Your Netflix Instant Weekend: THE LONG GOODBYE, MY LITTLE EYE, and more
The March 1st drop of new titles onto Netflix brought some real gems. Who needs Starz when you have such an incredible list of certifiable, forgotten or lost classics? In fact, there have been so many additions in the past week, I've had to pass over many great titles that I'll be running through in next week's column. In the meantime, be sure to check out a noir with a labyrinthine plot with which it seems wholly unconcerned and a reality (internet) TV-based thriller that's actually very good.
Robert Altman (MASH, SHORT CUTS) - along with THE BIG SLEEP scribe Leigh Brackett - tackles the private eye noir by dumping Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe character (played here spectacularly by Elliot Gould) into a world devoid of his hallmark scruples and sort of just seeing what happens. Marlowe is Rip Van Winkled (more literally than you'd think, the movie starts with his awakening from a deep sleep and he remains more or less confused through most of the film) straight into a tale of murder, mobsters, money, and puzzling women all befitting of a good mystery. However, Altman and Brackett aren't so much concerned with stringing a plot together so much as seeing how Marlowe handles himself during the typical noir beats in a very un-noir world. What comes of it is one of Altman's finest films, a criminally underseen masterpiece in the masterful filmmakers oeuvre. (Available in HD)
Five strangers agree to live in a house wired with dozens of cameras streaming their images to the internet for six months for one million dollars. If any one of them leaves, they all lose out on the cash prize. Each person who ends up in the house has his or her own reasons for participating (the appeal of money is not at the bottom of any of their lists) and tempers flair when their goals are challenged- such as when one of the participants learns that his grandfather has passed away and wants to leave to be at his funeral. Things take a chilling turn when a stranger shows up at the house and some interesting information about their situation is revealed. MY LITTLE EYE is an effective and creepy thriller, little of its impact has suffered from years of subsequent films built around similar gimmicks. The film's strength runs deeper than the hidden camera conceit, it actually has some interesting things to say about who you, as a viewer, are. (Available in HD)
The Wildcard - POOLBOY: DROWNING OUT THE FURY (2011)
I may have a mild Kevin Sorbo obsession. I saw several brand new Sorbo vehicles in 2011 (the best of which was, for better or worse, JULIA X 3-D and the worst being Albert Pyun's TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE) but was unable to see this one. POOLBOY is a high-concept low-budget film about a movie that's been shelved since 1990. That movie within the movie is about a Vietnam vet (Sorbo) who has a hard time re-securing his footing when he returns home to LA. After his wife and son are murdered he seeks revenge on a Mexican pool cleaning business kingpin (Danny Trejo, of course). Looking like it tries a bit too hard to be bad (its total budget of, I suspect, $87 already puts it at enough of a disadvantage), I can't help but continue to think that a Sobro-Trejo war is a must-see. (Available in HD)
If you're looking for more...
George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward are at the top of their games as a mental patient who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes and the doctor whose surname happens to be Watson in the romantic comedy-mystery, THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS. The hit Sundance documentary SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE is about a serious of underground recordings of two very mismatched roommates (the original tapes are some of earliest "viral" media). Another documentary, Werner Herzog's GRIZZLY MAN, tells a heartbreaking story of grizzly bear activists. Another weighty documentary, DELIVER US FROM EVIL, turns its cameras towards a priest accused of sexually assaulting children across the country. On a lighter note, RELIGULOUS, pits Bill Maher's stinging wit against religion. The perplexing but engrossing horror film THE OREGONIAN is an abstract journey through the terrifying roads of the Northwest. Billy Wilder's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION is a nail-biter of a courtroom mystery, a pitch-perfect adaptation of Agatha Christie's play. Charlie Sheen is THE WRAITH, a fast-driving revenge spirit in this explosive and sadly ignored 80s entertainment extravaganza (I tear up at the end every single damn time). Speaking of the 80s, you'll want to revisit WEIRD SCIENCE. For your Woody Allen fix, queue up BROADWAY DANNY ROSE. On the foreign front we get Takeshi Kitano's gritty Yakuza drama, OUTRAGE. If you're looking for another sharp thriller check out Brad Anderson's TRANSSIBERIAN. And for your Corman fix both DEATH RACE 2000 and HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP are aces in my book.
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