by Brian Kelley
While blockbusters battle it out on the big screen, some of the best of what to watch is at home, streaming directly to your TV.
In the past couple of weeks, Netflix has added a plethora of stellar titles to its instant library including a rock n’ roll redemption documentary, a dark and hilarious animated feature and an overlooked Friedkin title.
The New and Noteworthy
Last Days Here (2011)
When we first meet Bobby Liebling, frontman for heavy metal band Pentagram, he is barely more than some tattered skin haphazardly thrown on top of a pile of bones. Years of drug abuse fueled by regret over a superstar career that almost was has left the singer a drain on his parents (in whose basement he lives) and his friends.
His manager, Sean Pelletier, displays unfathomable patience as he works tirelessly to get Liebling and Pentgram back on the map. Through the course of Last Days Here the unthinkable happens as Liebling goes from scouring the carpet for crack rocks to thrilling packed houses of fans. While the overall arc is predictably one of hope, it is the wild twists and turns through the course of the journey , though, that make the film truly remarkable.
Idiots and Angels (2008)
The lead character in Idiots and Angels is a constantly infuriated gun dealer, a misanthrope whose interactions with other people are typically violent and explosive. When he wakes up one morning to find tiny wings growing out of his back his first reaction is to shave them off. They grow back and each of his attempts to remove them is met with bigger replacements. As he is mocked by others (whose jealousy is very thinly masked) he soon finds the wings not only blocking him from committing evil acts but forcing him to do good ones.
Refusing to allow the film to become a neatly wrapped-up parable about good and evil, master animator Bill Plympton injects his famous inventiveness into every moment of Idiots and Angels. The film is free of dialogue and the artwork is immediately identifiable as Plympton’s. While darker, Idiots and Angels is lacking none of the charm, wit and passion present in Plympton’s previous works and is an animated experience of the highest order.
Other additions of note: Thunder Soul, The Haunting of Julia, Sound of Noise, Big Doll House, With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, Beautiful Boxer, Small Soldiers, Bullhead, God Bless America, The Day of the Jackal, Capote, Sabrina (1954), The Future
From the Vault
Rampage starts with a series of brutal murders – a kind looking man named Reece (played to chilling perfection by Alex McArthur) shoots someone, slices up the body, drinks some blood, and escapes. The movie takes the procedural route as the police seek out the killer and are a few steps behind as he commits murder again (acts which the movie states are based on a true story). It’s when Reece is caught and his trial is underway that the movie becomes more of a reflection on how criminals should be punished, regardless of their sanity.
District attorney Anthony Fraser (Michael Biehn) is caught in a sticky web of arguments surrounding Reece’s sanity and writer/director William Friedkin certainly provides evidence for both sides. In the end, though, his ultimate question in the face of the death penalty discussion when it comes to the convicted being insane or not is: Does it really matter?
This film was formerly available only on VHS and indeed the presentation on Netflix is a VHS rip but do not let that stop you from discovering one of Friedkin’s frequently overlooked gems.