It’s that time again, the Snooty Ushers have been trekking through the grand expanse of Netflix to tell you about films you may not have seen before.
1. The Tall Man (Dir. Pascal Laugier, 2012)
Pascal Laugier, one of the prominent founding fathers of modern French Horror makes his English language film debut with The Tall Man. The film features Jessica Biel as a single mother who lives in an old decrepit mining town where children frequently go missing. None of the missing children have ever been found and the mysterious ‘Tall Man’ is the sole suspect. One night Biel’s child is the next to go missing and she will keep going until she can get him back.
As a Horror fan, I’ve been following the work of a few French directors who have came to prominence with some grisly, hard hitting Horror films and Laugier is one of them. His previous film ‘Martyrs’ is a thought provoking, mysterious and at times tough to watch affair but is great. This follow up doesn’t necessarily reach the heights of ‘Martyrs’ but it is quite a captivating watch.
It features what I personally feel is Jessica Biel’s performance, and it’s setting is incredibly haunting. The wilderness of America has featured in many a survival film but not as much in Horrors, and Laugier makes great use of it here. There are a few twists and turns along the way and overall the film is better than most other horrors that make it to the cinema.
2. The Last Gladiators (Dir. Alex Gibney, 2011)
My knowledge of Ice Hockey is limited, anything I know is down to the films I’ve watched about it (of which there are few) and time spent playing some of the NHL games on the SEGA Megadrive. I popped ‘The Last Gladiators’ to pass some time but it drew me in immediately and never let go. For anybody who has seen ‘The Goon’ starring Sean William Scott, this documentary follows the role of the Enforcer in the sport of Ice Hockey. Enforcers are typically the players who protect the flare players by playing rough on the rink, also frequently fighting to break play up.
The documentary primarily follows the career & life of Chris Nilan, a man who played for the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins & the New York Rangers. The documentary itself would have been good enough if it just concentrated on Nilan himself, but it takes some time out to look at other prominent players who were used in the same roles. Which despite making it a touch fragmented, unfortunately showcases the pressures and problems that seem to specifically gravitate around players who were enforcers in Ice Hockey. A role that many outsiders may look in and think it looks fun or entertaining on the ice, actually turns out to be something so much more off the ice.
I thoroughly recommend ‘The Last Gladiators’ to anybody, you don’t need to know anything about the sport itself, it might even make you want to see more.
3. Hot Rod (Dir. Akiva Schaffer, 2007)
Andy Samberg has exploded into the mainstream recently but before he put his dick in a box, or Samberg’s first proper leading role was in ‘Hot Rod’, an surreal offbeat comedy that follows an amateur stuntman who plans to jump a motorcycle over 15 school buses.
I caught this film when it came out on DVD and I loved it straight away, it has garnered a bit of a following since release and the comedy on offer has become more popular as well. However the comedy is divisive, it’s weird and silly but features great names who thrive on this brand of funny, with Bill Hader, Danny McBride and the other two members of The Lonely Island Jorma Taccone and director Akiva Schaffer among the cast. It also features a classic soundtrack full of songs from Europe. If you like Andy Samberg’s recent stuff then it is worth giving this film a shot, I personally love it but it may be just a bit to offbeat for some.
4. Arbitrage (Dir. Nicolas Jarecki, 2012)
Richard Gere has had his ups and downs, and since 2009 has only appeared in 5 films. One of those was ‘Movie 43’… so technically 4 films and I challenge you to guess the rest. However one of those few appearances was in a little film called ‘Arbitrage’, and it was an absolute cracker.
It’s theatrical run was a blink and you’ll miss it, which is a shame because it is a fine little film. Gere stars as Robert Miller, a hedge fund manager who is looking to sell his trade empire. It is a sale that will make him a fortune. However in the background of the sale and his personal life, Miller is not as clean cut as he makes himself out to be. After a tragic incident Miller tries to cover up his mistakes to avoid the sale from falling through.
On paper the story doesn’t sound that riveting, but it’s a solid thriller that keeps you engaged from start to finish. Richard Gere is perfect for the lead role and completely believable, a solid supporting cast of Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling & Tim Roth helps keep things tense. The film is not a fast paced whodunnit, but a well paced, built up affair that kept me enthralled throughout. The final scene is also one of my favourite end scenes in film (A topic for another day).
That is it from me, check out our other Netflix adventures by checking out our Negotiating Netflix section, and let us know of any gems you may have found, or even ask us to watch something!