At last, Netflix had a quiet week. But that's okay; it gives us all a chance to catch up on the stuff we've been meaning to watch for weeks. And it gives me a chance to share a couple of different items toward the end of the column. But, for now, let's get to the new releases:
Written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this indie film was highly-acclaimed when it released last year. Gordon-Levitt stars as Don Martello, a man who has no trouble with the ladies but is far more interested in his online porn addiction. Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore co-star as two new women who enter Don's life and force him to question his lifestyle. It looks lighthearted and funny, and I've been wanting to see it for a while now, so I'm pleased to find it on Netflix. Plus, Tony Danza has a minor role as Don's foul-mouthed father, and I have a weird thing about seeing formerly family-friendly TV stars in R-rated roles.
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore. Written by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Rated: R. Runtime: 1 hr 30 min. Released: 2013.
Based on the best-selling book series by author Dean Koontz (AKA "the other horror writer besides Stephen King"), this movie has had a torturous development cycle and was barely released at all. Written and directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), who has never made a good movie, and starring Anton Yelchin (whom I enjoyed in Fright Night and Star Trek), it tells the story of a short order cook who uses his ability to communicate with the dead to fight an evil force. Or something. Honestly, it was hard to glean what exactly it's about. At any rate, it's apparently so bad that it debuted on cable overseas and was given a very tiny U.S. theatrical release in February. Still, I've heard good things about the books, and my curiosity is overwhelming me, so I'll be checking it out.
[UPDATE: For the love of all that is holy, do NOT watch this film. I just sat all the way through it, and it is unequivocally one of the worst pieces of shit I have ever seen. Everything about it is terrible: horrendous acting, nonsensical script, over-the-top direction, nerve-grating music. Avoid at all costs.]
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Willem Dafoe, Addison Timlin. Written by: Stephen Sommers. Directed by: Stephen Sommers. Not rated. Runtime: 1 hr 36 min. Released: 2014.
XIII: The Series
I came to know about XIII in an unusual way. Originally a Belgian comic book released in the 1980's, it was a 2003 video game adaptation that first captured my attention. It was mostly ignored by everyone else, but I loved that game. David Duchovny and Adam West did the voicework, and it was one of the first games to use animation-style cel-shading graphics.
At any rate, I've always intended to go back and read the source material, but I've still never done so. I didn't know it at the time, but the story is heavily inspired by Robert Ludlum's "The Bourne Identity," focusing on an amnesiac special agent involved in a massive government conspiracy.
In 2008, the story was adapted into a mini-series for French and Canadian television called XIII: The Conspiracy, starring Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer. Just like the original comics, I've never gotten around to watching it, even though it's been available on Netflix for a while. Thanks to the success of that mini-series, a weekly TV series was commissioned in 2011, with Stuart Townsend taking over for Stephen Dorff. Now, both seasons of XIII: The Series are available for viewing. I have some catching up to do.
Starring: Stuart Townsend, Aisha Tyler, Roxane Mesquida. Episodes: 26. Seasons: 2. Runtime (per episode): 44-47 min. Released: 2011-2013
I don't know about you, but I'm just about tired of hearing about Shia LaBeouf and his ridiculous antics. This was one of the recent films where his behavior off-set was just as bizarre as it was onscreen. During scenes depicting LSD use, LaBeouf actually took acid in order to further the authenticity. Whatever. Described as a "romantic" film, LaBeouf plays Charlie, an American who falls in love with a Romanian girl with ties to a violent criminal underworld. It co-stars Evan Rachel Wood, Harry Potter's Rupert Grint, and Mads Mikkelsen (who is killing it on NBC's Hannibal). There was another minor controversy around a scene featuring LaBeouf performing oral sex on Evan Rachel Wood, which had to be cut in order to receive an R rating. The reviews were not kind, but I'm curious enough to give it a go.
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Rupert Grint. Written by: Matt Drake. Directed by: Fredrik Bond. Rated: R. Runtime: 1 hr 43 min. Released: 2013.
Since those are the only new releases worth talking about this week, I decided to dig through the existing Netflix catalog and find a hidden gem that just hasn't been seen by nearly enough people. It wasn't long before I had the perfect choice:
Klown is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Period. Yes, it's Danish. Yes, there are subtitles. Get over it. It's fucking hilarious and incredibly, unbelievably filthy. Seriously, do NOT watch this one with the kids in the room. It makes the recent rash of R-rated Hollywood comedies look absolutely tame by comparison.
Based on a Danish sitcom titled Klovn, Klown stars Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen as fictionalized versions of themselves on a camping trip gone horribly wrong. If you haven't seen it, I implore you to give it a shot. If you have seen it, maybe it's time to watch it again.
Oh, and for the record, there is an American remake in the works with Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy) directing and Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down) starring, but there's literally no way it will be as raunchy or funny as the original.
Starring: Frank Hvam, Casper Christensen, Marcuz Jess Petersen. Written by: Casper Christensen, Frank Hvam. Directed by: Mikkel Nørgaard. Rated: R. Runtime: 1 hr 31 min. Released: 2010.
I have one last thing to share this week. We've all had those nights where we spend more time looking for something to watch than we do actually watching anything. Well, enter Netflix Roulette.
It's simple: using your existing preferences and watch history, Netflix Roulette will randomly select a movie or TV show for you to watch. Don't like its suggestion? No problem. Just roll again and see what you get. If nothing else, it's an easy way to force a decision.
That's it for this week, folks. Anything I missed? Disagree with my musings? Post a comment below and let's hash it out.
To play "lame tweet roulette" with me, follow me on Twitter @barryerice.