Netflix full of hidden gems
By Andrew Outwater
Netflix is the best thing to happen for home entertainment since HBO. The video store was great but the convenience of Netflix trumps it hands down. Having DVDs mailed out to homes was a great idea that put Netflix ahead of the game, and putting some video chains out of business. Even Blockbuster is struggling to keep up.
Easily the greatest thing that Netflix has done is their Instant Streaming feature. While their selection isn’t as vast as their collection of DVDs and Blu-rays, there are plenty of great movies to choose from. It’s also an ideal place to look for movies you probably wouldn’t have even bothered with or couldn’t even find at the rental chains.
I’m on Netflix at least three days of the week and I always try to look for movies that I haven’t seen, movies I haven’t heard of, along with some films I don’t own or haven’t seen in a while. Here are a few films that I’ve been watching this month that hopefully are films most of you haven’t heard of or haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.
Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010)
Directed by Banksy, an infamous English street artist, this documentary has been subject to debate on whether it really is what it says it is, or not. This film was nominated for an Oscar this year but didn’t win.
If you ask me, this was not only one of the best documentaries of last year, but was one of the best films of last year. It’s a great look into the world of street art and it’s an examination of the art world as a whole. It really makes you question what modern day art is all about while showing a wildly entertaining story of a guy who’s lost in the middle of it all.
With a lot of love going on for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I always like to direct his newfound fans to his older work. Of course everyone has seen him in “10 Things I Hate About You,” but everyone was focused on Heath Ledger instead or Gordon-Levitt.
I direct people farther back to what I consider not only one of his best movies but one of his best performances as well. Taking place in a high school, Gordon-Levitt plays a loner student who is trying to find out what happened to his best friend who calls him right before she disappears. It’s a true film-noir entry that’s dark and intense. It truly shows the range of Gordon-Levitt and should have made him the star he is now. If you love gritty crime films without the whole cop element, check “Brick” out.
Seven Samurai (1954)
This movie is definitely going to be for you film buffs out there. At a lengthy 3 hours and 26 minutes, it’s not for the casual filmgoer. Japanese director Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest filmmakers to ever live and “Seven Samurai” is considered his greatest masterpiece. This 1954 black-and-white film tells the story of a village that hires seven samurai to protect their home from raiding bandits. It may sound familiar, considering it was remade several times, including the western classic “The Magnificent Seven” and the Roger Corman cult classic “Battle Beyond the Stars.”
For a film made in the 1950’s, it holds up incredibly well today. The action is exciting mainly due to the incredible bond you develop with the characters over the course of the film. You will love these characters and when danger comes you will care and feel for when they fall since not everyone lives. It’s one of my favorite films of all time and highly recommended for anyone who loves film.
This is an ignored gem from last year. It’s basically the anti-Spielberg alien invasion film. Done on a sticks-and-stones budget, director Gareth Edwards makes his debut with quite an amazing play on the whole alien concept.
While filming, he told his actors, “Steven Spielberg’s version of this movie is over that hill. You are the people wise enough to stay out of his movie. Go.” And it works.
Edwards also didn’t write a script for the film. He had a basic story line plotted out, but he made the actors improvise their lines. All the extras were just people who happened to be on location at the time of shooting.
As a result, the dialogue feels very fluid and natural. What will be a problem for some people is the fact that this isn’t a blockbuster alien film. It’s a much more personal film following two characters trying to avoid the “monsters” at all costs on their journey home. There’s obvious computer graphics that may also pull some people out of the film. If you can get past the computer graphics and not expect spectacular set pieces of huge monsters and the military at war, you’ll get a satisfying love story. And for any aspiring filmmakers, you can see it as a how-to for making a film with absolutely no budget.
The Naked Gun (1988)
Now days we’re plagued with horrendous spoof films done with not only low budgets, but no love. Films like “Meet The Spartans” and “Disaster Movie” are the bottom of the barrel examples of how not to make spoof movies. These films have, in a way, tainted the entire spoof genre.
If we go back to the 1980’s, you can see where the genre really flourished. While “Airplane!” is easily the most recognized, “The Naked Gun” is right up there. The late Leslie Nielson is able to make you laugh in almost anything he’s in, even if the movie is garbage — “Scary Movie 3” for example.
But “The Naked Gun” has so much more going for it than Nielson’s natural ability to make you smile. The humor may be a bit cheesy and overdone for modern audiences, but it’s not trying to be anything more than silly. The movie was made for the sole purpose to make you laugh and forget about every day life for a good 85 minutes. And one thing that it does that the Setlzer and Friedberg “movies” can’t is have a narrative structure and have characters you like. This movie is highly suggested for anyone who enjoys a good, silly excuse to laugh.