Earlier today, my fellow intern Josh Cameron shared his very “bro” list of must see movies in 2013. While Josh has reminded us of some great films coming out later this year, he’s implying that I actually have to get off the couch and venture all the way down to the movie theatre. Even worse, he’s suggesting that I actually pay for a ticket?
I think it’s safe to say that no one actually goes to the movies anymore. Also, I’m one of those people that just can’t see a movie without a buttery bag of heart disease by my side, but six dollars for a decent sized bag of popcorn? That hurts my heart more than any disease ever will.
As a fellow superhero geek, I am also anxiously awaiting the release of The Amazing Spiderman 2 and The Wolverine. But what if I take the trek down to the theatre one evening after my exhausting four hours at work, see Wolverine, and decide that it just wasn’t a good film? So in response to Josh’s list, I decided to give the other genres some lovin’ and compiled my own list of film recommendations. This is a range of flicks from your friendly neighborhood Netflix account. So pop your own bag of clogged arteries, get cozy on the couch with a dog at your feet and check out some of these films!
The Avengers (2012)- Remember way back in 2012 when everyone was so psyched to go see the new Avengers movie? Yeah, me too. I particularly remember the night of the premiere. I was at one of the school dining halls with friends. I waited in line for the dry chicken parmesan with Iron Man. At the salad bar, Captain America was drowning his fruit salad with whipped cream. And at the dessert table, Thor was shoving peanut butter cookies into his pocket while one of the union employees scowled in his direction. My point being, everyone was in cosplay, dressed up as their favorite superhero characters because they were so excited to go see the midnight premiere. Going to see The Avengers that weekend was a big deal, and for good reason! It was a really solid superhero flick. So why go see just Thor in Thor: The Dark World when you could watch all of the Marvel characters fight Loki and each other? Directed by Joss Whedon, there is something for everyone in this movie. This is a great film to watch with the whole family from the comfort of your own living room.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)- This is another Joss Whedon masterpiece from last summer. If you throw your five standard horror film archetype characters, add a cabin, some old geezers watching you through hidden cameras and placing bets on how you’ll die, the necronomicon, and every monster imaginable into a blender and forget to put the lid on top…as it explodes on your ceiling, that’s Cabin in the Woods. But what’s so brilliant about the film is that Josh Whedon makes all the characters question “the systematic horror film” within the film. This is a different approach to horror, and it’s pretty genius. I’m not too big on gore in horror films, but the gore in Whedon’s film is minimal until the bloodbath at the end, but that scene is so worth it. Seriously… there is a unicorn.
Slacker (1991)- I was recommended this film by a friend while I was at school. Recently, I took the time to sit down and watch it, and I’m so glad that I did. The camera follows the lives of struggling misfits in Austin, Texas. The film jumps from one character to the next through transitional scenes, but never stays with one character or conversation for more than a few minutes. While the characterization is brief, the few minutes dedicated to each character is well developed, and you become sucked into the dialogue. The characters tend to contemplate government control of the media, social class, unemployment, among other big ideas. It’s an independent film in the sense that the film challenges you by not telling you what to think or how to feel about it. So if you feel up for the challenge, it’s on Netflix. Kevin Smith actually gained his inspiration to write the cult classic (and one of my personal favorites) Clerks after he watched this film.
Clerks (1994)- Clerks is easily one of my favorite movies. I’ve seen it countless times. I remember back in high school I was quoting this movie constantly. It’s such an effortless comedy. The film follows the typical workday of Dante and Randal, two convenient store clerks and the strange customers they encounter.
Kevin Smith actually shot the film entirely in black and white in the convenience and video stores that he worked in in real life. It’s witty but clever and just an overall feel-good movie. The sequel is pretty funny too. Also, Smith’s in the process of writing Clerks 3 now, but the first one is on Netflix. I highly recommend it.
Red State (2011)- Have I mentioned that I love Kevin Smith? Although Red State is very different than his typical style, this film delivers. This isn’t a comedy- it’s more of an action/thriller/horror film that follows the members of an extremist Church that lures teenagers to the church by posing in online chat rooms. The members lure three teenagers into their church with the intent of torturing them and using them as an example. But then the police get involved and the entire plot line escalates into something greater than anticipated. It’s a heavy film, but it’s smart and kind of surprising (but awesome) coming from Kevin Smith. I wouldn’t recommend this for children, at all.
Heathers (1988)- This is a disturbingly delicious black comedy that took the stereotypical high school film and mutilated it with a chainsaw. The film starts out with a similar premise to films successors’ Mean Girls and Clueless (also on Netflix), until everyone begins to drop dead. When Veronica becomes fed up with fitting in with the “Heathers,” her new boyfriend J.D. convinces her that killing the Heathers and staging their suicides is the only option. Director Michael Lehmann makes light of some heavy themes in a clever and funny way. Although the film is from the 80’s, it seems like a breath of fresh air from the whole “Breakfast Club” type genre. Would not recommend this to children.
God Bless America (2011)- I had never heard of this movie before I saw it on my Netflix homepage. It’s a 2011 dark comedy film combining elements of political satire and black humor. When Frank, middle-aged insurance salesman is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, he allows his hatred for pop culture, television, basically America to get the best of him and goes on a shooting spree across America with an admiring teenage girl who is equally fed up with humanity. It was an unexpectedly good film. It has received solid ratings on Netflix. Not appropriate for children.
Big Fish (2003)- I watched this movie when it first came out, and I remember afterwards feeling really inspired. Some would characterize Tim Burton as an auteur director for the recurring Gothic style in his filmography. Granted, I’m not a huge Tim Burton fan, but I believe that his choice of style enhanced the film. The film centers round the theme of recollection between a dying father and his son, but mostly follows the father’s fantastical story of why he was not there for his son while he was growing up. It truly is a touching story with a great cast and some beautiful shots.
Battle Royale (2000)- I think that Josh and I are both looking forward to seeing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (I really liked the books, okay?) However, the second film isn’t coming out until November. Fortunately, I have two solutions. First, The Hunger Games is totally on Netflix. So I’m assuming that the second Hunger Games’ film will end up on Netflix eventually. While the author of the popular young adult novels claims that the premise of the story was entirely her own, coincidentally, the premise seems very similar to the Japanese novel by Koushun Takami. Anyways, Battle Royale is directed by Kinji Fukasaku and follows the same plot line as The Hunger Games, except without the theme of beauty and consumerism. 30 or so young Japanese students are forced by the government to compete in a deadly game. The students must fight to the death and only one will win. The film was highly controversial and was outright banned in several countries. Also, it’s really violent, and by violent, I mean a child’s head explodes about 10 minutes into the film. So, it might be worth checking out if you can stomach the gore.
Melancholia (2011)- When I heard that this film was directed by Lars von Treir, I was a little weary because his films can be kind of slow. (He directed another film called Antichrist with Williem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsburg, which is also on Netflix, but I never got sucked in). However, I ended up really enjoying this movie. The first half of the film follows Justine (Kirsten Dunst) at her wedding reception. During the first half of the film, the audience slowly realizes that Justine suffers from depression and allows her illness to overtake her. The second half of the film follows her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsburg) as she takes care of Justine while the planet Melancholia is on the brink of crashing into the Earth. Stylistically this film is beautiful, but what really made this film for me was the way the film subtly shines light on depression as an illness.
Compliance (2012)- This is an uncomfortably suspenseful film that starts off tense and never lets up. On a particularly stressful day, a prank caller posing as a police officer calls the fast food restaurant’s manager and tells her that one of the teenage employees, Becky, has stolen money out of a customer’s purse and must be detained in the back of the restaurant until the police officer arrives. Feeling obligated, the manager, Sandra complies with the prank caller’s request and Becky is detained. The docudrama is based on the Bullitt County McDonald’s case that occurred in 2004. I believe that sometimes a good film should leave the viewer feeling unsettled. This film leaves an uncomfortable pain in your gut. It strikes a chord, exactly as it should.
Pulp Fiction (1994)- I love Quentin Tarantino’s style, and I love this film. Naturally, I was ecstatic when I discovered that Pulp Fiction was added to Netflix instant. (I mean, I have it on DVD, but Netflix is more convenient sometimes, you know?) Tarantino’s film follows the events concerning two mobsters, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a couple that attempt to rob a diner. The scenes consist of stylized violence and monologues that connect the characters and intertwine the plot lines. I may as well add that Reservoir Dogs, one of my all time favorites and also directed by Tarantino is on Netflix as well. So I suggest a Tarantino movie night.
The Truman Show (1998)- In light of recent events concerning the NSA (National Security Agency), I thought this film was appropriate to add to the list. I always thought this was one of Jim Carrey’s best roles. Truman Burbank is the star of a 24 hours-a-day TV show in which everyone on the set is an actor, including his wife, best friend, and mother. He every action is recorded by hidden cameras located throughout the town which monitor his every move for the viewing public. But as he gets older, Truman becomes more and more suspicious of the staged events that seem to revolve around him and he tries to gain the courage to the town that was built for him. However, the shows producer manipulates every obstacle to ensure that Truman stays and the ratings continue. This is a great movie to watch with the family. It’s a combination of funny and heartwarming.
Raising Arizona (1987)- Raising Arizona is one of The Coen Brother’s earlier films. While the Coen brothers known for films such as the cult classic The Big Lebowski or the western remake (and box office hit) True Grit, Raising Arizona is oftentimes forgotten about among his later works. Nevertheless, I think this film is a gem. I loved this movie when I was growing up. I thought it was so bizarre and funny. When an ex-cop (Holly Hunter) and an ex-con (Nicolas Cage) get together but realize they are unable to bear a child, they help themselves to one of another family’s quintuplets (the most famous family in town). If you’re skeptical because Nick Cage is in this film, you should feel comforted knowing that this is one of his best roles.
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)- When three cynical journalists from a Seattle magazine uncover a classified ad for a man looking for a companion to travel through time with him, they discover a supermarket clerk named Kenneth who seems as weird as his ad in the paper would suggest. However, as Darius gets close to Kenneth, she develops feelings for him and must decide whether or not she wants to get the story and jump start her journalism career or if she wants to travel back in time and see her mother one last time. This is a witty, unconventional film that I got a lot of delight in watching. Although it’s a romantic comedy (I don’t normally dig romantic comedies) Aubrey Plaza from NBC’s Parks and Recreation delivers a really great performance and the whole concept is so unique. I really enjoyed this film.
So between the films that are hitting theatres and those available on Netflix, what films are you watching this summer? And what would you recommend that Josh or I watch?