BINGE-R #23: Three New Netflix Movies + February's Best Shows
THREE NEW NETFLIX MOVIES
Netflix’s hunger for first run movies is getting stronger. Last week the streaming giant secured Martin Scorsese’s next feature, The Irishman, which will star Robert De Niro, while later this year Brad Pitt headlines War Machine, a black comedy from Australian filmmaker David Michod (Animal Kingdom) about an American general serving in Afghanistan. Hopefully the big names don’t obscure Netflix’s aim, because the first of this trio of just added films is a knockout independent release.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (Netflix, 2017, 96 minutes): A comic vigilante thriller where common decency is as much a motivation as revenge, the directorial debut from actor Macon Blair (see SBS on Demand’s Blue Ruin) stars Melanie Lynskey as Ruth, a lonely nursing assistant whose sense of disaffection reaches boiling point when her home is robbed. Roping in a neighbour, Tony (Elijah Wood, hinting at John Goodman in The Big Lebowski), she goes looking for her grandmother’s silver and/or answers. Equipped with a muscle car and good manners, the duo are intruders in a dangerous world where their quarry is revealed early so as to suggest the inevitability of their collision. The violence is sudden, bloody, and calamitous, and Blair’s direction adds a creepy David Lynch-like air of inexplicable collusion to what is a funny and timely story of an ordinary American grasping for the satisfaction of change.
Imperial Dreams (Netflix, 2014, 86 minutes): The title is somewhat unfortunate, given the role star John Boyega subsequently played in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the British actor gives an accomplished performance in this on the brink drama about a young father just released from jail trying to hold his family together. Living in his car in the Los Angeles suburb of Watts, Boyega’s Bambi is determined to stay straight in an environment that is systematically geared via both family and bureaucracy towards nurturing a life of crime. Malik Vitthal’s film can sometimes have Bambi say what it should show, but it captures the draining details of his world with a sad authenticity that makes you hope he’ll strive.
Girlfriend’s Day (Netflix, 2017, 70 minutes): Bob Odenkirk, the American comedian whose career found an ongoing second life as courthouse shyster Saul Goodman (see below), has a long face that can do perplexed extremely well. It’s a quality that comes in handy in this deadpan dry mystery, where Odenkirk plays Ray, a washed-up great of the greeting card industry whose resurgence is up against an offbeat conspiracy involving skinheads and a new public holiday for California. The stakes are never particularly high in Girlfriend’s Day, which is one of those independent films just daring you to describe it as quirky, while Amber Tamblyn’s love interest is less a character than a collection of male screenwriter fantasies. It’s extremely quirky.
>> Bonus Binge: Stan has both seasons of Better Call Saul, the spin-off from the essential Breaking Bad (also on Stan) that focuses on Bob Odenkirk’s disreputable lawyer.
FEBRUARY’S BEST SHOWS
If the measure of a month’s streaming is how many shows I’m still trying to finish by the final days, then February was a success (and very busy). My top three selections are likely to be some of 2017’s best come year’s end, but the second tier is also well worth sampling.
1 – The Man in the High Castle S2 (Amazon): In this alternate history thriller where Hitler prevailed in World War II, “the new batch of episodes only deepens and darkens the show’s compelling grip”. [review here]
2 – Atlanta S1 (SBS on Demand): Donald Glover’s hip-hop comic drama, “has such masterful changes of mood … that it manages to not only be humourous and unsettling, but to twist each quality to serve the other”. [review here]
3 – Fleabag S1 (Amazon): “A savage comedy of self-loathing scrambling atop melancholy, the British sitcom Fleabag is full of offbeat innovation, scabrous humour and daring technique.” [review here]
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