Seriously, thank god for Netflix! While Blockbuster and Hollywood Video (when they were around anyway) never had the best selection, you could always count on Netflix to have every movie ever released digitally at their disposal. If it weren’t for them, I would never have seen the following five movies.
A friend said that this film “makes ‘Taxi Driver’ look like ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” and I couldn’t agree more. Harvey Keitel ends up giving one of the bravest performances ever as the unnamed lieutenant who willfully abuses drugs, alcohol and any other vice he can get his hands on. But then he is assigned to investigate the rape of a nun, and Keitel holds nothing back as his character furiously seeks redemption for his sins. Keitel has a show-stopping moment where he thinks he sees Jesus Christ and cries out for his forgiveness.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brady Corbet star in Gregg Araki’s film about two men who were sexually abused by their baseball coach as kids. It’s one of the most harrowing and honest portrayals of the long term effects child abuse has on its victims, and Levitt and Corbet are superb in their portrayals of two lost and wounded souls. The movie’s ending which has them coming to grips with what they suffered is devastating to witness.
Banned in several countries due to its extreme violence, it’s too easy to dismiss Kinji Fukasaku’s film as exploitation. The story of Japanese middle school students forced to participate in a government sanctioned game where they are forced to kill one another, it poses questions the audience might not want to answer. As the movie goes on, we begin to wonder what we would do if we were in their shoes. Whatever you think of “Battle Royale’s” violence, it’s the actions and the moral dilemmas the characters face that make the film endlessly brilliant.
Directed by “Twilight’s” Catherine Hardwicke, this is a pulverizing and emotionally raw portrait of teenage life. It’s shocking to see Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) go from being an honor student to a helpless drug addict after she falls under the spell of popular girl Evie (Nikki Reed) who is a severely bad influence. You feel for her mother Melanie (Holly Hunter, great as usual) who is powerless to stop her daughter’s descent into a bad element, and it all leads to an emotionally draining climax where certain characters finally hit rock bottom. “Thirteen” never shies away from the darkness of its subject matter, and it is all the greater for that.
“Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut”
It took subscribing to Netflix to finally get me to watch Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi masterpiece which is still the best film he has ever made. Specifically, I watched the director’s cut of “Blade Runner” which leaves out Harrison Ford’s needless voiceover narration and has a different ending. It’s still a very unique film in the science fiction genre with its retrofitted future full of flying cars and replicants that threaten to be more human than the real thing. Rutger Hauer ended up creating an antagonist in Roy Batty who proved to be as thoughtful as he was violent, Sean Young never looked lovelier in a movie, I loved how Brion James quickly knocked the gun out of Ford’s hand, and Daryl Hannah had one of her best roles ever as Pris. There’s also no beating the brilliant film score composed by Vangelis which was as Oscar-worthy as the music he created for “Chariots of Fire.” Seriously, you can watch this movie a hundred times and never ever get sick of it.