Ten Netflix Films in November 2012

         
 

28 November 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

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

Rampart (2012, 108 Minutes, R) is even better a second time after instant viewing it on Netflix. Woody Harrelson has given far and away the best performance I’ve seen this year (by-laws unjustly disqualify him from the Oscars). What he does as a corrupt police officer is repugnant, it might be way too much for some viewers, but this is a realistic portrayal of evil and sickness. If you stick around long enough you finally see a glimmer of goodness underneath his psychosis. The ending seemed unsatisfying the first time, but having revisited it, I see it not as an ending anymore but as the beginning of an inevitable foregone conclusion. A

STREET DRAMA / CHARACTER STUDY / SATURDAY NIGHT GOOSEBUMPS

 

The Thief of Bagdad (1940, 106 Minutes, NR) is a pedigree lavish fairy book tale that became a cinematic classic (all those silks of so many colors! Oh look, a genie and a flying carpet!). The disgraced Prince Ahmad (John Justin) pairs up with teen thief Abu (Sabu) to rescue a princess (June Duprez) and defeat evil Jaffar (Conrad Veidt). Without doubt an embodiment of old-fashioned movie magic that is shamelessly corny with acting, that’s well, a little too over the rainbow. Michael Powell (“The Red Shoes”) is the primary of three credited directors. A-

ACTION & ADVENTURE / WHIMSICAL FANTASY / FRIDAY OR SATURDAY NIGHT POPCORN FLICK

Downhill Racer (1969, 101 Minutes, PG) is perhaps underrated at this point. Robert Redford is a ski slopes competitor whose colossal ego clashes with coach Gene Hackman, and with the general politics of the sport. Character richness is aplenty, better than expected. But you might be held back thinking that the cinematography might we weaker compared to what can be done now. Incorrect. If you’re looking for ski photography, this is the film to study – and it has a non-glossy naturalism that’s missing from sports broadcasting today. B+

DRAMA / SPORTS / COLD WEEKEND AFTERNOON

 

Detachment (2011, 97 Minutes, NR) is an angry, uncompromising inner city teacher movie with Adrien Brody, and directed by Tony Kaye (“American History X”) who is always photographing something from a unique angle. It’s a downer, but it’s a gripping downer. Perhaps that is because of how unremittingly authentic it commits itself to being. Outside of the classroom, teacher Mr. Barthes lets a teen prostitute move in until she can pull herself together. His work colleagues are potentially troublesome, too, some of them on the verge of slapping dirty-mouthed kids. With Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu, James Caan, Tim Blake Nelson, Blythe Danner and Marcia Gay Harden. B+

DRAMA / MOODY CHARACTER STUDY / FALL SCHOLASTICS

Mr. Jones (1993, 114 Minutes, R) is Richard Gere as a manic-depressive of extreme spectrums, wildly vivacious one day and face-in-his-pillow depressed the next. He tries to negotiate with his disease and reject pills. Then he tries to seduce his ward psychiatrist Dr. Bowen (Lena Olin) who makes a critical professional mistake. Director Mike Figgis takes his subject seriously and the irresistible flights of fancy keep us watching: the high-beam walking, interrupting a symphony, kissing random blondes on the street. Observing his mania is sort of exciting but the end result for Mr. Jones is, of course, destructive. Intrigue exists as to how far Dr. Bowen is willing to compromise herself. B

DRAMA / PSYCHOLOGY / THURSDAY-SUNDAY NIGHT WHILE KIDS ARE ASLEEP

The Train (1964, 133 Minutes, NR) needs a few minutes to get going, but once it does, it’s pulsating. When the Nazis occupied France in WWII, the generals issued a directive to pilfer priceless museum works of art. Burt Lancaster plays a heroic French-resistance member out to sabotage the Nazi train exodus. This must be done by not blowing anything up – art must be preserved. Paul Schofield, as General Colonel von Waldheim, has a great climactic monologue. FYI, “The Rape of Europa” (2007) is a documentary that chronicles the Nazi art thefts. B

DRAMA / WORLD WAR II / SATURDAY AFTERNOON MOVIE

 

What’s Cooking? (2000, 109 Minutes, PG-13) is a clichéd multi-ethnic Thanksgiving movie – intertwining portraits of Latino, Black, Jewish and Asian progeny. Each family has their own set of problems, you see. Actually all too clearly you do see – right through it. As lazy, I’ve been there melodrama, it might keep you watching apathetically. Joan Chen, Francois Chau, Dennis Haysbert, Alfre Woodard, Maury Chaykin, Mercedes Ruehl, with Kyra Sedgwick and Julianna Margulies as lesbians who come out of the closet. The Asian family with a teen boy packing a gun is the biggest problem child. C

DRAMA / FOOD FOR THOUGHT / THANKSGIVING MOVIE

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939, 100 Minutes, NR, B&W) is the kind of pious, negligible old-fashioned movie biography that’s nearly useless for today’s audiences. Henry Fonda is the young lawyer on the move who demonstrates integrity in his first court case defending two young boys from the death penalty. Directed by John Ford with elementary good taste, nothing more. C

HISTORICAL DRAMA / POLITICS / AFTER SCHOOL MOVIE

Certified Copy (2011, 106 Minutes, NR, French with English subtitles) is a negative emotions French film that solves no ills. An unhappy tetchy woman (Juliette Binoche) persuades an art historian (William Shimell) to spend the day out with her but the romantic prospects gradually decompose. You can’t accuse the dialogue for lacking pungency. But it’s too much of a bitter conceit watching these two switch turns at behaving like jerks. C

FOREIGN FILM / MOODY CHARACTER STUDY / WINTER INTROSPECTION

Red Dawn (1984, 114 Minutes, PG-13) is the blockheaded adventure story of high school kids fighting back against Russian troops that have attacked on U.S. soil. Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen are self-trained soldiers who spend the next several months in the wilderness, with no baths or laundromat to change clothes, to draw up attacks on the Russian troops that have put their Colorado towns under siege. The action is akin to ’80’s Sylvester Stallone shoot ’em ups – implausibly and indifferently. The dialogue is just what you’d expect from typically(!) spited teenagers. D

ACTION & ADVENTURE / MYTHOLOGY / SATURDAY NIGHT SUCKFEST

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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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