Negotiating Netflix Part 2 – Welcome to the second part of our Negotiating Netflix posts, where we trawl through the plethora of films available on Netflix and pick out some films from off the beaten path you should give a watch. Definitely a Cult vibe going on the below choices.
1. Blue Ruin – 2014 (Dir. Jeremy Saulnier)
Both the name of this film and director will be new to most people, ‘Blue Ruin’ had a very limited release last year in the UK and Saulnier’s previous film ‘Murder Party’ was a minor affair. However don’t let the fact you’ve not heard of it put you off, as I found it to be quite the rough diamond.
The film follows Dwight (Macon Blair), an unassuming vagrant who quietly seeks revenge against the man who was convicted of murdering his parents. Unfortunately for Dwight, he is not in your typical Hollywood revenge film. The film plays out fairly low key, as Dwight fumbles along his road of revenge, making mistakes, acting like most common people would. It is this kind of approach to the revenge film which is not only incredibly refreshing but a joy to watch. The direction is fantastic, especially with it being Saulnier’s second film. Additionally the acting is good, but is also what you would expect from an independent film.What makes this film special, above so many other independent films that try different things, is that it seamlessly blends drama, comedy, action & violence without it jarring or conflicting with one another. Admittedly this is not everybodies cup of tea but if you want to dare for something different then ‘Blue Ruin’ is a good shout.
2. Out of the Furnace – 2014 (Dir. Scott Cooper)
Continuing the Southern Gothic trend from ‘Blue Ruin’, ‘Out of the Furnace’ is another tale of revenge that is well worth a watch. With a great cast that includes Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson and Sam Shepard as well as a solid upcoming director in Scott Cooper, ‘Out of the Furnace’ is a film with all the right ingredients. Thankfully the ingredients work together very well.
While Russell Baze (Bale) attempts to piece his life back together after a stint in jail, he is challenged with the disappearance of this troubled younger brother Rodney (Affleck). With little in the way of police leads, and a community that likes to govern itself Russell takes matters into his own hands.
If there is one minor drawback that may affect the enjoyment of this film is that it is the definition of a slow burner. Opting to build the narrative of the story and its characters instead of going headstrong into action, it provides a different revenge vibe than most films that tackle the same subject matter. To be honest we have all seen this story before, but Cooper directs it in a way which makes it feel like a proper, serious affair with weight and emotion. It helps there is a strong cast on hand which is on point throughout to keep things moving along. Woody Harrelson puts in the best shift with his unhinged Harlan DeGroat.I’ve watched this twice now and I thoroughly enjoyed it both times. It may take its time, but it is worth every second.
Do you remember Stephen Sommers? That guy who made hammy, over the top yet entertaining action films? You’d be forgiven if you don’t. He is however the man who brought us ‘The Mummy’ and ‘The Mummy Returns’ and to this date the only person who has successfully resurrected a classic movie monster to positive results both critically and financially. Enough of that though, and more about ‘Odd Thomas’.
The film is based on the book of the same name by Dean Koontz and follows our lead Thomas (Anton Yelchin), a diner cook with clairvoyant abilities. After some mysterious sights and horrifying visions in his small town, he begins to fear a significant evil force is on its way to cause death and destruction.
Now ‘Odd Thomas’ is the absolute definition of a popcorn film, something you can switch your brain off whilst watching and vegetate on the sofa. The CGI is questionable and the plot gets in its own way as it juggles conspiracies but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fun. Maybe it’s the Horror fan in me, or maybe I am more accepting of B-Movies but I sure did enjoy it from start to finish. It has plenty heart and laughs, and feels like it just wants to give you a good time, which it does. I think that this film is readily and available to stream on Netflix now, is doing it more favours than if it was a cinema release. It’s certainly not a classic but it may just surprise you.
4. Night of the Living Dead – 1990 (Dir. Tom Savini)
For those of you who do not know, Tom Savini is a special effects legend and cut his teeth providing prosthetic work for many of the classic horror films you’ve seen. He also played Sex Machine in ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’. As the title suggests this is a remake of George A. Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’, long before any of these modern day remakes that exploit the lack of rights to the title of the film. It also remains to this day the only full length film Savini has directed, which is quite a shame considering this is one of the better Zombie films out there.
The film follows the original premise closely as a group of different people find themselves stranded in a farm house together as they become the target of recently deceased people who have come back to life, hungry for flesh.
Those familiar with the original will not get any more than you might expect from the remake as they are very similar, however the story arcs of some characters are different. Barbara for example actually has some more bite in this version, giving the female characters a bit of backbone before it was popular. As it was made in 1990 we still have the classic form of Zombies which should appeal to the horror purists out there.
With a cast of familiar faces, all before they were famous, such as Tony Todd (Candyman), Bill Mosely (The Devils Rejects) and Patricia Tallman (Babylon-5) it is a decent watch, and one I would recommend for any horror fan out there.
5. Robot Jox – 1989 (Dir. Staurt Gordon)
Long before there was ‘Pacific Rim’ and long before ‘Power Rangers’ was popular there was a little B-Movie called ‘Robot Jox’. A film I personally feel has been crying out for a remake for years. I warn you now, this is no classic piece of cinema, many people will probably think its a bit rubbish, but this is one of those films from my youth that I jist love looking back on.
The film is set in a world after World War III has taken place. To avoid further bloodshed the surviving two factions,the Market & the Confederation fight for land in massive robots, piloted by jockeys called…you guessed it Robot Jox. Achilles is the star jockey for the Market faction and is due for his last contracted fight with the powerful Confederation pilot Alexander. After their first fight ends in the death of thousands of spectators and the result a draw Achilles must get himself ready for a rematch. However there are some wheels of corruption in motion and Achilles must get to the bottom of it.
Fans of Stop-Motion animation are probably already aware of this film, if not, you need to get involved!. The cold war theme of the film is obviously a bit outdated, and special effects has came a long way since then but there are several parts of the film that I feel are still intriguing concepts to this day. The fandom that surrounds these jockeys as they actually fight to the death over land is not only a bit morbid but is still relevant in this age. This is no film just about big robots smashing each other up, this is a film that poses other issues. Not necessarily deep issues but its better than none.
Most people have seen ‘Pacific Rim’ or at least know about it, and its clear Guillermo Del Toro has been influenced by this film amongst others. The success of ‘Pacific Rim’ & ‘Godzilla’ also demonstrates that there is still an audience for a remake of a film like this. Despite being a bit dated it holds plenty of nostalgia, and I still enjoy it now.