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Being a somewhat original historical action movie for people who really like skiing.

Yes. This. I am bringing back Friday Night Netflix, a very sporadic feature I used to do around the time I first started this blog. Back then I wrote these as a way to review movies I’d seen a bunch of times that I figured were underseen but easily available on Netflix. Now I’m expanding that to include movies I’ve never seen before, also easily available on Netflix, whether I like them or not. And no, Netflix doesn’t pay me to write these, but they certainly could and I wouldn’t mind.


For The Last King, a Norwegian and Irish co-production about an interesting period in Norway’s (very interesting) history… I guess I kind of liked it? It’s more like an 80’s buddy movie with delusions of historical epic than it is like a Kingdom of Heaven or even the show Vikings. The production is detailed and the action is coherent, but the story is about as straightforward and characters as archetypal and broadly sketched as an 80’s or early 90’s Schwarzenegger vehicle. None of this is bad, but wrapped in a package that lacks any particularly standout performances or “holy shit” moments, it might not be propulsive enough to hold the interests of people who can see a better version of basically the same stuff elsewhere on Netflix (The Last Kingdom for instance).

That said, this movie has some novel action (skiing fights!) and takes place in an unfamiliar setting. Norway and Scandinavia are usually explored in terms of the Viking era and rarely any other era. This movie takes place in the 13th century during a civil war period. You don’t really need to know much background, but this movie sent me down a wikipedia rabbit hole of Norwegian history so hey, interesting stuff. Read the rest of this entry »



Ah Netflix, what auspicious timing you have. On the heels of the release of the abortive attempt to bring this classic character to new audiences, Netflix has put up the original 1982 film in glorious HD. There was a time where it wouldn’t occur to me to do a Friday Night Netflix for this one but I’ve learned recently that it’s under-watched and consequently underrated for that sub-generation of 20-somethings whose parents didn’t raise them on a steady diet of 80’s movies. Conan the Barbarian has been extremely influential for me and remains not only one of my favorites but in my consideration one of the best movies ever made. It’s also the jewel of this genre, unrivaled not only by the string of similar movies made at the time but also any subsequent attempts to revitalize it for new audiences. Attempts like the Conan the Barbarian that just flopped horribly in a theater near you. That movie cannot hold the jockstrap of this earlier version and no, I don’t say that because I’m biased against remakes (I am a bit sometimes) or because of nostalgia. I watch Conan the Barbarian 1982 fairly often, multiple times a year, and it holds up like a motherfucker.

Now I’ll tell you why and why you should, if you haven’t, watch this fucking movie. Especially if you’re a dude. Or if you need a good reason to like Arnold Schwarzenegger as this is the definitive Arnie movie, whatever they say about Terminator. Actually, you should probably just see this movie as soon as possible. Now onto the why. Read the rest of this entry »

Couldn’t get much further away from the candy-coated romanticism of Baz Luhrman’s Australia than this.

The Proposition came out to rave reviews in 2005 and chances are, if you’re any kind of movie person, you’ve heard of it. I can, however, count how many people I know who’ve actually seen it on one hand. It’s definitely worth seeing, especially if you like your Westerns bleak, Australian, and about as grim and gritty (and I do mean gritty, this shit is caked in grit) as possible. It also helps if you liked The Road as this film has a similar aesthetic as it should given that John Hillcoat directed both. Don’t like movies much, though? Okay, how about music? Yeah? Well, Nick Cave wrote this motherfucker. That’s right. If you aren’t interested in all I’ve told you and/or haven’t heard of Nick Cave then stop reading this and go listen to some Grinderman. Or better yet, watch The Proposition and then listen to some Grinderman. Read the rest of this entry »

Zoe and Daryl are kind of the perfect couple. At first.

At some points during its running time, Breaking Upwards feels like the exact kind of all-too-precious hipster opus that seep from New York City like a relatively inoffensive pus. The movie can’t really get away from this. It’s about 20-something Jewish young adults in NYC. They have frank discussions, deal with overbearing parents, contemplate their Jewishness, and dress like all the people copying their style here in Saskatoon. They also go to hip parties, aspire to be writers or actresses, and so on. Whatever the trappings of their lives, though, it is their relationship to each other (and maybe to others, mileage will vary) that wins past the familiarity of the concept and the general lack of especial sympathy for upper class New Yorkers with white people problems. And who ride those fucking horrible retro bicycles I hate with every fiber of my being. I don’t know why they offend me so, but they do. Oh how they do. Read the rest of this entry »

Ah the illusive young-girl-coming-of-age movie.

I know, I know… I already put up a Friday Night Netflix today. Oh well, today you get two. I debated bothering with this movie but I guess I have some things to say about it so I might as well do it now while it’s fresh and not wait til next week when, depending on my mood, I’ll probably rather write about Breaking Upward or The Shape of Things. Fuck it, on to Fish Tank! Read the rest of this entry »

Oh noes, Todd Ingram finally broke the Moon!

So this week we’re going to talk about an anime movie. I was sick the other day so I have enough recent Netflix discoveries to last the rest of summer, but this time I thought I’d do something a little different. I’m super picky about anime and Netflix has allowed me the opportunity to test out some stuff I wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise. So far, this is the only full-length movie I’ve been able to bring myself to watch and it was definitely worthwhile.

Origin: Spirits of the Past may be a boring and generic title (the actual Japanese title translates to Agito the Silver-haired which isn’t much better), but the movie is a heartfelt post-apocalyptic story with strong environmentalist themes and an overall texture that would not feel out of place in one of Studio Ghibli’s similar fantasy films. Some people probably feel like Origin is really derivative and would count it against the movie. I feel like I’ve seen the anime (Trigun) and feature fims (Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke in particular) that it most heavily draws from and I don’t really have a problem with it. I mean, Japanese entertainment culture is a lot more (from what I understand) easygoing about “artistic theft” than we are in North America. Ultimately, even if it feels derivative it is still borrowing from the best and that has to count for something otherwise Tarantino is fucked too. Heh. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Dr. Bagby with his parents, long before his pointless death.

A warning.

Kenton and/or Cat, if you’re reading this you need to not be reading this. Moreover, I want you to recall Werner Herzog’s advice to that woman in Grizzly Man who got left with the recording of Treadwell and his girlfriend getting mauled. You must never watch this movie. If that isn’t convincing, imagine me saying it with an angelic, fatherly German accent. Rinse/repeat.

Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the most gut-wrenching documentaries you’re ever likely to see. That is, if you have the fortitude to handle how sad, angry, and listless this story stands to make you. You’ll notice that I’m sort of discouraging you here, right? Good. That’s intentional. Dear Zachary is a fucking hard movie to watch. You should know what you’re getting yourself into. Read the rest of this entry »

When used wisely, John C. Reilly is a force of fucking nature.

Cyrus is an offbeat dramedy that no one saw last year. For my money, it’s a really good movie that has plenty of laughs and a big beating heart. Some probably saw it thinking it would be another wordy comedy banking on the personal brands of its two male leads, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill. The surprise is that they are both doing not only comedy (and more restrained than either is usually known for) but subtle, nuanced character work. It’s still a funny movie, like I said, but it’s also very grounded in its relationships and the human frailty of its characters. Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing like an old-fashioned street fight. With pointy swords!

Alatriste is a 2006 movie, at the time the most expensive Spanish movie ever made, and it slid under the radar for just about everyone. That’s in spite of its star, Viggo Mortenson, who is as comfortable as ever in period duds and swinging a sword around. Of course, everybody is speaking Spanish the whole time (this is a subtitled movie) but you shouldn’t let that stop you from seeing it. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Robbins makes just about anything better than it would have been without him.

Noise is a bit of an odd movie. They seemed to be selling it as a quirky superhero movie wherein The Rectifier (Tim Robbins’s assumed identity) would go around fucking up noisy cars and stuff with a singular dedication probably brought on by late Asperger’s. Of course, this element is present in the movie but it also has some bizarre departures from anything resembling a typical formula. I’m not sure if this works or not, but let’s talk about it in more detail. Read the rest of this entry »


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