Small Town Crime (2017)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a solid crime thriller with some good, at times extremely graphic, bursts of action. The cinematography looks great as well. Saturated colors and deep shadows are featured. It’s nice to see Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, Walking the Edge, Alligator, etc) given lots of screen time. Small Town Crime is an enjoyable dark film, with a lot packed into 90 minutes.

Available on Blu-ray from Lionsgate.

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The Five Venoms (1978)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

I avoided recommending this one (aka The Five Deadly Venoms) until now as it’s very well known among martial arts fans. Anything I saw on TV regularly as a kid may even be too obvious. However, I think a lot of younger folks may have missed this classic Shaw Brothers film. It’s got all the crazy fight choreography you’d expect, and the majority of Shaw’s greatest stars, plus a mystery angle with a very dark edge. There are some parts that even look like a Mario Bava film. Maybe hold off on watching something in the Netflix Top 10 and check out this fun piece of Anomalous Cinema.

Available on Blu-ray from Celestial 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 | 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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Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

I didn’t expect much when I first saw this film. I ended up very pleasantly surprised. It’s an excellent thriller that looks damn-near perfect. Nocturnal Animals is more centered in drama than violence, but it’s still very dark in all the best ways. Some critics even called it “cynical.” No wonder I liked it so much.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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Bad Day for the Cut (2017)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is simply a very good, deliberately paced, revenge drama. The artwork might make you think Bad Day… is a violent shoot-em-up. No, but that’s really ok. The performances by Nigel O’Neill and Susan Lynch alone make it well worth a watch.

Available on Blu-ray from Well Go.

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Hardcore Henry (2015)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This movie will not make you smarter, but it’s a very entertaining action flick. The basic premise of a violent, first-person, sci-fi adventure, that happens to be well-executed, qualifies it as Anomalous Cinema alone. The cherry on top is that Hardcore Henry manages to ramp up the insane action as it goes along. Oh yeah, and Sharlto Copley is excellent in this. He even does a literal song and dance routine. That’s some sprinkles with your cherry. The whole thing could be dismissed as just plain stupid. I say it’s damned fun, and confirmed that on a second viewing last night. So turn off your logic circuits, and enjoy with your favorite psychoactive substance for the proper experience.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal Studios.

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Rebecca (2020)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This recommendation is specifically for fans of director Ben Wheatley. I have seen the majority of his film output, and have enjoyed everything. The critical response to Rebecca has been unfavorable as Alfred Hitchcock made a very highly regarded adaptation of the book in 1940. I am a fan of Hitchcock but not enough to watch a mystery / romance (the latter being a genre I avoid). That was not the case with Wheatley’s film, which actually happens to be more faithful to the book. I took this 2020 adaptation for what it is, and I enjoyed it. I’m not going to watch it multiple times like High-Rise, but it’s a damn good film that I absolutely suggest Wheatley fans check out. If you like it, take a look at this article for an added layer. Thank you David Graham for nudging me into giving Rebecca a shot.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Black ‘47 (2018)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a very good revenge action / drama set during the Irish potato famine. It could easily be a Samurai movie, or Spaghetti Western, but the dark, muddy locations are a visual improvement on those genre’s usual settings. Several writers have made the connection to First Blood, which is indeed driven home by a scene in a “police station” and the music. The good thing is that Black ‘47 goes off in it’s own direction after that. Our anti-hero has much deeper motivation for his revenge than John Rambo. You will recognize several fine actors in this film, but I was most happy to see Hugo Weaving as the manhunter (pictured above). Don’t go into this expecting non-stop action. The pace is deliberate between the explosive scenes, but I was never bored. The balance of drama to action is just about perfect. Watch this instead of one of the zillion straight-to-Netflix shitshows, and I doubt you’ll regret it.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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