Ten Netflix Films in January 2014

         
 

30 January 2014| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Titles I happened to check out on Netflix in the month of January 2014 listed from best to worst:

Ikiru (1952, 143 Minutes, NR, Japanese with English subtitles) is Akira Kurosawa’s fine film about filling in the emptiness of old age. For thirty years Mr. Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) toils as a bureaucrat at Tokyo City Hall without ever having really contributed to mankind or, on a smaller scale, his community. He has been an undistinguished government cog defined by the endless filing cabinets and documents that pile up on top of each other behind his desk. When Mr. Watanabe learns he is dying of cancer, he conjectures the meaning of life, deciding on the idea to leave some kind of imprint on the world before he expires. The good deed becomes the construction of a park. The old man does everything he can, even through sickness, to try to pull this off. You powerfully stir during a shot of snow falling on this old man at the conclusion. A

DRAMA / FOREIGN FILM / MASTERPIECE VIEWING

Ikiru_Flick Minute Review Ikiru_1952_Japan _FlickMinute Review

Ikiru_Flick Minute Review

Empire of the Sun (1987, 153 Minutes, PG) is an overlooked Steven Spielberg classic, the best of his early mature works before he would make “Schindler’s List.” Christian Bale is incandescent in his film debut (at age 13), he delivers my all-time favorite child actor performance as a British boy accidentally separated by his parents in World War II Shanghai, during the Japanese invasion. The mid-section at the prisoner camp is a little draggy (I hate to admit), but there are majestic, lyrical and sublime moments throughout in what is a rare intelligent epic of a boy’s loss of innocence in wartime. With Miranda Richardson, Joe Pantoliano, Ben Stiller and John Malkovich as a survivalist with no class.  J.G. Ballard wrote the autobiographical novel for which this is based. A-

HISTORICAL DRAMA / WORLD WAR II / LATE NIGHT BIG SCREEN TV

Empire-of-the-Sun _Spielberg-poster

Shopgirl (2005, 106 Minutes, R) is a richly visual movie of a bland, lovesick girl (Claire Danes). Desperate, she dates a slacker-loser (Jason Schwartzman) who is so awful that it makes a good case of why it’s good for her to then date a 50-year old multi-millionaire (Steve Martin). But when ground rules and conditions are set on what defines their relationship, it leads to complications and lost time. Martin wrote the very witty script, but this is a very melancholy, even hurtful movie to watch. It’s not a major classic, but it’s a very, very good life lessons piece. B+

ROMANTIC DRAMA / LATE TEENS / LATE NIGHT VIEWING

Shopgirl_Movie Review_FlickMinute

Harry and Tonto (1974, 115 Minutes, R) has had me prejudiced against it for years because it contains the most ridiculous Oscar victory ever: Art Carney for Best Actor over Dustin Hoffman (“Lenny”), Jack Nicholson (“Chinatown”) and Al Pacino (“The Godfather Part II”), it seems to me those giants cancelled each other’s votes out. Viewing this flick again apart from a prism of my Academy Awards complaints, I have fresh eyes for it. Now I find it an extremely well-written and sharp-tongued road movie. 72-year old Harry and his cat travel from New York to California to reinvent himself, and find ennobling truths in other peoples’ lives along the way. Paul Mazurky is the gifted and unsung writer-director who seems to have this wisdom: Old age isn’t for sissies. B

ROAD MOVIE / THINKING TEENS / INSPIRATIONAL WEEKEND

Harry-and-Tonto_ FlickMinute

Short Term 12 (2013, 96 Minutes, R) is so effective in the first twenty minutes you feel like you’ve learned everything about its subject of foster care facilities. Brie Larson is an up-and-coming actress who has finally captured my full attention, she plays a supervisor who takes interest in a very closed-off new girl with past issues of father abuse, which causes Larson’s character to take reflection of herself. B

DRAMA / THINKING TEENS / WEEKDAY SOCIAL ISSUES

Short-Term 12_DVD-Review

The Spectacular Now (2013, 99 Minutes, R) is the latest big deal thinking teens romance, with Miles Teller as a bright student with a drinking problem and Shailene Woodley as an enabler who doesn’t say no to anything. They both have parent issues, but it is Kyle Chandler as Teller’s Dad who is the most intriguingly selfish of parents. Some will complain that the accident that occurs is a screenwriter’s easy plug-in for conflict, but I felt it went well with this story. As truthful as the film is, though, it can be kind of a bummer and I can’t help but feel that overall it is too forcibly sad. But there are some sweet moments in there, too. B

DRAMA / THINKING TEENS / SPRING AWAKENING

Spectacular-Now_ Film-Review

About Last Night (1986, 113 Minutes, R) is the kind of kinky, nudity-laden, but smart rom-com they occasionally made in the 1980’s. Rob Lowe and Demi Moore share heat as a couple who move in together, but social aggravations divide them, particularly their toxic friends James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins. It’s really hard to write a character like Lowe’s who is emotionally immature but is still a believable human being who strives for better behavior. The problem is, the movie is about twenty minutes too long and suffers from 80’s music-montage overdose. Screenplay by Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue, based on the David Mamet play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.” B

ROMANTIC COMEDY / LIFE LESSONS / LATE NIGHT SEXINESS

about_last_night_ DVD-Review

Code 46 (2004, 92 Minutes, R) has a curious and entrancing sci-fi spell, that doesn’t entirely satisfy dramatically and yet I didn’t mind all that much. The future looks much like our own except more bureaucratically regulated. Laws of the future dictate couples are forbidden to reproduce unless their DNA codes are a good progressive match. Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton are not a good-looking couple together, but they regard each other as in love – even though their love is kind of uninvolving and detached. Michael Winterbottom is the globe-trotting director with a fantastic visual eye, and all his disaffected irony is part of the point he’s making. Provokes an intellectual reaction but not an emotional connection. B-

SCI-FI ROMANCE / ADULT ORIENTATION / SATURDAY NIGHT TRANCE-OUT

Code-46_ Underrated-Film

Jobs (2013, 122 Minutes, PG-13) made me initially angry, and I became a little less angry after I learned the movie is historically accurate according to… uh, internet research. The entire time, I never felt that Steve Jobs created anything except boss people around with an egotistical superiority complex. The movie is didactic, bullheaded, narcissistic and sometimes incoherent, too. Ashton Kutcher doesn’t get into the layers of the character, but with this screenplay, how could he? C

HISTORICAL DRAMA / TECH PEOPLE / LATE NIGHT VIEWING

Jobs_Movie-Poster _Ashton-Kutcher_FlickMinute

Porky’s (1981, 99 Minutes, R) isn’t a moral holocaust, but it is equivalent to a power drill to your head to make you stupid. Pee Wee is the one of this six horny teenager pack that has trouble getting laid, and he’s played by Dan Monahan, whom I’m not sure how he’s ever been able to live with himself for doing this movie since. Inexplicably, it was a huge hit at the time, which to me makes it the worst film to ever gross more than $100 million at the box office. D-

COMEDY / BAD MOVIES WE HATE / UNWATCHABLE ANYTIME OF YEAR

Porkys_ FlickMinute-Review_ Bad-Movies-We-Hate

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Reviewer
Sean Chavel
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Ten Netflix Films in January 2014
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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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