High Life (2018)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is definitely not for everyone, so proceed with caution. High Life must be one of the biggest budget art films in cinema history. I’m impressed director Claire Denis was given an opportunity to create on this scale. It’s essentially a sci-fi / drama, with some brief moments of gore and nudity. This movie is very deliberately paced, although not as slow as Tarkovsky’s Solaris. Every shot looks beautiful, and Robert Pattinson is excellent. This is tip-top Anomalous Cinema that will reward the open minded viewer.

Available on Blu-ray from Lion’s Gate.

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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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The Game (1997)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a good early David Fincher film that doesn’t get mentioned often. If you have nothing but contempt for rich people, don’t watch The Game. If you just want to see an intricate thriller that will keep you guessing until the end, you’ll probably enjoy this. It’s not very violent, it’s got zero nudity, but it’s a solid film for adults anyway. Michael Douglas is great, the film has Deborah Unger from Cronenberg’s Crash, and Sean Penn before he went off the rails too. The Netflix version has had the film grain over-filtered, and could really use the shadows and colors punched up, but those are not deal-breakers. The Game is good cinema that can probably be enjoyed in any state of mind.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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Mosul (Drama – 2019)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is an excellent action drama, based on the true story of the Iraqi SWAT team (check out the documentary of the same name / subject). It’s gritty and violent for sure, but the characters and performances make Mosul rise above a cheesy action flick. Netflix has delivered a fast paced movie of very high quality. I wish they’d try harder to repeat that.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Lady Vengeance (2005)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

This is the final part of Park Chan-Wook’s loose “Revenge Trilogy” (although it can be watched on it’s own). A woman seeks to right the wrongs of her false imprisonment, and her child being taken away. This film didn’t get as much attention as Oldboy, but it’s arguably just as good. Dark, poetic, funny at times. Oh yes… it’s also brutal as hell. 

The domestic Blu-ray is out of print.

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The Sisters Brothers (2018)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

It seems impossible, but this film successfully blends a violent western with a bit of dark comedy. It all looks beautiful as well. The Sisters Brothers is deliberately paced between shootouts, and runs on the long side, but I was never bored. Recommended weirdness.

Available on Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox.

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First Love (2019)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer 

I believe this is the most recent Takashi Miike movie that is currently streaming in the USA. It has a unique look, no fake grain but all the detail. I’d call it video crafted with care. The sets look amazing. The production designer is a genius. Every interior scene looks almost like an art installation. As you’d expect, there are some very entertaining action sequences amid the strange comedy / drama too. First Love also features one particularly freaky knob turn. In the end I was very happy to have watched this weird, but modest movie. Miike keeps being Miike, and I love it.

Available on Blu-ray from Well Go.

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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 | 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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Outlaw King (2018)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

After the death of Braveheart’s William Wallace, came Robert the Bruce. This film is based on the true story of the 14th century Scottish hero. It’s an entertaining but imperfect action / biopic. Any flaws are made up for with the battle sequence at the end. Outlaw King manages to touch on the good parts of historical war films like Mel Gibson made, without spoiling things with their Hollywood cheese. This was directed by the man behind the excellent Hell or High Water, which also starred Chris Pine. He does a damn good job in the lead role too.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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