A nice assortment of material was added to Netflix this week. Nothing compared to the massive list added at the beginning of the month, but some nice hidden gems here, particularly when it comes to foreign films and documentaries. Let's get right to it, shall we?
If you aren't familiar with Beat Takeshi, you need to remedy that right now. One of my favorite actors, always so intense and powerful, he also directs a lot of his films under his birth name, Takeshi Kitano. Beyond Outrage is one such film, and is the sequel to Kitano's 2010 yakuza thriller Outrage (also available on Netflix). This time, Takeshi plays a police detective pitting two crime families against one another. I haven't seen either film but they both are rated very highly and, honestly, I would watch Beat Takeshi read the phone book (even with subtitles).
This comedy series (currently in its second season, now on FXX) was co-created by Australian stand-up comedian and star, Jim Jeffries. I never got around to watching it before we ditched our cable, but the previews looked funny and I've heard good things. Jeffries stars as a fictional version of himself, as his mother constantly tries to get him to give up stand-up comedy and "go legit." The supporting cast is good, too, including DJ Qualls (Supernatural), Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers), and John Ratzenberger (Cheers).
Not gonna lie — the first Insidious put me to sleep. Maybe I was just tired; I don't really remember. I know a lot of people who liked it so maybe I owe it another chance (although, weirdly, it's NOT available to stream on Netflix). At any rate, here comes the sequel, written and directed by the same team of Leigh Whannell & James Wan. Following the traumatizing events of the first film, this time Josh (Patrick Wilson) "must confront his own horrifying childhood." Wan also directed The Conjuring, which legitimately scared the bejeezus out of me, and he's now finishing up The Fast and the Furious 7. This one got mixed reviews, but I'll give it a watch.
I'm very curious about this one. Directed by Michael Winterbottom (who directed the controversial 9 Songs, among others), it tells the story of a family torn apart when the father is imprisoned for an unspecified drug charge, and the mother struggles to raise their four children alone. It was filmed documentary-style, two weeks at a time over the course of five years, in order to achieve realistic aging and give additional weight to the performances. John Simm (best known to me as The Master on Doctor Who) plays the imprisoned father. As you can see in the banner above, it was a darling of both the critics and the film festival circuit.
The story of how Iron Sky was made is long and winding, and the original version of the film has been on Netflix for awhile now. Plotwise, this is an alt-history sci-fi tale where a group of post-WWII Nazis flee to the moon, spend years building a fleet of spaceships, and return to invade Earth in the year 2018. I never got around to watching it...it's one of those green-screen heavy affairs like Sin City or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and I'm not a huge fan of that style (well, okay, Sin City is pretty awesome). Anyhow, this is a Netflix-exclusive director's cut, which runs 17 minutes longer than the original. And, for what it's worth, a sequel, Iron Sky: The Coming Race, is in the works.
A comedic exploration of male sexuality, this 1998 film is recommended for one reason only: the cast. I haven't seen it (although the reviews are decent), but the ensemble of performers is pretty remarkable. They're all actors who had break-out roles pretty much immediately after this film was released: Kevin McKidd (Grey's Anatomy), Simon Callow (Shakespeare in Love, Doctor Who), James Purefoy (Rome, The Following), Tom Hollander (Gosford Park, Pirates of the Caribbean), and Hugo Weaving (The Matrix trilogy, The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit trilogies). It's always interesting to go back and see actors in their early work, but it's rare to see so many in one film. Definitely not a "must watch," but worth checking out sometime.
I'd never heard of the tragic events covered by this documentary, and that alone makes it worth the watch. In 1985, a group called MOVE, which is a radical "black liberation" group that practices an anti-technology, back-to-nature lifestyle, entered into a stand-off with the Philadelphia police department. After a gunfight, the police made the controversial decision to drop a bomb on the house. Literally. And once it was ablaze, they decided to simply "let the fire burn," killing 11 people (including 5 children) and destroying 60 homes. The film has earned nearly universal praise (97% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). This is definitely at the top of my list this week.
I REALLY want to like this movie. I mean, what a cast: Craig Robinson (who was in the similarly-themed This is the End), Anna Kendrick, John Francis Daley, Rob Corddry, Ana Gasteyer, John Michael Higgins, and Thomas Lennon! Unfortunately, the reviews have been savage, and I can't say I'm surprised. The trailers didn't even look funny:
Nonetheless, I'm sure I'll watch it. I just have to know. I love Craig Robinson, and Anna Kendrick's pretty good, too (Twilight films notwithstanding).
This one came out of left field for me, but it sounds really good. It's a crime film revolving around four distinct story threads, all inspired by recent true events in China. It was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes, and writer/director Jia Zhangke won the Best Screenplay award. It's sitting pretty at 92% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so this is a "must watch" for me.
I'm gonna be harsh on this one: all I know about this Canadian series is that it has some superficial supernatural elements, but it's really just a show about sex. I'm no prude, but if I want to watch people fucking, PornHub is just a click away. I don't mind people having sex in films and TV shows, IF it serves the story. If it's just gratuitous, then I'm not interested. So why recommend it? Because I'm a nice guy; I know some people like it, and they might be interested to know that the third season is now available. Season 4 is currently airing on SyFy here in the states. You're welcome.
I thought Jews were still funny, but what do I know? I mean, Judd Apatow is probably the funniest dude on the planet. Okay, anyway, this is a documentary chronicling the history of Jewish comedy from the early 1900's to the present day. It features interviews and clips from a number of Jewish comics, such as Gilbert Gottfried, Howie Mandel, Rodney Dangerfield, Eugene Mirman, and the great Jackie Mason. Sounds good to me.
Yes, I'm late on this one. The sixth season of everyone's favorite 1960's drama actually hit Netflix on March 30th. I completely forgot about it with all of the stuff added the next day on April 1st. If you need to play catch up (like me), or just want to spend a little more time with Don Draper, you're in luck. And don't forget, Season 7 starts this Sunday on AMC.
Okay, that's it for this week. Did I miss anything? Did anyone ever check out Vampire Prosecutor from a few weeks ago? I never got a chance, but I'm extremely curious about it.
For more news, reviews, blues, moos, and kung fu, follow me on Twitter @barryerice.