Netflix Nourishment: 9th Edition
Sandra Bullock gets fierce as a tenacious mother in a suspense post-apocalyptic thriller where seeing is believing. The blindfolding is a gripping part of the narrative, but the fear doesn’t sink in when you can clearly see early on who won’t make it out alive. Its familiarity is obvious, yet director Susanne Bier makes this survival story have spunk by delving into motherhood (and the instincts that come with it) during a dire situation in which to bring a child into.
THE WORLD IS YOURS
Karim Leklou is stellar as a good-hearted gangster just wanting the simple life, but must encounter and steal from practically every shady individual from France to Spain (including his own mother) to get it. The havoc this splashy crime thriller reeks is heavenly to watch because director Romain Gavras and the rest of the superb cast makes it funny and fun. No matter how nuts this movie gets, there seems to always be something there you can hold on to in every single damnable situation it finds itself in.
Dolly Parton’s singing guides this southern-fried rom-com through female friendships and the search for self-worth. While presenting a much gentler version of a cruel world comes off as super sappy, its ability to be uplifting is never a bad thing. Director Anne Fletcher repeats many moves seen before, but the dance is still a joyful one where beauty won’t be defined by looks or size. Danielle Macdonald is pitch-perfect, her portrayal of a daughter turning her mother’s world upside down is brash yet golden.
THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES
Being predictable to a fault with some super lame dialogue and creepy animal-like elves can’t kill this sweetly sugar-coated family story’s Christmas spirit. Kurt Russell as St. Nick is nothing short of cool, bringing a fresh bag of swagger to a role with a huge reputation. Director Clay Kaytis’s mushy holiday movie gets off the ground because his Santa doesn’t fail to deliver.
MOWGLI: LEGEND OF THE JUNGLE
Director Andy Serkis wrangles up a tremendous cast and impressive technology to turn a Disney classic dark. It’s fascinating to a degree with this kind of embolden storytelling, yet it never peaks your interest nor pushes further into the daring unknown. In the end, it’s nothing but a needless version of a tale we all know.
Filmed in beautiful black and white, director Alfonso Cuarón masterfully renders a deeply personal story about big world issues, and it’s certainly clear this film is very near and dear to his heart. The narrative is slow, but there’s a love that shines through in every scene that’s visually breathtaking. Newcomer Yalitza Aparicio is quietly subtle and soulful as Cleo, a servant who loves the family she works for like her own; though, there will always be this separation between her and them – permanently seeing her as an employee first and everything else second – that can’t be mended. It’s an authentic and evocative look at a life being lived with a whole new appreciation for those you can’t live without.
A techno-thriller that’s seductive in its suspense and cleverness. Madeline Brewer delivers a high-class performance as a cam girl who gets everything she lives and plays for stolen from her. The ending doesn’t live up to the eroticism and prowess director Daniel Goldhaber swiftly establishes from the opening scene; yet, having some fiery feminism flow through a cogent concept of a woman astute about sex sells makes this an enticing viewing experience.
HAPPY AS LAZZARO
Alice Rohrwacher directs a film that appears to be traditionally dressed yet shreds those clothes to reveal something entirely different with no explanation as to why. And why should she? It captivates as it disrupts – and while the ending isn’t as satisfying as one would hope – the message of selflessness and being hopeful in the most dire of circumstances is not washed away. Adriano Tardiolo’s portrayal as Lazzaro is excellent as he works non-stop for those who need (or exploit) him while silently shining as a beacon of humanity’s kindness or at least the possibility of.
STRUGGLE: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski
A forgotten Polish artist whose masterpieces are buried under wartime is only a fraction of director Irek Dobrowolski’s absorbing if not completely compelling documentary of Stanislav Szukalski. It takes a sweeping look at the life of this masterful sculptor – his genius, politics, creations, and exposed shame. In the end, it’s the discovery of such classic craftsmanship and what could have been that deserves your attention.
“Nature Boy” Brandon Vick is the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and star of Brandon’s Box Office In Your Mouth. Follow him on Twitter@SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.