Summer is approaching its end, but for some of us in Canada we’re still taking in the heavy air, elevated electric bills, sticky heat and ample excuses to keep our asses inside.
In August, the streaming service is welcoming a crop of new original content, from a three-art animated show about life and love in China ( Flavors of Youth) to a docu series about death-row inmates and the details of their crimes ( I Am A Killer).
And even if these aren’t up your alley, Netflix is bringing more to the original content side with Like Father, an original film starring Kristen Bell, and the bestselling YA adaptation of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Sure, it’s just another reminder that nothing is sacred in the world of Netflix, but I’m here to at least parse through the filmic trash so you can catch what’s good while supplies last.
Let’s just get it out of the way—Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile is cliché. On one corner, there’s Eminem—the downtrodden, wasted talent-having Detroit punk who could spit fourteen syllables a line ( Rocky). His days are spent choking stale detroit winds of stagnation as he lives out the broken dreams of a poor white trash existence (still Rocky). By his side, there’s the mystical negro, fake-dreaded Mekhi Phifer (Future) whose whole shtick is to pester his friend about his wasted rap-battling genius (Paulie, in Rocky). And then his opponent, the prep-school going Papa Doc—“his real name’s Clarence.” But whatever. 8 Mile is still qualifying in all its cliches because we can never resist a good underdog movie even when unoriginal.
Trash acting. Trash plot. Trash Costume. 90s Dennis Quaid. Cheese all over the joint. But maybe you like cheese. Bare in mind, this is summer of ‘96 levels of dairy we’re talking about: Independence Day, Twister, The Rock swiss-cheese. So forgive the moments when Dennis Quaid—a professional Dragon-slayer—opens his mouth to belt out an English accent mixed with Scottish and equal parts South American. Forgive the instance when Drago suddenly goes “Disney“ and speaks with a Sean Connery voice as the whole thing devolves into a bad prehistoric Naked Gun. Just embrace the silliness.
The Land Before Time
The 1980s—it was a simpler time, it was a better time. Dinosaurs made sense without the scientific accuracy getting in the way here. Remember when they ruined the Velociraptor by turning it into some wing-coat having freak? Or when they decided to kill off the Brontosaurus because it apparently didn’t exist? (The main character in this joint). Well, it was a simpler time, and this movie is still fucked up. You’re lead into this world of adorably animated dinosaurs who you can’t help but love, and meanwhile you’re that kid sitting in front of the tube as you ask your parents, “aren’t the dinosaurs dead?”And they go pale knowing the mistake they’ve made in purchasing this Don Bluth directed Requiem for a Dream ass flick.
Michael Jackson’s This Is It
Watching perfectionism at work makes for good watching. Add the lord of dance himself Michael Jackson and you’re getting a decent two-hour long concert film, stripped from 120 hours of digital-video footage of Michael Jackson rehearsing for his promised comeback that never came to be. Kenny Ortega manages to capture Michael Jackson’s illuminating state of mind in the midst of lingering allegations about his conduct, health and overall sanity in the early 2000s. A must watch.
This is the worst Michael Mann directed film since Miami Vice, but still...it’s Michael Mann. The Heat, Manhunter, Thief and Collateral Michael Man, so understand when I say that this isn’t a bad movie, it’s just not Michael Mann good. This one stars Johnny Depp playing infamous American bank robber, John Dillinger, and Christian Bale, the FBI detective tasked with catching him. That’s it. A game of cat and mouse without much else of substance in-between. Still, there’s some entertainment here.
Rise of the Guardians
The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy among other staples of fairy tales go up against some malicious spirit determined to destroy the innocent beliefs of children. What do you want? It’s a 2002 made animation for kids. At the very least, it’s the perfect philosophical kush film about deterioration of social optimism. Or something.
This is your standard-issue action claptrap with a dash of Denzel Washington and his affinity for dangerous characters. He plays one of the more dangerous renegades from the CIA and re-enters the grid to stay at a safehouse following decade long run. When the safehouse predictably gets raided by some mercenaries, rookie operative Ryan Reynolds has to escape with him. A typical buddy comedy without the focus on comedy and some actiony stuff to go with it.
Touch of Evil
A black and white 1958 crime drama classic. Directed by the legendary Orson Welles ( Citizen Kane) centers around a narcotics detective on his honeymoon as he lock horns with a shady sheriff while investigating the explosion of a car crossing the US-Mexico border. I read that Kevin Bacon cited this one as a reason to why he became an actor, so it has to be good, right?
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
This movie was just an excuse for Kevin Smith (Silent Bob) and Jason Mewes (Jay) to be what they always were (nerds, stoners) while cashing in on that Hollywood bread. You’ll find the usual weed, fart and dick jokes, along with satisfiedly pandering references to Star Wars here.
It’s kinda weird to take a kid to see this movie knowing that the whole concept is a lie—like 60 percent of your entire childhood. The plot revolves around an animated wading bird (Andy Samberg) and an orphaned human being raised by storks who gave up the baby delivering thing. It’s a clever take and funny, but good luck when your kid starts asking if there’s some truth to it. A gateway sex talk of a movie if I ever saw one.
Shortly after takeoff, an Airbus 320 crash-lands on the Hudson River. No fatalities, but the captain (Tom Hanks) faces some scrutiny and the glare of fame. It’s important to note that this one was directed by Clint Eastwood who, despite his problematic politics, is a pretty damn decent director.
A furrow browed Liam Neeson whodunit action flick with the right side of B-movie meat. Director Jaume Collet-Serra places the almost self-poradied actor in yet another situation of an insurance salesman/ex-cop (of course he is) that gets wrapped up in a criminal conspiracy (like every Liam Neeson character ever). Some good watching.
So get this story: a trio of white kids go into a blind man’s house (Stephen Lang) to rob him but turns out the blind man has some supersensory powers and isn’t about to call the police. He’s just gonna kill em. So the whole movie is a cat and mouse chase around this murderous blind man’s home as he attempts to kill his intruders through sound. This Fede Alvarez directed film is not as funny as it reads.
One of the few Netflix originals I’m willing to mention as you really can’t trust Netflix and their originals. This is mostly thanks to Matt Groening’s direct involvement, creator of The Simpsons, who seems to be spearheading this new animated series. Plot wise, it follows the misadventures of a hard-working princess and her elf companion and personal demon. Granted, Matt’s been off his writing game for a while now, but here’s to hoping he can bring develop some fresh eyes with a different network.
In this Gavin O'Connor film, you got Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff socially inept math savant who specializes in uncooking the books while being a secretly trained assassin. Basically Batman with killing. Then there’s the grand list of people in this movie; Anna Kendrick who plays an in-house accountant, John Lithgow and Jean Smart who are the heads of the robotics firm. And J.K Simmons, head of the Treasury department. Nothing groundbreaking here but a good Sunday night watch nonetheless.
A little dry, but here are all the other titles coming and going on Netflix.
Along Came Polly
The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Julie & Julia
Justice League Dark
House of Deadly Secrets
The Perfect Man
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
‘Til Death Do Us Part
Touch of Evil
The 100: Season 5
Brij Mohan Amar Rahe
Dinotrux Supercharged: Season 3
I AM A KILLER
Flavors of Youth: International Version
A Hologram for the King
72 Dangerous Animals: Asia
All About the Washingtons
Demetri Martin: The Overthinker
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
La Casa de las Flores
Million Pound Menu
Outlander: Season 3
The Ponysitters Club
Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 7
Splash and Bubbles: Season 2
Adventures in Public School
Homeland: Season 6
Hurricane Bianca: From Russia With Hate
Made of Honor
Den of Thieves
Magic for Humans
Spirit Riding Free: Season 6
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
The Investigator: A British Crime Story: Season 2
Death at a Funeral
How to Get Away With Murder: Season 4
Marlon: Season 2
The After Party
Ask the StoryBots: Season 2
Bert Kreischer: Secret Time
Trolls: The Beat Goes On!: Season 3
The Blacklist: Season 5
When the Bough Break
The Comedy Lineup: Part 2
Inside the Criminal Mind
The Laws of Thermodynamics
Ozark: Season 2
Paradise PDUltimate Beastmaster: Survival of the Fittest
Last Call – Titles that will be rotating off the service in August 2018
The Fault in Our Stars
How to Be Single
In Good Company
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Truman Show
Gangs of New York
School of Rock
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2
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