Netflix is full of wonderful things, and also full of not so wonderful things. We plunge once again into the depths of the streaming service to see what we can find, some we recommend, some not so much. So what did we find this time…
Skin Trade (Dir. Ekachai Uekrongtham, 2015)
For fans of ridiculous films that skip the cinema and land straight on VOD or DVD, this one is for you. Tony Jaa plays a Thai detective and Dolph Lundgren a New Jersey cop, and both on the hunt for a vicious Serbian crime family headed by Ron Perlman, which specialises in human trafficking. After some twists, turns, and inevitable death the cops find themselves in each others way as they go from Jersey to Cambodia to bring an end to the despicable acts of these heinous criminals.
So not only do we have Thai superstar Tony Jaa, legendary expendable Dolph Lundgren and the ever present Ron Perlman but we also get a dash of the underutilised Michael Jai White as an FBI detective assisting in the case. You would think the credentials of this team could result in a hidden gem, but unfortunately aside from some decent action set pieces it’s not much to write home about. Human trafficking is a very dark subject matter, which it shows at times, but then you’ll end a fight scene hearing some hilariously corny lines surprisingly come out of Tony Jaa’s mouth, like “Negotiations over” as he drops a criminal to his death from the top of a hotel. Amongst the litany of VOD action films that star the usual suspects, this film is a touch above your usual stuff with some canny actions sequences and fights. But the overly ambitious globe trotting story and well trodden corruption angles spread this film a bit thin. Then again if you like this kind of thing you’ll be like a pig in shit.
Slow West (Dir. John Maclean, 2015)
This is one of the latest additions to the UK Netflix and with a 83 minute run time you should just watch it. I’m gutted I missed this at the cinema last year because it is easily one of the finest Westerns I’ve watched recently, so much so it made my 10 Must Watch Modern Westerns list. Kodi Smit-McPhee plays the naive young Scotsman Jay who journeys into the heart of the West to find the love of his life Rose Ross. Reluctantly Jay is aided by Michael Fassbender’s mysterious Silas Selleck, who harbours more intentions other than helping Jay.
This is the type of film you stumble across on Netflix, watch and are so so happy you gave it a shot. It’s a solid Western shot against the idyllic but deadly background of the American West that features more than just deserts and canyons. The acting is superb from all involved and features an interesting story that differs from your generic Western. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
Injustice (Dir. Adam Kassen, Mark Kassen, 2011)
Injustice, which also went under the title Puncture, is a David vs Goliath tale based on real events of a small law firm taking on the GPO’s of American medicine. Chris Evans stars as Michael Weiss, a young lawyer with an addiction to drugs and the work he pursues. After coming across a case where a hospital worker contracts HIV from a needle stick whilst at work, he discovers that the Group Purchasing Organisations have refused to adopt a new, safer needle that will prevent thousands of accidental needle sticks every year and save lives. Michael and his firm partner Paul Danziger decide to take on the tremendous task of bringing justice to the hospital workers and exposing the GPOs of their shady work.
With shady corporations, flawed heroes and a whole bunch of bad behaviour this is the type of story that can make an awards contender, but for some reason this little film flew under the radar. It may not be on same scale as something like The Big Short but it certainly gives it a fair whack, just like the David & Goliath story it portrays in the film. It is well directed, well acted, and exposes some horrendous malpractice behind the scenes of an already critically lambasted industry. Evans should most certainly be in more dramatic films such as this, he certainly has a flair for it. Admittedly it may be a little unrefined but that is one of the things which makes these independent films refreshing to watch.
Get Low (Dir. Aaron Schneider, 2009)
As far as interesting tales go this is one of the most individual ones I’ve seen in a long while. Robert Duvall stars as Felix Bush, a Tennessee hermit whose notoriety exceeds only his stone cold presence. Felix cast himself away from the world decades ago, living in a remote house which he built himself with only his mule for company. The people in town have heard stories of Felix, and none of them are good. After a brief fracas in town, and a visit to the local church he decides he wants to have a funeral for himself, whilst he is alive, to set the record straight and to hear the stories everybody has to say about him. The resident funeral parlour ran by Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and Buddy (Lucas Black) is struggling for business and grant Felix his wish. As Frank and Buddy learn more about the life of Felix they begin to realise there is a lot more to his character than simple hermit. Felix harbours a secret, and he will let it all out at his funeral.
Get Low is one of those films you might glance at on a shelf, or watch the trailer once and never think of again, but let me tell you that it is a drama worth your time. It is a small film, about a small town, depicting the lives of normal people. This in essence may not sound exciting but the film is enthralling. The mystery of what Felix Bush had done earlier in his life is something not exposed until the very end, making it a driving force behind the characters actions throughout the film. It also provides an air of intriguing uncertainty watching Felix’s interactions with characters from his past as they talk about life, whilst skirting around the haunting issue bottled up inside him. However that is just one element of the film, the acting by Robert Duvall in my opinion is some of his best, and the support by Bill Murray and Lucas Black is also great. Sissy Spacek also features with a great but small supporting role as a former friend of Felix. Get Low is a truly unique story, and something we are unlikely to see done often again.