Pickings are getting slimmer and slimmer every week folks, even as Netflix continuously rotates films in its streaming library. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot to choose from – not as much as I’d like anyway.
But hopefully, at least 1 of this week’s 5 will entertain you over the weekend.
As usual… These aren’t necessarily recommendations. Consider the list more of an FYI – films we’ve talked about on this site, at one time or another, that are now streaming on Netflix, that you might want to check out and see for yourselves.
Without further ado, here’s this week’s list of 5:
1 – First, The Limits Of Control; Jim Jarmusch’s take on the hitman genre, as only Jim Jarmusch can, for whatever that’s worth. If you’ve seen enough Jarmusch films, you’ll know what I mean.
The thin story, in short, follows a mysterious loner (Isaach De Bankolé) who arrives in Spain with instructions to meet various strangers – each one a part of his dangerous mission.
With a film like this, I think it’s natural for an audience to instinctively search the screen for some sub-surface meaning and understanding. What does it all mean? Is this an existentialist tale, full of questions, few answers, and Kafka-esque dilemmas? Or is there really nothing underneath, and, essentially, what you see and hear on screen is all there really is?
It’s Jim Jarmusch. Not Michael Bay. Keep that in mind as you watch.
The film features an all-star international cast that includes Gael García Bernal, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, and Alex Descas.
Here’s its trailer:
2 – A few years before he played the trash-talking womanizer, Jay, in Judd Apatow’s 2005 box office hit, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and even more years before he romanced Meagan Good in Think Like A Man, Romany Malco – the American-born Trinidadian, once a member of hip-hop group, College Boyz, whose big break came when he starred as MC Hammer in a VH1 telepic – co-starred in a low-budget, indie comedy flick, alongside Paul Rudd, called The Chateau, about 2 American brothers Graham and Allen Granville (Rudd & Malco, who’s character is adopted), who learn that they have inherited a chateau in France, courtesy of their great uncle who recently died.
They travel to France to claim their inheritance, but, of course, very little goes as planned, as they are ill-equipped to communicate with the chateau’s staff – a property that’s burdened with debt, forcing the brothers to find a buyer for it, leaving a bewildered staff resorting to desperate measures to prevent them from selling the place.
It’s actually a decent indie comedy; My understanding is that there really was no script, meaning much of it was improvised, and it was shot relatively cheaply and quickly, with a handheld digital camcorder (before DV became all-the-rage), evident in the film’s “noisy” images, making it seem almost documentary-like.
3 – Before his second feature directorial effort, Mother Of George, hits theaters next week Friday, you should check out Andrew Dosunmu’s enchanting, acclaimed feature film debut, Restless City, especially if you’re not at all familiar with his work. Although it’s one of those films that begs to be seen on as large a screen as possible (you can thank Bradford Young’s beautiful cinematography for that), this will prepare you for what’s to come.
Restless City tells the story of young, nomadic Senegalese immigrant, Djbirl (played by Sy Alassane), an aspiring musician, struggling to survive on the fringes of New York City. When he falls in love with a prostitute (Jamaican-born model/actress Nicole Grey) who works for Bekay, the local loan shark, he suddenly finds some much needed meaning and purpose to his otherwise aimless existence, forcing him to make decisions that eventually prove fatal.
The New York City-set story is one that I’ve championed on this site since its Sundance debut in January 2011. So check it out for yourselves if you haven’t yet.
By the way, the star of Dosunmu’s upcoming Mother Of George (you’ll also know her as Michonne from The Walking Dead), Danai Gurira, has a supporting role in Restless City.
4 – Tanya Hamilton’s feature film debut Night Catches Us (it was originally titled Stringbean And Marcus. Some trivia there for you) stars Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Jamie Hector, and Wendell Pierce.
Set in Philadelphia in 1978, Night Catches Us follows two former Black Panthers, Marcus (Mackie) and Pat (Washington), who reignite a love affair when Marcus returns home after a decade in exile. Pat’s ten-year-old daughter Iris (newcomer Jamara Griffin) at first rejects Marcus’ return, but soon discovers a kindred spirit in a man who can fill in the missing pieces of her family history. This peace is threatened by a triangle of opposing forces: local Panther leader Do-Right (Hector), who wants to settle past debts with Marcus; Detective Gordon (Pierce), who tries to blackmail him; and Jimmy (Off-Broadway sensation Amari Cheatom), a troubled client of Pat’s pro bono law practice, who takes a twisted idea of Panther justice into his own hands.
The film was was the recipient of numerous accolades, including: a Sundance Institute Annenberg Feature Film Fellow grant winner for the film’s screenplay; a PEW Fellowship of the Arts Award, IFP’s Gordon Parks Award for Best Screenplay, a 5-County Arts Grant of the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship.
In Gun Hill Road, an ex-con (played by Esai Morales) returns home to the Bronx after three years in prison to discover his wife (Judy Reyes) estranged, and his teenage son (Harmony Santana) exploring a sexual transformation that challenges his notions of manhood and threatens what are already fragile familial bonds.
Isiah Whitlock also features.
Ron Simons of SimonSays Entertainment produced the film; he also produced Night Catches Us, which is #4 on this list, as well as Andrew Dosunmu’s upcoming Mother Of George, which I mentioned earlier.
It’s a simple yet deeply affecting story.
Here’s the trailer: