NFLX2019 July 12th: Point Blank

Point Blank. Joe Lynch. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

OK, after a couple of holidays I’m back on the Netflix Originals beat. My mission: To watch all the movies Netflix has released this year, according to the list compiled by these people.

Right off the bat, this movie rubbed me the wrong way. The actors are pretty charming, but the lines are so slick and made-for-TV that it’s just maddening: The way they “as you know Bob” each other without actually saying “as you know Bob” is chalk-scratchingly annoying.

But as the movie gets going, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, the plot is cornier than a maize tortilla wrapped around an ear, and it doesn’t move fast enough for this kind of thing, but it’s (totally opposite of what I assumed after the opening lines) an unassuming, goofy action movie.

I mean, how can anybody not enjoy a car chase scene with a PT Cruiser while there’s Sigue Sigue Sputnik on the soundtrack?

There’s some horribly boring scenes in between the fun, though.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 June 19th: Beats

Beats. Brian Welsh. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

I thought this was going to be the usual rags to rap riches story, but instead it’s an unusual rags to rap riches story. It’s got PTSD and mental illness and stuff.

It turns out that everything needed to get well is some hard truths from an older man.

The acting’s kinda lame. Well, it varies between really really bad (the label boss) and acceptable (the manager).

When the movie focuses on the music career and the kid it’s OK, but the rest is So Much Drama.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 June 14th: Murder Mystery


Murder Mystery. Kyle Newacheck. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

Oh deer. Adam Sandler. Jennifer Aniston. And the director has a long an undistinguished career in television.

But, you know, Netflix is TV, so…

I assumed that this was going to completely horrendous, but it’s actually not that bad. The concept here is that Aniston and Sandler are working class Americans incongruously dropped into the midst of a bunch of very, very high class Brits in Malaga, and hilarity is supposed to ensue.

It’s kinda unpretentious silliness, really, set in a classic English murder mystery setting.

That said, so many of these scenes don’t really work. It’s like they’re almost there, but then the jokes just aren’t delivered fast enough, so you get an awkward pause where insanity should be. Or perhaps the jokes just aren’t funny enough.

But it’s way, way better than it has any reason to be. It rolls along in a very pleasant way and there’s a bunch of chuckles to be had.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 June 7th: Elisa & Marcela

Elisa & Marcela. Isabel Coixet. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

Another Spanish Netflix Original? Sure, I’m game.

And it’s in black and white? Great. But… it looks kinda like an odd black and white? It’s looks a bit washed out… as if it was done on colour video and then they just dropped all the colour? I don’t know. But I’m oddly reminded of El abrazo de la serpiente. I mean, the movies couldn’t be more different, but I wonder whether the idea of not using colour while filming in famously scenic South America stems from the same place: i.e., going against cliché.

It’s been savagely panned by the critics, so I’m an optimist: Perhaps this’ll be great?

There’s a lot here I like: The languid pacing, the cameras getting way up into the actors’ faces, the two main actors themselves, the sparing use of music.

But it’s no masterpiece, unfortunately. The other characters are just too schematic and the dialogue doesn’t convince.

The squid thing is odd.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 May 30th: Chopsticks

Chopsticks. Sachin Yardi. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

Hey, yet another Indian movie…

They have been of more variable quality than the American movies (which are mostly er not very good), so perhaps this’ll be good? It’s a comedy, at least.

This is mainly a Hindi-speaking film (I think?), but when they speak English (as all Indians seem to do at the drop of a hat), the subtitles disappear and it’s all pretty incomprehensible.

It’s got some pretty charming actors. Especially the lead, Mithila Palkar, is great as the hapless young woman doing her level best to live her life. The problem is that that level is so modest that you can’t help respond to most of these scenes with OH NOOOOOOOES! So there’s some cringe, but it winds its way through its plot in a quite pleasant way. It’s well made, but slight.

I laughed out loud at the antics here and there.

Uhm:

Like the inconvenient cutlery it is named after, there’s little reason to try it if there are alternatives to be found.

That’s a weird flex, but whatevs.

The plot is basically Pygmalion, but in a very tidy Indian underworld. The education she’s subjected to feels more than a little abusive at times, though. And some of the twists are just too too.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 May 31st: Always Be My Maybe

Always Be My Maybe. Nahnatchka Khan. 2019. ☆☆☆☆☆★

Hey, this looks cute. It’s about two friends growing up?

Wow, that’s a weird song choice. Young Americans (by David Bowie) in a horrible cover version? Didn’t want to pay for the rights or would it be too obvious that that’s a horrible choice of a song to play over a montage of two kids having fun at a fair?

Other than that weird scene, this is such a slick movie. It’s so professional: All the sets are perfect; the actors are just right for the characters; the lines zip as if they’ve been polished just the right amount of time; the cinematography is colourful and stylish.

Which sounds like I think this is a bit soulless? A bit too calculated? A bit too generated by a Netflix algo?

But no, I’m really enjoying this. It wouldn’t have worked without the charming actors, but it just meanders amiably, which I like. While it’s obvious what some of the beats in the movie are going to be, the plot isn’t completely predetermined.

It’s funny. And Keanu is hilarious playing a fictional version of himself.

(The jokes about high-end food are a bit tired and the pivot to “genuine” food is *eye roll*.)

After I started this Netflix blog project I’ve been asked several times (that is, three?) whether there’s any of the movies I’d just randomly recommend. My answer has been “no” until now. I loved Paris Is Us, but I know that nobody else did, and Polar was nihilistic fun, but, again, everybody else hated it. But I think this may be the first Netflix Original that I’d say “yeah, watch that”. It’s not a great movie, but it’s almost perfect for what it is.

Bring all your hankies.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 May 24th: Rim of the World

Rim of the World. McG. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

It’s a sci-fi movie by the guy who produces Supernatural? Sure, I’m in.

Oh, it’s a movie for children. Oh, well.

Hey, it’s kinda amusing. Lots of kooky characters; some great lines.

Heh heh. I laughed out loud in real life loudly. This is funny!

As with Malibu Rescue, I’m not totally sure whether this is meant for children or whether it’s a for stoned adults. Sine of the gags are a bit too gross for them to be for children, and the body count is too high, you’d have thought… But perhaps not?

And weirdly enough, once the aliens finally attack, it gets less interesting. There are individual scenes that are funny, and there are good action scenes, but something about the timing seems off. It’s not that it’s hugely over-long or anything, but it doesn’t zip the way it should. And some of the CGI is pretty unimpressive.

But… it is fun.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.