Tag Archives: Netflix It

Netflix It: ‘The Terminal’

By Danny Contreras

Starring Tom Hanks, and directed by Steven Spielberg, The Terminal is my favorite movie of 2004, and should be a must watch in your Netflix queue.

The story centers around Viktor Navorski, a man from the fictitious Krakozhia in Eastern Europe, who comes to JFK on a tourist visit. Rebel troops in his country have begun an armed conflict against the ruling government and officials in the United States prohibit his entrance into the country due to the civil war and lack of sovereignty. Navorski cannot go back to Krakozhia because flights are prohibited from entering a nation in civil war.

Forced to stay at JFK, hilarity ensues when Navorski needs to find food, shelter and money to make his stay in JFK survivable while carrying his luggage and a Planters peanut can. He slowly gains the trust of the workers in the airport; from bag handlers to workers in a contracted company. He also falls in love with Amelia, a flight attendant in a precarious relationship.

The main antagonist is Frank Dixon, the head of Customs and Border Protection who grows annoyed with Navorski’s presence and devises a way of getting him out of the airport. First, he tries to get him to stop getting money from the carts that cost 25 cents. Then he tries to get him to set foot outside the airport so that customs agents can arrest him for being an illegal immigrant. Eventually, through his idiosyncrasies, Navorski begins living comfortably in the airport, begins making more money than Frank Dixon and tries to woo Amelia into falling in love with him.

Inspired by the real story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, who lived in Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris, the film provides a look into the life of the people who desperately try to live here in the United States, how homelessness affects everyone and the lives of workers in the airports.

Yes, we get an inside view at those people who handle our bags. The ones we grow paranoid of every time we put something valuable in our luggage. And sometimes, it feels like the movie makes those fears true. But, in the end it shows that they’re just working people, like all of us.

More importantly, we take a look at homelessness and immigration, both issues in this country. That’s the amazing timeliness of The Terminal. Here we’re dealing with immigration, and how typical of an immigrant Navorski is. He’s not a criminal, nor a bad person; he’s a tourist with a goal in mind. He’s just trying to get his goal achieved. He can’t be blamed for what happened at Krakhozia, he’s a victim. It feels as if the story is asking the viewers to reconsider their stance on immigration. In addition to that, we look at homelessness and the extremes people need to face in order to make ends meet. He first works as “luggage” handler, in order to make 25 cents to get some McDonalds. When that fails, he gets an off-the-books job that pays extremely well. But even that is not enough to make a decent life. So, we need to reconsider our views on homeless people. Because, we never know their circumstances.

The movie remains a favorite of mine because the acting is amazing and Spielberg’s vision is genius.

Netflix It: The Troll Hunter

Photo courtesy: SF Norge A/S

By Dalton Silvernail

I will be the first to say that I don’t enjoy subtitled movies. It’s far too difficult for me to sit for an hour or two trying to read everything said while watching the events of the film. That being said, every so often it is worth it. Norway’s The Troll Hunter (2010) by André Øvredal is easily one ,if not the best, example of this.

Set in Norway, primarily taking place in the remote forest and mountains of the country, the movie is shot by a team of college students following a man whose job it is to kill trolls. From deep woodlands to deserted mines to the camping trailer the hunter lives in, the varied locations of the film are fantastically chosen and manipulated to give the appearance of the trolls’ presence within them. The migration from one setting to another also avoids the issue of film monsters being present in one place only; a premise I consider to be a major pit fall in monster films given that if people spend decades looking for the Loch Ness Monster they would do the same for whatever creature the film is portraying.

Taking a page from The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, the visuals and audio of the movie are recorded by the characters. By having college journalism students record the events, they avoid the issues of bad picture and audio quality and poor camera handling. This simple act, of putting control in the hands of people with access to better equipment and at least some training in its use, drastically improves over movies in this format that become two hours of video that looks like it’s from YouTube.

The handling of the details about trolls, as well as the organization keeping them secret, is explained in fairly believable ways, keeping the viewer from having to disregard the film’s events as unrealistic.

Throughout the movie, the film crew slowly gets information from the hunter about the trolls and those keeping them secret. And while certain characteristics of the trolls, such as a potential 1,000 year life span and their ability to smell the blood of Christians more readily than that of other people, are a bit more fanciful than scientific, the explanations for things such as multiple heads and their rather extreme reaction to ultraviolet light are explained in ways far closer to realm of possibility.

As for the secretive TSS (Troll Security Service), I found the choice of refraining from explaining the full extent of their government connection and motivation behind their work to be more than satisfying. For instance, it’s oddly satisfying that when asked why trolls were kept secret, the hunter admitted that he didn’t know exactly why. The lack of focus on the ‘why’ of things left much more time to explore the emotion and humanity of the hunter with a lonely life and a job that he does because he must, not because he wants to. It also forces the film crew to have reason outside of wanting to expose the governments secrets (a rather cliché concept) as they continue putting themselves in danger.

Separately, these elements improve on a plot that is, for the most part, the basic monster movie story. What brings them together and what truly sets this movie above so many others of the same variety is the acting. Every actor portrayed their character so well that they truly appeared more real than acted. The director’s choice to refrain from the standard overly shocked reaction at the existence of the trolls, which is present in monster movies both good and bad, made the characters much more organic.

Overall, this is one of the best films I have ever seen. It may not be the most exciting, have the best graphics, or be a film I’d watch on a regular basis, but it’s an amazing movie with a great plot and some of the most realistic characters I have ever seen. This movie is a fantastic reminder that film was once thought of as a medium of art more than a medium for fame and wealth.

I won’t say it’s the next movie you should watch, or that you’re going to want to watch it over and over, but this is a film in the form of art rather than just entertainment. I will say you should certainly take the time to watch it at some point—much like I would say you should take a break from looking at funny cat pictures online and visit a museum once in a while.

Netflix It: Visioneers

By Peter Stroczkowski

It’s no secret that Zach Galifianakis is hilarious, bizarre, and oddly charming. What many of us may not know, however, is that the man did not simply appear out of fat air to play the role of ‘the bearded guy’ in The Hangover, and its miserably underwhelming sequel The Hangover II. As well as a film and television actor, Galifianakis is also a comedian and writer- and lo and behold, he is the star of this hilarious, bizarre, and oddly charming independent film!

Visioneers (directed by Jared Drake) is set in a dismal, not-too-distant future wherein George Washington Winsterhammerman (Galifianankis), is a low-level employee of the Jeffers Corporation, a massive conglomerate that runs the United States with its iron fist and ethos of mindless productivity. A common one-fingered gesture now serves as the polite social greeting, coupled with the statement “Jeffers morning to you.” Winsterhammerman leads a productive and comfortable but mundane life until people around him (including fellow employees) begin exploding (yes, literally). Horrified at what is going on and whether he may be at risk, he attempts to get comfort from his loveless marriage and absentee son. Winsterhammerman soon learns from his doctor that the victims of exploding had similar symptoms to him (having dreams, binge-eating, and sexual incapability). When Winsterhammerman’s dreams intensify and become more frequent, he believes his explosion is inevitable. He quickly begins to doubt the path of his marriage, job, diet, and life in general, and attempts to seek true happiness.

The film is equal parts love story, drama, and absurdist comedy, and Galifianakis plays his role to perfection as the pitiable, relatable, and ultimately lovable Winsterhammerman. The film is definitely more subtle and complex than what Galifianankis has become popularized for (no hookers, recreational drug use or wolf pack references here folks), so bros and brodettes looking for more accessible humor should await the release of the third Hangover flick. For those who appreciate eccentricity, charming and unpretentious independent films, or overweight comedians with magnificent beards should give the film a try. At best (or maybe worst), it could leave you questioning the meaning of true happiness.

It’s no secret that Zach Galifianakis is hilarious, bizarre, and oddly charming. What many of us may not know, however, is that the man did not simply appear out of fat air to play the role of ‘the bearded guy’ in The Hangover, and its miserably underwhelming sequel The Hangover II. As well as a film and television actor, Galifianakis is also a comedian and writer- and lo and behold, he is the star of this hilarious, bizarre, and oddly charming independent film!

Visioneers (directed by Jared drake) is set in a dismal, not-too-distant future wherein George Washington Winsterhammerman (Galifianankis), is a low-level employee of the Jeffers Corporation, a
massive conglomerate that runs the United States with its iron fist and ethos of mindless productivity. A common one-fingered gesture now serves as the polite social greeting, coupled with the
statement “Jeffers morning to you.” Winsterhammerman leads a productive and comfortable, but mundane life until people around him (including fellow employees) begin exploding (yes, literally). Horrified at what is going on and whether he may be at risk, he attempts to get comfort from his loveless marriage and absentee son. George soon learns from his doctor that the victims of exploding had similar symptoms to him (having dreams, binge-eating, and sexual incapability). When George’s dreams intensify and become more frequent, he believes his explosion is inevitable. He quickly begins to doubt the path of his marriage, job, diet, and life in general, and attempts to seek true happiness.

The film is equal parts love s

It’s no secret that Zach Galifianakis is hilarious, bizarre, and oddly charming. What many of us may not know, however, is that the man did not simply appear out of fat air to play the role of ‘the bearded guy’ in The Hangover, and its miserably underwhelming sequel The Hangover II. As well as a film and television actor, Galifianakis is also a comedian and writer- and lo and behold, he is the star of this hilarious, bizarre, and oddly charming independent film!

Visioneers (directed by Jared drake) is set in a dismal, not-too-distant future wherein George Washington Winsterhammerman (Galifianankis), is a low-level employee of the Jeffers Corporation, a
massive conglomerate that runs the United States with its iron fist and ethos of mindless productivity. A common one-fingered gesture now serves as the polite social greeting, coupled with the
statement “Jeffers morning to you.” Winsterhammerman leads a productive and comfortable, but mundane life until people around him (including fellow employees) begin exploding (yes, literally). Horrified at what is going on and whether he may be at risk, he attempts to get comfort from his loveless marriage and absentee son. George soon learns from his doctor that the victims of exploding had similar symptoms to him (having dreams, binge-eating, and sexual incapability). When George’s dreams intensify and become more frequent, he believes his explosion is inevitable. He quickly begins to doubt the path of his marriage, job, diet, and life in general, and attempts to seek true happiness.

The film is equal parts love story, drama, and absurdist comedy, and Galifianakis plays his role to perfection as the pitiable, relatable, and ultimately lovable. The film is definitely more subtle and complex than what Galifianankis has become popularized for (no hookers, recreational drug use or wolf pack references here folks), so bros and brodettes looking for more accessible humor should await the release of the third Hangover flick. For those who appreciate eccentricity, charming and unpretentious independent films, or overweight comedians with magnificent beards should give the film a try. At best (or maybe worst), it could leave you questioning the meaning of true happiness.

tory, drama, and absurdist comedy, and Galifianakis plays his role to perfection as the pitiable, relatable, and ultimately lovable. The film is definitely more subtle and complex than what Galifianankis has become popularized for (no hookers, recreational drug use or wolf pack references here folks), so bros and brodettes looking for more accessible humor should await the release of the third Hangover flick. For those who appreciate eccentricity, charming and unpretentious independent films, or overweight comedians with magnificent beards should give the film a try. At best (or maybe worst), it could leave you questioning the meaning of true happiness.

Netflix It: Twelve Monkeys

Brad Pitt in Twelve Monkeys Source: Universal Pictures

By Dalton Silvernail

If there’s a movie I could try to oversell, it would be Terry Gilliam’s 1995 Twelve Monkeys. A psychological/suspense thriller, Twelve Monkeys is film making at its best.

Set in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has been forced underground by an airborne virus, criminal James Cole (Bruce Willis) must travel into the past to gather information on “The Army of the 12 Monkeys” and its connection to the virus in exchange for a pardon.

In his first trip Cole is placed in a mental hospital where he meets psychologist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), the lunatic son of a pharmaceutical company CEO. Haunted by a recurring nightmare and increasingly questioning his sanity, Cole struggles in a world he doesn’t understand. Forcing Raily to aid him, he slowly uncovers the connection between the virus, Goines, and “The Army of the Twelve Monkeys.”

Watching this movie made me realize how capable Bruce Willis is of portraying more than a strong, silent hero or wise-cracking, cut loose cop. Willis’ convincing portrayal of a complex and troubled character did not fall short of enthralling. I find it somewhat upsetting that he was not cast in that sort of role more often. And while the plot itself effectively creates great suspense, the slow emotional progression of Willis’ character makes every twist and turn even more mesmerizing.

Not to be outdone, Stowe’s performance astounds differently. Her character evolves from a rational, emotionally stable, psychoanalyst to an impulsive, desperate woman who finds herself believing Cole’s insane narrative of the dystopian future from which he comes. Complementing Willis’ performance, Stowe’s characterization is easily one the better examples of an effective supporting role I have ever seen.

Perhaps the most surprising and entertaining performer is Brad Pitt. Surprising not because I thought of him as an incapable actor, but because it was a role so different from any other of his I have seen. This is all the proof anyone will ever need that Pitt is capable of method acting and portraying demanding characters. It’s rare to find an actor comfortable with becoming a character so detached from reality and even rarer to find someone who masters every subtle, physical detail of the role. Every twitch, nail bite and gesture is so convincing that you wonder if Pitt actually went insane during filming. Even the way he blinks befits the character. While there is little to no emotional or personality development of his character through the film, Pitt knew Giones so well that from his first frame to his last, the character never became jaded.

Every shot, line and set is so befitting of the genre that it’s difficult to believe this film shares a director with Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Comparing this film to Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Holy Grail, I can only conclude that Gillium is a man that doesn’t simply understand a particular genre, but rather understands the art of film in its entirety.

Netflix-it: Twelve Monkeys

If there’s a movie I could try to over sell, it would be Terry Gilliam’s 1995 Twelve Monkeys. A psychological/suspense thriller, Twelve Monkeys is film making at its best.

Set in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has been forced underground by an air born virus, criminal James Cole (Bruce Willis) must travel into the past to gather information on “The Army of the 12 Monkeys” and its connection to the virus in exchange for a pardon.

In his first trip Cole is placed in a mental hospital where he meets psychologist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and the lunatic son of a pharmaceutical company CEO, Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt). Haunted by a recurring nightmare and increasingly questioning his sanity, Cole struggles in a world he doesn’t understand. Forcing Dr. Raily to aid him, he slowly uncovers the connection between the virus, Goines, and The Army of the Twelve Monkeys.

Watching this movie made me realize how capable Bruce Willis is of portraying more than a strong, silent hero or wise-cracking, cut loose cop. Willis’ convincing portrayal of a complex and troubled character did not fall short of enthralling. I find it somewhat upsetting that he was not cast in that sort of role more often. And while the plot itself effectively creates great suspense, the slow emotional progression of Willis’ character makes every twist and turns even more mesmerizing.

Not to be outdone, Madeleine Stowe’s performance astounds differently. Her character evolves from a rational, emotionally stable, psycho-analyst to an impulsive, desperate woman who finds herself believing Cole’s insane narrative of the dystopian future from which he comes. Complementing Willis’ performance, Stowe’s characterization is easily one the better examples of an effective supporting role I have ever seen.

Perhaps the most surprising and entertaining performer is Brad Pitt. Surprising not because I thought of him as an incapable actor, but because it was a role so different from any other of his I have seen. This is all the proof anyone will ever need that Pitt is capable of method acting and portraying demanding characters. It’s rare to find an actor comfortable with becoming a character so detached from reality and even rarer to find someone who masters every subtle, physical detail of the role. Every twitch, nail bite and gesture is so convincing that you wonder

If there’s a movie I could try to over sell, it would be Terry Gilliam’s 1995 Twelve Monkeys. A psychological/suspense thriller, Twelve Monkeys is film making at its best.Set in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has been forced underground by an air born virus, criminal James Cole (Bruce Willis) must travel into the past to gather information on “The Army of the 12 Monkeys” and its connection to the virus in exchange for a pardon.

In his first trip Cole is placed in a mental hospital where he meets psychologist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and the lunatic son of a pharmaceutical company CEO, Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt). Haunted by a recurring nightmare and increasingly questioning his sanity, Cole struggles in a world he doesn’t understand. Forcing Dr. Raily to aid him, he slowly uncovers the connection between the virus, Goines, and The Army of the Twelve Monkeys.

Watching this movie made me realize how capable Bruce Willis is of portraying more than a strong, silent hero or wise-cracking, cut loose cop. Willis’ convincing portrayal of a complex and troubled character did not fall short of enthralling. I find it somewhat upsetting that he was not cast in that sort of role more often. And while the plot itself effectively creates great suspense, the slow emotional progression of Willis’ character makes every twist and turns even more mesmerizing.

Not to be outdone, Madeleine Stowe’s performance astounds differently. Her character evolves from a rational, emotionally stable, psycho-analyst to an impulsive, desperate woman who finds herself believing Cole’s insane narrative of the dystopian future from which he comes. Complementing Willis’ performance, Stowe’s characterization is easily one the better examples of an effective supporting role I have ever seen.

Perhaps the most surprising and entertaining performer is Brad Pitt. Surprising not because I thought of him as an incapable actor, but because it was a role so different from any other of his I have seen. This is all the proof anyone will ever need that Pitt is capable of method acting and portraying demanding characters. It’s rare to find an actor comfortable with becoming a character so detached from reality and even rarer to find someone who masters every subtle, physical detail of the role. Every twitch, nail bite and gesture is so convincing that you wonder if Pitt actually went insane during filming. Even the way he blinks befits the character. While there is little to no emotional or personality development of his character through the film, Pitt knew Giones so well that from his first frame to his last the character never became jaded.

Every shot, line, and set is so befitting of the genre, that it’s difficult to believe this film shares Gilliam’s previous works include Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Comparing this film to Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and the Holy Grail, I can only conclude that Terry Gillium is a man that doesn’t simply understand a particular genre, but rather understands the art of film in its entirety.

if Pitt actually went insane during filming. Even the way he blinks befits the character. While there is little to no emotional or personality development of his character through the film, Pitt knew Giones so well that from his first frame to his last the character never became jaded.

Every shot, line, and set is so befitting of the genre, that it’s difficult to believe this film shares Gilliam’s previous works include Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Comparing this film to Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and the Holy Grail, I can only conclude that Terry Gillium is a man that doesn’t simply understand a particular genre, but rather understands the art of film in its entirety.

Netflix It: Doctor Who

By Gunarso Nguyen

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a little weird?”

“They never really stop.”

No other quote in the latest season of Doctor Who fully encapsulates the personality of the latest actor to portray the titular character.  The latest season of the immensely popular British television program Doctor Who, the world’s longest running science fiction television program, originating in 1963, is now available on Netflix.  The show, cancelled in 1989, a temporary hiatus for fans, was rebooted in 2005 under former head writer Russel T. Davies , and is currently in it’s 5th season, which in the continuity of the show is the 30th season.  Matt Smith, the 11th person play the role, is the youngest actor to play the Doctor, the quasi-mysterious 900 year old Time Lord, the last of his kind.  The show, under new direction by head writer Steven Moffat, portrays a frenetic, easily distracted old man trapped in a young man’s body gallivanting across all of time and space with a new pair of companions, Amy Pond, portrayed by the effervescent Karen Gillian and the charmingly insecure Rory Williams, played with lovely earnestness by Arthur Darvill.

This latest season captures a childlike sense of wonder and mystery to the universe, a quality that was considered occasionally lacking by some under Davies’s run.  The first episode of the fifth season, titled The 11th Hour, shows a new Doctor desperately trying to salvage his severely damaged ship, the TARDIS (which is perpetually trapped in the form of a 1960s police box), before crash landing in the front yard of an 11-year-old Amelia Pond, who is praying to Santa for someone to come and fix a mysterious crack in her wall which has been emanating strange voices.  It is a positively fairy-tale like story, full of charm and wonder and the kind of mystery that makes you feel like you’re five years old again and still believe in monsters.

Indeed, one of the recurring themes of the latest series is that monsters are real, and frightening, and that courage, intellect, wit and just a little bit of luck will see you through.  A large part of the charm of the show, in contrast to many American television programs, is a running theme through the life of the series that intellect and romance (in the classical sense) will triumph over adversity, as opposed to brute force and cynicism.  Do yourself a favor and check out the latest season of Doctor Who available on Netflix, and join the rest of your brethren across the pond.

Netflix It: ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’

By Michael Walsh

Donald Sutherland stars in 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers.'

Few science fiction horror films capture the pure essence of paranoia quite like the ones that make a valiant effort to tell the body snatching story first written by Jack Finney.

While Don Siegel’s 1956 version of Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers is quite possibly the best film to tell the story of an alien race that goes about its world domination without metal spaceships and with flowers, Philip Kaufman’s 1978 update holds a much more special place in my heart for a number of reasons.

Although I do love the small-town setting Siegel’s film takes place on, Kaufman moves Finney’s tale of paranoia and identity pandemic to the big city, making the takeover’s initial location San Francisco, a delectable setting for any genre film of the 1970’s.

The film features some serious star power, placing Donald Sutherland in a lead role as a public health worker, Jeff Goldblum as his paranoid friend and Leonard Nimoy as a know-it-all author and psychologist. The female leads are played by the recognizable but lesser-known Brooke Adams and Veronica Cartwright. Between the strength of these five actors, a great sense of paranoia begins circulating early on in the film, as suspicions rise about people who simply aren’t themselves anymore.

What makes Invasion of the Body Snatchers such a treat is sensational sense of paranoia it instills in the viewer, let alone the characters, and how Kaufman so effectively portrays it and pushes it.

“I keep seeing these people, all recognizing each other,” says Adams’ character Elizabeth as she suspects something has changed in San Francisco. “Something is passing between them all, some secret. It’s a conspiracy, I know it.”

This line puts the entire journey in perspective. It summarizes the entire feel and atmosphere of the film. The emotionless duplicate bodies that walk amongst our main characters lack human quality and a sense of uniqueness, yet they communicate so well, almost without a whisper. All human character and identity is lost once the pods take control and birth out a new body absolutely the same as the old one.

Kaufman’s film is delightfully eerie, a true champion of the science fiction horror genre that a very few succeed at. Filming most of its climax at night, Kaufman makes use of shadows and the unknown during running chase scenes across a freaked out San Francisco.

A most remarkable and memorable shot places the camera across the street from our main characters as they try to run away from a group of impostor human beings hoping to change them into emotionless facades of themselves. In this shot, we see giant shadows of the four projected onto the building they run alongside, creating suspense through a simple static shot with a beautiful  eye for aesthetics.

This version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers also has another one-up on Siegel’s already great attempt to tell the story. Forget the technical advancements that allow Kaufman to film his story in grander scope and vibrant color, the team at work here also gets the opportunity to work with some top notch special effects (for the time) that will undoubtedly creep the hell out of you.

There’s a dog with a man’s head, and that’s hardly the epitome of disgusting creature effects Body Snatchers features. The detail of the undead yet dead looking bodies and the pods they grow out of is remarkable to not only the look, but to the touch, and adds a whole heck of a lot to capturing the uneasy feeling the rest of the film strives so hard to attain.

Additionally, Kaufman’s film is home to a few of the most memorable moments in 1970’s cinema. The entire chase sequences is full of emotionless beings screeching at the top of their lungs with unhuman sounds coming from their open mouths and fingers pointing straight at you while they attempt to identify those who haven’t ‘turned’ yet. The film’s ending is shocking and one of the most well-done and well-executed in the genre, something I can only let you discover on your own.

Terrifying for more reasons than just the same old movie scare tactics, Invasion of the Body Snatchers brings forward real concepts of paranoia, that while achieved through unbelievable action of alien infusion via a new species of plant, can be taken as allegory for all sorts of real life paranoia we might have for brain-altering people of certain religions or belief groups.

This story has been told many times, most recently in the Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman film The Invasion. Before that, the story was told on a military base in 1993’s Body Snatchers. And while the original film adaptation is among the era’s most remarkable science fiction films, the 1978 Kaufman production has that extra push that allows the film to most certainly appeal to all those interested in otherworldly exploration.