Things have really heated up this week; Netflix has been adding content up the wazoo! I’m not egotistical enough to think they read my comments about their updates in the first version of this column two weeks ago and pulled their finger out but it’s an interesting coincidence. LOVEFiLM have yet to retaliate with an arsenal of content but chances are they are moving their missiles to a strategic position and formulating a plan. At the moment they have simply added a couple of Russell Crowe films and a couple of older titles. As always the true winner in this battle is you the consumer.
Anyway enough of my chin stroking, this week’s pick of the titles added to streaming are as follows:
Drive (2011) – Netflix
Ok not strictly a Starburst sort of movie, although I think it was reviewed on the radio show/podcast. Also apparently this film was very close to appearing in the line-up of last year’s London Frightfest due to the fact that Ryan Gosling plays a total psychopath who is fond of very splattery violence. Director Nicholas Winding Refn truly arrived with this film which is like a '70s action flick with an '80s sensibility and shot like a sci-fi flick. The driver character as played by Gosling with smouldering intensity has become a modern day icon of coolness and the film has several classic scenes. This was the best film to come out in cinemas last year and will be mimicked and referenced for years to come. If you haven’t seen it yet now is your chance. Prepare to buy the soundtrack and drive around at night wishing you were as cool as Ryan Gosling.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) – Netflix
Future Lego movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller got started with this delightfully silly and inventive animated feature based on a kid’s book. A mad scientist and town pariah makes it rain food in an island town where the sole industry and food supply is sardines. Suddenly he becomes a celebrity and celebrated genius but of course it all backfires with gigantic mutant food eventually causing massive destruction. Like many animated movies, this boils down to a simple tale of a man seeking his father’s approval but it works really well for adults and kids. It’s really stunningly animated and has top class voice work from Bill Hader, James Caan, Ana Faris and Bruce Campbell. Not many animated movies have made me laugh as much as this, recommended!
Zathura (2005) – Netflix
Jon Favreau’s directorial follow up to Elf was something of a box office disappointment when it quietly went in and out of cinemas in the middle of last decade. Surprising considering it was the spiritual sequel to Jumanji and revolved around another board game and this time took the fantasy elements into outer space. Zathura is a lot of fun, it’s not perfect but its fun with some pretty good special effects and a tone that doesn’t talk down to kids, which at the time was rare. The relationship between the two brothers is believable and real and Kristen Stewart even puts in an early performance and isn’t annoying. Strangely enough for a space set fantasy film it feels oddly small and confined due to its one house floating in space location. The kids will love it though.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil – Netflix (2010)
This horror comedy from last year has not yet become the massive cult film it deserves to be, but it’s still early days I suppose. If you haven’t caught up with this film on LOVEFiLM yet then now it’s on Netflix for your viewing pleasure. The simple yet brilliant premise of this film is the set-up of any number of teens slaughtered in the wilderness films, except here Tucker and Dale and genuinely nice guys out at Dale’s dilapidated cabin when the teens stumble across them and through fear end up doing themselves in very violently. A series of misunderstandings follow and poor Tucker and Dale end up thinking they are in the midst of some kind of teen suicide cult. The first hour of the film is hilarious, both Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk are brilliant physical comedians that deserve A list status. It’s just a shame that after an hour it becomes the very thing its parodying so never quite becomes an all-out classic. Still definitely something you should watch with a crowd of mates and some beer for best effect.
A Horrible Way to Die (2010) – Netflix
Adam Wingard’s debut film has been heavily advertised as a horror film and if you saw the cover and the title you could be forgiven for thinking this was another straight to DVD torture porn movie. Except you would be dismissing something fairly unique. A Horrible Way to Die is gory and brutal but is more of a hard boiled noir film that an out and out horror. The simple story of a woman haunted by her serial killer ex-boyfriend who has just escaped from jail seems fairly simple but the film takes some twists and turns that defy expectation. The film is shot with a hazy dreamlike quality so that it comes across like some kind of memory or waking dream and is really effective. Great performances by AJ Bowen and Amy Semetz make this something of a minor classic. Adam Wingard’s follow up film You’re Next is supposed to be even better!
Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987) – LOVEFiLM
If you haven’t seen Evil Dead 2 then frankly I’m amazed you are even reading this site. Depending on what mood I am in and what I have been watching, Evil Dead 2 is usually my official favourite film of all time. It’s fair to say that this changed my life when I was 14 years old. Sam Raimi remakes his own original with a new short introduction and then it picks up right where the first one left off except that this time the lunacy is cranked up to 11. Flying eyeballs, sawn off possessed hands and laughing deer heads all come into play in this absolute masterclass in comedy and terror. The film is also visually stunning thanks to the beautiful cinematography by future Lynch collaborator Peter Deming. If you want to understand why Bruce Campbell is such a geek demi-god then here is the reason, yes Army of Darkness has its fans but the hardcore that saw this one twenty times before that film realise that it was something of a disappointment despite its relative mainstream success. In short go see it now now now! Would make a pretty decent double bill with Tucker and Dale vs Evil as well.