Just how many films can you watch in Amazon’s 30 day free trail? Here’s another 4 that I managed to fit in!
Well, here it is: my fourth volume of Perusing Prime, as I look at what Amazon Prime has to offer. The first part is here and the second part (focusing on some of the non-film output) is here. My most recent perusal of prime can be found right here.
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 latest round-up of some of the films on Amazon Prime right now.
Delivery Man (Ken Scott, 2013)
There was one reason I didn’t want to see this film: Vince Vaughn. Specifially that Vince Vaughn on the poster. The character that he found in Old School and has basically been playing ever since. However, his performance in True Detective season 2 (there are lots of problems, but I reckon all of the lead actors came out of it very well) persuaded me to give him a second chance, a bit like Punch Drunk Love did with Adam Sandler*.
This is a remake of director Ken Scott’s French-Canadian film Starbucks, with Vince Vaughn as David Wozniach a delivery driver for his family’s butchers. As a struggling student he had donated sperm to a clinic, and due to a mix-up his sperm ends up being used to father 533 children. He is struggling with debts, and when his lawyer friend (Chris Pratt) suggests they can counter-sue the class action his offspring have filed, he has to go along with it. How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smoulders is his girlfriend, who wants him to be more grow-up.
What seems like the set up for a typical slacker comedy actually takes a serious turn with Vaughn actually dealing with his issues, rather than the usual man-child outcome. Whether or not you like this film will basically come down to one scene, where David meets a severly disabled young man Ryan (Sebastian Rene) who is his son. He basically spends the day with him, awkwardly just keeping him company. It’s a surprisingly risky choice for this type of film, and if it rubs you the wrong way, I can see that this film would annoy.
A surprisingly moving comedy, so it gets a recommendation. There’s a lot of funny parts with David following his children and as it doesn’t chicken out on its grown up ending. I would also not be surprised to see Chris Pratt featured prominently in future marketing of this film, in the same way that when huge stars have an early tiny role in a film they get plastered all over the DVD.
*Just Go With It put an end to that. I did watch The Ridiculous 6, but my days of hoping for anything better from Sandler are long gone.
Before I Go To Sleep (Rowan Joffe, 2014)
Memory loss is a common trope in cinema. Momento is probably the best of recent times, and 2015 series Mr Robot also made use of it, but here is another addition to the genre.
Nicole Kidman is Christine, a woman who loses her memory every night when she goes to sleep. Her loving husband Ben (Colin Firth) has to get her through each day, explaining to her every morning what has happened and why has doesn’t recognise the 40 year old woman in the mirror. Think the horrifying future the couple would have at the end of the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore cutesy rom com 50 First Dates. However, when she receives a call from Dr Nash (Mark Strong), a neurologist who apparently has been seeing Christine for a few weeks and has given her a camera to help record her experiences, we (and Christine) realise that maybe there was more to her memory loss than first expected.
This is a really engrossing thriller (“Hitchcockian” is overused, but could work here) with strong performances from the three leads, and an excellent small supporting role from Anne-Marie Duff. The video camera is a useful device to move the story along, and not too Basil Exposition. I have no doubt that this wold make an incredible stage play, building tension so well. The original book is definitely one I will be adding to my “To Read” list.
A definite recommendation, a real old-style thriller.
The Call (Brad Anderson, 2013)
And another old-fashioned thriller – in a good way!
Halle Berry is a emergency call operator Jordan, who tries to save Carey (Abigail Breslin) when she is abducted and calls 911 from the boot of a car. Jordan realises that the abductor might be the same perp from a previous botched rescue on a call. Her boyfriend, police officer Phillips (the excellently-named Morris Chestnut) and his partner (played by sometime WWE superstar David Otunga) ends up following the clues to try and stop the abduction.
This is a very basic set-up (that sometimes gets called high concept) with two very good performances from Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin. It shows a level of skill that Berry won her an Oscar, and if the film was more “worthy” she would have got more recognition for what is a really strong performance. Breslin too is impressive, in what must have been a very difficult situation of having to act pretty much alone and via the phone. Also, look out for a cameo from The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli.
A definite recommendation.
Fun Fact: This was produced by WWE Studios (explining the rather random tiny role for David Otunga), and its success has basically kept that arm of Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s empire in business.
Man Up (Ben Palmer, 2015)
The Snooty Ushers did a Valentine’s Day special, where we shared our favourite rom-com. It’s not any of the Ushers’ favourite genre, but there are some quality films. Like The Duff: a pretty generic high school rom-com, but very good thanks to a (cliché alert!) smart script and cool performance from Mae Whitman. Also Man Up made Welshy’s Top 10 films of last year, and Simon Pegg is in two of my favourite films (Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz), so I decided to give this a go.
A rather simple premise – Nancy (Lake Bell) mets Jack (Simon Pegg) at a train station, who think she is his blind date. The pair have a great time together, until a weird incident at the bowling alley makes Nancy admit the truth. The two need to collect some lost property, so end up getting involved in an argument with Jack’s ex and her new beau.
Man Up has a great supporting cast, with Rory Kinnear as the bowling alley employee, Sharon Horgan as Nancy’s sister, the awesome Ken Scott as Nancy’s father. There’s also Olivia Williams and Stephen Campbell Moore as the couple Jack and Nancy meet. There are plenty of quotable lines – the script is pretty consistently funny – and the self-help book that indirectly brings Nancy and Jack together is ridiculously over the top, but you believe it could be real. Lake Bell is funny and interesting without being too quirky or smug (flawless English accent too), and Simon Pegg gives a good performance as the conceited, almost cruel, but still good hearted, Jack.
All in all, a refreshingly funny film. A definite recommendation.
So four recommendations, two of which were rather surprising. Before I Go To Sleep and The Call are two old style thrillers. 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.