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Posts Tagged ‘Netflix’

Message from the King

Friday, September 4th, 2020

MESSAGE FROM THE KING is Chadwick Boseman’s 2016 (pre-BLACK PANTHER) action(ish) vehicle, released straight to Netflix. I always meant to watch it – I’m sorry it took me a tragedy to get to it. It’s pretty good.

It follows the classic noir tradition of the outsider who comes into town because a loved one went missing or died, starts asking around, spying on people, finds out what happened, and goes after the people responsible. I tend to like that story format – in fact, I kind of played off of it in my book Niketown, now that I think about it.

The specific version of this type of story that MESSAGE FROM THE KING reminds me of most is THE LIMEY. That’s both a compliment (I love THE LIMEY and movies like it) and bad news (unsurprisingly it’s not as good as THE LIMEY), but I couldn’t avoid the comparison. Instead of British he’s South African, instead of a daughter it’s his sister, and instead of her being involved with an older music producer it’s an older movie producer. But it’s a similar thing of a guy from another culture going around to rich people parties, barging into front businesses, angering macho thugs who don’t know who he is and underestimate him, playing dumb but exploding into a few sudden bursts of brutal violence. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Old Guard

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

THE OLD GUARD is a pretty good Pandemic Summer blockbuster, because I’m sure it would’ve felt underwhelming if it had been advertised for months and played on the big screen, but as a movie I read mentioned once or twice and never saw promoted until shortly before it dropped on Netflix, it was enjoyable.

In the opening scenes it almost seems like another one in the tradition of CLOSE and EXTRACTION – militarized elite mercenaries or whatever, all geared up with their guns and armor and headsets, on a mission to rescue kidnapped kids in a Muslim country (South Sudan this time). But there are little hints that something else is up – wait, is that guy carrying a sword? They have a team, too, instead of one burnt out loner who’s messed up about losing a kid. Their leader is Andy (Charlize Theron, with hair and physicality that reminded me she was AEON FLUX), who thinks they should be laying low, but reluctantly agrees to meet with this ex-CIA guy Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor, TRIPLE 9) for intel.

It turns out to be a trap. They breach the place and the walls close in on them and some guys come out and machine gun them. A minute later is when we get to the real premise – the team wake up, the bullets drop out of their wounds, they heal and they stand up and kill those motherfuckers with that sword and a cool ax and some kung fu and shit. (Fight coordinator: Daniel Hernandez, xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, AVENGERS: ENDGAME, VENOM.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Extraction

Monday, April 27th, 2020

EXTRACTION seems to be getting good promotion as far as non-awards-contender-made-for-Netflix movies go. And there aren’t movie theaters at the moment anyway, so it was the hot movie to see this weekend. I’m glad they figured out a way to get people interested – I’ve been anticipating it for a while, but “it’s the first movie directed by the stuntman who did the action direction for ATOMIC BLONDE and WOLF WARRIOR II” maybe doesn’t have the same currency with normal people as it does for me.

Sam Hargrave has been the Captain America stunt double since the first THE AVENGERS, and a Marvel fight/stunt coordinator/second unit director since CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, so he was well known to “visionary directors” Joe and Anthony Russo, who used their Marvel money to start the production company/studio AGBO. And they were wise enough to get him as director for this movie based on their 2014 graphic novel Ciudad (written with Ande Parks, adapted for the screen by Joe Russo). (read the rest of this shit…)

6 Underground

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

“There’s a lot of priceless stuff in this movie, like where we have cars flying between an obelisk. Why they allowed me to have flying cars by an obelisk that’s 800 years old, I don’t know.” —Michael Bay

By popular demand I watched 6 UNDERGROUND, Michael Bay’s mysteriously straight-to-Netflix movie starring Ryan Reynolds (R.I.P.D.). Not that I was against watching it when it came out in December, but I had other shit to do, and you know how it is without a theatrical window – less urgency.

I say “mysterious” because I really couldn’t figure out why Bay – who has spent his entire career with pretty much no other goal but to make the biggest, loudest, fuck-you-est, blockbuster spectacles he can manage – would be willing to make a DTV movie. The explanations I heard were not convincing:

1. “For the money.” I just cannot believe that Bay needs more money than a studio will pay him

2. “They’ll let him do what he wants.” Having seen TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT I also cannot believe that anyone ever says “no” to him.

But now that I’ve seen it I guess I sort of get it. Other than an opening that earned a seizure warning – Bay intentionally trying to be disorienting is a hell of a thing – his messy action plays well on the small screen, and it’s nice to see him applying his anti-social tendencies to R-rated action again. As long as he for some reason doesn’t mind skipping theaters, and Netflix continues to have a magic money tree to dump into expensive things that nobody pays extra to see, they make a good team. (read the rest of this shit…)

Marriage Story

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

MARRIAGE STORY seems like kind of a cheeky name for a movie about a divorce. I first learned of writer-director Noah Baumbach by seeing his fourth movie as a director, THE SQUID AND THE WHALE. That was a movie clearly based on his childhood during his parents’ divorce, and here’s one clearly based on a divorce he himself had years after making that movie. The circle of life. Hakuna matata. Did you know he was a writer on MADAGASCAR 3?

The best-picture-nominated-straight-to-Netflix-but-it’s-coming-to-Criterion MARRIAGE STORY has all the dry humor, smart dialogue and outstanding, emotional performances his movies are known for (three of them also Oscar nominated), and the heartache and discomfort the topic demands, but somehow it feels kind of… warm for Baumbach? And even kind of romantic?

Part of that comes down to our Noah Baumbach character — I mean our male lead — not coming across as as much of a self-regarding dickbag as some of the others. Charlie (Adam Driver, one episode of Law & Order, WHILE WE’RE YOUNG) runs a small New York theater company, directing plays that often star his wife Nicole (Scarlett Johansson, THE SPIRIT), a former teen movie star. Charlie is entirely at fault for the dissolution of the marriage, he has the least excusable behavior and turns out to have serious emotional issues he’s left unaddressed. But he seems to be going at this divorce thing in good faith, trying to do it as amicably as possible, even trying to stay friends. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Irishman

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Well, this is the world now: Martin Scorsese has an excellent new gangster epic starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino (plus Harvey Keitel!) and it pretty much went direct to video. Not “We can’t justify the budget for a theatrical DARKMAN 2” DTV, just “It’s easier to get money from Netflix than from a real movie studio” DTV. I wish I had gotten my shit together to see it in its week at Cinerama, like many of my friends did – I’m glad I managed to see ROMA and DOLEMITE IS MY NAME in theaters. But for THE IRISHMAN: I HEARD YOU PAINT HOUSES (actual onscreen title) I turned the lights off, put the phone far away and got the ol’ attention span out of storage for the full cinematic living room experience.

It’s written by Steve Zaillian (SCHINDLER’S LIST, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, GANGS OF NEW YORK, AMERICAN GANGSTER, MONEYBALL, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) but it definitely has some of that GOODFELLAS spirit: tons of narration (sometimes with gimmicks, like it’s in his head then switches to fourth-wall breaking), jumping around through time, quick comical/horrifying cutaways to things he mentions, some slo-mo, nearly wall-to-wall music, but also some guitar noodling (the score is by Robbie Robertson). And there’s a long steadicam shot at the beginning but instead of going into a hot club it’s going into an assisted living joint. So this is old man GOODFELLAS. (read the rest of this shit…)

In the Shadow of the Moon

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON is the latest from director Jim Mickle, whose work I really dig – my favorites are the Joe Lansdale crime story COLD IN JULY and the horror remake WE ARE WHAT WE ARE, but also check out MULBERRY ST., STAKE LAND and Hap & Leonard. This is a little different for him – it seems much more expensive than all his other movies, it has some science fiction involved, and it’s credited to other writers (Gregory Weidman & Geoffrey Tock of the tv shows Limitless and Zoo). It’s a Netflix production that played Fantastic Fest in September, then went straight to streaming.

It opens five years from now in the aftermath of what looks like a massive terrorist attack. We just get a glimpse of the damage before it skips back to 1988 (the year DIE HARD came out) and intercuts between a few different Philadelphians – a bus driver, a fry cook, a concert pianist – all of whom get sudden nosebleeds, then bleed from the ears and eyes, then fall dead.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Point Blank (2019)

Monday, August 26th, 2019

POINT BLANK (2019) is a recent Netflix release directed by Joe Lynch (WRONG TURN 2, EVERLY). It’s not a remake of the classic Lee Marvin POINT BLANK from 1967, or the non-classic Mickey Rourke/Danny Trejo POINT BLANK from 1998, or even the Brazilian police corruption documentary POINT BLANK from 2015, but in fact the French one from 2010 that was recommended to me many times but that I haven’t seen yet. Of the three of those I’ve seen, this one’s in second place!

It’s got a great, “oh shit, we’re already doing this” opening. There’s an exterior shot of a mansion at night, but before the camera can move inside we hear gunshots and see flashes inside, and then a guy comes flying through one of the windows and makes a run for it. He’s Abe (Frank Grillo, MY SOUL TO TAKE) and he’s frantically trying to get ahold of his getaway driver brother Mateo (Christian Cooke) in between ducking gunshots and receiving threatening texts from some guy named Big D.

And then… I’ll just say he ends up an unconscious John Doe at a hospital, which is where he intersects with our protagonist, Paul (Anthony Mackie, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER), a nurse doing extra shifts because his wife Taryn (Teyonah Parris, CHI-RAQ, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK) is about to give birth to their first child. And the next thing you know Mateo has taken Taryn hostage to force Paul to sneak Abe out of the hospital. (read the rest of this shit…)

Triple Frontier

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

TRIPLE FRONTIER is last week’s straight-to-Netflix-no-theaters release from director J.C. Chandor (MARGIN CALL, ALL IS LOST, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR). This one is higher profile than most such releases because it floated around various big name directors and studios before Netflix bought it with the bottomless money supply their CEO famously received by catching a magic fish, and it stars Oscar Isaac (SUCKER PUNCH), Ben Affleck (ELEKTRA, director’s cut only), Charlie Hunnam (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD), Garrett Hedlund (TRON LEGACY) Pedro Pascal (THE GREAT WALL) and Adria Arjona (PACIFIC RIM UPRISING). It’s such a big deal for the company that they made the uncharacteristic choice of promoting its existence!

Isaac plays Santiago “Pope” Garcia, an American advising the Colombian military in violent raids on drug gangs. His informant/sometime-girlfriend Yovanna (Arjona) claims to know the location of a jungle fortress where cartel boss Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos, MONKEY TROUBLE) hides out with all his money. So Pope goes back to the states to recruit some of his old retired spec ops buddies as a team to go in and do reconnaissance and pocket a percentage of the money the police ultimately seize.

At least that’s what he says until they get there, and then it becomes clear that the police don’t know anything about it yet. He wants his buddies to do a heist with him. Ah, shit, Pope. Are you kidding me with this shit? (read the rest of this shit…)

Polar

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

POLAR (a new Netflix original, exactly like ROMA) is one of these movies about a legendary hitman trying to retire. And it’s the type that takes place in a very exaggerated world where murder-for-hire is a thriving business populated with many quirky and talented individuals possessing a flair for fashion and creative violence. It seems like if it’s not inspired by the JOHN WICK saga it’s at least given aid and comfort by it, but technically it’s based on a comic book that started in 2012. Polar was a web comic, improvised by writer/artist Victor Santos in black, white and orange, and posted one page at a time, with no dialogue until it was later collected into a graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics. The movie is far from silent or monochrome and it’s more structured than that sounds like it would be, but when you hear it’s based on a comic book it makes plenty of sense. (read the rest of this shit…)