Christine (1983)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

It’s about damned time I recommended a John Carpenter film. His best work is so high profile I figured, why bother? Well Christine is a solid, lesser discussed, movie in his filmography that I enjoy, and just happened to have rewatched recently. You get that awesome JC golden-era cinematography, a very good synth score, plus a good cast, and top notch special effects that still look impressive nearly 40 years on. There’s just one catch here… I never read the original Stephen King book. I’ve read The Shining, The Stand, and the whole damn Dark Tower series, but not this one. So, if you’re a big fan of the book, maybe do some research first, or skip it. If you’ve never read the book, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this as much as I did. Oh, and some guy is doing a remake. Unless it’s more faithful to the book, a “reimagining” strikes me as a waste of time. You Hollywood people know that there’s a billion original horror movie scripts floating around right? Right?

Blu-ray is available from Sony Pictures.

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The Girl Next Door (2007)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

It would probably be best for you to NOT watch this movie. This is possibly the most extreme horror / exploitation flick currently on Netflix. Are you still reading? Ok, well… this is a fact-based film about a young girl that was tortured and abused back in 1965. I saw this when it came out, and it made quite an impression. Back then I was a much more negative horror maniac, and it cut right through my “I’ve seen it all” bullshit. I didn’t feel titillated. I felt sympathy and dread. This was originally a novel by Jack Ketchum, who was likely the smartest author working in extreme horror. Maybe only Clive Barker’s early work was a match. If the above has not scared you off, and you’re ready to be brutalized for “entertainment”, check out The Girl Next Door. Also look into Ketchum’s books. The ones I read were a big step above most horror fiction.

Available on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay.

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In Order of Disappearance (2014)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is an excellent Swedish revenge film that was remade as Cold Pursuit with Liam Neeson as the lead. The original stars Stellan Skarsgård, and is just as superior as you would imagine. It’s violent, packed with black humor, and made with a style that borders on art film. Need I say more?

Blu-ray available from Magnolia.

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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Streaming on Netflix and Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is Sergio Leone’s flawed, but still amazing, final film. Once Upon a Time in America is a wide-ranging epic about a prohibition-era Jewish gangster in New York City. I will spare you all the gory details about what went wrong in the cutting and release (you can read all about it over here). I saw this in whatever the hell version was on DVD around 2005 and loved it. Yes, this film is slow. However it tops Goodfellas in the level of violence and scope. To keep it simple, if you are a fan gangster movies and TV series, you need to see this. The amazing cast is reason enough. Just go in knowing it’s a long slow ride with some seriously bloody sections. Maybe even break it up into two or more viewings for maximum enjoyment (that’s my plan for a re-watch soon).

The domestic Blu-ray is currently Out of Print.

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Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art (2020)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a documentary about $80 million in forged abstract expressionist art that was sold through a major NY art dealer. If you have little to no interest in art, then this will bore the hell out of you. I found it to be very well made, and engaging throughout. It is mostly one-on-one interviews, peppered with some high quality documentary photos and appropriate video / film footage. Oh yeah and there’s that one element that you’ll see in 99% of contemporary documentaries… the animation. There seems to be a rule that there MUST be at least one section featuring animation in every doc. It’s as if there’s a big scary enforcer that shows up in the editing process and says “I ain’t seen no cartoons in dis here picture yet” while showing the director his bloodstained baseball bat. I get why documentary makers feel it’s necessary, but it’s become a cliche. If you just have to do it, please do something really interesting like the animation in Gimmie Danger. Sorry, I had to get that out. Where was I? Ok, here’s why Made You Look is worth your time: you get to learn about rich and powerful people becoming victims of their own stupidity and greed. Enjoy the schadenfreude my friends.

Not Available on Blu-ray.

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Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The first installment of a two part series on the career of criminal Jaques Mesrine (the second is Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One). This is the French answer to Scarface (1983), but based on true events, and much larger in scope. Other than the usual fake looking gun action, this movie is a total blast. Vincent Cassel is perfect, as usual. If you’d like to see him do something more fun / dumb I recommend you also check out his film Dobermann (looks like it’s available on YouTube if you sign in).

Available on Blu-ray from Music Box.

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Memories of Murder (2003)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

Here’s a dark, beautiful, high quality murder thriller directed by Bong Joon Ho. I have avoided recommending it so far as I thought all the excitement over Parasite would have lead you to watch it already. What? You haven’t seen Memories of Murder yet? Well get on it. 

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion Collection.

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Chappie (2015)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

I missed this movie when it first came out. I figure a few of you did too. It’s not as good as Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, but I found this very entertaining. Thankfully Chappie has that same level of high quality CG. Yes, it is a bit cheesy at times. Let that slide and you get lots of R rated action to make up for it. I have to admit that Ninja and Yo-Landi are good in this too. Shockingly good.

BONUS: Check out Blomkamp’s Oats Studio videos on YouTube. There are a lot of great short films available for free.

Available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures.

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Night in Paradise (2020)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

Here’s a very good South Korean dramatic crime thriller. The cinematography is beautiful, and the performances are all strong. There are a few good shootout scenes too. They are only hampered by unrealistic gun action, which is a very common problem in movies. If you’ve never fired a gun, you won’t notice. The barely-kicking guns were easy for me to ignore because this really is an enjoyable, dark movie. The only other blemish is that the film on the slow side. However the climax is well worth the wait. I wish Netflix would invest in more movies like this. That streaming service has a real crap hoarding problem.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Croupier (1998)

Streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

I like Clive Owen, and this is a pretty damned good drama with him as the lead. It’s got many twists and turns, a little skin, and some brawling too. Not a bad way to spend 90 minutes, compared to the vast universe of crap that is Netflix these days.

Available on Blu-ray from Henstooth.

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