Netflix Tom Foolery
 

This list makes for a long page so I'll keep the comments brief-ish. I always opt for local independent businesses, including video stores, but after calling every indie and chain video store and coming up empty handed on many titles, I decided to give Netflix a whirl. Some titles I could have easily gotten locally, but the majority are things that are simply unavailable, even in the liberal and cinema-loving city of Long Beach.

This list favors the genres/sub-genres of old science fiction, gay and lesbian, 80's cheese, foreign, tawdry black and white, and outlandish comedy. (Vampires is the only genre I like tons and bunches that isn't represented below because I've seen all the good ones and there hasn't been a sweet vampire movie in forever.)

There are even less important notes at the bottom, but if you're going to contact me about any of the below, please read the notes first. Kthx.
<3 Lauren

Rented Netflix from 5/23/04 - 8/23/04

 
TITLE
YEAR
RATING
REVIEW
2002
4 stars
Hello rollercoaster! Spanning much ground with the character and plot development, this was a beautiful, engrossing, touching movie. Well acted, and sometimes terrifying because you feel so much for the characters and the events they encounter are so foreign, violent , and passionate. Perfect, bittersweat ending, too!
1996
4 stars
So much of this movie shined, but it's ability to transport me to a very different society is perhaps the strongest point. Mini documentaries that accompany the DVD show the Indian reaction to this film- one that challeneges their notions of traditional sexuality and gender inequality. Some citizens were so outraged that they ruined a movie theater that showed this film!
While the male domination is hard to watch (at one point a husband smacks his wife hard enough to leave a mark and says "you're lucky I don't believe in violence", and another husband leaves his wife to burn to death after she says she is leaving him) the 2 women characters handle themselves beautifully. All the actors/actresses were excellent, the love scenes were beautiful, and I, of course, adore the ending.

2003
3 stars
With such a varied collection of shorts, I thought there would be more quality, but... not so much. The "10 Rules" and "Travelling Companion" shorts were the best , but the rest seemed to be filmed too hastily or perhaps just with less skill. "Watching You" was also well done, if a bit eye-roll-inducing in some parts. It's terrible to admit, but I didn't find many of the ladies attractive (save for 10 and Travelling) and with lesbian short films that's sort of important. (So says I) Worth renting once (and maying recording 10 Rules)

1973
3 stars
Talk about taking a great premise but having no budget to do it justice. On the upswing- Yul Brenner as a cowboy! The poorest choice though was the "main" character (who really only becomes so after everyone starts dying at the end), as he was a whiney little mouse of a guy. Basically though, this futuristic place had the technology to create perfect robots so they made a Disneyland for adults to go live out their fantasies with them. But they only made 3 very specific lands, one of them being an old tymey Westworld, complete with lots of prostitue robots! It gets so frustrating in the end because they apparently have everything under control, and then somehow loss of power means everything human dies, while robots go rampant. There's no special effects to speak of, but if you pretend really hard you can think "OMG all of robotville has a virus!" Another upswing is the other main character looks kind of, sort of like Christian Bale.

1981
3 stars
I kept waiting for Divine to get her retribution! Where was the retribution!? It was 5 stars worth of Waters glam and desperation, but the continual beatdown of Divine's character got boring and sad and there wasn't much else going on. My favorite part might have to be the kids' transformation. It was like the ideal ending to a talk show.

Mystery Science Theater 3000:
Space Mutiny
1997
4 stars
I'm a huge Joel fan, but this Mike episode was as funny as the older ones. The movie itself was full of the usual sadly dated, low budget, badly acted fodder that one expects from MST3K, but I think if I were high I could almost watch it alone. Weeks later and I'm still using lines in my daily conversation such as singing "Spider skank, spider skank!", "My skull is almost popped out of my skin", "She's my gramma-daughter", and "Did you see my butt?".

2001
5 stars
This is one of the best movies I've seen in a while, mostly for it's unique premise and execution. I'm usually turned off by boorish main characters, but as many reviewers of this film will note, in this case he's little more than an object. (Caution though, he commits some violence towards women) Interpretations of heaven and hell, especially in such a casual humanistic way (hell employees request air conditioning and heaven is losing the battle for "soul acquisitions") are so interesting to me. Penelope Cruz's "original form" makes for a delicious plot twist, and the affair between heaven and hell's directors is sweet and smirk inducing. Language changes (French in heaven, Spanish on earth, and English in hell) are the icing on the cake.

1995
4 stars
This show just about embodies my feelings for David Cross- totally hit and miss. Sometimes he's hilarious ("Please send as many free products as possible") and sometimes he (and Bob) just take decent ideas and run them into the ground. (Opera of the farmer/salesman). Overall, it's worth watching again.

1996
4 stars
I don't like musicals, so I ignored this movie for a while, which was a big, fatty mistake. While the numbers start out painfully boring, they (along with every other aspect of the movie) just get more outlandish and "shocking" as the movie progresses. There are few things funnier than Matt Stone's facial expressions, but Trey's writing is one of them. There's no characters, just caricatures, and they're all on the LOL side of funny. The gore was zombie-movie beautiful, but the songs still grate if you dislike musicals. After watching a couple times, turn on the infamous drunk commentary for a bunch of crazy man chat. Overall, hilarious.

1976
2 stars
Please give me my 97 minutes back. Recalling moments of this on cable from years ago, I ignored the ratings and gave it a try. Unabashedly has NO plot, and a string of quietly tragic and vaguely inappropriate scenes. Highlights include a hooker who gets no respect, a cheating husband, a very angry young man, a pastor who's obsessed with money, and the full car wash crew being stepped on and stepping on each other. 2 stars are for visuals and music (total 70's dream), and a couple actual comedic moments.

1989
4 stars
Both the episodes and the 4th bonus material disk were excellent. But as the Kids admit, there is a point when you can see that they ran out of old material and had to start writing for television. The end of the first season is pretty close to terrible. I think it's the last 2 or 3 episodes. Definitely a rough patch in an otherwise continually hilarious series.

1983
4 stars
A full star goes to unintentional comedy for being set in the 80's, and for a ridiculous, young Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. (How their relationship supposedly grew was probably the most retarded part.) Nerd comedy (the definition of a "backdoor", writing down passwords in plain sight, and a teenage hacker who changes his grades in the school computer) are highlights, and the obvious anti-war message is viewer-defined rather than heavy handed.

Open Your Eyes
(Abre los Ojos)
1997
4 stars
This is the original Vanilla Sky, which is supposed to be loads better than it's American remake. (What's new?) Having no basis for comparison (yet), I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I knew there was some twist, but willed myself not to look it up online, and was well rewarded. Confusing for most of the movie, but new pieces fall together at the end, and with successive viewing. And goodness, Penelope makes a perfect dream girl.

1997
3 stars
Another "WTF is going on" movie. Time passed speedily and scenes primly followed, and I was often confused as to motivation. Set in pre WWI England where homosexuality was illegal, perhaps the plot development was supposed to be as demure and by the book as the social climate. Interesting, if nothing else, to see the variety of ways people react to a stifiling setting, and for the tender love scenes.

1995
4 stars
There's a commitment to realism that can thoroughly bore the viewer, unless you're immersed. Scenes where we see Julianne Moore having tedious conversations, having tedious sex, attending tedious functions, etc., are worth it if you have the patience to see from the eyes of a spoiled upper class woman. The subject matter, chemical sensitivity in an increasingly toxic world (perfectly set in the 80's, with a parallel plot of it being impossible to love yourself in such an indulgent society), becomes more potent a message each day. The quiet manner in which they illustrate the pervasive danger (long scenes with aerosol hairspray and overall empty lives) is perfect. So much of this bears mention, but it didn't warrant 5 stars because the film tried to carry itself on an artistic/minimalistic delivery, when more content would have been appropriate or necessary. Excellent ending as well.

1968
2 stars
Apparently this is a "love it or hate it" movie, and I fall into the latter category. People who call this the best sci-fi film ever need a punch in the thorax and to stop watching so much mainstream garbage. There are LONG stretches of silence (which did not augment the tension), LONG "artistic" scenes that aren't interesting to look at and do not explain anything (unless you're in total existentialism mode and then you can try and make leaps), and the total lack of clarification makes most of the movie confusing. The viewer is supposed to infer much of the story, but it doesn't come off as avant garde, just sloppy script writing. I know Kubrick was trying to be artistic and innovative, but for me it came off as pretentious and amateur. Kubrick's new nickname around here it "the hack". That said, a handful of scenes were very engrossing and the music of course is superb.

1996
4 stars
Seen this bunches of times, and it never ceases to make me crack up. As a Kids fan, this movie was a perfect continuation of the series. From 1 liners to the myriad of characters, to the plot, it's an excellent comedy. The only thing discounting it would be the total lack of DVD features, and minimal Dave Foley (due to scheduling).

1997
3 stars
A killer story idea with poor execution. Interesting to see the futuristic premise (predetermination of a baby's characteristics) placed in such humdrum contemporary times, tho. Poor character development makes divining motivation and emotions impossible, and there's some far out words/actions that would have been nice to understand. Brendan Fraser does a surprisingly good job, and the ending is promising.

1998
3 stars
1.5 stars go to visuals, and 1.5 stars go to the men who lavishly parade around being homoerotic. I have a suspicion that I was supposed to discern more about the seeming open endedness of the finale, but it just felt like a do-nothing end to a do-nothing plot. It was more like a montage of tragically beautiful indulgent, music videos. Ewan McGregor's portral of a bisexual man is *ahem* commendable.

1997
3 stars
Admittedly, more watchable than the original movie, but much less interesting and endearing than the book. Wonderful acting and 1940's visuals, but it can't take the bite out of the tragic subject matter.

1987
3 stars
I've seen this before, and recall liking it better in the past. A case of romanticizing 80's movies I think. The actors were like caricatures, and the ending came out of left field. Much of its charm comes from the decade and WTF situations.

1998
5 stars
For me, almost nothing in this movie falters, and it magically seems as though it happened in 1976, instead of the 90's trying to look 70's. The acting, plot, visuals, and occasional screwball scenes are poignant, relatable, and always funny.

1997
5 stars
It takes some special elements (in this case, twins, insanity, and what seemed like fate) to make incest not just watchable, but almost... Anyway, Parker Posie always does well as loopy and dynamic ("Where did that gun come from?" "God."), and the supporting actors were all perfects characters. I loved the obsession with the JFK assassination, and that someone finally used it as a film's central metaphor.

2000
3 stars
It's official, I'm a stupid American. Many times I wondered about historical facts (as this is set in Germany during WWII) that I'm sure would make the movie come alive for me. As it were, I grappled a bit. Otherwise it was a very touching lesbian love story, even if the characters weren't always well explained. Some bits, as well as the ending were thouroughly heartbreaking and infuriating.

1962
4 stars
I caught a few minutes of this on AMC years ago and thought "creepy, she's almost being held hostage by her sister". Turns out Bette Davis does a lot more than that to Joan Crawford... like serve her pet bird for dinner on a bed of tomatoes! Bette is insufferable from the beginning but she does it so believably and still gets the understanding of her sister that it's hard to outright hate her. I don't know how she does it, but Joan always plays the "I've been wronged, but I still have a heart of gold" shtick so believably. VERY tense and sometimes gruesome (in a 1960's B & W way).

2003
4 stars
Coming fresh from a course on historic Japan, I thought I would just love the samurai, but Tom Cruise's character was enthralling as well. Watching him flip out those "patriotic" jerks in the beginning and growing into a man with an honorable purpose was awesome. Being squeamish, the constant gore is really all that didn't make this 5 stars for me. Oh, and the love story. So distracting and uncalled for.

2000
4 stars
I'll definitely need to watch this a 2nd time due to the mindfuck nature of the film. I was constantly surprised and enthralled, groping desperately to figure out what was really true. The continual phone scene was a clever way to add narration into a film that so desperately needed it. Acting was superb, plus we get 2 Matrix veterans.

1964
3 stars
Oh Joan Crawford, how I love you even in movies that are beneath you. Too much of this was simply not possible, and yet passed off as totally believable. But I loved the mommy/daughter strife that was just under the surface, the increasingly viscous plot, the twist ending, and seeing Joan get mad is always a treat!

1975
4 stars
Woah mama this version is better than the new one, despite the totally fucked ending. The mounting tension was damn near palpable and the (non-robotic) characters were well developed. The dated outfits and other visuals were fun, too.

1998
4 stars
Angelina is mesmerizing and tragically believable. Little things like "artistic" editing techniques and bad music are all that separate this from a 5 star. Her extra crazy emotional scenes made me boohoovey: (

1994
4 stars
The art of the tease. It's mostly build up with a few very interesting revelations. Tastefully done even if the sex is incestuous. Makes me get pissy about the class war and sloppy ass parents. The ending is brutally violent, and yet I cheered for it.

2001
1 star
This was like reading a Judy Bloom book get turned into a movie by middle aged men. Besides the (mostly uncalled for) scenes of psychotic passion, this whole thing made me cluck my tongue at how poorly written and acted it was. The characters were totally undeveloped + jumpy.

2002
5 stars
Tipping is nearly in a class of it's own. Three one-hour episodes (made for BBC TV) span Nan's life from a quiet girl living at home to being a famous performer, lover, a love slave, a prostitute, and more. Steamy sex is also thrown in at unexpected times and boy is it well done. I feel as though I got a real taste of how it mst have been to be a wild woman in the late 1800's.

Wild Reeds
(Les Roseaux sauvages)
1994
3 stars
A crash course on 60's French history may have helped explain the tensions in this movie, but otherwise I was frequently lost. Character development seemed to flip flop but the moments of affection and confession were emotional.

My Life in Pink
(Ma Vie En Rose)
1997
5 stars
So touching! While it's frustrating to watch the parents of this thoughtful boy repeatedly and ignorantly lash out, the rest is pure magic. Lavish dream sequences, looking into a child's mind, and the encouraging ending are wonderful.

1981
4 stars
If you're going to watch a stoner movie, why beat around the bush? Nice Dreams goes from one drug fueled escapade to another and that's it. See, funny!

1953
3 stars
I couldn't even finish watching this. The 30 minute plot was drawn out for 91 minutes punctuated with dorky, dated choreographed songs. Marilyn's character was just too one-track to tolerate. Jane Russell's one liners were great, though, and both ladies were lovely.
Nico and Dani
(Krámpack)
2000
3 stars
Cinematic elements shined above all else. The scenery and other visuals *cough* as well as the soundtrack were beautiful. Either Spain is on an entirely different planet than the US, or much of the dialogue and events were simply surreal. It was refreshing to not see a wrapped-up ending, and instead, one that felt true to life. I could have done without the raping, tho!

A Matter of Taste
(Une affaire de goût )
2000
4 stars
Seemingly unexplainable cruelty weakened my ability to feel for some characters, but their obsession and willingness to continue redeemed them. Quite interesting, with lots of anticipation, and a unique plot.

His Secret Life
(Le Fate ignoranti)
2001
3 stars
It seemed everyone had a cruel streak and insults were always flying. I couldn't get past that. The directing sometimes seemed amateurish, but it was worth watching once to see such varied lives, and for the amazing plot hook.

1950
4 stars
Two words: scientific cliffhangers. Disney takes a "serious" stab at introducing the possible reality of space travel, and does an interesting job. In fact, the seriousness is what makes it so dang fun.

1982
4 stars
It's cheesy execution of "technology" becomes less obvious once Jeff Bridges gets into the Master Control Program and we start to feel immersed in their Big Brother-like world. Surprisingly relatable since the subject matter is actually more of an issue now. Old hacker humor done very well.

1976
4 stars
Michael York is hilarious as a sadistic and unquestioning "Sandman" agent of the Huxley-like state. "Carousel", the blinky hand lights, and the ideal city that looks like an old mall are too funny. Despite some flaws (due almost solely to dating, I'm sure) I probably couldn't say enough good things about it.

2000
4 stars
Characters were very entertaining and believable, while some aspects (like the Men's Group) were so wildly imaginative, and both entertwined beautifully. Every coupling (gay, straight, "appropriate" and otherwise) drew me in.
1951
4 stars
Very tense drama that isn't much watered by its age. Much like a Twilight Zone episode you get a poignant moral lesson and some unexpected action. I like how aliens leave Earth alone until we start to discover space travel, and then they need to put the smack down so we don't soil their turf. If only.

2000
5 stars
Dialogue is full of hilarious one liners, but character development is what really makes it 5 stars. The group of friends is very diverse and their experiences span a lot of interesting ground. It's rare to see any real character insights when you have so many characters!

1959
4 stars
While it's painful to see the iconic Marilyn Monroe play a money grubbing "not very bright" girl, the cross dressing and sexual innuendo was amazing. I was never sure what I was supposed to be turned on by, but I had a girl boner most of the time anyway.

1946
4 stars
The main characters ooze cruel and sexually charged dialogue. I couldn't take my eyes off the trainwreck that was Rita Hayworth's Gilda. I think they even tried to make this a boy-friendly movie by throwing in the comical "world domination" sub plot.

1973
3 stars
Charleton Heston's delivery coupled with continually weak dialogue and a jumpy timeline ruin an otherwise great sci fi premise. The chaotic futuristic society was interesting, though.

1983
4 stars
Reading this book in high school was about the beginning of my obsession with older sci-fi. Should be REQUIRED VIEWING for everyone. Scary and touching portrayal of life after we bomb the living crap out of one another. Radiation sickness and chaos everywhere. Absolutely astonishing to imagine.

2000
3 stars
The 80's hook was the best part, but the rest was iffy. Traditional "gay boy meets string of sluts and wonders why no one wants to have a real relationship" thing.

1999
5 stars
Touching and well acted portrayal of a youth's coming out. Some of the dialogue was so honest and biting! The growing romantic tension was worth all the build up. Great cast and plot twists.

1996
2 stars
So confusing! I was never really sure what anyone's motivation or feelings were, and some characters were so erratic and unbelievable. The accents were strong, too, so even the dialogue was a bit hard to follow.

2000
3 stars
Margaret's timing and repetition killed it, although some of the material was excellent and poignant. "Fanning the flames of my faggotry", yes. "I'm here to wash your vagina", no.

I used a 1-5 whole star rating scale since that's what Netflix uses, and I wanted to keep track of my ratings by using their system.
See, there is a method to the madness. Anyway, I should have just interjected half stars when they were necessary. Well, sometimes I did.
Please also note that these are MY interpretations and opinions of movies.
I'm all ready aware of some of my more touristy qualities as a film connoisseur, and I don't need them pointed out.
Geez, I don't come to your hobby and kick that dopey golf frisbee thing out of your hand.

 

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