How many times have you googled “what to watch on Netflix?” only to find that the suggested films aren’t available in the Malaysian Netflix library. Don’t worry friend, we’re gonna make life easier for you. Every week, we’ll be providing three recommendations for you to watch on Netflix. One originally produced Netflix movie/special. One film that’s not a Netflix original production. And finally, one TV series or foreign language film. That way, you’ll be sure to make full use of your Netflix, without scrolling through bajillion different movies only to end up selecting a crappy Adam Sandler movie.
Coming right back at you from our vault of curated films with some choice picks. These are the films that surprised us in the best way possible, films that hooked us on the premise and had our attention all the way till the credits roll. So for this week here’s something to make you laugh, cry and go a little mad.
The Meyerowitz Stories (Netflix Original)
Ever heard of indie darling director and writer, Noah Baumbach? If not, it’ll probably do you some good entering into the man’s Netflix debut with his tragic family dramedy The Meyerowitz Stories. Written and directed by Baumbach, the film revolves around the life and times of the Meyerowitz clan, a family of affluent upper-middle-class yuppies. When patriarch and insufferable pain in the ass Harold Meyerowitz holds a celebration in retrospect of his distinguished career as a sculptor, his children are summoned back to his side to rejoice in their father’s accomplishments. Sad to say things are a little more complicated when it comes to their respective relationship with their father.
The Meyerowitz kids have always found themselves living under the shadow of their father, contending with the man’s ego for recognition and love. It certainly didn’t help that they’ve had to deal three mothers coming and going. Now in their mid-adulthood, the Meyerowitz kids will reunite once again in New York to try to have a nice family affair and hopefully not have it turn into an uncomfortable screaming match. Pour the wine, repress your years of familial anxieties and let the good times roll!
Contrary to the cast of actors from the likes of Happy Gilmore’s Adam Sandler and Night at the Museum tri-timer Ben Stiller, The Meyerowitz Story is not the kind of family comedy you’d expect. Beneath the long-winded spoken diatribes, viciously witty vitriolic banter and the funny foibles between the characters is a frigid layer of regret and sadness. Watching Ben Stiller as Harold’s son, Matthew literally chases after his father to demand some validation from the old man after he saddles Matthew with a lunch bill is a potent cocktail of the painfully real and tragically absurd.
So many times in this film I found myself choking up right before chuckling at the screen. The beauty of the film is so much of the unspoken between the characters. We see the visible tensions bubbling between the Meyerowitzs. What should sound like a perfectly normal conversation is betrayed by the annoying ticks and clearly unnerved mannerisms that they convey subtly. And much like a jump scare in a horror film, they finally break free from this emotional constipation to devastating and hilarious effect.
Rarely has the name “Adam Sandler” and “Oscar” exists within the same sentence, at least without the word “never” in there. After this though, his agent should definitely get him more dramatic roles because his performance as the divorced father trying his best not to make the mistakes of his own is his most captivating yet. The once high pitch squeals used for limp comedic effect echoes far more effectively through melancholy. Ironically enough, it is in his most emotionally heavy role that I find him the most humorous and endearing. Dustin Hoffman as the brilliant and narcissistic father was true to life. Stiller has yet to find his voice, though not without a lack of trying seen in films like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Nonetheless, he still adequately holds his own here.
Brutally honest as it is humorous, The Meyerowitz Stories will make you rethink your family life while at the same time paint them in a better light. A beautiful slice of life that’s a little too close to home while your chilling at home.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Non-Netflix Original)
Whether it’s lampooning Dawn of the Dead or giving us one hell of a buddy cop comedy, Sir Edgar Wright does everything with energy and style. One only needs to look at his most recent endeavour Baby Driver to see the man’s cinematic idiosyncrasies. Rapid-fire editing, deliciously dry dialogue and balls-to-the-walls action. And it’s all here and more with his Wright’s semi-romantic action comedy based on the graphic of the same name, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. Scott Pilgrim is a flaky, down on his luck bassists of a struggling garage band, Sex Bob-omb, drifting through life aimlessly while picking up the occasional 17-year-old fangirl.
Things are looking up however, when he falls in love with a mysterious and beautiful roller skater delivery girl, Ramona Flowers. Besides being a conflicted cheating douche, Scott seems to be on a bed of roses. It all lasts for a few days until Scott finds himself having take on all of Ramona’s seven evil exes, each in a uniquely video game boss like fashion, which is wicked cool but I digress. Now this young deadbeat must rise above his inadequacies and social hangups to save the chick he sort of digs and not get killed by a gang of superpowered hunks…and one crazy lesbian. It’s on!
Without missing a beat, Scott Pilgrim expertly blends its more cartoony aesthetic and pixelated retro arcade effects into a story that accommodates for both fun and depth. Some of the best moments of the film include a doppelganger fight between Scott and an action superstar, who really looks like Chris Evans, and his army of handy extras that end with a skateboard shredding dare that reaches Icarus like heights. For me, the most memorable one is a literal riff off between Scott and a pair of twins. As the music cranks up and the notes start shredding, spiritual light constructs of twin dragons and a gorilla emanating from both sides begin duking it out as the bands try to out-amp and out-rock one another. It truly was a battle of the bands.
The humour here consistently stays fresh with Wright and Bacall’s poppy writing and the actors’ dead on delivery. Hearing a white hair telepath expound about how he draws his extraordinary abilities from the power of Veganism is an absolute trip. Cera’s character story arc is a delightfully painful and introspective one, his battles with Ramona’s exes and enemies are avenues in which Scott find opportunities to confront his emotional baggage and redeem himself.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the skater girl next door offers is more than the average love interest of motivation, many times in the film she asserts that she is more than just the concept of the “cool girl”. She longs for a mature and stable relationship but finds herself drawing and being drawn into unhealthy relationship patterns. Their relationship and individual struggles is the film’s floating life bar heart. The film’s excellent supporting cast further bolsters the performances on screen. Actors the likes of Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick and Chris Evans sink their teeth into Wright’s material and never let go. Making for some honestly hilarious moments in Scott Pilgrim.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the kind of film you watch on a late Sunday morning while munching on a bowl of cereal in your late 20’s. If you haven’t had the chance to watch it yet, pick it up on Netflix and prepare to have fun.
Oldboy (Foreign Language Film — Korean)
If you’re looking for action and gore of a more exotic variety, we have just the thing for you. Hatched from the maddeningly sadistic mind of director Park Chan-wook, Oldboy sees businessman Oh Dae-su have his entire life turned upside down when he becomes the victim of a revenge plot orchestrated by a scorned nemesis long forgotten. The man is forced spend 15 years of his life locked up in a hotel room, ignorant of his captors or their intentions After his prolonged incarceration, a.disorientated, self-trained and maybe even slightly demented, Dae-su is suddenly released into the world with angry questions that need answering. And by God, he’ll get the answers, with or without his trusty hammer.
Being one of the more story-driven films on our pick, this game of cat and mouse between Dae-su and his captors is an arresting and captivating affair. There are moments in which you’ll grin from ear to ear with the amount carnage on screen and some in which you’ll be utterly disgusted. Regardless of how you feel, once you jump down this rabbit hole of vengeance, mystery and sexual intrigue, you won’t want to stop until the credits the roll.
Friendly disclaimer here: This show is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. The fight scenes here can be thoroughly brutal. I’m talking straight up bone breaking melees. But if you decide to stick you out, you’ll bear witness to some of the greatest fight scenes in cinematic history, especially the corridor scene. Dispensing with amateurish shaky cam and clean, stylistic cuts between blows, Park is determined to show you Dae-su coldly and desperately take on more than a dozen guys with nothing but a simple hammer. There’s something so unapologetic about this entire scene. The way the camera doesn’t shy away from the repercussions of the pain Dae-su takes and dishes out.
The berserker-esque quality of the character’s drive to make it to the other side. Unlike the clean, sanitized combat you see in films like John Wick or Furious 7, the thugs here aren’t just obstacles to knock down and continue on. They’re living, breathing humans in lieu of walking cannon fodder, which means they get back up if you don’t put them down for good. And all of this was captured in just one take. The battle, the break and the aftermath weaved into a single iconic scene.
I might know much about the Korean acting scene but I’ll say this much, whoever decided that Choi Min-Sik should play leading man Dae-su deserves a raise. He has the screen presence and killer delivery of Tom Cruise. The manic energy and crazed vigour of a jacked up Tom Hardy. How many actors can have all that and sport a crazy cat lady haircut? Not many, that’s what. Yoo Ji-Tae does well enough Dae-su’s twisted Machiavellian enemy that has a lot more depth than meets the eye. By the end when his intentions are fully revealed, it is then you see the true lengths of the man’s depravity. Actress Yoo Ji-tae as Dae-su’s love interest was for the most part competent, though at times the chemistry the two can seem awkward. That’s putting generously, mind you.
Again, I must warn you that Oldboy isn’t necessarily for everyone, it will most likely resonate with a thriller-acclimatized crowd than a casual viewer. Give it a chance, however, and you might find yourself enjoying the darker side of the action genre.
That’s our picks for this week ladies and gentlemen! Another three great films, worthy of landing anyone’s “To Watch” list. And stay tuned for your weekly dose of Netflix prescriptions.
Hey you! Yes you, hot stuff. Like my article? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Also, don’t forget to share it with your buds. And if you’d like to talk movies you can hit me up here: @cinesam