You are losing this battle now, in terms of actual content you are being trumped by your arch rival LOVEFiLM. Yes the selection of TV you have is breathtaking and you should be commended for having exclusives like Breaking Bad, Archer, Modern Family and The Office but the way people are noticing the services is through the films you have and LOVEFiLM sadly has you beaten by about 10,000 titles not to mention the modern classics they have like Source Code, Attack the Block, Kick-Ass and erm Resident Evil: Afterlife. The point is people remember these films (they are mostly from the last two years) and if they see them available on the service then they assume that provider has game and is what is hip and down with the public.
The point is, Netflix, you can do better. You have the better presentation and frankly you are more reliable in terms of technology delivery into homes. At the moment adding something like Drive once a month isn’t going to cut it. The United States version of your service is impeccable, I realise release dates and strategies are different over here but seriously we are not one tenth of that service yet. As an example here are some of the titles that have appeared on other services (as well as one of your own) over the last two weeks. Hope this helps you see what I mean.
Yours hopefully with love and hugs,
Christopher John Archibald Horatio Holt esquire
Red State (2011) – LOVEFiLM
After a delay of about a week this finally appeared on LOVEFiLM’s streaming service. First thing first, I am not head over heels in love with this film the way some are. Yes it’s good; yes it’s Kevin Smith’s best film in a while but the new found urgency and style to his direction only goes so far with a script that starts brave with something to say but then loses its nerve. The part I can’t get over is the way that in the final act the film puts its balls on the table and then with an ending that seems like it’s about to be the most daring thing ever, suddenly pulls back to just be a joke and turn a powerful figure into a sad old man. Up until the last ten minutes though this is kind of riveting with nary a likeable character in sight and yet still managing to be fairly gripping. Special mention to Michael Parks as well, who should have got that Oscar nod.
Rogue (2007) – LOVEFiLM
Greg Maclean’s directorial follow up to the acclaimed Wolf Creek sat on a shelf for quite a while before appearing straight to DVD. Now it’s on the streaming service for you to all enjoy. Truthfully its only partly successful, like Wolf Creek, Maclean spends far too long setting everything up and by the time the giant crocodile appears the film has almost tipped over into tedious. The fact remains that the last half an hour is a lot of fun and the croc effects are pretty cool. Also features an early performance from your favourite actor Sam Worthington in his best role, playing an Australian.
Devil (2010) – LOVEFiLM
As far as I am aware so far this is the only film in ‘The Night Chronicles’ that we have actually seen. M.Night Shyamalan’s intention was to write and produce a series of movies that would function kind of like feature length Twilight Zone episodes. Devil is a strong and underrated opening and probably the best thing that Shyamalan has been involved with for about ten years. Devil has a simple set up with a bunch of strangers in an office block elevator, one of which is actually Satan himself, and they start getting picked off when the power fails and the lift gets stuck. They all suspect one another and slowly details about their lives start trickling out. It’s scary, darkly funny and has a great score. Perfect for Halloween really…
Night of the Creeps (1986) – YouTube
In the latter half of the decade that was the ‘80s, a director rose to prominence thanks to a couple of fun as hell horror movies he directed back to back. Those films were Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad and the director was Fred Dekker. Dekker directed Robocop 3 and reportedly had such a bad time of it he just disappeared. It’s a great loss because both of these films show enormous promise and have a sense of wit and invention that was missing outside of what Sam Raimi was doing at the time, The Monster Squad especially has felt enormously influential lately. Night of the Creeps is a film that is a riff on the body snatchers story with alien slugs possessing a town and the hopeless geeks that stand in harm’s way, it’s pretty fun in a goofy cheap kind of way. James Gunn virtually remade the film with Slither in 2006.
Melancholia (2011) – LOVEFiLM
Lars Von Triers most recent film is the second part in a trilogy of films about depression which will conclude with the probably controversial Nymphomaniac next year. Melancholia concerns the titular planet which suddenly appears in our solar system and hurtles towards the Earth. Instead of focussing on Bruce Willis in a spaceship going to blow up the new planet, the film instead settles on the countryside retreat of a rich family and Kirsten Dunst who is depressed in a way that means she can barely function. I want to hate this film because the metaphor for the planet and Dunst’s worsening mental state is a little too on the nose, but I just can’t hate it. It’s so well shot and performed and is actually an affecting study of two sisters and their different reactions to the end. Not great Saturday night entertainment but perhaps a film for a Tuesday evening that will make you think.
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) – LOVEFiLM
Paul WS Anderson seems to actually be getting better as his career goes on, it still doesn’t excuse the first five or so films he made which were sub-par but his attempt at rebooting his own Resident Evil franchise that he started is actually pretty solid. The film was shot with 3D in mind, so on the streaming non-3D service you have to put up with endless slow motion shots with things in close up that should be flying out the screen at you. It’s entertaining and it looks good, it won’t change your life but sometimes you just want the film equivalent of a McDonalds and this does the job.
The Three Musketeers (2011) – LOVEFiLM
Last year’s Three Musketeers remake/reboot/imagining/whatever was sadly a box office disaster but represents Paul WS Anderson’s best film so far, which he then apparently ruined by running Resident Evil back into the ground last month. Here Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale is reimagined with a steampunk setting with the Musketeers being portrayed as government ninja-like assassins. All the actors they pick are perfect for the roles and the film has a sense of fun and adventure missing from the more serious blockbusters of the last few years. Should have led to a franchise but sadly it seems it’s one and done.
Mars Attacks! (1996) – LOVEFiLM
The same year that Independence Day busted blocks in record numbers also allowed Tim Burton to spend 100 million making what was essentially a gigantic joke with a star studded cast that was funny only to him and the box office numbers reflected this. Burton’s power was such that, with so many hits under his belt, this was the first time he flexed his muscles and was allowed to indulge a specific darkly comic urge he felt. It’s something that the Tim Burton of today needs to remember because Mars Attacks! is brilliant, anarchic fun. It’s not to all tastes and is pretty bizarre but the sense of fun is infectious and by the time Tom Jones becomes pivotal to the plot you’re either on board or you have turned it off.
Archer: Season One and Two (2009-2011) – Netflix
This animated spy show is reminiscent of Cartoon Network’s The Venture Brothers but with more adult, smutty humour. Super spy Archer works for a government organisation where his mother is the boss and he indulges every whim and his Austin Powers like libido. This series has a massive amount of fans especially in the states but here seems to have been buried on one of the lesser Channel 5 channels and so not many people are catching it. I’ve only seen bits and pieces so far but what I have seen has made me laugh and, until The Venture Brothers comes back for more episodes, this will fill the hole.
Fortress (1993) – LOVEFiLM
Remember the days when Christopher Lambert used to headline films that actually got a cinema release? This is back from those times. Stuart Gordon’s futuristic prison movie was overshadowed by No Escape which was the bigger hit released around the same time which also had a future prison. Whereas No Escape tried too hard to be something more than its pulpy origins, Fortress is mainly concerned with being lots of gory fun and this it does in spades. It’s also a timely reminder of when B-Movies used to get a cinema release even if they were noticeably cheap. This was successful enough to warrant a sequel which I didn’t see and… went straight to video.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) – LOVEFiLM
This anthology film based on the classic series is sadly overshadowed by a horrific on set incident which led to the death of actor Vic Morrow. Four of the hottest directors around at the time John Landis, Joe Dante, George Miller and Steven Spielberg combined to each direct a different sequence fantastical tale with mixed results. All four are based around an old story from the show and sadly Spielberg’s ‘Kick the Can’ is by far the worst, revealing his predilection for mawkish sentimentality that would reach its nadir with Hook a few years later. Having said that the remakes of Nightmare at 20,000 feet and A Quality of Mercy are pretty damn great, with the former having a great John Lithgow performance. Worth a look…
Poltergeist (1982) – LOVEFiLM
Regardless of whether you think Tobe Hooper actually did direct this or if Spielberg came in and took over in his producer role, Poltergeist is still a classic of the genre and came out at a time when cinema was dominated by fast walking men with knives wearing masks. The film has the Spielberg and Stephen King like air of familiarity in its middle class suburban family terrorised by spirits in their home who take away their youngest daughter. It may have dated a bit but some set pieces still impress and the film has been hugely influential (Insidious). Good time to catch it too if these Sam Raimi directed remake rumours are true.