Category: Netflix Hidden Gems

Netflix Hidden Gem #13: Resolution

Resolution Directors:  Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead Genre:  Horror Tribeca Film/Cinedigm There are two intelligent conversations occurring in the criminally overlooked 2012 horror film Resolution.  The most evident is a conversation between the directors and their audience about horror movies.  Writer/Co-Director Justin Benson and Co-Director Aaron Moorhead are two artists  sharply aware of the history and guiding principles of their chosen genre, as many modern horror directors are.  What makes them unique, and in turn what makes their first movie exceptional, is their even-tone and controlled approach, their confidence in their own audience to possess the same level of...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gem #12: Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis Director: David Cronenberg Genre: Drama Canal+ Premise: Twenty-something billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) needs a haircut. On the way to his barber, he meets with several business associates in his high-tech stretch limo, where they discuss different philosophies through the lens of capitalism. As the day goes on, Eric’s fortune begins to crumble. It’s hard to imagine the type of person that Cosmopolis was made for. I don’t think “entertainment value” or “personal investment” or “caring about the characters” are the best lenses to apply to art, but they’re interesting jumping-off points here. This film is esoteric to a fault, taking every possible measure to alienate its audience. The dialogue is reminiscent of surrealism, full of non-sequiturs and sudden digressions, but the filmmaking is more clinical, focused entirely on visual clarity and balance within the frame. This film wants nothing more than to keep you out, and that’s why you need to watch it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a good chance you’ll absolutely despise Cosmopolis, but that doesn’t matter. This film’s impenetrability offers a unique viewing experience. Its approaches to structure and character are so abstract that you’re forced to think differently to process them. Thinking about this film’s dialogue in a traditional way would be maddening; none of the conversations have a comprehensible flow, and the speech of every character falls into the uncanny valley. At...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gem #11: The American Scream

The American Scream Director:  Michael StephensonGenre: Documentary Brainstorm Media/Chiller Films When Vincent Bariteau, Manny Souza, and father and son Matt and Rick Brodeur look at Halloween, they see more than one night of spooky fun. These men are self-proclaimed “home haunters,” and for them, Halloween means weeks of crafting and preparation, a major financial investment, and more passion than most people can understand. The American Scream follows these men and their families for every step of the home haunting process. The highs. The lows. Even the buying of supplies. (Bariteau gets a real coffin.) It’s all chronicled through this...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gem #10: The Crow

The Crow Director: Alex Proyas Genre: Action/Fantasy Miramax Entertainment Premise: On the night before Halloween, musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiancé Shelly are planning for their wedding when they are brutally murdered by a gang. A year later, Draven is resurrected by the Crow, a supernatural force that seeks out restless souls and gives them a chance to find peace. In face paint and leather, Draven uses his supernatural abilities to hunt down those responsible for his tragedy. The Crow is a film both born and resulting in the tragedy of loss. The comic book of the...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gems #9: Red State

Red State Director: Kevin Smith Genre: Horror/[Dark] Comedy The Harvey Boys & NVSH Productions Kevin Smith has been my hero for a long time now, and his experimentation with the horror genre only makes him more of one in my eyes. I wanted to write a Netflix Hidden Gem about Red State, his 2011 venture into the horror genre, in honor of his newest venture into horror, the far more widely talked about (though seemingly not so widely seen) Tusk. I’m a little late on that now, and in all this time, I haven’t even gotten a chance to see Tusk. Nevertheless, Red...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gems #8: Dead Snow

Dead Snow Director: Tommy Wirkola Genre: Horror/Comedy Euforia Film Nazis and zombies are among the most popular villains in the history of cinema. It was only a matter of time before we saw them in a movie together. While I’d still pay good money to see a battalion of Nazis face an onslaught of undead, only to be torn to shreds, a movie about cursed Nazi zombies will more than suffice. (Yes, I’m aware this is not the first instance of Nazi zombies in cinema. This is just what most people know them by nowadays. This and Call of Duty.) Before we go any further, take this movie with a grain of salt. It’s not as bonkers as you hope it will be. There are inventive kills but the jokes don’t always hit (sex while relieving oneself in an outhouse isn’t funny nor is it shocking in the right kind of way) and the cast is generally unlikable. But that helps make it a really enjoyable guilty pleasure. You’re here for the gore and you get that by the gallon. Another note: Don’t eat while watching this movie unless you have a strong stomach. It’s violent, vulgar, and something else that starts with a V that I can’t quite think of right now. Dead Snow follows a group of college students on vacation in the snowy mountains of Norway. As they explore...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gems #7: Dead Silence

Dead Silence Director: James Wan Genre: Horror Universal Pictures Halloween. A time to get together with friends and family to scare the shit out of ourselves. Horror movies are similar beasts to the traditional summer blockbusters. Just think about it. Most of them are generally not good, and the ones that are good usually work wonders on an audience. Usually. On occasion, a great little horror movie falls under the radar. No, I’m not talking about Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.  I’m talking about James Wan’s underrated cult classic, Dead Silence. Before James Wan reclaimed his throne as the...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gem #6: Sightseers

Sightseers Director: Ben Wheatley Genre: Dark Comedy, StudioCanal/IFC Films Sightseers is a very English film. It is full of awkward silences, anger at littering, class disputes, yuppies, long country walks, beautifully shot landscapes, places to visit that sound incredibly boring, loud hen nights, guilt, store bought pasta sauces, conversations about injection molding for plastics, kitsch, frustration, discrimination against gingers, caravan park-based road rage, rain and knitting. It is essentially England: The Movie. The movie follows the first holiday of new couple (they recently met at a capoeira class) Tina and Chris. They have a rip-roaring country tour planned with stops at such breath-taking sites as the Cumberland Pencil Museum and the Ribblehead Viaduct. This may come across as me mocking it but I’ve actually been to the viaduct and it was amazing. They are a pair of sensible, boring people who has decided to engage in an ‘erotic odyssey’ in Chris’ caravan so that Chris can write his book (with Tina as an overenthusiastic and confused muse).  Tina hopes to escape her over-bearing mother who is still in mourning for the death of her beloved dog, Poppy. (Important Spoiler:  Poppy’s death scene should have won someone an Oscar. I don’t know whom, but someone). It is hard to write about this movie without giving away too much, but suffice to say the trip takes a dark turn and gradually...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gem #5: Shut Up and Play the Hits

Shut Up and Play the Hits Director: Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace Genre: Documentary, concert film Pulse Films Premise: This concert documentary follows James Murphy, frontman for the band LCD Soundsystem, in the days before, during, and after their massive final performance in Madison Square Garden. Concert films are tough to talk about from a critical perspective. Most of them are fan-only prospects, offering people who love a band or an artist the opportunity to see them rehearse and perform. The former is the real draw, though there’s a pretty rigid formula in most cases. Too often, these films...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gem #4: Adventureland

Director/Writer: Greg Mottola Genre: Drama, Comedy, Coming of age Sidney Kimmel Entertainment I wish we had started this Netflix Hidden Gems feature earlier when summer had just started so I could have had an opportunity to discuss one of my favorite movies, Adventureland. James Brennan has just graduated Oberlin College and is about to embark on a tour through Europe before his plans for a perfect summer fall apart. Not only can his parents no longer afford to send him on his Europe trip, they can’t afford to send him to graduate school. James is forced to take up...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gem #3: How to Die In Oregon

How to Die in Oregon Director: Peter Richardson Genre: Documentary Clearcut Productions I’ve said before that a successful documentary shouldn’t simply be entertaining. It should also make an argument. Or at least present an argument. How To Die in Oregon certainly does that. This film presents arguments for and against (Ok, mostly for) the Death with Dignity Act, a law in Oregon that makes physician-assisted suicide legal, and it makes it in a way that never feels manipulative or exploitative. The film follows a number of terminally ill patients in Oregon who choose to take advantage of the Death...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gem # 2: No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson

No Crossover:  The Trial of Allen Iverson Director:  Steve James Genre:  Documentary, Sports ESPN Films (30 for 30 Series) Premise:  Acclaimed Director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself) contributes to ESPN’s 30 for 30 Series with an entry detailing NBA star Allen Iverson’s alleged involvement in a 1993 racially instigated brawl, for which Iverson, who was 17 at the time, was charged as an adult and found guilty on felony charges. Allen Iverson and Steve James both grew up in the town of Hampton, Virginia, the oldest continual English-speaking settlement in North America.  Hampton is also where...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gem #1: God Bless America

Netflix is awesome. If there’s one thing in this crazy world that we should all be able to agree about, it’s that simple fact. But Netflix isn’t always easy to navigate, and I know I can’t tell you how many times I’ve Googled, “What are the best movies streaming on Netflix?” or “Top Netflix movies.” But luckily for you, all of this Googling has helped me find some amazing hidden gems that are available to stream right now. So, to make your life easier and just to give me a chance to tell the world about streaming movies that...

Read More