Ten Netflix Films in April 2013

         
 

29 April 2013| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Titles I happened to check out on Netflix in the month of April 2013 listed from best to worst:

Bonnie and Clyde (1967, 111 Minutes, R), the quintessential partners in crime biopic, became the most violent movie ever made up through 1967. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, as dissenters to the capitalist establishment, turn to robbery as a lifestyle. It’s like the two knew in hindsight of how boring the Great Depression times were – miniscule options, not much to do with your life in Midwest America at all! Their sprees weren’t utmost about money, it was about living for the excitement. I don’t think people are as trapped today as they were then. But it continues today – the disenfranchised people who need to live fast in order to feel alive. Bonnies’ and Clydes’ spawns are everywhere in society, untameable once they get past the point of no return. Footnote: Film critic Roger Ebert became famous after his early career rave of this. A+

PERIOD DRAMA / BIOPIC / MASTERPIECE VIEWING

 

Amores Perros (2001, 153 Minutes, R, Spanish with English subtitles) is simply the best film to ever come out of Mexico. Three interlinked stories configure Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s tapestry of economic disparity. Octavio (Gael Bernal Garcia) makes a living on dog fights. Valeria (Goya Toleda) is a supermodel, now disfigured, whose dog is lost somewhere underneath her building floorboards. El Chivo (Emilio Echevarria) is a hitman whose only devotion is to dogs. Incidents affect each other’s segments in a transient but lasting way. Ultimately, it’s about the odd places we find redemption after bouncing back from loss. A

FOREIGN FILM / THINKING MAN’S THRILLER / MASTERPIECE VIEWING

The Natural (1984, 138 Minutes, PG) is the sports fantasy you eventually have to see if you love baseball, or inspirational fables in general. Robert Redford is the golden boy Roy Hobbs, a baseball prodigy who can do anything on the field and can bat like Mickey Mantle. He is robbed by a handicap, disappears for years, and finally introduced as a 35-year old rookie playing for the league’s worst team circa 1939 (Turning them around into a winning team, of course). A rare case, however, that the film wouldn’t have been half as good if it weren’t for Caleb Deschanel’s radiant cinematography – it invokes good feelings. Directed by Barry Levinson. A-

SPORTS FANTASY / INSPIRATIONAL / FEEL-GOOD WEEKEND

Compliance (2012, 90 Minutes, R) dramatizes a marathon phone call between a lawman and a fast-food manager who is asked to contain one of her employees accused of theft and drug trafficking. The manager is played by fussy-nervous Ann Dowd, and the employee is played by credulous young blonde Dreama Walker. There is a progression of humiliation that goes beyond stripping off the girl’s uniform. This unsettling drama lives up to its title and about our nature to cower to anonymous authority. Based on a true incident. B+

INDIE DRAMA / SMART TEENS / LATE NIGHT MADNESS

Silent Light (2009, 136 Minutes, NR, Spanish with English subtitles) is haunting, and it’s also painfully slow-moving – but if you sit still long enough the film gathers a hypnotic power. Johan (Cornelio Wall Fehr) is a strict Mennonite Christian, and so his guilt is manifest when he is having an extramarital affair, but he proceeds as if it’s an out-of-body experience. The wife Esther (Miriam Toews) isn’t just betrayed by her husband, she feels she has been betrayed by God. When you’re such a deep spiritual believer, the act of sin takes on transcendent forms of torment. God is everywhere in this film, including shots of sunrises and sunsets. B+

DRAMA / RELIGION / SUNDAY AFTERNOON CONTEMPLATION

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987, 85 Minutes, R), the most famous in the franchise canon, is a barf-o-rama and carnival-esque gory comedy. Deep in the woods, everyman Bruce Campbell opens up the Book of the Dead, and all demonic hell breaks loose. Self-amputating his own arm to attach a chainsaw is just one of many macabre examples. Sam Raimi’s cult classic is not much more than a geek show. But it smiles with big teeth. B

HORROR / MINDLESS FUN / FRIDAY NIGHT SCREAMS

Silent Running (1971, 89 Minutes, G) is similar enough to the current futuristic “Oblivion” to note comparison. I’ve always felt this Bruce Dern-starrer sci-fi flick plays better if you fast forward past the embarrassing and mawkish soundtrack song that plays at the end of Act 1. In the movie, plant life on Earth has been deliberately made extinct in favor of complete artificial landscaping worldwide. Dern, as an astronaut/ecologist, protects the final collections of plant life on a space freighter while fighting off his superiors and fellow crew members who wish to strictly abide to direct orders. C+

SCIENCE FICTION / MOTHER NATURE / SPACE-OUT WEEKEND

Les Miserables (2012, 157 Minutes, PG-13) feels like it’s going to work during its first act. The tumultuous political opera set during the French Revolution foremost showcases Hugh Jackman’s gifts at perseverance playing former convict turned honorable factory manager Jean Valjean. Showboating tears is Anne Hathaway (Oscar winner!) as the mother turned prostitute, and tragic martyr. Mirthless Russell Crowe is the implacable Inspector who lives solely for the job. The story based originally on Victor Hugo’s novel certainly gets a coherent treatment. But the song lyrics jabber on and on, sometimes at a drone pitch. And the definition of “uneven story structure” can be applied here. Overstuffed. Yet many audiences nonetheless are swept by its epic arc. I’m in my own mixed reaction boat. C+

MUSICAL OPERA / POLITICS / RAINY WEEKEND AFTERNOON

Holy Motors (2012, 115 minutes, NR, French with English subtitles) promises to be a weird surrealist allegory for those viewers who have seen and admired “Last Year at Marienbad” (1961) and “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972). Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) appears first as a businessman starting his day to work riding in his limo, and we see him spending the day transforming his identity nine times. A peppy-outlandish first hour, but the second hour whimpers down to hollow conversations and ponderous contemplations. C+

SURREALIST DRAMA / MIND-BENDER / TRANCE-OUT WEEKEND

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012, 110 Minutes, PG-13) is so hackneyed it might as well been categorized under the Valentine’s Day Ensemble-Cast Type of Movie. But instead of date stuff this is about pregnancy and delivery stuff. Where actors get paid lots to act in little bits and pieces. Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Anna Kendrick, Dennis Quaid, Rodrigo Santoro… and a bunch of others are in this. They could have printed this screenplay on toilet paper. D

COMEDY / LAUGH-FREE / BAD MOVIES WE HATE

 

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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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