Netlflix Selections: Apr 14 – Apr 20

Far Out

As you would’ve noticed I’ve been on and off… here’s my next attempt to turn this writing machine that is my brain back on. I want to keep this netflix column going, so here we go.

Short Term 12 - PShort Term 12

Do you like feeling things? Have you not felt them in a while? Then possibly this one will kick start that good-old emotion engine you’ve been neglecting as of late.

Last year people were really hyping this small indie darling that did a big round of the festival circuit and I was really beginning to worry that it was all hot air. Happily (or not so much if you take on the subject matter as seriously as the film does) the film was anything but that. With some fascinating characters that exist in its world

Laurence AnywaysLaurence Anyways - P

What happens when a man decides he wants to be a woman. More than that, what happens in relation to his girlfriend? His job as a school teacher? His life?

While I don’t think these questions are new to cinema, Laurence Anyways remains an interesting jaunt again into the world of sexuality and society’s view of it.

 

Far Out - PFar Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story

Now for the documentation out there who loves discussing art and the source of passions for the artist this movie is perfect. It deals with the struggles of making art and trying to figure out not just how to inspire it but how an artist deals with this moments of not being inspired.

When you add in the fact that the art we see, as Tomi Ungerer was one of the biggest children’s book writers/artists of his time, is down right phenomenal you can’t help but be intrigued.

Here Comes the DevilHere Comes the Devil - P

Hmmm… Should I recommend this one?

Here’s one that I caught at TIFF 2 years back and haven’t seen since. It’s about a couple of children that are lost one day in a mountain and when found are unlike what they were before. I’m noticing more and more that Mexican horror is becoming more prevalent among the more beloved horror films of today and I really like some of the ideas that this film plays. Especially when dealing with some fears of the unknown as it relates to what you want and don’t want to see in your own home.

It’s really moody, really slow at times, and low budget enough that it could be off putting to some. However, if you’re that guy who digs into horror like the cookie monster does into cookies and you haven’t seen this one then maybe you can give this a try.

As a note while I was off Netflix also added Michael Winterbottom’s EVERYDAY. You should all watch that.

Netflix Selections: Mar 3 – Mar 16

Archer - S3

I feel like I made the right decision to repurpose this column as a bi-weekly post as opposed to a weekly one. So much more content to sift through and share in two weeks than in one (obviously).

While I started this feature to highlight the good that Netflix is for us as media lovers I must say that if you focus mainly on what’s new to the system it can be hard some weeks to find those gems. Regardless here’s what I recommend you take a peek at if you’ve got the time.

Archer - S4 - PosterArcher: Season 4 (TV)

If you’re not watching Archer I weep for you. This show is probably the best satirical spoof spy piece of work that we will ever see. I’m happily enjoying Season 5 (that’s currently airing on FX) where they go Vice; but Season 4 is remarkably special as what we’ve been seeing the first 3 seasons comes to a head in a way that you just can’t imagine.

It’s just funny at it’s best, and if you love cocky one line spitting spies that are actually kind of horrible at their job while being the best (I know that makes no sense, but for Archer it does) have to navigate space, underwater cities and cyborgs then this is the show you’ve been missing all your life.

How I Live Now (2013)How I Live Now - Poster

Here’s a title I caught at TIFF last year and I feel like I’ve mellowed on it from then. The film follows the typical “uppity” American teenage girl who’s asked to spend a summer with her English distant family who happen to live in the countryside. As she’s getting more and more into it, and a certain someone in town, World War 3 (or should I saw WWIII?) breaks out and all hell breaks loose.

The film wasn’t my favourite at the festival and I remain under the belief that it’s an okay film. Which means it’s probably worth a revisit, and more than worth your time if you’ve got nothing better to look at for two or so hours.

Bad Boys - PosterBad Boys (1995)

We love to throw some bad movie jokes at Michael Bay, but what he did with the Bad Boys films are probably the greatest things that could’ve ever happened to action cinema in the 90s.

Martin Lawrence is a forgotten name in comedy, Will Smith is missed at times, but what I love about cinema is that you can always pop in a classic and hang out with those friends you haven’t seen in a while. Here Bay gives us two of the best buddy cops to ever have hit the screen with balls to the wall explosions and car chases in the best of ways.

PS. Bad Boys II is better.

Stir Crazy (1980)Stir Crazy - Poster

If you want to talk about comedy duos then the stint that Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder had together in the the late 70s to 80s are well remembered. Here’s a lesser film of theirs that brought me many laughs in my younger days when they just couldn’t stop playing Pryor’s films on cable.

If you thought Pryor and Wilder were funny on the run in Silver Streak then you should see them when they get put in jail in this film.

Netflix Picks of the Week: Feb 25 – Mar 2

Blue is the Warmest Color

After these first two months of watching the strategies of Netflix and how they throw titles into their magic box for us to enjoy I’m starting to believe that it would be more advantageous for me to make this feature an every other week-ly post… considering it. I realize that I missed last week, while I was deadly (not really deadly) sick and as I skimmed the titles that were released the week previous there was a whole lot of nothing worth sharing, unless I started to point towards just what was available in general as opposed to newly available. Which as I think about it I may start throwing into the mix here.

However, with a new month beginning (the best month) Netflix has thrown a lot of films up (a lot older films) for us all to enjoy. Which gives me a chance to dig around and see what people may have not seen throughout the years. See my recommendations below:

Blue is the Warmest Color - PosterBlue is the Warmest Color (2013)

I finally got to watch this one this weekend gone by, after being one of my biggest regrets from the last TIFF, and while I wasn’t impressed as heavily as many others were with the film as being the reinvention of cinema or whatnot it’s a damn good love story none the less. If you’re in to really intimate love stories and really harsh emotional roller coasters that you’ll buy into it is that and more. Throw in some lady bits and you’ve got a three hour long French film.

 

Dirty Dancing (1987)Dirty Dancing - Poster

“Nobody puts baby in a corner…”

If only all my life situations were solved with that line my life would be set. It’d also be quite boring I feel.

I love this movie. It’s one of those cheesy films from the 80s that works on every level. It’s an engaging love story that you’ll love, it’s a great dance film and it entertains at every corner. If you happen to be that one of your group which hasn’t seen this classic consider yourself primed to give it a click on the Netflix thingy…

The Ice StormThe Ice Storm (1997)

I saw this film for the first time a couple of years ago and I can’t stop swooning over it. Ang Lee has slowly won me over as a filmmaker who’s more and more intricate in how he weaves interpersonal relationships in his films and this is one of his best.

There are so many films that we watch are really just about family. It’s about all of those awkward pauses that you find yourself having in conversations with your family that in any other context with any other person that you don’t know so well would truly be awkward, but since it’s with your family it’s ok. The Ice Storm is a film about the family and how no matter how messed up certain things can be at any given moment somehow they all manage to work out and at the end of the night you’re no longer hating your brother or your son or your mother anymore.

Dr. Strangelove (1964)Dr Strangelove

If only we did satire this well today… that’s harsh, we do, but this one is special to me and I can’t help but think of it as extraordinary in a way that I nostalgically will remember certain films from my childhood and would love to remember them as being that good. This film is transformative. It’s probably the number one film from the 60s that I feel would be the best introduction to young movie lovers who are reluctant to go into canon, because they exist.

Blindspot: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

Sunrise (3)

We see a film every week that dubs itself a study of romance. A film where a man and a woman recognize their differences and settle for the sake of love, this intangible thing that if we could ever so easily define it might solve the world’s problems on a whole in one feel swoop. Or at least that’s what I tell myself at night…

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is that very film. George O’Brien, playing ‘The Man’, is convinced by a mistress he’s seeing who’s on vacation in his town from the big city, played by Margaret Livingston, to drown his wife and run off with her to a much fancier lifestyle. In recent days, spending more and more time with this mistress, The Man and The Woman’s, played by Janet Gaynor, marriage has been going through some strenuous times. She seems to know of his infidelity, even if not specifically in a general sense, and has been saddled with the care of their son with little to no acknowledgement. After being given this plot by his mistress he invites his wife out on a day on the town, planning to drown her while crossing the river. However, along the way – while seeming to reveal his plan through some threatening actions — decides not to kill her and spends the rest of the day winning her over with what seems to be one of the best days of their lives together.

Sunrise (2)

In the Blindspot Series of discussions I’ve talked about Metropolis as well as Sherlock, Jr. as it relates to silent cinema. While I’m not a completely lost individual in it’s ways of storytelling it’s obvious, given the genre’s age, that I am less familiar with it than more modern styles of storytelling. However, with the previous films mentioned, as well as a few other films from that time, I didn’t feel as disconnected as I did from scene to scene as I did with this film. The first fifteen or so minutes of the film felt easily the most arduous as it dealt with one of the least desirable parts of the story that left me wishing it’s absence was an option on the DVD.

Regardless what struck me so starkly are the many moments of visual bliss laced into the fabric of this simple story. While Murnau himself proclaims in the preface of the film the triteness of the story told in this film, “This song… is of no place and every place; you might hear it anywhere at any time,” I’m still amazed by it in the same why that I’m amazed at Almost Famous for giving me a great coming of age tale. From the wonderous overlayed scenes of Man and Wife walking through the fields as the walk through the streets of the city careless of their surroundings while looking lovingly at one another, to seeing the double-exposed film with the mistress holding the man to their plot the night before the big day; the film is a beauty to look at. People love to use superlatives in discussing the cinematography of films as time goes by, I almost want to refuse to allow them as it relates to this film. Just as we forget to use those superlatives as we talk about Kubrick‘s filmmaking I want to forget them with this movie.

Sunrise (1)

Otherwise the film works best when it’s Beforing the story. In the “Before” trilogy – hopefully to be saga in coming decades — we live and die by the great moments of this couple’s day together. They become intimate and close while at the same time being honest and even hard with one another about not seeing eye to eye all the while. In Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans as we follow a man and woman on their day together it can slowly become a highlight reel of just happiness on screen. Even as we see some more comedic moments, like in the barbershop as the two of them take turns becoming jealous watching people dote on each other from a distance, we become invested in wanting these two to have the best day ever; and seeing it come to life is a joy.

As the end of the film comes about, bringing some ironic (but forseeable) twists in the plot, is when the film and I started to part. While I understand it being necessary for the completion of the mistress plot-line it only highlights how unnecessary and undesired it is on the whole. There are other ways for us to have the story ask this man to want to consider leaving his wife in such a dark manner, and while it attributes to a few of my favourite shots of the film it takes away from the “Before”aspects of the film that I love so dearly.

What do you think of Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans?

Every 10 Minutes: Pushing Hands

We all love film for so many reasons, and one of them is the obvious visual element. I wanted, like these individuals, to highlight this idea but at the same time without completely taking and repurposing it.

Then I started to question what if the same progression we witness over the film’s complete runtime was able to be condensed into only a few images, but rather than being selective of those images make it completely structured? What would we notice now that we may not have while watching the film? And this idea is born.

The idea is this, take a film and take a snapshot every ten minutes (as close as possible with my feeble shakey hands on VLC) and play with the narrative and focus of the film. The inagural film will be the 1992 film Pushing Hands.

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An image of kung fu

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Nature

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The existence of kung fu

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Asian American

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Which culture is winning?

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Home

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Togetherness

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American self culture

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Self vs. the Chinese soul

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Natural kung fu and balance

This was a fun experiment right?

Well I don’t know. This film, like a lot of Ang Lee’s early work, focuses heavily on the clashing of American and Chinese cultures. See as Lee is someone who exists in both cultures it’s not surprising. The first seven images all cover aspects of Chinese culture as either images from an American point of view or just sitting in the middle of the American culture. I’m quite stuck by the image of the tea by the mountain of papers of work. As the American thing is the work to get every drop of productivity out while China acknowledges the importance of rest and keeping the body and mind steady so as to keep productivity high when one does work.

Then we’re taken to the kitchen as the Chinese is asked to subdue himself to American work culture and it turns to a fight. Slowly returning to a natural state of teaching Tai Chi and remaining as we saw before, a natural state of peace.

Like most Asian cultures this film respects the balance of life. It shows us this by continually rocking itself out of balance in order to return to it; like the competition of Pushing Hands.

What do you see?