Netflix: 5 Hidden Gems

Netflix: 5 Hidden Gems

As Netflix continues to expand its grasp on entertainment by looking to original TV series with Hollywood names like Miss Jean Grey Famke Jenssen (Hemlock Grove) and Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), it’s easy to forget that Netflix started as a way of watching movies. For those that are bored with TV show marathons and standup, wherein Mikael/Here’s Johnny can be properly offended, I’ve picked up five newly added or hidden gems.

Paranorman (2012)

This seems like a thing a kid should have.

This seems like a thing a kid should have.

For:

  • Fans of quality stop-motion animation
  • Fans of quality stop-motion animation not made by Tim Burton
  • Kids that are maybe too mature for The Smurfs
  • Evil Dead enthusiasts

The Skinny:

Norman is your average preteen boy. Well, besides his amazing ability: he can see and communicate with ghosts. Dubbed a social pariah and wildly misunderstood by his family, Norman soon stumbles upon an ancient evil with the power to destroy his town. Now, Norman must embrace the abilities that have made him an outcast in order to become a hero.

This movie meets the criteria of most critically acclaimed kid’s fare by offering impressive animation, laughs, and great voice acting. However, beneath the surface is a unexpectedly mature storyline and some morbid humor (i.e. troubles with a dead body). Like Rocko’s Modern Life, this movie has everything for kids and those hidden touches to keep the accompanying parents interested.

Safe (2012)

Can we have the title again without the gun in our faces?

Can we have the title again without the gun in our faces?

For:

  • Men that need a reason to say bald can be sexy
  • People that like watching Jason Statham be Jason Statham
  • Fans of the punching and the shooting and the baw haw haw
  • Parents that need a reason to say having a genius child isn’t always a good thing

The Skinny:

Mei and Luke Wright have problems. Mei is being held by the New York City triads against her will to do genius level math. Recently, she’s just been asked to memorize an important number that holds the code to the entire Triad underworld. Luke leads an equally miserable life forces him away from human contact (people die, but that’s really too hard to get into right now). However, when their paths cross, Luke finds something to fight for and tears his way through the city’s criminal underbelly to free Mei.

Okay, so the plot is a bit ludicrous [ed. In a Jason Statham movie? Noooooooo waaaaay.], but the movie features some of Statham’s best fight work and locations to keep action fans happy.

Witness (1985)

You can take that electricity and SHOVE IT.

You can take that electricity and SHOVE IT.

For:

  • Folks looking to see Sgt. Murtaugh go bad
  • Folks looking to see Han Solo in Amish garb
  • Fans of a good barn raising
  • Your mom, who’s still in love with Harrison Ford

The Skinny:

After a young Amish boy witnesses a murder, city cop John Book (Ford) joins the boy’s family in the countryside to keep him safe. The simple premise is bolstered by Ford’s only Academy Award nominated performance as the tough, torn, and often hilarious Book, and a respectful and non-exploitative look into the Amish way of life. While most Ford movies go for high action the tension, this film is all glorious slow burn. Other Ford movies might be more exciting, but this is easily his most moving work.

Sidenote for cinema fans: You can also catch glimpses of Viggo Mortensen as an extra!

Evil Dead

A chin to rival Leno.

A chin to rival Leno.

For:

  • The Bruce Campbell Fan Club (Acting President Present)
  • Horror Comedy fans
  • Anyone who doesn’t trust trees

The Skinny:

The movie that launched the careers of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell follows a crew of teenagers that visit a cabin in the woods for fun. After the group plays a recording of an ancient evil text, a powerful force begins to pick off the group one by one. While the remake aimed for a flat out horror movie, the original’s low budget, over-the-top performances, and small-time production values all contribute to a movie that is both frightening and funny. Horror comedies may well trace back to this very movie. If you’re a fan of this one, the sequels–Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness–are no-brainers.

Fun fact: Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell achieved the rapid zoom effect by running through the woods with the camera suspended on an apparatus between them.

Oldboy

Submitted without comment. Helmet not included.

Submitted without comment. Helmet not included.

For:

  • Fans of revenge tales
  • Anyone who ever wants to try Extreme Sushi™
  • Hammer enthusiasts
  • Korean cinephiles

The Skinny:

Before the Spike Lee remake comes out, I highly recommend checking out Korean director Chan-wook Park’s finest film. On a completely average day, Dae-su is inexplicably attacked and imprisoned. After 15 years of mental torment, he is mysteriously let go and told to find his former captor in five days. Thus begins Dae-su’s perilous quest for revenge.

In terms of tension, it’s hard to find another movie that maintains the mystery so well while also providing great characterization and quality cinematography. Standouts include a continuous take fight scene that works its way down a hall and the grossest sushi bar you can ever imagine. Not for the faint of heart, but you’ll certainly never forget this one.

For future viewing: If you like this movie check out the rest of Park’s “Revenge” trilogy with Symathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance.

 

What are your favorite flicks on Netflix? My next review can feature your selections!

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