From Our Netflix Queue

With the growing popularity of Netflix instant streaming in the U.S. and its most recent arrival into Canada, we at Row Three would like to highlight some of the great choices available at the press of a button.

 


 


Dragonslayer (Matthew Robbins)

Disney’s bloodiest, ickiest, smartest fantasy comes in the cult 80s fantasy, Dragonslayer. In which Ralph Richardson, playing the original Gandalf, and his cocky apprentice Galen do battle with the nastiest and most frightening dragon ever committed to the big screen. A fable about the loss of the old guard (magic) replaced by the rise of the new (Christianity), it is not so lamenting about it as J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) or Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy II). Yet, it is not shy about the sacrifices to be made, and how others will seize upon those heroic deeds to grab their own power. A surprisingly mature work (and also the only Disney effort to have a split-second shot of young breasts) that is very worth seeking out in the gorgeous HD stream offered by netflix, that maximizes the Welsh and Scottish cinematography, showcases the state-of-the-art Go-Motion technology to fully realize a live-action dragon, and shows of a very young Peter MacNicol’s gossamer blonde curls. A true gem.
-KURT
 

it! (Canada)

 


 


Starman (John Carpenter)

On the surface, John Carpenter’s movie is pretty innocuous stuff: an alien (Bridges) lands on earth and takes the form of a woman’s dead husband and then forces her to drive him to Arizona where he’s going to get picked up by his alien buddies. I’m unsure who the target audience was at the time this was originally released but it’s a pretty bland little picture featuring Jeff Bridges as the alien (Starman) and the great Karen Allen as the woman driving him to Arizona (Jenny). There are some great moments (like the one in the dinner when she tries to run away but can’t face leaving Starman alone halfway to his destination) but for the most part, it’s pretty boring stuff – until the alien/human sex. Here’s Carpenter at his best: infusing the story with the horrific idea that this woman not only had sex with an alien but is carrying what appears to be the new messiah. The characters go through this as if it’s no big deal and this freaked me out more than the idea that Jenny had sex with an alien. Twisted.
-MARINA
 

it! (Canada and USA)

 


 


The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges)

It’s pretty tough to choose a favorite Preston Sturges film – his output as writer/director was remarkably consistent and often brilliant. But I always come back to The Lady Eve, which sparkles so brightly I have to go watch it (or bits of it, just to get my fix) every few months. Barbara Stanwyck is Jean, daughter of a card sharp (Charles Coburn) who’s none too dull herself, but finds herself falling for one of her father’s marks, the heir apparent to a fortune in pale ale (played by Henry Fonda). When Charlie finds out who Jean really is, he drops her, but she swears an elaborate revenge that only begins with making him fall for the Lady Eve Sidwich, an alter-ego Jean takes on just for the occasion. Stanwyck is always incredible to watch, with just the right combination of street smarts and class, and being surrounded by Sturges’ strong stock company (including William Demarest at his most memorable as Charlie’s uncouth valet) only makes her stronger. The film is full of tiny moments of delicious humor, much of it far more absurd than you’d expect, and a surprising amount of warmth. It’s not got the depth of Sullivan’s Travels, perhaps, but it sure does put a giant smile on my face. Oh, plus I want Babs’ wardrobe SO BADLY.
-JANDY
 

it! (USA)

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From our Netflix Queue

With the growing popularity of Netflix instant streaming in the U.S. and its most recent arrival into Canada, we at Row Three would like to highlight some of the great choices available at the press of a button.

 


 


Annie (John Huston)

One of the very first films I remember my parents taking me too. And wow does it still hold up! Great song and dance numbers, anti-communism subtexts, the political divide, the great depression, cute kids, a stellar Broadway cast and the 7-UP guy using the force. If Burnett and Finney weren’t nominated for an Oscar that year, they damn well should’ve! Sheer brilliance. Family films just aren’t made this way anymore perhaps most certified by an extended sequence with the joy of going to the movies. It’s exciting, funny and if nothing else the thirties had style. Relive this near masterpiece now while it’s available at the click of a button.
-ANDREW
 

it! (USA)

 


 


Community – Season 1 (Dan Harmon)

Enough people had told me to watch Community that I finally caved and took a look. Within the first five minutes of the first episode I laughed so hard I had to pause for fear of missing the next joke. The show follows a motley crew of characters trying to perpetually study for Spanish class in an undignified community college. As ensembles go, this has got to be the best, with the stand-outs for me being Joe McHale as Jeff, the so-called leader of the group (who is as close to Adam Scott in acting style as you can get), Chevy Chase as Pierce, the elderly student trying desperately to seem cool, and of course, Danny Pudi as Abed, the insanely meta oddball who insists they are all in a sitcom. Meshing a lot of the great aspects of Party Down and Freaks and Geeks, Community is relentlessly funny (sometimes veering a bit too far into non-sequitur comedy for my taste but usually tempered with a meta-understanding that apparently builds upon the Abed character in future episodes). As someone who has attended community college I see a lot of truth in this otherwise go-for-broke oneupmanship of half-hour sitcom comedies. I have only seen the first 15 episodes so far, but of these, the consistency of quality remains incredibly high. Try the first episode, this is quality straight out of the gate.
-MIKE
 

it! (CANADA)

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From Our Netflix Queue

With the growing popularity of Netflix instant streaming in the U.S. and its most recent arrival into Canada, we at Row Three would like to highlight some of the great choices available at the press of a button.

 


 


The Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey)

The surprise Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature last year, The Secret of Kells pretty much flew under everyone’s radar, including mine. I missed its one-week run in Los Angeles, but finally caught up with it on Instant Watch recently and was really glad I did. The story is a fairly straightforward affair – Brendan is a young boy in an Irish monastary who wants to master the art of illuminating manuscripts, but his uncle (the Abbot) is more concerned with fortifying the village against Viking invasion. But with the help of an aging monk and a forest sprite, Brendan instead works to illustrate a book which will give the monks and villagers hope in their darkest hour. Much of the actual religious context (and content) of the Book of Kells is lost here, mixed in with Celtic mythology and general spirituality, but if you’re watching this for the story, you’re doing it wrong anyway. This is quite simply one of the most gorgeously animated films I’ve seen recently, evoking the style of illuminated manuscripts while still keeping lively and coherent. And even though the style stays consistently medieval throughout, my jaw kept dropping as new sections brought even greater levels of stylization – the Viking attack is all sharp angles and high contrasts that would put Soviet propaganda to shame. If more mainstream animated films would make bold art choices like this, I’d be a very happy filmgoer.
-JANDY
 

it! (US)

 


 


Deliver Us From Evil (Amy J Berg)

On the surface, a pedophile priest is, sadly, not as shocking a subject for a documentary as it probably should be, check a headline on any day of the week and somewhere, someone frocked has been exposed as a predator-in-waiting. But this is different. Father Oliver O’Grady, said pedophile (better known as evil incarnate) is a willing participant of the film, something rarely seen, and the candid interviews with him are unnerving to say the least. This documentary hurt me in a way I didn’t even know I was vulnerable (I am not even Christian, and for the most part am a jaded realist about most things). O’Grady has become a symbol of recognition for me of the kind of dissociative evil that lurks in the world, individual and corporate.
-MIKE
 

it! (USA & Canada)

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From Our Netflix Queue

With the growing popularity of Netflix instant streaming in the U.S. and its most recent arrival into Canada, we at Row Three would like to highlight some of the great choices available at the press of a button.

 


 


Summertime (David Lean)

Director David Lean is perhaps best known for his epic films such as Doctor Zhivago, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and Lawrence of Arabia, to name a few, but for me one of his greatest works remains one of his lesser known ones, his 1955 love letter to Venice, Summertime, starring Katherine Hepburn. Summertime is a refreshingly honest depiction of Anglophone abroad storytelling that consecrates onscreen the multifaceted nature of traveling with its strange mix of the mundane and the glorious. Where a lesser film would editorialize the experience and keep only salient moments to document, this journey into Venice takes in the complete panorama including the quiet moments like leisurely walking to the hotel, or basking in the first morning before all the possibilities. Filmed entirely on site, Summertime seems every bit as rich and sensuous as I imagined Venice would be, which is an incredible feat considering that this was made in 1955 Technicolor and yet this deficiency works in a histrionic way to sheath the visuals in a nostalgic light. As a closer, in a single take Lean establishes one of the best endings to a picture I have ever seen, one that compliments as a perfect book-end everything established in the beginning. Highly, highly Recommended.
- MIKE
 

it! (USA & Canada)

 


 


Nights and Weekends (Joe Swanberg)

In my favorite mumblecore film, Nights and Weekends, Greta Gerwig and Joe Swanberg star as Mattie and James, an amorous couple that must confront the challenges of a long distance relationship. Nights and Weekends is not afraid to show sex explicitly and use the body language as a means of getting to the emotional distance of the characters. In the case of Mattie and James, a relationship fueled strongly by libido, the question arises whether they can cope on affection alone over the long weeks they spend apart. Beginning and ending with fairly explicit sex scenes, the intimacy or lack thereof between the two tell us volumes of where this relationship is heading. Highly observational and candid, Nights and Weekends is a bounty of body language and character tics that ring so damn true to me, though slight in story it pays off in the fine details. Ultimately, there is a forlorn nostalgia to the film that some may identify with (“the one that got away”).
- MIKE
 
Would you like to know more…?

From Our Netflix Queue

With the growing popularity of Netflix instant streaming in the U.S. and its most recent arrival into Canada, we at Row Three would like to highlight some of the great choices available at the press of a button.


To Die For (Gus Van Sant)

One of those little films that I’d been meaning to catch up with and had yet to find the time for, I finally sat down and while cruising through the recommended titles, came upon Van Sant’s crime comedy about a woman with too many aspirations. Starring Nicole Kidman in the lead role of Suzanne Stone, the weather girl with dreams of bigger things, I was surprised to find a supporting cast of stars in the making including Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck. I really didn’t know what to expect and was surprised by the amount of comedy splattered through the film but Kidman’s cold determination is the main appeal and she pulls it off beautifully.
MARINA
 

it! (Canada)

 


 


Red Road (Andrea Arnold)

Being blown away but Arnold’s Fish Tank, the time seemed ripe to check out her previous film. I remember when Red Road had a theatrical run in Vancouver a few years ago – the poster was haunting but there was always something more pressing to see and it came and went before I had a chance to see it. If I’d only known that I was missing out on one of the best new voices in film. Arnold’s thriller is magnetic. From the opening scene, it’s clear that Arnold is working on another level and her control of the story, characters and pacing is extraordinary. At every turn she reveals another piece of the puzzle and yet, when Jackie comes up with a plan, it’s not clear how that plan will unfold until the actions appear on screen. I love that Arnold plays her cards close and has faith that the audience is following along on the edge of their seats, waiting to see how things will play out and when they do, it’s a devastating, emotional blow. Brilliant.
MARINA
 

it! (USA & Canada)

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