The great thing about Netflix is that it gives you a lot of TV and movie watching options. The bad thing about Netflix is that it gives you…a lot of TV and movie watching options. To cut down on your Netflix search and discover time, Netfix aims to ease the process of parsing the good from the bad. The great from the not so great. From action films to foreign dramas, we’re raked the catalogs to offer only the finest that the preeminent streaming service has to offer. So settle in, get your remotes ready and prepare for the red wave of Netfix to wash over you.
FOUR LIONS (Christopher Morris, 2014)
With strings of rage spittle soaring from his mouth, turban-wearing Muslim extremist Barry (Nigel Lindsay) spouts, “We’ve got women talking back; we’ve got people playing stringed instruments; it’s the end of days.” Such is the deadpan, black humor on triumphant display in Christopher Morris’ searing social satire Four Lions. The film explores the plight of the wanna-be jihadist, probing deep-seated racial stereotypes by extrapolating on the psuedo-reality of Western World’s perception of “Islam”. The narrative is intentionally warped in its comical lampooning and exists like some bizarre nightmare playing out in the heads of Fox New’s most fear-mongering broadcasters. The riotous asocial 9/11 commentary at once commits to being zany and whip-smart, with the cast of inept terrorists (including Nightcrawler’s Riz Ahmed) offering generous hysterics to all willing to laugh at their own prejudices. Xenophobia (and terrorism) has never been this funny.
THE TRIP TO ITALY (Michael Winterbottom, 2014)
It’s easy to dismiss The Trip to Italy as something less than it is. But you’d be mistaken to do so. Michael Winterbottom’s follow-up to 2010’s The Trip may be a soul-searching deconstruction of man’s mid-life crisis; it may be a dilapidated, head-scratching cousin to the Food Network and Travel Channel’s globe-trotting culinary expositions that have become so wildly popular of late; it may be a quest to unravel the mysticism of Lord Byron’s romantic poetry by revisiting many of his most frequented sites; but most of all, it’s an absolutely hysterical dark comedy that doesn’t let up until the fat lady sings. And by absolutely hysterical, I mean gut-busting, knee-slapping, can’t stop yourself from cackling hysterical. From Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s spot-on impersonation battles (including Michael Caine’s exulted return and Roger Moore’s Bond’s “Mooovee!”) to their running, riffing stream of consciousness (“Come quat. Quat come!”) and onward into the darker corner’s of their loneliness, self-doubt and troubled family lives, The Trip to Italy isn’t afraid to mix earnest sentiment and sensitive reflection in with their spirited, enthusiastic drollery. A comedy masterpiece that’s gone criminally ignored, make The Trip to Italy yourself. And do it soon.
TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL (Eli Craig, 2010)
There’s no way we’re getting out of here without a horror entry and there’s no better horror satire of late than Eli Craig’s Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Craig’s feature debut showcased a brilliantly satirical dichotomy of misunderstanding and fear in the context of familiar horror tropes. Pitting a duo of lovable, wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly rednecks (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) against a slew of confused, sexed-up teenagers, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil makes the character’s misguided assumptions the real villain. As both groups flee from one another in absolute terror, they end up ensnared in various environmental pitfalls that end up claiming their lives. It’s a snowball of physical comedy and increasing stakes, with Tudyk and Labine refueling the laugh tank scene-by-scene. For those who don’t mind a little viscus in their ha-ha’s, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is a surefire way to get your laugh factory going.
WETLANDS (David Wnedt, 2014)
Certainly not one for the squeamish, Wetlands introduces us to its scuzzy id almost immediately. The film’s first scene has our sex-obsessed protagonist (an 18 year-old German nymphette) entering what appears to be the grossest toilet in all of Europe (exclusing perhaps Trainspotting’s unfathomably grotesque boudoir). She de-panties, lifts up the seat and resumes to swish around the pube/pee/I-don’t-wanna-know-infested toilet bowl with her bare tush, collecting – as she would say – some meaty specimens. Filled with fist-biting scenes of yuck that dare to continue one-up themselves in terms of sheer grossness, Wetlands is liberal with its liberal POV, putting the fun in feminism (ok fine, there’s no fun in feminism, but stick with me.) Definitely not one for the faint of heart, David Wnendt’s narrative gets almost unbearable disgusting but those willing to ride the sloppy train to finish are in store for a rich cuming-of-age story that packs in just as much belly laughs as it does improbable discomfort and sincere character moments.
SIGHTSEERS (Ben Wheatley, 2012)
From a distance, Sightseers could viewed as a comedy of errors meets a road trip movie meets a horror film. From prolific genre director Ben Wheatley, Sightseers takes us on a journey with Chris (Steve Oram) and his girlfriend Tina (Alice Lowe) who travel the UK countryside stopping in diners, frequenting museums, and scouting the fog-filled scenery. And killing unsuspecting strangers. The first scene sets the pace when Tina’s moaning mom (still lamenting the loss of her dog) spouts, “You’re not a friend, you’re a relative.” Beat down by life and forlorn, Alice and Chris decide to exact their (very restrained, very English) rage on a host of credulous victims as their thirst for sanguine turns into bloody hysterics. Wheatley’s brand of quiet, biting humor opens up into something much more openly playful when the bodies start piling up, marking Sightseers as the odd serial killer flick that’ll make you LOL with the best of them.