Ten Netflix Films in July 2012

         
 

31 July 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Titles I happened to check out on Netflix in the month of July 2012 listed from best to worst:

Flirting with Disaster (1996, 92 Minutes, R) is adult screwball, a tale of misbehaving adulterers tangling on a road trip. It’s also a reminder of when Ben Stiller was really, really funny. Patricia Arquette as his wife, George Segal and Mary Tyler Moore as his neurotic adoptive parents, Tea Leoni as the adoption agent in black lace stockings. On the road, they meet two cops of gay persuasion (Richard Jenkins and Josh Brolin) and then other assorted characters less than tolerable. It’s rare to find a smart screenplay where everyday rudeness is a component to comedy. But here is a collection of characters who are striving for order and politeness despite that, only in effort to stumble and flip-out. Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin top off the cast as hippies lost in another era. David O. Russell (“Three Kings,” “The Fighter”) directed. A-

COMEDY / POLITICALLY INCORRECT HUMOR / LATE NIGHT YUKS

Body Heat (1981, 113 Minutes, R) – Adult orientation, very wicked. The sultriest of film noirs, a portrayal of Florida summer of sex and sweat – particularly famous for the scene where William Hurt throws a lawn chair through a plate-glass door so he can take Kathleen Turner passionately into his arms. Little does he know that she’s a femme fatale, and by definition that means trouble. For anybody that has ever gone way over their head into a questionable relationship. A-

FILM NOIR / ADULT ORIENTATION / WEEKEND MOVIE AFTER KIDS ARE ASLEEP

Charade (1963, 113 Minutes, NR) blithely teams Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn together for a light caper. It seems to takes place in a timeless time warp that exists nowhere except in a fantasy version of Paris. A murder takes place in a hotel room, and instead of dashing for relocation, woman in distress Hepburn stays as if it were a “Clue” boardgame. But the sophisticated screenplay keeps everything bubbly, and the panache of Grant and elegant poise of Hepburn keeps this enjoyable. Film students could learn a thing or two from this witty dialogue. Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy and Jacques Marin co-star, all double-cross each other for a quarter of a million dollars hidden with Hepburn, or perhaps someone else. B+

SUSPENSE-THRILLER / LIGHT CAPER / SUNDAY EVENING NIGHTCAP

Ulee’s Gold (1997, 113 Minutes, R) has you not wanting to see it because of that damn title. That would be a mistake, for what this Peter Fonda (Oscar-nominated) indie craft has is riveting drama, a thicket of family predicaments. He’s a Vietnam vet who became a beekeeper with a specialty for producing tupelo honey. He has granddaughters he cares for (young Jessica Biel one of them, Vanessa Zima more impressive), and a son in prison who has stashed $100,000. His drugged out wife has told thugs about the stash, and now they want it, and simple man Ulee must play mediator in the payoff. Patricia Richardson (from TV’s “Home Improvement”) plays a nurse and Ulee’s friendly tenant. Ulee excels in approaching highly stressful situations with a cool tempo and cognition. B+

DRAMA / MOODY CHARACTER STUDY / WEEKEND AFTERNOON MOVIE

Coraline (2008, 101 Minutes, PG) is family stop-motion animation for slightly older kids, or for all fans of rabbit hole fantasy. Dakota Fanning lends her voice to a girl neglected by her self-centered parents, and looking for playtime entertainment/catharsis with anyone willing to interact with her. She finds better versions of her parents through a portal except they have buttons for eyes. Trippy imagination, but the menacing elements are a little too languishing – you come away from the film with memories of its black cobwebby look. B

FAMILY FILM / ANIMATION / WEEKEND NIGHTTIME TALES

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009, 93 Minutes, G) has Richard Gere in a seeming benign canine movie before it goes into the genre mode of male tearjerker. What sets this Lasse Hallstrom (“The Cider House Rules,” “Chocolat”) film apart is that it pivots a different kind of variation on the dog separated by owner tale. I wish Hallstrom hadn’t cast the insincere Jason Alexander (TV’s “Seinfeld) as a train depot controller, but the director doesn’t do much with Joan Allen either. The breed of dog is Akita, a Japanese husky of the mountains – and hey, here’s an animal of stoicism, patience, and integrity. Your heart might flutter a bit, but don’t expect to find yourself wonderfully exalted by it though. B-

DRAMA / HEARTRENDING / NIGHTTIME LIVING ROOM MOVIE

Easy Money (1983, 95 Minutes, R) is with Rodney Dangerfield, the fat, loud, crass guy. By day he is a plumber and a baby photographer, but by night, he blows cash on strippers and gambling with his pal Nicky (Joe Pesci). He is propositioned with ten million dollars from his mother-in-law if he will put a stop to his vices and lose weight. The nicer Rodney gets, the more the movie seems to be fishing for ideas, however. Undoubtedly, the subplot of his daughter (Jennifer Jason Leigh) unwilling to consummate her marriage to a Puerto Rican greaseball is a high spot. On a mindless night, you won’t mind the artless inconsistencies. B-

COMEDY / CRUDE HUMOR / MONDAY-THURSDAY MINDLESS ENTERTAINMENT

The Killer Inside Me (2010, 109 Minutes, R) is extremely well-done technical filmmaking – but overall it’s not very good. It’s a period-set noir in 1950’s Texas, with Casey Affleck (as Lou Ford), a blasé, placid deputy sheriff with a natural zing for double-murders. The first murder of the film is so grisly and revolting that you want to scream out “anti-entertainment.” Morbid curiosity might keep you watching, the faint of heart should avoid. The bare Jessica Alba is the tantalizing but disreputable town whore. Kate Hudson is Lou’s regular girl on the side, the one he’s supposed to one day grudgingly marry. The bigheads of town law and regulation demand change and progress, starting with removing the vice of prostitution. Simon Baker and Elias Koteas do most of the film’s best secondary acting within a large cast. Michael Winterbottom (“Code 46”) directed mercilessly. C+

MYSTERY-THRILLER / MOODY CHARACTER PIECE / SATURDAY NIGHT BUMMER


Bunny Lake is Missing (1965, 107 Minutes, NR) has a few quality artistic minutes that leads you to believe it’s going to step out of the formula ordinary. Momma (Carol Lynley) is new to London, and only hours upon arrival her pre-school daughter vanishes. More interesting is to see actor Keir Dullea as the brother, for this was a role just prior to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” one of the great cinematic landmarks. Dullea is just fine, that is, until director Otto Preminger compels him to over-act. Laurence Olivier is the refined gentlemanly police superintendent, but there is a surprising spark to him. The geriatrics of the cast are somewhere between the line of wacko and senile. “Bunny Lake” feels like the catalyst of the Jodie Foster movie “Flightplan” (2005) forty years later, but like that one, great interest shrinks the further it sinks into convolution. C

DRAMA / LATE TEENS & ADULTS / LATE WEEKNIGHT VIEWING

Natural City (2003, 112 Minutes, R, Korean with English subtitles) is Korea trying to go Hollywood attempting to imitate “Blade Runner,” and is instead the most impenetrable of all sci-fi movies, if not, the ugliest next to “Battlefield Earth.” It’s about massive computers and virtual reality stuff, and of course dehumanized society. It contains one-dimensional characters more artificial than rice cakes. You will be lucky to find a coherent thread of narrative sense, and there are only a limited few cool shots that pop your eyes. The rest is just blue-filtered gloom and the hardware occupying the frame. Also, I shall not forget the ominous rain. This is as bad as sci-fi movies can get. F

SCI-FI & FANTASY / LATE TEENS / FRIDAY NIGHT SUCKFEST

 

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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