FlixWorthy Takes On Super-Hero Sequels And Indie Movies

By David Wharton 2011-06-26 15:44:49 discussion comments
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Welcome back to FlixWorthy, your guide to Netflix streaming! Yet again we're bringing you a handful of new or notable selections from Netflix's Instant Watch 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.


Iron Man 2
(2010, Rated PG-13, 124 min.)

If there's a recent super-hero blockbuster I'd compare Green Lantern to, it's Iron Man 2. While one was a sequel to a surprise hit, whereas the other is trying to build its own franchise, both suffer from the same pitfall: they try to do too much. In Green Lantern's case, it's trying to service an origin story, two villains, and all the byzantine mythology of the Green Lantern Corps. For Iron Man 2, it was trying to tell an Iron Man story and introduce War Machine in between building a foundation for the eventual Avengers movie. In both cases, the films suffer for the lack of focus. However, I would also argue that both movies have a lot to like. Iron Man 2 may not have been the home-run that the first film was, but it's got a great cast, some amazing set pieces, and Scarlett Johansson in skintight black leather. Hell, it's worth a watch just for Mickey Rourke's eccentric turn as Whiplash. But for Iron Man 3 let's get a little less moping and a little more fun, okay guys?

Double-Feature It With:

Superman II
(1980, Rated PG, 127 min., HD)

Speaking of inferior sequels, people have been arguing about whether the first or second Superman flick is better for 30 years now. And I'll grant that the first movie's more campy moments are a love-it-or-hate-it gambit. And I'll grant that Terrence Stamp is friggin' awesome as Zod. However, at no point during Superman: The Motion Picture does Superman rip off his logo and use it to shrink-wrap an opponent. Advantage: Superman.



Monsters
(2010, Rated R, 93 min., HD)

Earning comparisons to District 9, Monsters envisions a world where aliens have invaded the Earth, not as part of a military action, but as hitchhikers on a returning NASA deep space probe. Unlike your standard summer blockbuster fare, however, this incursion doesn't end in vaporized landmarks, but rather in the creation of a tenuous border being established around the "Infected Zone" near the U.S.-Mexican border. Monsters takes the same tactic as films such as Cloverfield or this year's Battle: Los Angeles: exploring a huge idea (giant monster, alien invasion, etc.) through the personal story of people on the ground just trying to survive. In this case, the people in question are photographer Andrew (Scott McNairy) and Samantha (Whitney Able), the daughter of his boss. While covering the war-torn border, Andrew is hired -- reluctantly -- to shepherd Samantha home from Central America. Monsters was nominated for a BAFTA, and, with a budget of $800k, is another example of how top-notch genre filmmaking no longer demands a bloated Hollywood budget.

Double-Feature It With:

Cold Souls
(2008, Rated PG-13, 101 min.)

Sticking in the vein of indie science fiction for a moment, we turn to Cold Souls, from writer/director Sophie Barthes. Paul Giamatti stars as a fictionalized version of himself who is overwhelmed by the stress of an upcoming performance, unable to distance himself from the role. He arrives at an unexpected solution when he discovers a mysterious company that offers to extract, freeze, and store his soul until he needs it back. Unfortunately, when it comes time to reclaim his property...it's gone missing.



Leaves of Grass
(2009, Rated R, 104 min., HD)

In Leaves of Grass, Edward Norton pulls an Eddie Murphy and plays multiple roles in the same film...but in a good way. Okay, perhaps a better comparison would be Nic Cage in Adaptation, because there are no fat suits or cheap gimmicks here. Norton plays Bill Kincaid, an Ivy League professor who returns home to Oklahoma and becomes ensnared in the rivalry between his pot-dealing twin brother, Brady (also Norton, obviously), and a local big-wig pusher named Pug Rothbaum (Richard Dreyfuss). I missed this one at SXSW a few years ago, and I've been kicking myself ever since. Leaves of Grass never got much of a theatrical release, so hopefully Netflix will help the flick, directed and written by Tim Blake Nelson, find a bigger audience.

Double-Feature It With:

World's Greatest Dad
(2009, Rated R, 98 min., HD)

So apparently Bobcat Goldthwait is a writer/director of indie movies, including a romantic comedy about a woman who ill-advisedly tells her fiancÚ that she once committed a sex act with a dog. His most recent creation, however, is World's Greatest Dad, starring Robin Williams as a beleaguered but loving dad with a total prick for a teenage son. After his kid accidentally offs himself, the dad forges a suicide note to make it seem like his kid was a deep and tortured soul. World's Greatest Dad isn't the world's greatest film, but it's worth a watch if you can tolerate the dark subject matter.



Harry Brown
(2009, Rated R, 103 min.)

Michael Caine is a badass. He's a badass at 78, and he'll probably be a badass long after he's dead. Harry Brown is, at its core, just an excuse for Michael Caine to be a badass in the medium of film. Nothing wrong with that, if you ask me. In Harry Brown, Caine plays a widowed ex-Marine who decides to mete out a little vigilante justice after a pack of gang members snuff his best bud. You will have to suspend your disbelief, however; since the film has a 90-minute-plus running time, it obviously doesn't feature the most believable scenario of Caine kicking the door down and the entire gang fear-shitting themselves to death. That, by the way, is a movie I would totally pay ten bucks to see. In the meantime, you can check out Perri's four-star review of Harry Brown right here.

Double-Feature It With:

Flawless
(2007, Rated PG-13, 108 min., HD)

Caine's more in Alfred mode than Harry Brown mode in Flawless, playing a janitor at the London Diamond Corp. who enlists an American exec (Demi Moore) in an unlikely jewel-heist scheme. Flawless is a long way from Flawless, but Caine is awesome as always, the heist itself is well-conceived, and the '60s setting adds an extra layer of fun.








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