Today we have a much better crop of movies on instant Netflix.
Europa Report (2013) – Rated PG-13
“In this nail-biting thriller, a private space-exploration company sends six astronauts to determine whether Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, can sustain life — and what they find terrifies and transforms them.”
Okay, I officially despise the found footage genre. It had its day but now it’s just lazy moviemaking. That said Europa Report is a really great low-budget science fiction movie. Unfortunately it is hard science fiction instead of high concept and has no big names attached to it so it will probably fly under most people’s radar. Like most found footage, there is a long buildup to a final payoff.
Europa Report has a good international cast, including District 9’s Sharlto Copley, genre veteran Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness, The Hole), Anamaria Marinca, and Michael Nyqvist (Dragon Tattoo series).
Look for scientist extraordinaire Neil DeGrasse Tyson appearing as himself.
Grabbers (2012) – Not rated
“When alien monsters go on a murderous rampage on an Irish island, the only survivor is drunk — because alcohol makes blood toxic to the aliens. Now, as a sober cop tries to stop the carnage, the rest of the town must get wasted in order to survive.”
Grabbers is a highly amusing horror comedy from across the pond. The two leads, Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley, are very engaging and the monsters are very well-designed and executed. Look for Russell Tovey (George from Being Human) as the enthusiastic Dr.Adam Smith.
Only God Forgives (2013) – Rated R
“Ryan Gosling stars as British gangster Julian, who runs a Bangkok fight club, and Kristin Scott Thomas plays his crime-boss mom in this action thriller. When a cop kills Julian’s brother, the family matriarch flies in from London to oversee revenge.”
Nicolas Winding Refn knows violence. I haven’t seen the Danish director’s Pusher trilogy. Valhalla Rising (which I refer to as Valhalla Risible) was a laughable exercise in style and violence. Even though I despised it for its ludicrousness (a half dozen vikings invade America) and pretentiousness (pick a scene, any scene), I really enjoyed Refn’s next effort, Drive. I found Drive to be a nice neo noir with some astonishing violence.
In Only God Forgives, Refn ups the violence ante and tries to do the same with verbal violence. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous and character placement is often very unusual.
Ryan Gosling plays Julian, an enigmatic man of few words, much like his turn in Drive. Kristin Scott Thomas plays his incredibly foul-mouthed and vengeance-fueled mother. Vithaya Pansringarm is superb as the stoic investigator and karaoke enthusiast, Chang. Dialogue is in English and Thai but there isn’t much of either. Refn is mostly a visual storyteller and his films are light on dialogue.
Unfortunately the violence will repel quite a few people, the seedy subject matter will repel some more, and those that are left will notice that, as with Refn’s last two efforts, there isn’t actually much story here. That said this is a beautiful film with good performances – it just doesn’t have anything to say.