Category: Streaming Suggestions

Netflix Hidden Gem #33: The Imposter

The Imposter Released in 2012 Director: Bart Layton Genre: Documentary Picturehouse Entertainment This is an interactive movie. You don’t know it is while you’re watching it, and you may not realise it after you’ve seen it. If you’re like me, you’ll find that two days later you’re on your commute to work and you suddenly stop thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch, or if your co-worker is going to say/do something annoying, because it just hit you. You got played. The movie, or at least one specific person in that movie, has sold you on an idea. And he has sold it so well that you believe it fully even though the idea is incomprehensibly evil. Let’s go back to the start. This documentary is about the crimes of Frederic Bourdin, a French conman who, in 1997, was discovered to have taken the place of missing child Nicholas Barclay, a 13-year-old who vanished in 1994. He lived with the Barclay family, spoke to the FBI about his kidnapping and ordeal, and appeared on television talking about his joy at having been rescued and reunited with his family. The documentary follows the case from Nicholas’s disappearance to Bourdin’s eventual unveiling. Director Bart Layton presents all of this with a mix of archive footage, dramatic re-enactments, and talking heads. We hear from most of the Barclay family, some government officials, a private-eye...

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AE’s February On Demand Movie Guide

Subzero temps, a groundhog that almost always sees his shadow, winter throwaway movies, and the Oscars. That’s February in a nutshell. Sure, you’ll all be watching the Academy Awards this month, but chances are you’re all caught up with your nominees by now and itching for warm weather and blockbuster season. Fear not, my cine-friends, as usual, I have you covered. The best new movies aren’t in theaters everywhere this month; they’re right at your fingertips. Sundance has come and gone, and the indies are starting to roll in. Here are the best films available on demand in February....

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Netflix Hidden Gem #32: Pontypool

Film: Pontypool Released in 2008 Directed by Bruce McDonald Ponty Up Pictures / Shadow Shows , IFC Films (US Distribution) Summary: Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a talk radio shock-jock looking to create a little on-air edge, until he is given more than he’d bargained for when a sinister and mysterious virus of sorts spreads and wreaks unknowable, inexplicable havoc throughout their previously quaint Ontario town. My horror-loving co-worker recommended this film to me and I was instantly intrigued by the premise, then remembered that it was also one of the items we’d offered in our #HAElloween giveaway back...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #31: The Road to El Dorado

The Road to El Dorado Family DreamWorks SKG Directors: David Silverman, Don Paul, Bibo Bergeron, Will Finn, Jeffrey Katzenberg An adult film mistakenly aimed at kids, El Dorado features curse words, human sacrifice (or at least the threat of it), a sex scene (or at least the overt implication of it), a truly villainous depiction of Cortes, two heroes who are charlatans and cheats, a cold-blooded murder, and a giant, scary-ass jaguar monster. There is a lot for the kids as well, with bright, vibrant colours, an anthropomorphic horse, Elton John songs, and an armadillo (kids like armadillos, right?). The movie, which failed upon release, has gained a cult following based upon gifs, causing internet dwellers to embrace it as a classic. You’ve probably seen a scene from the movie without realising while scrolling through Tumblr, Twitter, or Buzzfeed. That was what drew me back to this movie after dismissing it for so long. It originally came out in 2000 after Antz and The Prince of Egypt, two other Dreamworks Animation movies that fell flat for me. I had seen many, many references to it in memes and gifs and then, one night, while scrolling through Netflix I saw it and thought I would give it a try. As much as I would love to write here that I wasted fifteen years of my life not watching this movie, I...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #30: Manhunter

Manhunter Director: Michael Mann Genre: Mystery, Crime, Thriller DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group Synopsis: FBI profiler Will Graham is pulled back into the dark world of forensic profiling by his old boss to hunt a killer nicknamed the “Tooth Fairy.” When the investigation hits a dead end, Graham turns to the one man who could help him: the last man he caught. Overview: Amidst the outpour of negative reactions to Michael Mann’s tech thriller Blackhat, I thought it would be a good time to look back at one of Mann’s earlier projects: Manhunter. The film is the second adaptation of a Thomas Harris novel and...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #29: A Cat in Paris

Film: A Cat in Paris (Une Vie De Chat) Released in 2010 Created by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol Gébéka Films Summary: A girl named Zoe, who hasn’t spoken since her father died at the hands of a dangerous criminal, discovers her cat is helping a local thief, and in so doing becomes involved in intrigue greater than she or her detective mother could have anticipated. I came across this short animated movie when I was looking for something I could watch with my daughter on a day snowed in at home. Initially, I was drawn in by the...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #28: Tell No One

Tell No One Director: Guillaume Canet Genre: Thriller, Mystery EuropaCorp. Distribution (France)/Music Box Films (USA) Overview: Eight years after his wife is brutally murdered, a man finds himself under suspicion when two bodies are found near the site of the original crime, and he starts receiving messages indicating his wife might still be alive. Tell No One is a 2006 French film adaptation of the Harlan Coben novel by the same name. As a mystery and thriller fanatic, I will readily admit that Coben is one of my favorite modern day suspense writers, with his fast-paced storytelling and reputation for layering  twists and turns. Any attempt to bring one of his novels from page to screen will earn an excited, yet scrutinizing viewing from me, and Tell No One is not only one of the most satisfying book adaptations, but also one of the most fun, perfectly-paced genre films I’ve seen in years. Guillaume Canet, as both director and screenwriter, succeeds in both preserving and infusing additional Hitchcockian influences atop of what is already present in the structure of this story.  Our protagonist, Alexandre Beck (a sympathetically frantic and likable François Cluzet) is the everyday man caught in the middle of an elaborate frame that turns his life upside down, sparking a game of cat and mouse and a series of twists and turns reminiscent of classics like Vertigo. And although the increasingly absurd and convoluted...

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AE’s January On Demand Movie Guide

It’s January and you know what that means: 1) It’s officially awards season, and 2) the theaters are full of winter throwaway films.  If you’re all caught up viewing the movies that have snagged nominations this year, you may find yourself with a whole lot of time stuck inside, hiding from the cold weather with nothing to watch.  Fear not friends, you don’t need to search any further for new theater releases that you can watch at home.  Here are the best new films available to rent On Demand this month: 7. The Culture High The legalization of marijuana has been a...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #27: Night Catches Us

Night Catches Us Director: Tanya Hamilton Genre: Drama/Historical Magnolia Pictures I’ve been thinking a lot about Selma over the past week in terms of what it means and what it doesn’t, what it was nominated for and what it wasn’t. In light of my recent thoughts about the lack of diversity in the 2015 Oscar nominations and racial tension between blacks and police officers, I decided to watch another extremely relevant film by a black female director and screenwriter. Night Catches Us premiered at Sundance in 2010 and went on the win a host of awards at the Black Reel Awards but only received a staggered limited release in 11 theatres. Despite how underseen the film was, its importance has only grown over the years. In terms of historical events and not release dates, Night Catches Us can be viewed as a spiritual successor to Selma — a look at what becomes of the Civil Rights Movement when its most prominent leaders are dead or imprisoned. Night Catches Us takes place in Philadelphia in 1976 and centers on Marcus (Anthony Mackie), an ex-Black Panther member who returns home for his father’s funeral. Despite his labeling as a snitch and warnings from his former friend and local gangster, Marcus stays in Philly and rekindles his relationship with Patricia (Kerry Washington), the widow of a Black Panther member who was executed by...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #26: Dredd

Dredd Director: Pete Travis Genre: Action Entertainment Film Distributor/Lionsgate I’m a constant defender of the modern influx of comic book/superhero movies. When there is a wide assortment of subgenres such as this, who are we to complain? There are constant complaints about how all superhero movies are similar. If you can convince me Captain America: The First Avenger is the same as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I’ll buy you a seafood dinner. If you can convince me Dredd is similar to even a Batman movie, I’ll be dumbstruck. Dredd is a throwback to testosterone fueled action movies of the ’80s with a dash of modern stylization....

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Netflix Hidden Gem #25: Child of God

Child of God Director: James Franco Genre:  Drama Signature Entertainment and Spotlight Pictures There is a moment right at the end of the first act of Child of God wherein Lester Ballard (Scott Haze) walks across a fairground carrying two giant stuffed animals, moving in the direction of a mother and her two daughters.  The youngest of the daughters looks in the direction of the dingy, crude main character and observes his prizes.  He returns her gaze.  It is simultaneously the most touching and the most frightening moment of a film that seriously lacks in the first category and...

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Netflix Hidden Gems #24: The Host

The Host Director: Bong Joon-ho Genre: Sci-fi/Horror Showbox/Magnolia Pictures It’s the time of year when most people start making New Year’s resolutions. What a lot of these resolutions boil down to in some shape of form is “how can I be more responsible in this specific aspect of my life?” So I thought to bring in the New Year we’d start with a movie that’s a wonderful, offbeat tale of responsibility, one that just happens to have a giant monster at the heart of it. The film centers on Park Gang-du (Song Kang-ho), a lazy and incompetent man who runs a snack bar with his father. When a giant monster emerges from the Han River and snatches Gang-du’s daughter, Hyun Seo (Go Ah-sung), he is forced to band together with his dysfunctional family to escape the government-enforced quarantine and rescue his daughter before she’s eaten alive. I was introduced to the work of Bong Joon-ho a few weeks ago with Snowpiercer (which is also on Netflix) and after reading my fellow contributor Sean W. Fallon’s list of “Five Films to Start Your Korean Movie Obsession” I decided to check out The Host. While the film is a kaiju movie, it’s a wildly unconventional one that does a lot of genre-blending. Bong Joon-ho takes tropes from fugitive thrillers, outbreak horror, family dramedy, and political satire to craft a film that uses...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #23: Super

Director: James Gunn Genre: Comedy/Drama This Is That Productions/Ambush Entertainment/IFC Films I am a huge fan of all things super heroes, so, when I noticed a Kick-Ass reminiscent film directed by James Gunn and starring Rainn Wilson, well, I couldn’t pass it up. Super entertains from the very first second through the very last scene, breaking super-hero film convention. The film centers around a slightly crazy nobody who works a boring job, has a boring marriage, and an boring life. When his wife falls under the influence of a drug dealer, he decides to break loose. Frank (Rainn Wilson) dons a red super-hero costume, calls himself the Crimson Bolt, and begins beating criminals with a wrench. Unlike most super-heroes, the Crimson Bolt has an ambiguous moral compass. Yes, he wants to protect people, but will endanger others if necessary. At one point, he even hits an innocent woman with his wrench simply because she gets in the way. He has some rules, but he is not afraid of harming and/or killing, criminals. Super functions as a satire of The Punisher. In essence, Frank is an underequipped, untrained, mental Frank Castle. Gunn plays off of The Punisher’s formula by creating a film that is both gritty and hilarious. Frank is so clueless and awkward that he inadvertently packs the film  situational humor. Comic relief is provided by Libby/Boltie (played by...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #22: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Director: Geroge Clooney Genre: Biography, Comedy,Crime Miramax Films George Clooney is a persuasively attractive man.  From his deep voice to his hypnotic facial symmetry, he is the driving force behind most of the films in which he takes part. To make things more difficult for the rest of us men, in the early 2000s he also decided he’d excel at directing. What’s shocking is that his charming, engaging powers work even when he’s not visible.  In his first film, Clooney proves that he firmly understands how to play to an audience, putting forth this challenging biopic that explores the depths of one man’s mind and that also  serves an exploration of technique. The onscreen story comes from the “unauthorized autobiography” (of the same name) of Chuck Barris, which was crafted to screen by the enigmatic Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). It follows the erratic life of Barris, who is most known for creating  The Newlywed game and The Dating Game, and hosting The Gong Show. Barris claims to have worked for the CIA, and takes credit for killing 33 people. In the film, Clooney focuses on the erratic, unreliable nature of Barris and his testimony, building the story with comedy to relieve Barris’ outrageous claims and, at other times, toying with the idea that this all actually happened. There are many reports of...

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AE’s December On Demand Movie Guide

As the year comes to a close and the award nominations begin to roll in, many of you have likely seen everything on your 2014 must watch list and are making your rankings of best and worst of the year.  Some of the most anticipated movies of 2014 are still in limited release, with heavy hitters like Wild and Imitation Game still in select cities until the end of the month. So what are you going to watch while you’re waiting?  Don’t finalize those lists quite yet, because there are plenty of new films available for you to watch right now On...

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