FlixWorthy: The Weak, The Wounded, and the Tattooed

By David Wharton 2010-07-08 15:51:05
Welcome back to FlixWorthy, your weekly guide to Netflix streaming. Yet again we're bringing you a handful of new or notable selections from Netflix's streaming catalogue. Some will be classics, some will be little-seen gems, some will be shows you might have missed, and some...some will be crap so awful they simply has to be seen to be believed. Here's what's FlixWorthy this week, kids.

Session 9
(2001, Rated R, 100 min.)

Session 9 is the most frightening movie I've ever seen, and one of the best psychological horror films ever made. Despite having earned a devoted following over the years, co-writer/director Brad Anderson's spare, claustrophobic mindfuck remains an underseen gem. The premise is as simple as can be: a small crew is hired to strip asbestos out of an abandoned psychiatric hospital. They've got one week, and all of them need the money the job will provide. As the week stretches on, they begin to delve into the asylum's dark past, and their own inner demons begin to rise to the surface. And that's absolutely all I'm going to tell you, because every moment of this movie should be savored unprepared, preferably alone in a pitch-black room. The cast, including David Caruso and Josh Lucas, give decent to excellent performances, but the real stars of the show are Anderson's masterful pacing and the haunted, decaying atmosphere of the asylum itself. This isn't a movie that relies on cheap jump scares or masked psychos. Session 9 simply drops you into a place corroded by the darkest impulses of the human soul and dares you to come away untouched.

Double-Feature It With:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
(1975, Rated R, 133 min., HD)

I couldn't help keeping the asylum theme rolling, but it should tell you something that I truly believe One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest will be an uplifting refresher after surviving Session 9.






Capitalism: A Love Story
(2009, Rated R, 127 min.)

Love him or hate him, there's no question that Michael Moore's films tend to stir up plenty of controversy and conversation. Even though I might have agreed with some of the points he was making, he lost me back during the Fahrenheit 9/11/Bowling for Columbine period. Thankfully, he seems to have dialed back on the partisan smear films in recent years, instead making documentaries that focus on specific problems, such health care (Sicko) or the excess and abuses of, well, capitalism. Moore's film turns his usual mixture of humor and indignation on those who have profited the most from the economic crises that have made life miserable for the rest of us. This is the sort of stuff that made Moore's TV Nation so entertaining, because it's always fun to see an out-of-touch corporate fat cat on the receiving end of Moore's particular brand of harassment and annoyance. Granted, Moore is still as divisive a figure as pop culture has to offer, so your enjoyment will largely depend on whether you can watch footage of the man without wanting to punch him in the face.

Double-Feature It With:

Maxed Out
(2006, Not Rated, 87 min.)

Continuing the financial theme, Maxed Out takes a look at our culture's unhealthy relationship with debt -- individual, national, and systemic. The documentary is the first (and thus far only) full-length feature from director James D. Shurlock, but it earned generally favorable reviews across the board.




The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
(2009, Rated R, 152 min.)

Based on Stieg Larsson's best-selling novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo teams a journalist (Michael Nyqvist) with a young computer hacker (Noomi Rapace) to investigate the disappearance of a wealthy executive's niece 40 years earlier. The former CEO (Sven-Bertil Taube) believes the girl was murdered, and he wants the journalist to discover the truth. The film has an American remake in the works, with David Fincher rumored to be circling it, but here's your chance to see the first attempt at bringing Larsson's thriller to the big screen -- so long as you don't mind subtitles. Brian Holcomb reviewed the recent DVD release for us this very week, and you can check out his thoughts right here. If you like the cut of its jib, Larsson's novel has two follow-ups: The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which just got its American publication this past May.

Double-Feature It With...

M
(1931, Not Rated, 110 min.)

Fritz Lang's classic was the German director's first "talkie" movie, and gave Peter Lorre one of his most iconic roles as child-killer Hans Beckert.






The Damned United
(2008, Rated R, 97 min.)

If my Facebook news feed is to be believed, there's been some sort of big soccer event going on these past few weeks. I'm not sure what it all means, but John Oliver from The Daily Show has been very incensed. In the spirit of planetary unity involving a sport I couldn't care less about, I throw out this bone. Honestly, I'd be hard pressed to name a single memorable soccer movie off the top of my head -- wait: Bend It Like Beckham -- but I'm willing to recommend this one sight-unseen just based on the 96% fresh Top Critic Rating on RT and the presence of Peter Morgan's name in the credits. The British screenwriter's resume over the past five years boasts a damned impressive pedigree (The Last King of Scotland, The Queen, Frost/Nixon), and even his weakest recent credit still had its moments (The Other Boleyn Girl). If Peter Morgan felt compelled to write a soccer drama, there's a good chance it's a soccer drama worth watching. But I still refuse to call it "football."

Double-Feature It With:

Fever Pitch
(1997, Rated R, 102 min.)

No, this isn't the eminently forgettable 2005 American version that replaced soccer with baseball and Colin Firth with Jimmy Fallon. I don't need to tell you how lopsided that particular trade was. While both versions were based on lad-lit legend Nick Hornby's autobiographical book, Hornby actually wrote the screenplay for this decade-earlier British version.



Surrogates
(2009, Rated PG-13, 89 min.)

File this one under "Promising Concept; Mediocre Execution." Terminator: Salvation screenwriters Michael Ferris and John Brancato spin this tale of a near-future world where the bulk of mankind live out their lives via robotic versions of themselves. Without the dangers of personal risk, people are free to live out any fantasy they can imagine: skydiving without fear of death, casual sex without fear of disease. But when two people are killed via feedback loop when their surrogates are attacked, FBI Agent Greer (Bruce Willis) is called in to solve a pair of murders in a world where the crime has become virtually unheard of. Things only get worse when Greer's surrogate is destroyed, forcing him to face the real world for the first time in years. Surrogates is a sort of spiritual companion piece to Avatar, with both examining the relationship between our physical form and our inner selves, and like Blade Runner, it uses a very particular future world as a frame for an old-fashioned detective story. Sadly, its promise is far greater than its execution, and while there are plenty of fascinating ideas in play, the script doesn't take them much beyond the usual, predictable action beats.

Double-Feature It With...

The Sixth Sense
(1999, Rated PG-13, 106 min.)

Remember when M. Night Shyamalan was being touted as the most promising new director of our generation? Remember when the presence of Bruce Willis was a guarantee of monster box-office success? Now we've got Surrogates and The Last Airbender. Sigh...




Last Chance Theater -- Expiring Soon!

Leverage: Season 1 (Expires 7/15)
Con men use their conning powers for good.

Scanners (Expires 7/16)
Psychics make people's heads 'splode.

Silent Movie (Expires 7/16)
...





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