Netflix Picks is a feature published the first and third Wednesday of the month with a list of seven films currently available for streaming on Netflix and the reasons for why you should watch them.
Real life has gotten in the way of writing up consistent additions of Netflix Picks, but luckily all should be in order from the here on out. Without further ado:
Dredd (2012) - Though it failed to explode at the box office, Dredd has since found a thriving life on home video, making 16 million dollars there. There’s a reason: It’s genre parodying while still succeeding as a great film within it. Dredd is a slickly shot and nearly perfectly paced piece of irreverent science fiction brutality. It’s B-movie, bloody fun. Karl Urban sells the iconic Dredd character perfectly, and Lena Headey of Game of Thrones makes a mean villain. If you need a rockin’ good time on a rainy Sunday night, toss this on.
Jackie Brown (1997) - Following the pulpy mayhem of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown plays it cool. Real cool. Soul cool. This caused audiences and critics to be lukewarm on Tarantino’s follow up, but with a driven leading performance by Sam Grier, an unhinged Rob DeNiro, and supported by a Samuel L. Jackson that’s never had more class, it’s an unmissable entry into Tarantino’s catalogue. Since the late ‘90s, the consensus has grown fonder, with an increased number of critics and fans alike dubbing it one of Tarantino’s best. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s a joy.
Being John Malcovich (1999) - Along with Adaptation, Being John Malcovich shows two Indie prizes working alongside to make a unique and tremblingly odd picture imdb summarizes as “A Puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of the movie star, John Malcovich.” Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, the visionary behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (in a previous entry of Netflix Picks) and Synecdoche, New York is joined by Spike Jonze, whose recent film Her stands at an impressive 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Also like Adaptation, Being John Malcovich is a symphony of self-reflexivity, meaning it meditates on its own status as a work of art. It’s also probably the best performance of John Cusack’s career, and Mr. Malcovich himself is enjoyably Malcovichian.
New World (2013) - South Korea’s answer to the Hong Kong megahit Infernal Affairs and the American best picture winning adaptation that followed, The Departed, New World chronicles the lengthy saga of a mob boss dying and a police-placed rat trying to influence the outcome. Min-Sik Choi (Oldboy, I Saw the Devil) gives a startlingly subtle performance for him, playing the role of the police head in control of the rat. It’s an engaging and adrenaline-filled saga, especially the mid-film brawl between rival gangs in a parking garage. It doesn’t try to innovate or invent, instead using the well-established rules of the crime genre to make a slick and engaging film that leaves most American thrillers in the dust.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) - John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart are pitted against one another in the rare film that features both cinema icons. It’s directed by the arguably the finest filmmaker of the Western genre, John Ford. Ford’s real classic is The Searchers, but this late period Western sees Ford at his most pensive and looking back on his long career. It has an effect that gives the usual and still highly enjoyable tropes added emotional weight that makes Valance one of the best films of Ford’s career and necessary viewing for any fan of film.
Strike (1925) - Director Sergei Eisentein became internationally famous for his Marxist opus Battleship Potemkin, a film credited with inciting revolutionist attitudes that would satisfy any Marxist. Strike is a lesser seen film. Eisentein’s real claim to fame is the ‘montage’ visual style, where harshly contrasted images are put up against one another to imply arresting political ideas. For instance, cutting between the butchering of an animal and the rising tensions of a military crew. The power is in the juxtaposition. For a powerful history lesson and a fascinating watch, I highly recommend Strike. Plus, it’s short.
Antichrist (2009) - Only for the most twisted viewers. Antichrist is a plunge into surrealist horror with some of the most unhinged and brutal sequences in recent memory. Written and directed by Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier, who in 2011 made the surprise art house hit Melancholia, Antichrist follows a couple who find refuge in a cabin deep in the woods after the death of their child. They begin to experience a series of otherworldly phenomena, and stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe bring their terror. Gainsbourg won best actress at Cannes for her performance, and it’s earned.