Ten Netflix Films in February 2013

         
 

27 February 2013| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

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

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977, 125 Minutes, PG) is a wonderful cheeseball reminder to the flighty good ol’ days of Roger Moore’s James Bond, this one in particular the antithesis of the kind of melancholic-serious espionage Bonds we’ve gotten with Daniel Craig. Villain Karl Stromberg (Curd Jurgens) sets out to destroy the surface of the Earth so he can breed his own perfect human race in an underwater empire – I always liked these world domination villains best. Jaws (Richard Kiel, 7 feet and 2 inches tall, metal teeth) makes his first of two Bond movie appearances, and remains one of the series’ most memorable foils. Barbara Bach is one of the best looking Bond babes, and here, her boobs get wet in all those underwater shenanigans. Outlandish action scenes, doozy gadgets, and a splendorous production design by Ken Adams (a frequent Kubrick collaborator). I wish Bond movies returned to this kind of broad fun. A-

JAMES BOND /ACTION FANS / FRIDAY NIGHT MALE AGGRESSION PANDEMONIUM

Dogfight (1991, 95 Minutes, R) has a cruel concept but it is truly one of the most engagingly emotional movies you could see. In 1963, a bunch of Marines on R&R come up with a competition of who can corral the ugliest date with a cash prize. River Phoenix (his best performance, I insist) is an incorrigibly irritible and short-tempered Marine who picks up frumpy waitress Lili Taylor. It’s supposed to end in revulsion, you think, but the two bond – even if she’s a sweetheart and he’s an a**hole. What does the last scene mean? Sometimes it takes years for a jaded fool to transform into a better person, because it takes hindsight. Directed by the underrated Nancy Savoca (“True Love,” “Household Saints”). B+

ROMANTIC TEARJERKER / CHARACTER STUDY / WEEKEND AFTERNOON MOVIE

Whores’ Glory (2011, 119 Minutes, NR, Adults Only) is an inside-explicit documentary expose of brothels concerning girls trapped in seeming eternity in the world’s oldest profession. Divided into three sections, you might find yourself judge of a sordid contest: Whom are the most degraded girls – Thailand, Bangladesh or Mexico? With so many sad moments, you might have to watch it in interrupted segments on consecutive nights. B+

DOCUMENTARY / DOWNHEARTED / LATE NIGHT GLOOM 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012, 103 Minutes, PG-13) is a startlingly down to earth surviving adolescence movie (a literate script based on Stephen Chbosky’s literate book, supposedly, since it’s unread by me). Protagonist Logan Lerman stars as the too egghead frosh Charlie who nevertheless finds his niche – a clique of well-read, performing arts seniors. Emma Watson is the friend and unattainable love object, Ezra Miller is the free-speaking pal out of the closet. The movie works a little too hard for a sad final act, but it does a rare thing for a school movie: It makes you recall genuinely of your time, and it makes you care. B

HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA / LIFE LESSONS / FRIDAY NIGHT COUCH MOVIE

Untamed Heart (1993, 102 Minutes, PG-13) is a working class picture, fantasy romance, and cautionary tale of sexual predatory violence (leaving you a tad uncomfortable). It works well enough because of the chemistry between waitress Marisa Tomei and dishwasher Christian Slater who saves her one night against two assailants. He was born with a weak heart and has little to say, but his sensitivity and thoughtfulness shine through. She has a penchant for picking losers, but is a wide-eyed optimistic. A date movie for those who have the case of the cuddles. B-

ROMANTIC TEARJERKER / SEXY IMAGES / WEEKEND COUCH MOVIE

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (2000, 116 Minutes, R) is an offbeat art-house movie about a hitman with peculiar ethics. Forest Whitaker, in a weird borderline childlike performance, lives on a rooftop with his pigeons when he’s not on call. Of course, somebody’s pissed at him and wants him dead. Director Jim Jarmusch (“Dead Man”) succeeds more in finding a groovy tone (ironic, mellow hip-hop) than he is in coming up with a compelling story. C+

AVANTE-GARDE / HITMAN FLICK / SATURDAY AFTER DARK

Lovesick (1983, 96 Minutes, PG) is a horndog Dudley Moore movie – that Brit with dry, self-deprecating humor – this time he’s a psychiatrist who falls in love with patient Elizabeth McGovern. Like any Dudley movie, he tries to cover up his mistakes with dignity and civility before he makes an arse out of himself. But McGovern finds him sophisticated and adorable. Their chemistry works, but somehow the screenplay loses its focus on the romance and titters away on occupational ethics melodrama. You can still enjoy it up to a point, however. C+

ROMANTIC COMEDY / ADULT ORIENTATION / THURSDAY AFTER THE KIDS ARE ASLEEP

Homicide (1991) is David Mamet’s third movie as a director, and he grabs you immediately with an opening of a sting gone wrong and then followed by precinct turmoil and disruptions among departments. This stuff is compelling. Det. Bobby Gold (Joe Mantegna) gets thrown off this case of his prime interest and ordered to investigate a murder of an elderly Jewish shopkeeper. This assignment feels like a frivolous downgrade for him. Gold goes against the book to juggle both cases at the same time, but unforeseen for him, this second case presses him to get in touch with his long dormant Jewish roots. There’s a certain point where the movie dissolves, and that happens when it gets bogged down in Jewish demagoguery and religious shame that isn’t enlightening nor encouraging, just self-defeating. C

CRIME STORY / ADULT THEMES / SUNDAY REFLECTION

Hudson Hawk (1991, 99 Minutes, Rated R) is one of the most famous box office debacles, featuring a singing-and-thieving Bruce Willis (he does tunes with Danny Aiello while breaking into art museums). It makes sense to cast James Coburn as a villain, but Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard are whiny and puny villains. In one scene, Bernhard grabs Willis by the mouth and goes “Big boys don’t cry aye-aye,” right after Willis has done his left-foot-in, right-foot-out routine. The action is all parody and over-the-top quirkiness. One scene: Willis flying down from trees and cabana umbrellas and rolling down on a runaway gurney that has fallen out from the back of an ambulance. Andie MacDowell, as the art historian and love interest dressed to the nines, has rarely looked prettier. When she’s on, it briefly stops from being an annoying movie. Yet even despite of everybody else getting on your nerves, it has a gleeful awfulness. It’s not so rotten in a repugnant way, more of a case study in bad, peculiar movies that try desperately to put on a smile through gritted teeth. D

ACTION-ADVENTURE / BAD MOVIE HELL /SUNDAY MORNING CAMP

Myra Breckinridge (1970, 94 Minutes, R) is one of the worst movies ever made, reviled notably by the people who acted in it and disowned by novelist Gore Vidal from which the book was adapted. Myron (Rex Reed, the now film critic) goes to Zurich for a sex change operation and comes back to Hollywood as Myra (Raquel Welch, a buxom vixen and tease). The males yak like bigwig Texans. Really, most of the time we don’t know what we’re seeing. The satire is rapidly nonsensical with incongruous inserts of old movie footage. Her way of sticking it to Hollywood is to actually, at one point, stick it to a guy, literally. Was meant to be radical and transgressive, instead it is rambling, bewildering, exhausting, and irritating. Mae West, with a loose tongue, pops in. F

COMEDY / POLITICALLY INCORRECT HUMOR / UNWATCHABLE ANYTIME OF YEAR

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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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