Your Netflix Instant Weekend: THE SCENT OF GREEN PAPAYA, CLOCKWISE, and more
Greetings, everyone. Usually this final week of the month is a bit slow as Netflix prepares an avalanche of titles for the first of the new month. However, this week is full of wonderful films of all kinds and many of them are rarely talked about so you're in for some truly unique treats.
So, you could go see FAST FIVE and DYLAN DOG this week. Or, you could queue up a breathtakingly beautiful and poetic Vietnamese film and a wonderful British comedy to watch at home. Or, you could be like me and do all of the above!
It is 1940s Vietnam and Mui, an orphan, is taken in as a servant for a wealthy family. The film follows her time in this house as she learns her duties, observes the details of her surroundings, and witnesses a family grow and crumble. When the patriarch of the household passes away, Mui is sent to work for another man, a friend of the family, one she has been aware of since he was a young boy. She may have feelings for the man who is now a classically trained pianist.
Much like works of Ki-duk Kim, Anh Hung Tran's THE SCENT OF GREEN PAPAYA uses a striking visual language to convey subtle emotion rather than relying on plotting. It is a wonderful type of film that could only exist as film, the images so effective and precise they could never be accurately described in words. The film flows and one succumbs to it allowing a connection to the character of Mui stronger than most audience have experienced. It is a film that forces one to see the world through the eyes of another and, in this case, those eyes find beauty in even the most mundane details. (Available in HD)
John Cleese plays Brian Stimpson, a punctuality obsessed school headmaster. Reluctantly invited by a group of headmasters of fancier, more exclusive schools, Brian takes the necessary steps to make sure he's on a train that will get him to the conference at which he will speak on time. As expected, things go horribly wrong at every step of his journey, each new development a threat to his untarnished promptness.
The pleasures of CLOCKWISE first come from careful scripting, from meticulous plotting to character development, which can be attributed to the screenplay written by playwright Michael Frayn. Combined with John Cleese, a comedic genius, the movie truly comes alive as a standout example of the British farce. Through the face of all the disasters that strike Brian's journey, Cleese keeps his character solid and grounded while still conveying plenty of annoyance at each inconvenience. Little is done visually to mask the the roots of the film being in the mind of a playwright, and there are some admittedly slow stretches, but pleasures far outweigh minor quibbles when enjoying comedy derived from such a solid pedigree.
The Wildcard - KIPPUR
Last week I talked about a documentary, PROMISED LAND, filmed directly after the Yom Kipur war by intellectual Susan Sontag as a meditation on the cost of war. This week, KIPPUR gives a personal view of the war through the eyes of an Israeli solider. I have no interest in politically motivated films based around historical events, so I approach this one with caution.
If you're looking for more...
The original Godzilla movie that started a 60-year-running franchise, GOJIRA, is now available. For all its copious flaws, the MY BLOODY VALENTINE remake sure has some fun moments. THE WAY THINGS GO is a 30 minute Rube Goldberg machine that will blow your mind. THE BLUE LAMP is a solid, gritty British crime drama. ESCAPE BY NIGHT is an imported Italian New Wave film from the sometimes overlooked director Roberto Rossellini. GALILEO is a solid biopic about the important scientist. Speaking of biopics, Stacy Keach plays the titular character in LUTHER, a character study of the man who rocked the Church. THE GOLEM, the classic, silent 1920s fantasy/horror, is worthy of your time. THE HOMECOMING, adapted by Harold Pinter from his own play, is a superb British drama about four men who shouldn't even be in the same room together living as roommates in London. PATTERNS is another film out of the UK, was written by Rod Serling, and is about corporate politics and intrigue. SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM is a highly entertaining blaxploitation horror. Paul Verhoeven's bleak teen story, SPETTERS, is available now. THE UGLY is a deeply flawed yet totally watchable New Zealand thriller. For kids, the Animagic feature MAD MONSTER PARTY? has been added. Finally, a compelling documentary about the murder of an elderly nun in Brazil, THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY, will leave you a bit shaken.
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