIUM

Machete-Kills_FlickMinute_Review

Inventing the Abbotts (1997, 112 Minutes, R) is a soggy 1950’s period teen romance that enticed me with the exciting promise of seeing Joaquin Phoenix in an early role, but he’s limited to being a vanilla nice guy. I thought I’d also enjoy seeing a young and pretty Liv Tyler, but that gets old fast, too. The premise: Other side of tracks boy loves rich girl. Wishy-washy obstacles, predictable conclusion. C

OLD-FASHIONED ROMANCE / TEENS / LAZY COUCH AFTERNOON

Inventing-the-Abbots_Movie-Review

Razor’s Edge (1984, 128 Minutes, PG-13) is one of the oddest Oscar-bait misfires of the 1980’s, a post-World War I period piece about a disillusioned vet (Bill Murray, his first drama and awkward doing it) going to Nepal and India, and anywhere else to find purpose to life. The film is a pastiche of epic movie photography that’s sometimes unintentionally hilarious. The Somerset Maugham novel is said to be sprawling and emotionally gripping. C-

OLD-FASHIONED ROMANCE / PERIOD FILMS / LAZY COUCH AFTERNOON

Razors-Edge_Bill-Murray_Movie-Review

Chariots of Fire (1981, 124 Minutes, PG) is still my choice for the worst Best Picture Oscar winner. The scene of young Olympics hopefuls running on the beach scored by Vangelis music, is the only mesmerizing moment. There are a cast of actors, but the film gets up close and personal with… none of them. D+

SPORTS DRAMA / INSPIRATIONAL / SUNDAY NIGHT DISAPPOINTMENT

Chariots-of-Fire_ Review_Poster 1981 _Worst-Best-Pictures_oscars

Summary
Reviewer
Sean Chavel
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Ten Netflix Films in February 2014
Author Rating
5
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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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