Most of the movies and TV series I watch come from my Netflix Instant Queue. It has been my go to for over five years now. I like to use it to find hidden gems, but not everyone wants to commit two hours of their free time to a decent looking movie poster. I’ve watched a ton of garbage over the years, but have missed even more, so there’s always something I want to watch, whether it’s revisiting an old favorite, or finally catching something I missed over the years. Instant Cinefessions will list some weekly recommendations based on what’s new on the Netflix service. It will also include my “Pull List”, which are films I’m interested in watching in the coming weeks. Look for reviews of the movies in my pull list in future columns. Also featured are brief reviews of films I’ve watched off the Pull List.


Netflix BigNew Films added to Netflix as of 03/11/2015
The ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
After the Fall (2014)
The Alps from Above: A Symphony of Summits (2015)
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014)
Aziz Ansari Live at Madison Square Garden (2015)
Back Issues: The Hustler Magazine Story (2014)
Believe (2013)
Blame It on the Streets (2014)
By the Gun (2014)
Cat Run 2 (2014)
Cesar Chavez (2014)
Faith Connections (2014)
Food Chains (2014)
Hansel vs. Gretel (2015)
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Life of Riley (2014)
Mr. Pip (2012)
My Own Man (2015)
1 Way Up: The Story of Peckham BMX (2014)
Tyler Perry’s The Single Mom’s Club (2014)

Ashe’s Seal of Approval
These are the films or series that are on Netflix that get my seal of approval. In lieu of something not showing up that I’ve seen with recent additions to Netflix, which is a good problem to have if you’re looking for something new, I’ll recommend something that I’ve seen recently or that I know will be on the service for a while. This week we’ve got a number of new additions that I really like.

Archer
Season five of the animated and hilarious spy comedy series has hit Netflix. The whole cast of characters are fantastic, and it’s really well written. I can’t recommend it enough.

Glee
Yes, season five of Glee is on Netflix streaming now.  Yes, I still watch the show, more for the music than anything else as it has gone way overboard more than once. But if I can watch it without commercials, even better.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014, dir. Dean DeBlois)
The second chapter of How To Train Your Dragon brings back the fantastical world of Hiccup and Toothless five years later. While Astrid, Snotlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races, the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons, and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace. Finally got a chance to sit down in January and watch this one start to finish. They did some amazing things with this to keep it from being just another sequel. There’s world building, character development, lots of great tear-jerking moments to go along with the comedy elements and, most importantly, it’s an amazing romp back into that world. This isn’t just a kids film. This is a film that anyone can sit and enjoy, and I can’t recommend it enough.
four_stars

Ashe’s Pull List
The Pull List is a list of films I’m interested in but haven’t seen that have been added to Netflix since the beginning of the year. These listed below are the films that have been added to the Pull List since last issue. Look for reviews of some of these in future issues of Instant Cinefessions. Don’t be surprised if I don’t end up clearing out this entire list either.  Even I can be picky sometimes.

The ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
The Alps from Above: A Symphony of Summits (2015)
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014)
Aziz Ansari Live at Madison Square Garden (2015)
Cat Run 2 (2014)
Hansel vs. Gretel (2015)
Mr. Pip (2012)

Ashe’s Pull List Picks of the Week
So what did I watch off my Netflix Pull List this week? I binged a lot off my Pull List and not a whole lot else this week except for Star Wars Rebels and The Walking Dead (not the current seasons, those aren’t on Netlfix yet). So what made off the list?  Here we go.

Lars and the Real Girl (2007, dir. Craig Gillespie)
When a delusional loner buys a sex doll and starts telling people that she’s his girlfriend, his family decides to intervene. This was a lot cuter and also more heartbreaking than I thought it would be. Gosling is fantastic in this as Lars. I found it charming and was amused as it went along. There are a few good laughs but this was more of a smile along kind of film for me than a full blown comedy.
two_and_a_half_stars
Proof (2005, dir. John Madden)
A devoted daughter must face her fears as she comes to terms with the death of her father, a brilliant mathematician crippled by mental instability. How have I not heard of this film before? I absolutely loved it. Paltrow is amazing, Hopkins’ performance is heartbreaking, and Gyllenhaal is a great compliment. I really like the out of order storytelling, which really helps it all develop. Yes, me loving this may have something to do with it being about a math geek and his family, but the drama around it is what really sold it for me.
four_stars
Open Windows (2014, dir. Nacho Vigalondo)
After winning a date with an actress, Nick is crushed when she cancels. But through a hacker tying into his laptop, there’s a consolation prize: a very intimate peek into her personal life that goes way out of control. This reminded me a lot of the horror film I watched last year – I know Chris will know the name of it but it escapes me – where the whole film took place through this woman’s laptop and hand camera’s. It’s the same technique here, only it’s nowhere near as effective as the other film was. Sasha Grey and Elijah Wood are ok, but it felt lacking in any kind of suspense build-up.
two_stars
Earth to Echo (2014, dir. Dave Green)
When a construction project begins in their neighborhood, four friends start receiving bizarre encoded messages on their cell phones that lead them on one last adventure before they have to move. Sort of a cross between E.T., Super 8 and The Goonies, Earth to Echo never quite lives up to any of them, but still manages to stand on it own through the charm of Echo. There are points where the effects work just falls apart in this and unfortunately its the big moments, but the story itself is cute and while I hate the found footage format, this did put a smile on my face and maybe a tear or two down my cheek at the end.
three_stars
In Secret (2013, dir. Charlie Stratton)
Trapped in a loveless marriage, Therese Rquin seeks solace in the arms of an attentive lover. But her quest for happiness may lead to tragedy. The cast is well picked for the film. I loved everyone in their roles and I completely believed the affair between Oscar Isaac and Elizabeth Olsen, and Tom Felton does a great job as the sickly husband. Jessica Lange, like pretty much everything I’ve seen her in, just dominates every scene. I liked the first half of the film but it falls apart a bit and drags when gears shift into tragedy. It’s believable, it just didn’t keep my attention like the first half of the film.
two_and_a_half_stars
In Bloom (2013, dir. Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß)
In post-Soviet Georgia, amid a social landscape rife with crime and drunkenness, two teen girls use their nascent sexuality to gain the upper hand. I tried to get into this, but it develops fairly slowly, which isn’t necessarily bad, but the shots themselves are kind of dull. In between the action, there isn’t much of anything at all going on. It’s an interesting look at a culture after having been occupied, but it won’t be for everyone.
two_stars
Hitch (2005, dir. Andy Tennant)
Smooth and sexy Hitch helps clients make a great first impression on a date, but he’s thrown when a lovely reporter starts nosing around his business. Hitch is a romantic comedy that follows the standard romcom formul,a but desperately wants you to not notice that it’s following the standard romcom formula; almost like it’s embarrassed to be one. The good news is that  it’s charming enough to pull it off, and there are enough genuine laughs to keep it going. Most of this is carried by Will Smith’s charm and wanting to actually see Kevin James’ character succeed, as I can totally relate.
three_stars
Joe (2013, dir. David Gordon Green)
When ex-con Joe hires 15-year-old Gary to help clear trees for a lumber company, he doesn’t expect to become a father figure for the abused boy. Nicolas Cage looked like he was channeling Kevin Costner through most of this. I think it was the beard. Either way he gives a great performance. The one that really stood out though was Tye Sheridan, who’s amazing as the young abused teen. At first I thought this was going to be just a film about rural people doing really stupid things, but it develops quite a bit as it goes. It took me awhile to really get into it, so expect a slow burn, and even then the characters may still not warm up for you.
two_and_a_half_stars
Ghost Graduation (2012, dir. Javier Ruiz Caldera)
In a desperate bid to rid the halls of five troublesome teen spirits, a high school principal hires a teacher with a gift for seeing ghosts. This is like the supernatural comedy version of the teacher going into a school with troubled kids and helping them work through their problems so that they can graduate. Fun and charming, there’s a lot of stereotyping going on here, but the actors do a great job adding depth to what could have been fairly shallow.
three_stars
Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985, dir. Alan Metter)
Two rebellious girls find themselves on a wild adventure filled with cute boys, prudish nuns, mean rich kids and parents that just don’t understand. The main reason I flagged this one to watch was Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt. This is pretty much the typical ’80s film, and a feel good one at that. You won’t find anything deep, but if you’re looking for fun and over the top, this will fit the bill.
two_and_a_half_stars
Soul Survivors (2001, dir. Stephen Carpenter)
When college freshman Cassie and her friends fall victim to a devastating auto accident, Cassie’s thrown into a nightmare of otherworldly visitations. Even though Eliza Dushku is in the lead on the posters, she’s really just a supporting role and the bulk of this falls on Melissa Sagemiller. I figured out what was going on pretty quick, so this ended up being a bit dull and it’s way too slowly paced to really get all that exciting. The otherworldly visitations aren’t all that great, and unfortunately, the movie is just dry and dull.
two_stars
The Traffickers (2012, dir. HongSeon Kim)
A reformed organ smuggler gets back in the game to help the woman he loves when her father desperately needs a heart transplant to survive. There are plot twists, and then there’s having so many twists and characters you want to see dead that you just don’t care anymore. There are some great tense moments in this but then it just goes spiraling out of control as it moves along and by the end I didn’t care who was screwing over and murdering who, I just wanted it to end.
one_and_a_half_stars
My First Mister (2001, dir. Christine Lahti)
A neurotic, 49-year-old owner and his teenage clerk from a dysfunctional family form an unbreakable bond that helps heal their emotional wounds. I was actually expecting something creepy out of this considering the teen clerk is supposed to be 17, but this is actually a really touching film about two people finding each other and managing to heal the other just by being them. Leelee Sobieski is brilliant, and Albert Brooks plays his more understated part perfectly. There were definite tears at the end of this one, and I think if you’re into odd dramedies, then this would be right up your alley.
four_stars
P2 (2007, dir. Franck Khalfoun)
A workaholic businesswoman who’s last to leave the office on Christmas Eve finds herself terrorized in the parking garage by a twisted security guard. I grabbed this one because it was a horror flick, but also because Rachel Nichols is in it. While this is a standard stalking thriller, I liked that the lead is actually competent in her attempts to escape. It added a lot to this. Wes Bentley works so well in this as the creepy security guard with severe issues who seems relatively harmless, but odd at first, and then devolves really well into his role.
three_stars

Make sure to check back next week for more reviews and recommendations from the Netflix Instant Queue in Issue 10 of Instant Cinefessions!


Source: Whats on Netflix

Ashe Collins
Film Critic at Cinefessions

Born the same year as Star Wars, it seems Ashe was destined to be into films with big impacts, explosions, and laser swords. With a love for sci-fi and horror, Ashe has a thing for games of both the tabletop and video variety. He is living a charmed, married life of sixteen years, along with several cats, a dog, and a bearded dragon. Ashe currently writes for Diehard Gamefan, covering video and tabletop games since 2008. Starting with Cinefessions just a few years ago, he has decided to tackle one of his original passions: film.