NFLX2019 May 17th: See You Yesterday

See You Yesterday. Stefon Bristol. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

What’s this then? From the name it sounds like a science fiction movie… but it’s produced by Spile Lee? Is that what he does these days? I kinda lost track of him in the 90s after a couple of kinda boring movies he did after the initial burst of great movies…

I was so intrigued that I did something that I rarely do before watching these Netflixes: I googled the movie.

Intriguingly enough, it’s got a 94% rating on Rottentomatoes, and an impossibly low 4.9 rating on imdb: When you get below 5 in imdb, you’re usually way into home movie territory… or the movie is subject to a Nazi block voting campaign.

And you can see why nazis would get upset about this movie: It’s about a teenage girl (*gasp*) who’s smart (*gasp*) and a nerd (*gasp*) and (*gasp*) black (*gasp*).

So I’m intrigued. Let the movie start!

The actors are very likeable. The cinematography bucks the current Netflix trend of colour-correcting everything into washed-out greys and leaves at least some splashes of colour, which I appreciate. I like that it’s very difficult to even tell what this movie is going to be about: Sure, there’s kids building a time machine, but at least this far (I’m 20 minutes in), it’s mostly like interpersonal drama and stuff.

Oh! And then the plot really starts at the mid-way point. I can understand them spending time on getting us to know the characters so that it feels important for the plot to work out… and it worked. Still, it feels excessively slow, and not in an interesting way.

The movie lacks energy.

I’m going to guess that the ending is going to annoy a lot of people, but I think it works.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 May 16th: Good Sam

Good Sam. Kate Melville. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

Watching Netflix Originals in this way, one by one based on release date but knowing nothing about them, I find myself playing the What Genre Is Netflix Making A Generic Movie In Now? game.

This is about a scrappy TV reporter? It’s very efficient: In the second scene, the scrappy TV reporter is being chewed out by her sergeant I mean managing editor for being too reckless and “it’s gotta stop”. Movies in this genre usually wait until at least the fifth scene to do that bit.

This movie has the odd distinguishing factor of being the first Netflix Originals movie that’s in modern TV format (i.e., 16:9): All the previous ones have been wider. This makes it look even more like a TV series, which I’m going to guess is on purpose. Or perhaps it was made as a TV series pilot?

It’s a very Made For TV Movie: The actors are attractive, but not particularly er good; things keep happening without anything being too intense; the cinematography is… there…

There’s also a “mystery” in here, but the solution to the mystery is so obvious that it’s *eye roll*.

It’s intensely pedestrian, but it’s not particularly annoying. I can well imagine that many people would find this a perfectly inoffensive way to spend 90 minutes.

IT”S SO BORING!

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 May 13th: Malibu Rescue

Malibu Rescue. . 2019. ☆☆☆☆☆★

So what’s this then? Is this a children’s movie… or is it at parody of a children’s movie?

OK, I’ve watched now for ten minutes and I still can’t tell. Perhaps it doesn’t matter? It’s weird as fuck anyway.

The actors are really fun. Everything is somewhat over the top, but they don’t go all the way into panto territory.

It’s about a bunch of kids from the Valley at spending the summer at Malibu Rescue summer camp. So you’ve got the conflict between the Valley kids and the stuck-up Malibu residents, of course.

Humour ensues.

The plot is great (for this sort of thing) and there’s plenty of amusing lines. Some of them really funny, even.

I’m still not sure whether this is a parody or not, but I really enjoyed all the silliness. For what it is, it’s just about perfect. It’s made with verve and conviction. It treads a very fine line between sincere children’s show and Naked Gun type insanity, but it masterfully manages not to veer into either of those directions.

Oh:

Following the film’s release, Netflix is planning to launch an eight-episode Malibu Rescue television series on June 3, 2019.

I probably won’t be watching that… Or will I?

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 May 10th: Wine Country

Wine Country. Amy Poehler. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

Oh wow. Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, Jason Schwartzman… Oh! And Poehler directed this!

From the name, I supposed that this would be a Netflix rip-off of that Pinot Noir movie that was all the rage a while back, but this looks more like a parody of that, which I’m all aboard with.

But after all these Netflix movies, I’m kinda wondering “well, how is Netflix going to fuck up this sure-thing-looking movie”…

Well, let’s roll and see what’s what.

… OK, I’m now half an hour in. There’s been some good jokes (and Tina Fey had most of them during her brief cameo), but it seems to lack energy. I mean, it’s enjoyable to watch, but it should just have more good jokes. It putters away in an amusing way, but that feels like a waste of talent.

With expectations reset, this is an enjoyable movie to watch. The performances are great and the plot flows in a pleasant way. It’s good. I smiled a lot. The disappointment is that it feels like it could have been great.

There are scenes in here that are just about perfect, though.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 May 3rd: The Last Summer

The Last Summer. William Bindley. 2019. ☆★★★★★

So… this is one of those teen dramedies about a pre-nostalgic “last summer”. There are jocks, there are nerds, there are Heathers.

It’s such a generic throwback of a movie.

I can’t decide whether the filmmakers are totally inept or they’re taking brave artistic choices: Everything is washed-out and often in somewhat bizarre colours. The lighting is insane: Even the children have bags under their eyes and look like they do meth on a regular basis. The audio is weirdly subdued for this type of movie: When you’d expect a slamming dubstep track, there’s a plunkly (that’s a word) guitar instead. When you expect the characters to drop some witty repartee, they just stand there… staring…

Some things are standard: All the teenagers look like they’re in their mid-20s. Some in their early 30s. Makes it difficult to tell the teenagers from their parents, but you know.

I’m guessing this was pitched to Netflix as a really cheaply made movie that everybody who loves teen rom coms will at least spent ten minutes with. So just another random walk in Netflix’ quest to have a library of movie-like objects they own themselves.

It’s insanely boring and virtually charmless.

Once in a while, there’s a joke that lands, but in this context I’m almost offended: “How dare you make me smile after boring me this much!” That’s unfair, I know, but it’s the truth.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 May 3rd: Despite Everything

Despite Everything. Gabriela Tagliavini. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

I went on a holiday for ten days, and then I had a cold for a week, so I’m way behind on my Netflixes. I seem to have eight movies to catch up with…

Well, that’s doable this weekend.

Let’s get started.

Hm… Oh, this is a Spanish movie? And it’s one of those modern, breezy Spanish ensemble comedies (with sudden pathos)? I like those.

Aand… Wow! This is one of those high concept movies, with a central conceit that so “MOVIE” that it makes your brain splode. Totally shameless. It reminds me of plots from 40s screwball comedies… although they wouldn’t have chosen exactly this plot. (Trey risque.) The scene where they explained the plot made me laugh out loud.

It get the formula almost exactly right: The four sisters go on a journey of discovery (and self-discovery) and do all the requisite things (like smoking pot in the car and singing along to a song) they have to do on the journey.

Like I said, it’s shameless, and I like that. But… For such a pile of clichés to work, it has to snap and pop, and some of the scenes are a bit on the limp side.

It’s perfectly charming and a fun way to spend 80 minutes.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 April 19th: Music Teacher

Music Teacher. Sarthak Dasgupta. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

I’ve been following the “drama” and “comedy” lists here and thinking that I was getting all the Netflix Originals. But then I noticed that I wasn’t getting “The Silence”, which I thought was a Netflix Original.

It turns out that it’s on this list instead, which is a list of movies Netflix doesn’t have distribution rights for in all markets. So is it a “Netflix” movie? Uhm…

If I’d know about this before I started, I would have added those movies to the plan, but I didn’t, and now it’s too late, so we’ll go with the original definition of “Originals”.

Besides, that stupid table doesn’t include any release years, annoyingly enough. And why is it split into all these sub-tables anyway instead of just adding more columns to segment and then people can sort as they want?

Gah.

ANYWAY. This movie!

Oh, it’s another Indian movie. Is this the first one in Hindi that I’ve seen in this blog series?

Most of the previous ones have been “social issue” movies, but this looks like it might be slightly more entertainment oriented…

Oh! And now he started singing! This is the first musical in this blog
series! Yay!

Or… perhaps it’s not a musical: The protagonist is a music teacher, so there’s a few natural chances to drop in some singing here and there without going full dance production.

This is a very good-looking movie: It’s got fabulous locations, sensitive cinematography and attractive and convincing actors.

It’s got a very simple plot of longing and love and regret and envy and is easy on the brain. I like it, but I feel it insisted on some bits for way too long.

And the denouement when we finally get to see this fabulously famous singer is a let-down because it’s autotuned and melodyned to death and the show looks kinda cheap.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.