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Negotiating Netflix, Perusing Prime

Perusing Prime 2016: Vol 1 – Scott Pilgrim, Four Lions, Cuban Fury, Foxcatcher

I told you we would be back! I’m taking a break from Negotiating Netflix for a brief detour to another streaming service. Amazon Prime has a large selection of films, but there is also some quality drama programmes on there, like Man In The High Castle and Mr Robot, which I will review in my next edition.

So, after Dave’s first perusal last year (click here for a recap) I signed up for the month free trial, and I’ve definitely got my money’s worth! Here’s my first round-up of what’s on offer on Amazon Prime.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World (Edgar Wright, 2010)

Scott_Pilgrim_vs._the_World_teaserThe first film I went for when I signed up for Amazon Prime. I really liked it when I first saw it, but would it hold up 5 years later?

As I seem to say a lot, I’m not a comic book reader, which means I enjoy films like Kick Ass and Kingmsen a lot more than some of my Snooty Usher brethren. It also meant that I came to Scott Pilgrim with a clean slate. Well not quite – Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are tow of my favourite films, so I looked pretty fondly on his first stateside effort. And as a huge Arrested Development fan, I’ve been in the Michael Cera fanclub for a long time.

So it’s no surprise that I loved this film again. Scott Pilgrim has to fight his new girlfriends seven evil exes, while he has a schoolgirl forlornly in love with him. That story is good enough – but the supporting characters (Kieren Culkin is particularly brilliant as Scott’s flatmate) and the music pushes this into modern indie classic territory. An endlessly quotable, hilarious treat.

I’m in lesbians with this movie.

Four Lions (Chris Morris, 2010)

perusing prime 4 lions

Another easy choice when I saw it on Amazon Prime. One of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, and to be honest I don’t even need to review it. It’s funny and that’s all that matters.

But… I need to fill up the bit next to picture otherwise the formatting of the column will go weird, so if you’ve never heard of the film, I suppose I should explain it. Chris Morris is the creator of The Day Today and Nathan Barley, but became infamous for the satirical news programme Brass Eye. The special dealing with pedophilia became the most complained about programme in British TV – but like Four Lions – it was funny! (And of course most of the people complaining about it didn’t actually watch the  show, but that’s for another article). Here he made his directorial debut. The four lions of the title are four would be suicide bombers from Sheffield, who are led by Omar (Riz Ahmed, who made the move to Hollywood in 2014’s Nightcrawler and will be in Rogue One and the new Bourne film later this year) and their comical attempts to plan a terrorist attack.

Obviously not for everyone, but it’s a very funny film: the subject matter doesn’t need justifying.

Cuban Fury (James Griffiths, 2014)

perusing prime cuban fury

And the British comedy connection continues. Back in 2011, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s film Paul was released on Valentine’s Day, and by previewing over that particular half term week, became a huge box office success in what is normally a very slow month. In 2013, A Good Day To Die Hard tried a similar counter-programming release that didn’t work quite as well. Anyway, in 2014 it was Cuban Fury that had the coverted slot, but really underperformed after quite a bit of publicity after getting squeezed out by Dallas Buyers Club and Robocop. But Cuban Fury deserve to get overlooked?

Parks And Recreation’s Rashida Jones (Anne Perkins!) is Nick Frost’s new boss, who is – naturally – massively out of his league. However, when he spots her at a salsa dance class, he is inspired to revist his childhood passion for dancing. It turns into a slightly underwhelming rom-com with Chris O’Dowd as his potential love rival (leading to a hilarious dance-off in a car park, that might go on a bit too long). Ian McShane is scene-stealing as the salsa teacher, playing the role more like a grizzled veteran drill sergeant than typical dancer, and Olivia Coleman is great as ever as the sister who helps Frost reignite his passion and find his lost youth. Also, Bridesmaid’s star Wendi McLendon-Covey has an almost unrecognisable small role as one of the other office workers

Overall a decent comedy, but it could have been even better.

Foxcatcher (Bennet Miller, 2014)

perusing prime foxcatcher

The run of comedies had to come to an end I suppose! Amazon Prime seems to have a wider selcetion of films from the last few years than Netflix, and this was one that stood out. It had plenty of award nominations, with Oscars nods for Carell, Ruffalo, and director Miller, but didn’t actually win that many.

Foxcatcher is the story of John du Pont’s (Steve Carrell) attempt to finance the American Olympic wrestling team, especially helping Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to the 1988 Olympics. Mark, despite being an Olympic champion himself, is in the shadow of his brother David (Mark Ruffalo), and moves onto Du Pont’s estate to being his training with a new team. Eventually the relationship between du Pont and Mark breaks down, leading to du Pont recruiting Dave as a coach, in turn pushing Mark further into isolation. The relationship between the three gets more and more strained, and…well. it’s based on a true story, but I won’t spoil the ending!

This is a really impressive piece of work. There is so much tension, it seeps through the screen, and the relationship between the Schultz brothers really tings true. Mark Ruffalo is great, as is Steve Carrell, but for me Channing Tatum is gives a real star star, an understated performance that shows he has a real talent.

And that’s it for this edition of Perusing Prime. Three really good films, and one that is a perfectly decent way of passing a couple of hours. I’ll be back with another edition of Perusing Prime soon!

I definitely recommend you sign up for the free 30 day Amazon Prime trial. Even if it’s just to catch up on The Walking Dead or The X-Files, give it a go! You can cancel it after signing up to make sure you don’t pay anything, the 30 day free period still runs as usual.

About James is Outta Bubblegum

Favourite Film: This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

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