Another month has passed, which means that another batch of movies has been added to or added back to Netflix’s Watch Instantly streaming service.
Looking for a few that will be worth spending your time on? Obviously. And you’ve come to the right place, because we’ve got mad recommendations for good movies on Netflix this month. As always, click on the films’ titles to be taken to their Netflix page so that you can add them to your My List.
Pick of the Month:
Seeing as Like Someone in Love didn’t get its (very) limited US release until 2013, technically we can call it one of the best movies of last year. Which we should, because it is, quite simply, one of the very best movies that came out in this country last year, and there are still far too many film fans that haven’t gotten a chance to see it. Hopefully that’s going to change now that it’s streaming on Netflix. Providing easy access to independent and foreign cinema, even to those of us living in the middle of the country, is one of the coolest side-effects of this digital age we’re living in.
What do you get when you let Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (Certified Copy) shoot in Tokyo? This gorgeous movie, which uses the lights and windows of the city to create a layered, enveloping world that looks like the one we live in, but maybe from a different angle than we’ve ever seen it from before. The story here is about an unlikely friendship that forms between an aging university professor (Tadashi Okuno) and a young prostitute (Rin Takanashi), but really it’s about much more than that. It’s about the self-destructive decisions we make in the name of our egos and neuroses, the relationships we form and destroy at the whims of our desires—basically it encapsulates the vast complexity of the entirety of human relationships. It’s at the same time beautiful and heartbreaking, and it shouldn’t be missed. Everyone involved is so talented, and everyone involved is in top form.
There are maybe a million movies out there about a group of young city kids who take a trip out to the country and end up getting chopped up by inbred bumpkins. What sets 100 Bloody Acres apart from the rest is its sense of fun and the way it’s able to weave humor into a story about a couple of organic fertilizer manufacturers who make their product by grinding up people and turning them into plant food.
Damon Herriman is charming and entertaining as the bumbling goon of the operation, Angus Sampson is appropriately intimidating as the heavy, and the trio of actors who play the unfortunate youngsters who get caught up in their backwater world aren’t too bad either. Co-writers/directors Cameron and Colin Carnes have made a fun movie with a lot of personality here. There’s even a bit of a Looney Tunes tone to the way all of the grizzly slaughters go down. Give it a try.
With Big Bad Wolves, co-writers and co-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado say that they set out to make the most dark, twisted, and inappropriate movie they could, in order to embarrass their parents and get revenge for all of the freaky fairy tales they were told as kids. Mission accomplished.
This crime thriller is dark—pitch black—and contains instances of rape, murder, and torture so extreme and disturbing that most audiences would be completely turned off by watching it. Thankfully, we’re not most audiences, are we? We are film fans, and we thrive on the weird. If you’re up to the material, check out Big Bad Wolves, because it’s really well-made, surprisingly funny for being so disturbing, and it just may be the best film at building tension that’s been released this decade.
It’s true that Candyman probably isn’t the best movie in the world when you look back on it, but if you were a young person in the early 90s, chances are you were pretty into this thing, and it does hold up as an entertaining enough horror movie when you watch it with modern eyes.
I still find it to be a phenomenon that whenever you’re out of town and you tell someone that you’re from Chicago, one of the first things they always ask you about is the housing projects Candyman was set in. This movie really stuck with people. Which makes sense, because the urban setting is fairly unique for horror, and the Candyman himself (Tony Todd) does make for a pretty memorable horror movie monster. For a whole generation of kids, saying “Candyman” into the bathroom mirror replaced saying “Bloody Mary” because of his performance. That’s pretty impressive for a little horror flick about a guy with a hook for a hand that became a ghoul after he died from a bunch of bee stings.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 modern fairy tale Amélie is so charming and delightful that you’d basically have to be a monster to not like it. This film that he co-directed with Marc Caro, comparatively, isn’t quite so easy to love, seeing as it’s about a creepy mad scientist kidnapping little children and stealing their dreams in a nightmare urbanscape instead of being about a cherubic young woman finding love in an idealized version of Paris—but it puts no less imagination on display and it’s no less interesting to look at, so everyone should give it a chance. too.
Actually, “no less interesting to look at” is putting things mildly. This is basically the ultimate example of production design porn for everyone out there who gets into things like sets and costumes. The world created here is so expansive, detailed, and imaginative that you could get lost in dissecting a single frame for hours. Plus, Jeunet and Caro had the good sense to cast Ron Perlman as a circus strongman, and how could anyone get mad at that?
Oh man, where does one begin when they want to gush about how underappreciated and entertaining Diggstown is? Do you “dig” (sorry) into how likable James Woods is as a sleazy conman? Maybe talk about how fun it is to watch Louis Gossett Jr. playing a grizzled old boxer named “Honey” Roy Palmer? Perhaps you talk about how it’s got Bruce Dern playing a crooked rich guy who rules over a small town like he’s its king? That dude really needs to get knocked down a peg.
Whichever flavor of acting is your favorite might not even be a concern, though, because Diggstown is a movie about a ridiculous high stakes bet that an old man can box ten young thugs in a row and beat them all, and that’s just too dumb to not be inherently entertaining, even if it didn’t include all those great actors. Okay, so honestly the best thing about Diggstown is a fresh-faced Heather Graham playing a sassy young spitfire.
With his first feature, The Dirties, young Matthew Johnson has already established himself as a triple threat talent. He directed this film, he served as one of its writers, and he appeared as one of its stars. And heck, he’s got a producing credit and an editing credit on it, too, if you want to get technical. This movie isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely an impressive debut from a young filmmaker.
It’s a story about a school shooting that’s told from the perspective of the kid planning the shooting (Johnson), and it’s filmed in a sort of pseudo-documentary style like what The Office made popular for television. The best thing about The Dirties, aside from the fact that it’s a compelling depiction of modern teenage nihilism and narcissism, is how accurately it portrays how punishingly annoying it is to spend time with teenage boys, because Johnson is either an amazing actor or one of the most irritating little doofuses in the world. It’s fun to try to figure out which.
Forrest Gump starred one of the biggest actors in the world, it won the Academy Award for Best Picture, it became ubiquitous, it spawned a national restaurant chain and inspired a Weird Al parody, and hacky amateur comedians still quote it whenever they see someone running a lengthy distance. Chances are you’re familiar with it.
Given its unheard of takeover of the mainstream, however, you might have forgotten how much of a legitimately good movie it is. There’s been a bit of a backlash. Sure, Gump might be really saccharine, but that doesn’t matter so much when it’s also legitimately touching. Sure, its soundtrack might be a little cloying and on the nose, but can you fault it for that when it was able to successfully create so many iconic moments? It’s probably time that we as a culture forget about all the other movies Gump beat out for awards, take a fresh look at it, and remember that the reason it was so successful was that it really did connect with so many people. And, if for nothing else, watch it again for Tom Hanks, Sally Field, and Robin Wright, who all give legitimately great performances in it. Just hit mute during the box of chocolates line. We won’t make you sit through that one again.
The most interesting thing about From Dusk Till Dawn is how it takes a complete left turn somewhere in the middle of the movie and goes from being a pretty straight crime tale about a pair of escaped convicts (George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) evading the law into becoming an insane action/horror flick where vampire hordes attack the main characters out of nowhere. Only a filmmaker as steeped in exploitation cinema as Robert Rodriguez would have the guts to try to pull something like that off, but pull it off he does.
From Dusk Till Dawn is tons of schlocky fun. Sure, there are some gross scenes where you have to watch Tarantino indulge in his foot fetish, but that’s made up for with an amazing scene where a young Salma Hayek dances in her underwear while holding a snake. That’s everyone’s fetish. And who doesn’t think Clooney looks super-handsome with his brow all smugly furrowed while he’s wearing a suit? Exploitation staples like Danny Trejo, Tom Savini, and Fred Williamson serve as the icing on the blood cake.