Friday, November 15, 2013

Weekend Stream for 11/15/13

The Weekend Stream is a weekly feature curating content from the current selection on Netflix's US streaming service for you to watch each weekend. Just click the links or search for the bolded titles on your preferred Netflix-watching device, and you're in business! Since content can disappear from Netflix with little or no warning, there's always a chance a title will no longer be available by the time you read this, so you'd better act fast, see?!

Weekend Stream for 11/15/13

Good day, friends! Thinking about this morning's review of Frances Ha, I decided this weekend's movie selections would play off of the films I've covered this week that slightly disappointed me. So one of my picks features Frances's lead, Greta Gerwig, in a supporting role, and the other is a movie with a similarly quirky/cheerful lead from the director of Monday's film, Abigail's Party. So let's get to it!

First, we have Ti West's throwback horror movie, The House of the Devil (2009)—and no, I didn't choose it solely because it was filmed not far from my hometown in Connecticut. The film stars Jocelin Donahue as Samantha, a strapped-for-cash college student who takes on a weirdly high-paying job babysitting for a man (the creepy as ever Tom Noonan) and his wife (Mary Woronov). The man claims they need Samantha to watch his difficult, elderly mother for the night, and that's why they pay so much, but her goofy best friend Megan (Gerwig) finds the whole set-up disturbing. Obviously, Megan is right, and the situation is way darker and more evil than Samantha expects. Shot with the grainy 16mm of a cheap '80s chiller, the film recaptures something of that era's "Satanic panic" in Samantha's ordeal. The scares are effective and slow-burning, more mental and creepy than torture porn flicks, and Samantha makes a resourceful heroine in spite of it all. Gerwig definitely stands out as the junk food–loving Megan, one of the few cheery spots in an otherwise anxiety-provoking film. Black and tense, The House of the Devil is a well-built horror movie whether you dig on its retro style or not.

Since Abigail's Party feels so dated and depressing, I thought it'd be nice to look at Mike Leigh's most upbeat film instead. Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) stars the terrific Sally Hawkins as Poppy, a primary school teacher with a relentlessly chipper demeanor. Much like Gerwig in Frances, Hawkins plays the character as a bundle of quirks, but where Frances was at least partly covering for her own disappointment, Poppy legitimately enjoys her life—even if no-one around her believes it. As ever, Leigh and the actors spent pre-production working out their characters and scenarios, nailing down just who they are and how they behave, and the resulting script was Oscar nominated. Though Poppy's cheerfulness is meant to be grating to the audience and to fellow characters—especially Scott (the brilliant Eddie Marsan), her repressed, rage-consumed driving instructor—over time we come to realize that she's not merely deluded or naive. She's choosing to be kind and positive, tilting at the largest windmill of them all: society's cold cynicism. At any rate, the film is hilarious, moving, and ultimately as warm-hearted as Poppy herself, making it a far cry from Abigail's miserabilism.

For this week's TV selection, I wish I could revisit some themes from The Dresser and share Slings and Arrows with you. Unfortunately, that seems to be on another break from streaming, so I'll have to go completely unrelated and recommend The Tick (2001) instead. Based on Ben Edlund's popular indie comic, The Tick stars Patrick Warburton as the titular superhero, a slow-witted, blue-suited, potentially-insane do-gooder prone to long monologues and cartoonish violence. He meets up with Arthur, an accountant who dresses in a homemade moth suit and also wishes to fight crime, but who lacks The Tick's strength and seeming invulnerability. The two form an unlikely hero-sidekick pair, and team up with allies like the suave Batmanuel (Nestor Carbonell) and feisty Captain Liberty (Liz Vassey) to battle jumped-up over-the-top villains—or, as the case tends to be, squabble among themselves in hilarious fashion. In adapting his work for live action, Edlund retains some of the comics' self-aware lunacy, but strikes a tone of campiness that didn't play well with audiences when the show aired. As a result, only nine episodes were produced, which combines with the show's light tone to make this an ideal series for binge-watching.

Anyway, please to consider enjoying any or all of this week's streaming selections for your viewing pleasure. We'll pick things back up again next week with some more delicious content for you to skim. Adios!

No comments:

Post a Comment