With nearly 7,000 films available on Netflix, picking something to watch can become an anxiety inducing ordeal. If you’re anything like us, you’ll scroll through every genre without finding anything you’re really in the mood for. Your “My List” would better off titled “Things I Might Watch, Eventually,” luckily, MoviefiedNYC is here to help. Here’s our pick of the best films that were recently released on Netflix Instant Streaming.
Dir: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider
Lars and the Real Girl is a film about the questionable relationship between Lars (Ryan Gosling) and the “real girl”, a life size vinyl doll Lars purchased on the internet. Lars, pathologically shy and wary of any physical contact from another person, finds comfort in his relationship with the inanimate Bianca, for whom he constructs an entire identity and treats like a living, breathing human being. The relationship between Lars and his doll is not based in fetishism but in loneliness, as Lars even explains that Bianca does not believe in pre-marital sex and that their relationship is chaste. Lars and the Real Girl navigates a very difficult line in terms of tone and performance, remaining gentle and sympathetic yet grounded in realism, and Gosling plays Lars in a way that is both dryly comedic and endearing. The empathetic and understanding response to Lars’ delusions from his close friends and family keep the film operating on a bright and uplifting level despite its potentially cringe-inducing subject matter.
Dir: Ming-liang Tsai
Starring: Shiang-chyi Chen, Kang-sheng Lee, Yi Cheng Lee
Stray Dogs is a challenging film to say the least. Ming-liang Tsai’s works have often been described as “slow cinema”, and Stray Dogs clocks in at two hours and eighteen minutes long despite the fact that there are less than 80 shots in the entire film. The director isn’t afraid to hold on a shot for five or even ten minute without so much as shifting the frame. A particularly intense and hard to watch scene involves the father taking over ten minutes to smother, weep over, and devour a cabbage head his children have made up to look like their deceased mother. Stray Dogs is cinematically beautiful and sets a chilling and powerful tone, but makes no attempt at traditional character or narrative.
Dir: Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Vegar Hoel, Orjan Gamst, Martin Starr
The first Dead Snow was a wonderful, bloody, joyful horror comedy film about a group of friends on vacation who get attacked by a horde of Nazi zombies, and Dead Snow 2 carries over that absurd premise with a bigger budget, a bigger scale, and one zombie-driven Soviet tank. Essentially Dead Snow 2 is about the same horde of Nazi zombies coming down from the mountains to lay waste to an innocent village, and the film’s protagonists raising their own army of Soviet zombies to fight back. If you’re not sold at this point, I just don’t know what to tell you. Dead Snow 2 leans more toward comedy than horror in its “horror comedy” genre label, including a brilliantly slapstick opening scene in which Martin (Vegar Hoel) tries to control the zombie arm doctors have accidentally attached to his body in place of his own severed limb. The film also stars Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, and Ingrid Haas as the “Zombie Squad”, a group of overzealous zombie enthusiasts who travel from America to see the undead in action.
Dir: Stuart Gordon
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton
This classic exploitation film based on a short story from H.P. Lovecraft centers around a young medical student (Jeffrey Combs) who is obsessed with bringing the dead back to life. In the film’s 86 minute runtime Herbert West “re-animates” anything he can get his hands on, from his roommate’s cat to a dismembered head. Re-Animator was praised by both Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael as an example of the merits of a “trash” film, as it handles subject matter of sex, gore, and violence in a way that is gratifying but far from highbrow. Re-Animator stands out as a horror/scifi classic and a brilliant first film from director Stuart Gordon.
Dir: Mike Figgis
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Elisabeth Shue, Julian Sands
Leaving Las Vegas is a grim character study of Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage), an alcoholic who arrives in Las Vegas with the intention of drinking himself to death. The film explores Ben and his inner demons through his relationship with Sera, a prostitute he meets on the street. Sera takes him in and the two begin to genuinely care about each other, but Ben makes it clear that nothing is going to stop him from drinking. The film shows the viewer a sleazy, grimy side of Vegas, full of cheap hotels and dirty streets. Ultimately this film conveys a surprising amount of passion in Ben’s self destructive downward spiral.
– Wil Barlow