Tag Archives: Netflix

Movie 43

MV5BMTg4NzQ3NDM1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjEzMjM3OA@@._V1__SX1859_SY847_What I actually wanted to watch last night was Project X, but it wasn’t on Netflix. But the reason I wanted to watch it was that I was watching Iron Man earlier in the evening and thought the Vanity Fair reporter looked familiar. Turns out she didn’t, but I saw Movie 43 in her credits, which reminded me of Project X. Because, you know, generic titles and all.

Movie 43 is a series of comedic shorts tied together by a movie pitch plot[1], and… well, let me offer you this quick guide. If you’ve ever wanted to see Anna Faris as a coprophiliac, or if you’ve ever wanted to see Halle Berry make guacamole with a breast prosthesis, or if you’ve ever wanted to see Hugh Jackman being a literal dickhead, you should watch this movie. If you actively want to avoid seeing those things, you should not.

This doesn’t feel like a “middle ground” type of situation, you know?

[1] No, seriously, it’s not a V/H/S sequel, and I’m pretty sure this is not the only kind of movie I watch anymore? Pretty sure.

 

V/H/S/2

MV5BODg4OTMxNDAxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjM4ODQ0OQ@@._V1__SX1859_SY847_I know what you’re thinking. Why am I reading a review about a crazy former hot werewolf when I was promised a review explaining how V/H/S maybe actually does make sense as a series?[1] Answer: I can’t[2] review things out of order, can I? And I watched that other movie in between because my girlfriend was over, and she had not even seen V/H/S, so I couldn’t very well throw her right into the middle of things, could I?

But then, a night or two later: here we are. The open question is, does V/H/S/2[3] make a damn lick of sense, and, even trickier, does it retroactively make its precedent make sense? That’s what we in the radio business call a tease[4]. First, I will say that all of the short films that tied the sequel together were as skin-crawly and engrossing as last time. (Well, one of them had a monster that should never have been shown closely and in slow movement, but that was like the last 15 seconds and did not ruin the Lovecraftian splatterfest that had gone before.) I don’t know if it’s that most horror movies are too long and the compactness packs a punch, or if it’s that the first person nature of all found footage movies makes me identify more closely with what’s going on, or what, but these stories, one and all, were genuinely disturbing.

Okay, I’m doing it for real this time. Yes, there is a small degree to which the cohesion stories about finding these houses full of screens and creepy tapes does make sense now that did not exist last time, and it even sort of works retroactively. It’s a pretty small degree, but still, if you were really here because you desperately wanted to understand the underground world of tapes of supernatural events, you would hate these movies I think for their inability to deliver. And since that’s the only way they don’t deliver, well then.

[1] Well, correction: I know what you were thinking.
[2] Well, correction: I don’t
[3] These movies are irritating as fuck to type out, b/t/w.
[4] Well, correction: they in the radio business.[5]
[5] I know what you’re thinking this time, too. And no, I really have no idea what I’m doing, much less why. You gets what you pays for.

88 (2014)

MV5BMjM2ODQxMjU3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzc1OTE2MzE@._V1__SX1859_SY847_Remember Ginger Snaps? I do, very fondly, even if my viewing of the original movie barely predated my starting to review things. Remember Ginger? ….no, not from Gilligan’s Island, this Ginger, the one I was literally just talking about? My point is, Katharine Isabelle’s face was tugging at my recollection the whole time I was watching 88 on the strength of its Memento-like description on Netflix.

To be clear, this is no Memento. But it does have a cool fragmented parallel story structure where you can’t tell what’s real. The hot girl in the poster (Ginger, you guys, why is this not sinking in?) has obviously had a psychotic break[1], but still, something you’re seeing must be real, surely! And it’s pretty fun trying to figure out what. Long story short, I’ve made bigger Netflix mistakes than this.

[1] Sounds like a spoiler, possibly is a spoiler, but they say it in text at the front of the movie before you’ve even seen her come to herself, confused, in front of a stack of pancakes.

V/H/S

MV5BMTUwODAxMzMwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTk3MTQ5Nw@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_I was so confused by the overarching “plot” of V/H/S that I watched the sequel before writing this review, in the hope that it would clear things up for me. Answer: maybe it did? But since I’m going to end up writing two reviews anyway, I may as well wait ’til then.

Anyway, there’s this group of punks with a camcorder documenting their asshole exploits and re-editing them together in exactly the sort of way that someone with a VHS camcorder would never, ever do. Then, later, they break into an old abandoned house. The IMDB summary says they were being paid to find something, but if that was actually communicated in the movie, I sure missed it. What they do find is a dead guy who was watching about 15 TV screens all hooked up to VCRs, and surrounded by piles of VHS tapes. Then, while all the other punks search the house for whatever it was they were looking for, one of them sits down to watch some of the tapes, which is the actual point of the movie, because they portray various horror short story events that are clearly set in a future beyond when anyone would be filming their exploits on a VHS camcorder. (Plausibly, I am thinking about this too much.)

The important part, though, is that the short story segments were really well done, scary, suspenseful, and affecting in the way that I always want my horror to be and it so very rarely is. So, if you wanna watch something modern and reasonably frightening (and with an adequate amount of breasts, which like being scary have also abandoned the horror scene of late), this is your movie. Just don’t try to understand anything that’s going on outside of the short stories.

The Interview (2014)

MV5BMTQzMTcwMzgyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzAyMzQ2MzE@._V1__SX1859_SY893_I want to say that The Interview was helped a great deal by the North Korean hacking incident and all the related press. After all, I probably would have skipped the theatrical release, and yet I saw it last week instead. But, then again, I didn’t see it at the theater, and I assume they don’t get nine bucks or whatever when it’s streamed on Netflix. So, y’know, probably some kinds of press are bad press after all?

Which is to say, other than all that money they probably lost, the only obvious difference between the two timelines is I saw the movie and have to write this review. And… it made me laugh quite a bit. I’m not precisely recommending it with that statement, but if you’re not allergic to the type of movie Seth Rogen and James Franco would make, I can definitely say that the movie is a lot deeper than the previews for it indicated. And the previews are why I would originally not have bothered to see it by now. So… I guess I am recommending it after all? Yeah, pretty much.

At least, it definitely didn’t feel like a waste of time. And can you ask for more than that? Not very often!

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

MV5BMTYyNzUxMzc1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDE3MDM3Mg@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_This is weird. On the one hand, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a perfectly serviceable spy movie, in the fish-out-of-water subgenre. It hits all the right beats, it has compelling stakes, both international and personal, and it’s a story worth telling. On the second hand, it’s also a perfectly serviceable Tom Clancy prequel never written, if for some reason you didn’t like that The Hunt for Red October covers the same territory or (more likely) you cannot successfully launch a new franchise reboot while treading international political waters that are 25 years out of date.

The problem is that, despite both of these things being true, the confluence of them feels unnecessary. I mean, I’m completely fine with a Jack Ryan reboot and I hope it worked out and there will be more, because I liked the characters and the premise and I want to see more. Nevertheless, if they had not tacked the name onto the title, I never would have felt like this was a Clancy ripoff. It just did not, in ways I cannot easily express, feel like a Tom Clancy story. This is not, per se, an indictment. Like I said: pretty good movie. I just feel weird saying I liked it without saying that it was also inexplicably branded.

If there are more, I think I hope they feel more Clancyish. Because otherwise, what was the point, really? Oh, but before I forget: Kenneth Branagh did a great job of acting a character that deserved a bigger arc. I cannot speak to his direction because, clearly, the film has left me bewildered for reasons that are unrelated to its factual quality.

Pontypool

MV5BMTYyNzUxMzc1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDE3MDM3Mg@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_How to write a review of something that you’d prefer to say literally nothing about, and in fact regret having put genre tags down for? It’s a tricky conundrum, is what. Well, that’s not fair. It’d be very, very easy if I didn’t care whether you watched it, but the truth is that you should, because it’s a very intriguing premise and execution.

Pontypool is, aside from being a movie, a very small town in Ontario. I know this because about twenty minutes into the movie, I looked it up out of curiousity. From my ability to extrapolate Google Maps into the real world, it should have maybe one stop light that goes to flashing after sundown. Four square blocks? Big enough to have a radio station, which is relevant in that the entire course of action occurs in the local AM station, where smooth-voiced news host Grant Mazzy, um, reads and hosts the news on the morning after he has an inexplicable encounter on a foggy road during his commute. For the rest… I want to say nothing, but I can’t justify saying nothing, so I’m going to quote the opening paragraph of the movie, which is Grant broadcasting on a day recently prior to the day the movie takes place. If you can dig the quote, I reckon you will dig the movie.

Mrs. French’s cat is missing. The signs are posted all over town. “Have you seen Honey?” We’ve all seen the posters, but nobody has seen Honey the cat. Nobody. Until last Thursday morning, when Miss Colette Piscine swerved her car to miss Honey the cat as she drove across a bridge. Well this bridge, now slightly damaged, is a bit of a local treasure and even has its own fancy name; Pont de Flaque. Now Collette, that sounds like Culotte. That’s Panty in French. And Piscine means Pool. Panty pool. Flaque also means pool in French, so Colete Piscine, in French Panty Pool, drives over the Pont de Flaque, the Pont de Pool if you will, to avoid hitting Mrs. French’s cat that has been missing in Pontypool. Pontypool. Pontypool. Panty pool. Pont de Flaque. What does it mean? Well, Norman Mailer, he had an interesting theory that he used to explain the strange coincidences in the aftermath of the JFK assasination. In the wake of huge events, after them and before them, physical details they spasm for a moment; they sort of unlock and when they come back into focus they suddenly coincide in a weird way. Street names and birthdates and middle names, all kind of superfluous things appear related to each other. It’s a ripple effect. So, what does it mean? Well… it means something’s going to happen. Something big. But then, something’s always about to happen.

Rubber (2010)

MV5BMTU2Nzg2NDQ2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDk5MjMzNA@@._V1__SX1859_SY847_I find myself with more time to look at Netflix lately, he lied glibly. No, but seriously, what I mean is what I’ve always claimed: I’ll watch movies at home if there’s someone to watch them with, and lately there has been. In fact, I’ve probably missed a couple of reviews, but my commitment is returned; from here on out, new-to-me movies will happen on Netflix viewings too. (I’m streaming these days, though; I gave up on my ability to return DVDs like a year ago.)

Therefore, I watched Rubber last night. Rubber is a horror movie about a tire that rolls around the desert, killing people. No, seriously. It’s somehow a great deal more than that, though. See, there’s a monologuing sheriff, a Greek chorus of sorts, a sometimes naked French lady, and metareferentiality that goes so deep it actually turns inside out on itself. If you liked carrying around no tea for the duration of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Infocom game, or if you like absurdity for its own sake, or if you like watching things explode, this movie is for you.

If you would spend the entire movie asking why there’s a tire with motivations and psychokinetic powers in the first place, this movie will try very hard to be for you anyway. If you let it. It’s an 80 minute flick that felt like it lasted less than an hour, though, and I mean that as a compliment. So maybe give it a try?

Dead Like Me: Life after Death

One upon a time, there was a television show in which the always enjoyable Mandy Patinkin (as Rube) wrangled a group of grim reapers, those randomly selected dead who remain alive to harvest the souls of the living as part of the cycle of life and death. Think the personification of Death, if it were a worldwide non-profit business organization instead of one guy in a robe, or perhaps girl wearing an ankh and black casualwear. Anyhow, Mandy was the district manager for this group of people assigned to handle accidental deaths in the Pacific Northwest, and the series opens on one such death of a teenage girl and focuses on, in addition to the reaping, Georgia Lass’s slow process of moving on with her life after death, and on her family’s slow process of coming to terms with their dead daughter. It was a good, funny, occasionally moving show.

In the curse of time, it was canceled, as tends to happen. And then, unexpectedly, a direct-to-video movie was made. Life after Death covers a couple of plotlines, one following Rube’s replacement as the regional boss and one following George’s assignment to reap a teenage boy who happens to be her sister’s boyfriend. The second plotline was everything that I would look for from the show when it was on, funny and moving all wrapped up in one well-written package. The first one, on the other hand, was meaningless from start to finish. There was no good explanation for or resolution of Rube’s disappearance. The remaining side characters all ditched their past motivations, in ways that are slightly believable, but only if I fill in the gaps for myself; the script did not explain adequately. And the resolution felt episodic rather than like its own story; that is, the situation at the end of the story was exactly the same as it had been at the beginning. Which I assume was an effort to leave a space for Mandy to return if another movie is made, because his absence was a glaring hole. But it still made what was half of a good movie turn into half of a good episode and half of a terrible one. The idea of a film doesn’t offend me, but if it’s only going to be a long episode, they should bring the series back instead. And write it the better way it used to be written!

Lost and Delirious

MV5BMjYzMDk0NDEzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzQzNTcxMTE@._V1__SX1217_SY887_My latest Netflix movie is Lost and Delirious. And I’ve watched it, which was a positive experience. Yet I have been staring at this mostly blank screen for the majority of the day. I think it’s that my opinions are too many and too contradictory. In short, the chick from The O.C. is sent to an all-female boarding school, where she becomes roommate with a pair of seniors, one hard-nosed and feminist, the other vivaciously popular. At first, it looks like one of those coming-out-of-the-shell stories in which Mischa Barton would have been the main character embarking on her journey toward personhood. Then, at the end of the first act, it veers sharply into one of those obsession thrillers in which our purported main character mostly serves as the audience’s window on the action when it is revealed that her roommates are engaged in a sexual relationship.

And I think it could have made a fine obsession thriller too, except that it couldn’t make up its mind to commit to that. For every scene in which a new boyfriend is about to die in a sword fight and simply isn’t taking it seriously enough yet, there are three in which someone screams and runs out of a room / across the school lawn. And it’s not like that’s unrealistic high school obsessive behavior; it’s that the swords and the pet falcon are, and after it was hinted that I might get that movie, it became the one I wanted. Still, what was left behind was good stuff. Surprisingly good acting from a variety of very young actresses, modernly relevant sociosexual politics, not terribly many overwrought or thematically pushy scenes. And, y’know, sword fights.