Ten Netflix Films in June 2012


28 June 2012| No Comments on Ten Netflix Films in June 2012     by Sean Chavel


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

Le Boucher (1972, 93 Minutes, NR, French with English subtitles) takes some artistic chances, and it prevails. On a remote countryside, a serial killer (Jean Yanne) begins to slay young women until he meets the first woman he loves and respects in years, the school headmistress named Helene (Stephane Audran). Popaul the killer is under his best self-restraint when in the adoring company of Helene, frustrations prompt his compulsion to kill indiscriminately. He is sometimes charming, sometimes meddling, had 15 years experience in the army before he became a shop butcher like his father. The uniqueness of the film is that Helene learns that she is in the company of a killer, but rather than turn him in, well, she tries to socialize with him. Is she trying to tame him? Is she trying to bring out his best inner humanity? Is she deeply curious as to whether a killer can change if she offers friendship? More cerebral than sensationalistic. But the actors, the actions, and the emotions register truly. A-


Rampage (1992, 97 Minutes, R) is a chilling, stressful and upsetting serial killer film by director William Friedkin (“The Exorcist”). Distribution background: Made in 1987, held up for five years due to studio bankruptcy, and finally doled out to unexceptional screen numbers. It’s been very hard to track down over the years (Netflix Instant provides). Charles Reese (Alex McArthur) shoots people dead and carves corpses to drink their blood; District Attorney Anthony Fraser (Michael Biehn) switches his own mind about capital punishment thus deciding he’s going to seek the death penalty when Reese is caught. The real insanity is found in the America courts: Reese is defended on the grounds that he is legally insane, prompting Fraser to convince the court that he behaved sanely in other aspects of his life. Loosely based on the serial killer Richard Chase case who terrorized northern California. Perhaps he had his senses intact once, but lovelessness, rejection, wallow in depravity ultimately paved his sadistic path. B+


In the Mood for Love (2000, 97 Minutes, UR, Chinese with English subtitles) is the gloriously florid critic’s champion of suppressed love – Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung are neighbors whose spouses are having an affair with each other, thus, they flirt with the idea. To act out in the same way as their spouses would degrade themselves the same way, so they appease to a platonic camaraderie. If only they would speak aloud their desires to each other, but this is set during the civil mannered time of 1962. This critic finds the filmmaker style and Shigeru Umebayashi’s music lush, swooning and swelling – all so swelling (you will never forget the color red when you think of this film), but finds the story beats repetitive to a maddening degree. 67 minutes would have been enough of this Wong Kar-Wai film, but it’s hard to deny the ambiguous and mysterious power of the final images. B


The Puffy Chair (2005, 84 Minutes, R) goes satisfyingly beyond its threadbare gimmick to give us human characters and choices than food for thought. This is the first key mumblecore movie with Mark Duplass that gives hope to the idea that minimalist storytelling can be a benefit. He plays an ordinary working joe who finds a recliner on eBay that he thinks is the perfect gift for his dad’s birthday. Along for the cross-country ride is his whiny commitment starved girlfriend (Kathryn Aselton, she co-stars with Duplass on FX Channel’s “The League”) and his aimless brother (Rhett Wilkins). Little road trip predicaments create an elusive chain reaction that lead to misadventure and comic distress. The dad at the end of the film shares in a few words more wisdom on successful relationships than most rom-coms are ever able to say. Ideal for splitting up into two nights for late night viewing. B


Gas Food Lodging (1992, 101 Minutes, R) is emotionally ripping, the contemporary but desolate desert is the setting for the portrait of two teen sisters trying not to wreck their lives. Ione Skye already has the humility of living down the humility of being a gang-rape victim, but she has finally found the perfect guy – will honesty with him save her? Will they bounce from town? The younger sister Fairuza Balk finally has a first love, but has not a clue that her best friend is not interested in her due to his secret deviated orientation. This material recalls such doomed small-town films such as “The Last Picture Show” and “Boys Don’t Cry.” It’s sturdily done, unapologetic, true to life and yet you wish the director, Allison Anders, took more artistic chances with her camera and editing style. Sturdiness sometimes lacks excitement. B-


The Dream Team (1989, 113 Minutes, PG-13), a certifiable “crazy” comedy, has four patients from the loony bin who lose their psychiatric doctor while on their special privileged outing in New York City. Amidst confusion, they go batty on people. Plot kicker: The foursome figure out that two corrupt cops want to terminate their doc who was a witness to a cover-up murder. Michael Keaton is the fast-talking patient with a “history of violence,” Christopher Lloyd is a bow-tied neat-freak who professes psychoanalytic expertise, Peter Boyle swears he is the second coming of Jesus Christ, and Stephen Furst is a fatso whose phobia is talking to people. Individual scenes are better than the sum of its parts, however. It’s an OK flick, but the over baked sentimentality and gosh darn coincidences can get you weary. C+


Red State (2011, 88 Minutes, R) is an opportunity for rascal comic filmmaker Kevin Smith to break from his roots to make a horror movie. Three horny boys go off to get laid after stumbling upon an internet proposition, only to find themselves bound and gagged by religious zealots who impugn upon sexual deviants in their hometown. A meandering, inane madman monologue by Michael Parks slows the movie’s tempo down. Then acts of violence rise, propelling the boys in their skivvies run for their lives. Smith actually employs a flurried high shutter speed technique that brings to mind Danny (“Slumdawg!”) Boyle. However, Smith’s film degenerates into a repetitive series of tired stand-offs. Melissa Leo as the batty preacher’s wife. John Goodman as an ATF agent who arrives on the scene. Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner and Nicholas Braun as the boys. C


Legend (1986, 114 Minutes, PG) was the first critical and commercial failure by “Prometheus” director Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Blade Runner” were his early classics). It’s one of those sorcery adventures set in a land far, far away with goblins and unicorns. Looking at it today you can see the shimmering cinematography is first-rate, and everything else is not. Tom Cruise is an effete nature boy who must go out to save princess Mia Sara, and I hand it to her, she has a lovely singing voice. Tim Curry is the Lord of Darkness – and this is where it gets idiotic – who wants to annihilate the Earth and oppress all its creatures. The terrible screenplay miscalculation is that there are hardly any people anywhere to be found, so once you destroy everything what is there to rule over? The Lord of Darkness would have no one to enslave. Put the sound to mute and blast your own rock songs, and you might have some entertainment here. C-


Mikey and Nicky (1976, 105 Minutes, R) is evidence that the mumblecore movement was around 35 years ago, e.g., besides “talk” not much happens in it. John Cassavetes as Nicky has a contract on his head, Peter Falk as Mikey is the pal who cools off his paranoia. Their late night improv takes them through the morning. They stroll alright onto the street, but you wonder why Nicky isn’t keeping a lower profile. Written and directed without discipline by Elaine May. C-


The Devil Inside (2012, 83 Minutes, R) is nothing more than “found footage” schlock. A young woman (Fernanda Andrade) seeks Vatican counsel to assist her mother (Suzan Crowley) who has been locked away in an institution. Embellishments crudely suggest satanic possessions take place worldwide all the time. The gimmick it relies upon is “transference.” The ultimate howler is that its’ found footage design is strategized to fool stupid audiences out there from thinking this is an actual documentary. If only everyone watched 1973’s horror masterpiece “The Exorcist” by William Friedkin, we could call a moratorium on this genre already. D



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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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