Ten Netflix Films in July 2013

         
 

31 July 2013| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

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

Tootsie (1982, 119 Minutes, PG) is one of the few perfect comedies, especially topical about modern sex roles. Dustin Hoffman plays rarely hired New York actor Michael Dorsey, who goes undercover in drag as the unattractive but feisty Dorothy Michaels to land a soap opera gig. He falls in love with co-star Julie Nichols (Jessica Lange, the vulnerable dream woman) who is attached to the slimy show director (Dabney Coleman). Hoffman recently said in the press that to him “it was never a comedy” because he was moved by the message that unattractive women in society are treated dismissively. That sentiment gets across, and yet the film miraculously altogether is feel-good and boisterous. With Bill Murray, Charles Durning, George Gaynes, Teri Garr, Geena Davis, and as Michael’s agent, Sydney Pollack, who also directed. A+

COMEDY / FOOD FOR THOUGHT / MASTERPIECE FOR ANYTIME

Tootsie_ A Classic _FlickMinute

Don’t Look Now (1973, 110 Minutes, R) is for anyone who ever loved 1999’s “The Sixth Sense” and wants to see another one like it. While it deals with the supernatural, it operates more with progressing portents that serve as clues rather than relying on chronic shocks for effect. Edited with a fragmented design, you watch it as if in puzzle assembly mode. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie play a British married couple who begin couples rekindling in Venice following the death of their daughter. They have sex (famously “unsimulated” according to legend), they meet a psychic, and they start noticing a figure in a red raincoat recurring in the canals. The husband is a skeptic, the wife develops a keen belief. If it works for you, the revelation is a whopper. If it doesn’t, at least you’ve caught the finest Venice, Italy locations ever used for a film. Directed with dread and apprehension style by Nicolas Roeg. A

SUPERNATURAL HORROR / MATURE TEENS AND UP / LATE NIGHT CHILLS

Dont-Look-Now _Movie Review FlickMinute

Contact (1997, 150 Minutes, PG) is one of those self-admitted embarrassments that I’ve managed to overlook the last 16 years, I thought it was well-shot and had some interesting ideas when I saw it then, now I think it is sensationally shot and pack full of ideas. Robert Zemeckis adapted the Carl Sagan novel about science, theology, and how that interplays with first communication with an alien race. The opening image shows us Earth, then the galaxy, then the universe – a presage for the finale when one astronaut will make the ultimate trip. Five essential stars: Jodie Foster is the brainiac/hero radio astronomer Dr. Eleanor Arroway, Tom Skerritt is the credit-groveling government scientist and foundations aide, James Woods is the pragmatic and skeptical National Security advisor, Matthew McConaughey is the religious scholar who takes too much personal liking to the heroine, and John Hurt is the riddled intellectual billionaire S.R. Hadden (there are not enough geniuses in the movies like his character). There are several scenes that smack you with brilliance, the most unexpectedly bold is learning what broadcast television signal the aliens picked up first. How would America react to that? Not well. Fascinating and beyond the conventional. A-

SCI-FI & FANTASY / FOOD FOR THOUGHT / WEEKEND DEEP THINKING

Contact-1997 _Robert-Zemeckis-Post

M. (1931, 117 Minutes, NR, German with English subtitles) is known for being the first disturbing serial killer film of the sound era. Peter Lorre is the child murderer who can’t help his compulsive thrill for overpowering his young prey. The Berlin townspeople form a vigilante party to hunt him down, proving more effective than police. The film has a notable showdown in the basement where Lorre is trapped and gazed at by vengeful, dark faces. Directed by Fritz Lang (“Metropolis”). A-

DARK DRAMA / CEREBRAL / WEEKEND LATE NIGHT

M. Fritz Lang Poster

 

Spring Breakers (2013, 93 Minutes, R) is the misanthropic, female-debasing avante-garde film by Harmony Korine that is for a few moments nihilistically ugly, then… fascinating as a sociological portrait of nihilism itself. This girls gone bad exposé is not conventionally entertaining, except in how unconventional it is. Four college girls go to St. Petersburg, get arrested in bikinis, then get bailed by a hustler. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine are the girls, only one of them contains an ounce of morality and regret. James Franco, with grilled teeth and cornrows, is the mesmerizing hustler who is radically stupid yet shamelessly materialistic – this is one of the great supporting performances of the year. One might feel severely disturbed that there aren’t any three-dimensional people here, but that’s the point, these aren’t people with three-dimensions in them. I admit I was reluctant about “Breakers,” but I took an admiration for this movie like I would towards a David Lynch or Gaspar Noe film. B+

AVANTE-GARDE / SOCIOLOGICAL STUDY / SATURDAY NIGHT AFTER DARK

Spring-Breakers _Post Flick-Minute

You Only Live Twice (1967, 117 Minutes, PG) was noteworthy for taking the world famous 007 franchise to Japan, and memorably, the villainous volcano lair has a stylish conceit — it hosts one of Bond’s best action climaxes. This was Sean Connery’s fifth play at James Bond, who clearly likes best his flirtations with Japanese models playing agents. Bond is on assignment to clear up an international mystery on American and Russian spaceships that have vanished. But the story is loitered with digressions but makes up for it with its speed and fanciful gadgets. Donald Pleasence shows up late as Blofeld (too late). With that scar on his face, he’s the most ominously evil of any actor who played Blofed in the franchise. Children’s author Roald Dahl, a friend of spy author Ian Fleming in real life, wrote the script. Lewis Gilbert exuberantly directed, though at times it’s a little dingdong. B+

JAMES BOND /ACTION FANS / FRIDAY NIGHT CAMP

You Only Live Twice_ 007 FlickMinute

Clue (1985, 96 Minutes, PG) is the nutty slapstick whodunit based on the Parker Brothers board game. You can’t make a strong case that it’s a good movie in terms of airtight plot, multiple endings notwithstanding. But Tim Curry is delightfully manic as the butler, Colleen Camp is a ooh-la-la French maid, while six dinner guests are suspects of murder or victims of blackmail. Appealing farce for gullible minds. B

FAMILY FILM / MINDLESS FUN / WEEKEND FAMILY CAMP

Clue_1985 Review FlickMinute

Switchblade Sisters (1975, 91 Minutes, R) is bad taste exploitation cinema that has enough juice to keep you mindlessly watching the whole way. The girl gang attempts allegiance to the guy gang, but ultimately, the guys get the girls turning against each other. Joanne Nail is Maggie, the girl who climbs her way to the top. She’s respectable, while the other girls show their boobs. Badass gunplay, too. B

ACTION & ADVENTURE / MINDLESS FUN / LATE NIGHT EXPLOITATION

Switchblade Sisters post_movie flickminute

Valhalla Rising (2010, 90 Minutes, Unrated), if nothing else, demonstrates Mads Mikkelson’s consummate range by playing a natural born brutal. Mikkelson is a mute Viking warrior named One Eye, a caught slave in the Middle Ages who wins a few gory fights, breaks his shackles and treks with a new band of Christians to find the Holy Land. There’s not much plot, especially after finding out the Holy Land is akin to Hell on Earth. Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”) hasn’t created a fully comprehensive film, but he does put grime, weirdness, depravity and desolation up there. Still, as interesting as it looks, “Valhalla” is the cinematic equivalent of depression pills. B-

HISTORICAL DRAMA / MEDITATIVE CINEMA / WEEKNIGHT AFTER DARK

Valhalla-Rising _Review - FlickMinute post

Godzilla (1998, 138 Minutes, PG-13) in Roland Emmerich’s loud, juiceless and dank version had the monster trample Manhattan. The wrecking action is too often artificial. The monster also has no consistency in size as he scoots around the Big Apple. Matthew Broderick, Maria Pitillo and Jean Reno are the hapless heroes. “Pacific Rim” at least had a peppy hoorah about it. D+

ACTION & ADVENTURE / CREATURE FEATURE / FRIDAY NIGHT BUZZKILL

Godzilla-1998_ FlickMinute Post

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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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