NFLX2019 October 18th: Upstarts

Upstarts. Udai Singh Pawar. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

Indian movie. Hopefully it’s a comedy, because the serious Indian Netflix movies have been pretty dire.

Oh, darn. It’s a dramedy.

I think!

My initial thought was that this movie made fun up start-up culture and apps and stuff… but… perhaps it’s serious?

If it’s the latter, this is the stupidest movie ever. If it’s the former, the parody is so broad that it’s a bit on the embarrassing side. On the plus side, it’s a very professional-seeming movie. It looks and sounds nice and the actors deliver their moronic lines with conviction.

[time passes]

It’s not a parody.

Oh:

Upstarts is an upcoming Indian comedy-drama film directed by Udai Singh Pawar and Produced by Janani Ravichandran and Jawahar Sharma. […] Upstart was announced last year by Netflix among the nine films to be made by them.

So Netflix is ordering these movies by the dozens? Makes sense; they need to pad their library, I guess. Why anybody would want to watch these movies is another thing, but perhaps there’ll be a sufficient number of people from that area that puts the movie on by mistake and forget to switch it off to make it worthwhile.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 October 18th: Eli

Eli. Ciarán Foy. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

Whut… the titles said “Paramount” and then “MTV Movies” and then a bunch of other producers. So how is this a Netflix Original?

Oh:

In October 2017, Paramount Players acquired distribution rights to the film, and set it for a January 4, 2019 release. However, Netflix acquired distribution rights to the film from Paramount, when the studio reportedly couldn’t figure out how to market the film.

So the original studio thought they had a total dud on their hands so they foisted it off on Netflix. Well, that’s not an uncommon story.

I’m just a few minutes in, and I’m already pretty annoyed. The father talks in a voice that makes him sound like he’s auditioning for Batman XIII (but I’ve heard real Americans affect that range, so while it sounds stupid, it’s a real thing), and the kid is perpetually frightened and wide-eyed, and a decontamination chamber that’s a couple of blow-dryers… I forgot where I was going with that sentence.

Let’s concentrate on watching the movie instead!

[time passes]

I’m an hour in now, and I’ve lost all interest in this ghost story. I’m not sure just why it’s so unengaging: The scares aren’t bad, exactly… The audio is pretty efficient… perhaps it’s just because of the casting of the central family?

The end was surprising, though. Kudos for that.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 October 18th: The Laundromat

The Laundromat. Steven Soderbergh. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

Oh, shit. This is a didactic Soderbergh movie about money? Was this one filmed on an Iphone, too?

Soderbergh’s previous Netflix movie was one of the very few that I had to bail on because of pure tedium.

OK, I broke down and googled. This is based on the Panama Papers thing. Soderbergh has chosen a very knowing BUT OF COURSE EVERYTHING IS FUCKED UP and every scene is basically comedy.

I guess he’s going for “satire”.

But I have to stop being so negative. I loved Soderbergh back when, and he’s done a couple of things since that didn’t utterly totally suck. Perhaps this is going to be good?

*resets brain*

It looks pretty good. Perhaps this one wasn’t shot on an Iphone?

Indeed!

The Streep bits are pretty fun… but when it shifts to the next group of people all interest goes away. And then we get into Falun Gong… oy vey…

It all just goes stupid.

Perhaps my brain reset wasn’t sufficient, but I just think this is a bad movie. I can see what they’re going for (late-60s British satirical movie), but it’s pretty weak tea.

But Streep is fun to watch.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 October 18th: Seventeen

Diecisiete. Daniel Sánchez Arévalo. 2019. ☆☆☆☆☆★

Hey! A Spanish Netflix Original. I have hope!

[30 minutes pass]

I still have hope!

Actually, this is a pretty spiffy film. A lot kinda rests on the face of the seventeen-year-old in question, and he kinda aces it. He veers a bit between petulant and determined, but he keeps the intensity up.

It’s a ridiculously sentimental movie as only the Spanish can make. It’s got everything: Slightly strange teenagers, disappeared dogs, estranged brother, dying grandmothers, all in a road movie setting. No minimalism here.

Did I mention that it’s very funny? It’s very funny. I’m dreading the inevitable “third act” when they have to get all serious and stuff, though.

[time passes]

No! It didn’t happen! They kept it up until the very end! I don’t believe it.

I laughed, I cried: It’s perhaps an overly calculated sentimental movie, but it totally worked for me. Nice performances, good cinematography, sweet and funny story: It all came together.

Tarapara.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 October 12th: Street Flow

Street Flow. Kery James. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

The French title means… Suburbanites? I’m just guessing. I don’t know from French.

But I guess that doesn’t translate to the US. “Street Flow” is kinda generic, though.

It’s a quite stylish movie with good (and good-looking) actors. The plot is, however, of a pretty standard “it’s tough growing up on the streets, eh?” replete with one brother who’s a gangster and another who’s an over-achiever in the ecole and another who’s getting into trouble at school.

It’s a bit standard, but it’s a very likeable movie… Until the unfortunate third act when it all gets a bit didactic.

And with that I’m caught up with the Netflix Originals. It was a better batch than I’m used to. But there’s three more dropping tomorrow, so perhaps they’ll be more properly disappointing.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 October 11th: Fractured

Fractured. Brad Anderson. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

I’m half a minute in and I’m assuming they’re Shalamaying us.

[time passes]

So now I’m 15 minutes in and I’m still assuming that they’re Shyamalaning us, but even if they aren’t, the assumption is draining all fun out of the movie.

Not that there’d be much fun anyway. It’s a pretty turgid drama thriller thing where we’re supposed to feel excited about any incongruence. It’s got a really standard grey teal colour grading going on, and the actors are standard, and the cinematography (if you want to call it that) is standard.

OK, I’m now at 25 minutes, and they’re not Shyamalaying it the way I thought! Is the twist that there’s no twist!?

Oh yeah… they’re just assuming that we’ve never seen a movie with this plot before, and I guess such a person exists. I mean, everybody’s been nine at some point in their lives. Except those that are younger.

I usually don’t want to spoil movies, but I don’t think there’s anything here to spoil.

In summary: It’s Double Shyamalan. (I’m only 45 minutes in, though, so perhaps there’s a triple coming.)

[time passes]

Oh, well. They didn’t shyamalan it exactly the way I thought they were shyamalaning it, but it was pretty close.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 October 11th: The Forest of Love

The Forest of Love. Sion Sono. 2019. ☆★★★★★

This is such a bizarre movie. Netflix keeps is really mainstream with the movies they make (or have made) in the US, but they buy up the rights to some pretty oddball foreign movies.

But none as odd as this. I don’t even know how to start thinking about evaluating this movie. Is this a normal movie in some Japanese genre? Or is it as goofy as it seems?

I think it’s the latter: It’s meta as fuck and nothing makes much sense. I think it may be… a parody? of a Japanese indie/art movie?

It’s kinda funny here and there, but (at 45 minutes in, which isn’t even halfway through) my guess is that it’s going somewhere abject, so I’m prematurely disliking it because that’s where I think it’s going.

But there’s plenty to dislike even if that’s not where it’s going.

Hm… This was originally a TV series? But it’s been edited into a movie? Well, that explains the length, because as a movie it definitely can’t carry that many minutes.

No:

It’s also a movie that reckons — perhaps regretfully — with the fine line between performing trauma and enacting trauma, and how the mania of artistic creation can accommodate any number of sins.

It’s a sophomoric, boring mess that has nothing to say beyond the director wanting to film just these scenes.

I bailed after 90 minutes of sheer boredom. And I’ve watched Out 1.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.