This is not a review of Stoker. The first foray into English-language films by Korean director Chan-wook Park looks creepy and ridiculous fun. Also, it is a good excuse to stare at the painfully attractive Matthew Goode. Unfortunately, going to the Best College Town in America has its downside — one of those being waiting for a later release date. Urgh, the worst.
There were some notable movies released last week, but I could justify avoiding every single one of them. Even a combination of Nicholas Hoult and Ewan McGregor in Jack the Giant Slayer is not attractive enough to tempt me to that CGI propelled fable regurgitation mess. (Given the picture’s mere 27 million box office take away in contrast with its 190 million dollar budget, I wasn’t the only one who felt this unenchanted.)
Then there was the option of 21 and Over, or The Hangover: College Edition. Readers, I’ve been 21 for quite some time — as have many of my friends. Been there, done that. I feel the movie would hit better with underage dreamers or older nostalgics. When you are the actual age portrayed, a Hollywood-ization of your milestones is just not as much fun. Also, apparently it has this whole graduation plotline and that’s one thing I will not touch with a ten-foot pole. Also I have a sneaking suspicion that Jeff Cheng doesn’t really want to be pre-med but is doing so to please his family. Jeff, if you’re reading this — such a bad call. Take it from a confused liberal arts major: Dreams are overrated.
It is still such a bad time of the year for movie releases. January is the traditional dumping ground for bad flicks, when the unwatchables are unshelved. However, February and early March are hardly any better. It will still be weeks to months before we fully recover. I just want to curl up in an oversized theater seat with a bucket of popcorn, but the film gods (thanks for the verification of their existence, Ang Lee) are just not having it.
Of course the reasoning is there — no one is in the mood post-holiday season, any movie of potential merit will have to hold out until next award season cycle and the intriguing festival films have only just gotten picked up for distribution.
At least there’s Netflix (Instant). Here are some relatively recent releases bundled together for your viewing convenience to appease you until things start to pick up in a few weeks.
I know some people who grade movies on whether or not they’re worth purchasing a movie ticket. Given the lack of visual effects in most independent numbers, they can often fall on a see later list that is soon forgotten. Luckily, Netflix’s got your back this time — these are worthwhile visits. While no film listed today is really a major release, these in particular ones fall together because they echo with similar parts cutesy and melancholy.
Safety Not Guaranteed — Mark Duplass, Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson shine in one of the most preciously constructed films of the year. The characters are raw and awkward — and it all work together beautifully in a movie that both mourns regrets and celebrates taking chances.
Like Crazy — Young love, in all its tragic post-college and self-indulgent long distance glory. Watch it and sniffle over aching longing and growing apart from your soulmate.
Sleepwalk With Me — Minimalistic but ever so earnest, this film explores the pains of growing into your comedic voice/life choices.
Friends With Kids — Another installment in the unconventional love genre, this time in the form of talkative NYC dramedy, a staple style of writer-director(-Jon Hamm partner) Jennifer Westfeldt. Watch it for the occasional cute insights and strong comedic timing. It’s a messy film, but it’s worth it alone for the always charismatic Adam Scott. He’s intense and can mold his expressions like play dough. Basically, I will watch him in anything.
Submarine — Imagine Rushmore, but younger and Welsh-ier. It’s quirky and dark with all the pangs that come with figuring life and love out.
The other day Stephen Colbert got James Franco to confess which of the three leading ladies in The Great and Powerful Oz he had had the biggest thing for. After playing it diplomatically (wow, Disney’s taught you well James), Franco lets the answer Rachel Weisz slip. For once, I actually totally understand James Franco — I too adore her. (Well that, and our shared disdain for Anne Hathaway.)
The Constant Gardener — Rachel Weisz is my drama equivalent of Tina Fey. That’s why it frustrates me to no end that more people haven’t seen her Oscar-winning role.This film shattered and refused to mend my ninth grade heart.
The Deep Blue Sea — This emotional rollercoaster criminally ignored or disqualified by most award shows is available for streaming as well. There’s not a more gorgeous construction of passion’s aftermath . Weisz gives the dictionary definition of a powerful performance that will leave you haunted.
The Guys-Chris-Evans-is-a-Real-Actor, Like-For-Real:
(This category exists because there is not a single Matthew Goode movie available for streaming, because the world hates me. Alternatively, the juxtaposition of seeing a superhero in a low key affair reminds us that the earth-shattering blockbusters are still months away.)
Guys, Chris Evans is more than just Captain America. In fact, he initially turned down the role to avoid the super hero stigma. I think it just comes with the 8-pack territory, but the world wanted him to don that patriotic spandex. That doesn’t mean Mr. Evans has not acted since becoming a comic book legend.
Puncture — Evans is acting is heart out. It’s sloppy and formulaic at times, but it’s worth the delicate moments. (Fun fact, in The Perfect Score Evans’ character gets rejected from Cornell. Worst decision Thurston’s ever made.)
For the Painful-and-Borderline-Racist-Drinking-Game-Viewing:
Sometimes, you just want to hate on something. I’ve got a movie perfect for your running commentary.
A Warrior’s Heart — Starring two Twilight vampires, this movie about … high school, loss and lacrosse does not brag the most nuanced screenplay. (Or acting. Or editing. Or cinematography.) There’s no excuse, however, for it playing like a B version of the worst Nicholas Sparks narrative possible. It’s sloppy, painful and our teen protagonists fall in love during some some strategically exchanged glances (I’m just not sure exactly when though). The worst offense however is that this movie attempts to gain depth by further exploiting Native American culture to create a sloppy metaphor about warriors. It’s not cool. It’s also the very best Netflix has to offer in hate watching. If everything else on this list fails you, this is one to enjoy.