And so it begins. Life in Trump America has already seen a rise in hate crimes even before the president-elect has officially stepped into office. Furthermore, things are not looking good with the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s chief strategist. Bannon has been branded as racist, anti-Semitic, and sexist in the past. With all this negativity pouring in, it’s a good idea to stop and focus on the positive and to start thinking of the future.
Speaking of which, next week is Thanksgiving, an event which itself can prove to be stressful. For those who love spending time with their families, the traditional meal is something to look forward to, and means a lot of preparation. For those who hate holidays, it’s a time of encroaching gloom. Whichever boat you find yourself in, you’re gonna need a break, and what better and easier way than catching a few flicks on Netflix.
Starring: Dean Cates, Brian Morvant, Lauren Ashley Carter
Director: Mickey Keating
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Summary: Siblings attempt to help their mentally unstable war veteran brother, who is holed up his winter cabin.
Out of the three Mickey Keating films currently streaming on Netflix—Pod, Darling, and Carnage Park—this is the most all-around satisfying viewing experience. Darling is visually seductive and Lauren Ashley Carter has a commanding presence (plus, it features Sean Young) but, ultimately, there’s no real payoff. Carnage Park has an intriguing villain (Pat Healy), but a weakly developed story that runs out of gas. Pod, however, combines good acting and well-timed scares for an absorbing psychological journey that never overstays its welcome due to an economically effective short running time.
The bulk of the film centers around an ex-soldier slipping into madness as he rants about the mysterious thing he has locked up in the basement. The tension remains high as his erratic behavior threatens to get violent at a moment’s notice, and is only compounded by what we sense is a history of strained family problems that the brothers and sister have never confronted. But now is not the time to try and fix their rocky past because they’re in the middle of a situation that’s going to get worse before it gets better.
The Overnight (2015)
Starring: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godrèche
Director: Patrick Brice
Summary: A married couple befriends an adventurous pair who live on the wild side.
It happens to every couple sooner or later—the need to experiment and spice things up. For Alex (Scott) and Emily (Schilling), who are fresh from Seattle and friendless in their new city, it’s evident they could use a boost. Alex is a stay-at-home dad who could use more interaction with adults, and his wife seems like she may be a wee bit rigid in both her professional and personal life. So, when the couple take their kid to the park one day and meet outgoing Kurt (Schwartzman), his invitation to dinner seems just like what they’ve been craving. But, as you can probably guess, they’re in no way ready for what Kurt and his significant other Charlotte (Godrèche) have in store for them.
Due to explicit sexual humor involving male prosthetics and erotic scenes with heavy sexual ambiguity, this is not recommended for Trump supporters. But for the rest, there’s plenty to ponder after the funny moments are over—mainly, how honest we can be in our romantic relationships and whether or not we even realize we might have hang-ups that keep us from being happy.
My Suicide (2009)
Starring: Gabriel Sunday, Brooke Nevin, David Carradine
Director: David Lee Miller
Summary: A high school student causes a stir when he announces he will kill himself on camera.
Also known as Archie’s Final Project, this ambitious endeavor is meant to look like a high-energy student film narrated by the protagonist (Sunday), who comes off like an ADHD version of Ferris Bueller pumped full of too much Ritalin. The movie comes at you fast, its manic editing and approach reminiscent of Natural Born Killers on a shoestring budget. Whether or not you’ll like it will probably hinge on if moody, movie-quoting Archie bothers you, and if you can handle the barrage of imagery that melds together found footage, shaky cam, and animation.
Suicide is obviously a serious subject and tackling it with such an irreverent attitude could be problematic. But it’s also possible for a film to be too earnest and to treat its subject matter in a corny way, like an after school special. Here, we’re shown young people’s thoughts of suicide specifically from their point of view, and the film gives teenagers more credit than parents and teachers usually do. The movie shows, without being judgmental, how teen angst, a need for attention, and feelings of ending it all can sometimes blend together.
Starring: Amari Cheatom, Trae Harris, Tone Tank
Director: Shaka King
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Summary: A young couple in NYC, who love weed as much as they love each other, face some complications in their usually laid-back relationship.
There are plenty of laughs in this slept-on indie about two habitual smokers living together in Brooklyn. Lyle (Cheatom) repossesses furniture for a rent-to-own company with his smart aleck co-worker friend Jackie (rapper Tone Tank) while Nina (Harris) works at a museum. Lyle and Nina have reached that stage where she wants more meaning to their relationship and suggests traveling the world together in order to experience something deeper than the routine of the city. Lyle, though, seems more concerned with dealing with the stress of his job. Things only get more tricky when Nina befriends flamboyantly dressed Chico (Fear the Walking Dead’s Colman Domingo), who is definitely trying to make the moves on her, much to Lyle’s chagrin. But the real test is whether they can stay together without getting high.
There are some great cameos by Hassan Johnson and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (who played Wee-Bey and Clay Davis on The Wire, respectively), as well as Adrian Martinez, as a poor sap who gets his couch repossessed. This is definitely a weed-friendly watch, so go ahead and spark up.
Gun Woman (2014)
Starring: Asami, Kairi Narita, Noriaki R. Kamata
Director: Kurando Mitsutake
Genre: Action, Exploitation
Summary: A crazed surgeon uses a captured woman to exact revenge on a sexually deranged maniac.
Everybody should be forewarned about what they’re getting into before witnessing Gun Woman, a crazy violent and explicit Japanese shock cinema entry full of extreme gore and excessive nudity. The movie toes the line between an almost campy feel and moments of brutality, including rape and necrophilia, that might make it difficult for some viewers to watch. It also boasts one of the most despicable villains you’re likely to ever see (really, Kamata’s performance will creep you out). It’s rare to root against a bad guy this much.
By comparison, it’s not hard at all to root for the main character of Mayumi (former porn star Asami), who literally transforms from vulnerable victim to killer machine right before our eyes. It’s a physically demanding role with practically no dialogue, and she pulls it off impressively. (Narita as the insane doctor is also quite good.) What’s equally impressive is how this graphic, adults-only midnight movie makes its low-budget work in its favor—it just feels sleazier with its almost-porn-quality look.