Your Netflix Instant Weekend: JUST ANOTHER LOVE STORY, FUNLAND, and more
I came to a scary impasse when drafting up this week's column in that, in the past week, not much of note has been added to the Instant Netflix service. That is, unless you count 16 seasons of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as noteworthy. So in deciding what to do I considered skipping this week and waiting for something worth writing about to be added. That would be a disservice to you, though, as I'm sure you're dying to be told what to queue!
Instead, I realized that there is a plethora of quality titles that were added long before I started this column. As such, I decided to go back to find some films still available for streaming that I saw for the first time on Instant Netflix. So let's take a look at a neo-noir from Denmark, a trashy insane and homicidal clown comedy, a documentary about two filmmakers you've probably never heard of, a dark Korean comedy from the director of the THE HOST, and a reality-bending meta movie from a B-movie directing legend.
After his car is hit by another driven by a woman named Julia, family man Jonas visits her in the hospital. In a WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING turn of events, her family assumes Jonas is Julia's new fiance. Head trauma and blurred vision preventing her from realizing he is not the man everyone thinks he is, Julia takes him in not realizing he's living a double life with her. However, that's not to say Julia is squeaky clean and soon pasts come back to collide in a bloody and sometimes humorous whirlwind of revelations and irony. JUST ANOTHER LOVE STORY is a fantastic modern day noir straight from Denmark that moves at a hurried pace but somehow packs character work (usually lacking in modern thrillers) into every possible nook and cranny. Things spiral into unexpected directions and plot twists are surprising and sometimes violent. The film never loses its dark sense of humor, though, making it one of the more enjoyable thrillers of the past few years.
When Angus Perry won't sell his precious Funland, mob boss Maurio DiMauro orders him killed and then seizes control of the park. In order to cut costs, they fire Bruce Burger, the park's longtime and sometimes insane mascot which proves to be too much for the clown to handle and he begins to plan his revenge. FUNLAND on paper reads like the bastard child spawned by a night of rough sex between the minds of Savage Steve Holland and Paul Schrader. This tonally psychotic movie plays things like a zany '80s comedy one minute then trudges defiantly into some dark territory the next. Even while knowing he has homicidal plans, one can't help but chuckle when Bruce Burger, unwilling to come out of his clown makeup, has long conversations with his pepperoni puppet. It's a late night trash oddity worthy of the time and effort it will take you to hit "Play".
Underground filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar are profiled in this poignant and entertaining documentary. Driven by nothing other than a love of doing it (and perhaps a smidgen of neurosis) these brothers have been shooting films on the ultra-cheap since the 1950s. Through interviews with people like John Waters, Atom Egoyan and Guy Maddin, the powerful impact of these fringe filmmakers is clearly demonstrated. Even if you've never heard of the brothers, it's a fascinating look at some kids that never put down that 8mm camera.
Bong Joon-ho's (MEMORIES OF MURDER, THE HOST, MOTHER) directorial debut, BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE, begins with a frustrated Yun-Ju, emotionally tormented by his pregnant wife and professionally roadblocked, taking his anger out in the only way he can- by shutting up the neighbor's yappie dog. Soon several dogs are missing and a young woman working in the neighborhood, Hyeon Nam, takes notice of the missing dog posters, seeing an opportunity for excitement and heroics. The intermingling of these two characters (and a smattering of others including a creepy janitor) make up Bong Joon-ho's examinations of the monotony of suburban life. It's a hilarious film (darkly so, of course) but there are several scary looking scenes involving animals. It is clearly stated in the credits, however, that no animals were actually harmed. Give it a watch to see the foundation of all of Bong's later work. (Available in HD)
Zoë Lund (MS. 45) stars in one of Larry Cohen's (IT'S ALIVE, THE STUFF) dopier (but every bit as entertaining) efforts about a fledgling director who films himself murdering a young, hopeful actress and then pinning the murder on her husband. He is able to negotiate the release of the husband to star in his new movie that will recreate the murder. Also there's a police detective onto the fiendish plot who gets an associate producer credit in the movie. Get all that? Yeah, it's barely believable but Cohen keeps things on the enjoyable side of crazy and runs with the concept to its fullest. The whole thing is anchored by the amazing dual performance of Lund, one I'm wholly convinced Naomi Watts studied before working on her MULHOLLAND DR. character(s).
If you're looking for more...
Okay, a COUPLE of things worth noting were added. BEHIND THE BURLY Q is a document about the history of burlesque. FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO is an examination of the relationship between religion and homosexuality. Finally, POISON is Todd Haynes' unrelentingly dark and experimental anthology film.