Not sure what to do with your weekend, aside from think of the perfect cannabis-inspired Halloween costume? (Just be sure it’s not one of these awful get-ups.) You can’t go wrong sitting back with your best buds and streaming movies on Netflix. OK, you can, but MERRY JANE has the perfect recommendations to ensure that you don’t. Check out any of these five flicks and you’re guaranteed to have a great—and in some cases enlightening—weekend.
The Siege of Jadotville (2016)
Starring: Jamie Dornan, Guillaume Canet, Danny Sapani
Director: Richie Smyth
Genres: Action, War
Summary: An Irish military unit is sent by the United Nations to keep the peace in the Republic of the Congo after the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961. Based on true events.
Inexperienced Irish troops (“war virgins”) sent by the UN arrive in in the province of Katanga in the Congo, which is torn apart by civil war and the ongoing tension between superpowers over Africa’s natural resources, particularly uranium—a key component to both the U.S. and the USSR’s weapons of mass destruction. The threat of another world war, combined with behind-the-scenes political wheeling and dealing, only ups the chaos as Irish forces arrive on the continent. It’s not long before the unit, which is outmanned 10 to 1, is ambushed by French/Belgian mercenaries (Guillaume Canet stands out as ex-Légionnaire Rene Faulques) and Congolese soldiers in cahoots with local mining companies and shady politician Moise Tshombe (a memorable Danny Sapani).
If one can get past the sometimes convoluted plot points and thick accents, this is a good, action-packed retelling of an historical incident that was swept under the rug for decades.
Featuring: Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson
Director: Ava DuVernay
Summary: Through a constitutional loophole, U.S. citizens convicted of a crime can essentially still be treated as slaves.
If there was ever a movie that should be required viewing for All Lives Matter proponents (who, no doubt, are the same people who claim that “racism is over”), it’s this one. This informative and insightful documentary wastes no time detailing the calculated effects of the 13th amendment, which supposedly abolished slavery, but in reality just found another way for big business based on free labor to continue existing.
In concise ways, the doc connects the dots between the successful efforts to dismantle the progress made through the Civil Rights era and the War on Drugs, which was a devised plan to lock up black and brown people at an alarming rate. For those who erroneously believe that events that took place hundreds of years ago can’t affect what’s going on today, this should prove to be an eye-opening experience.
What We Become (2015)
Starring: Benjamin Engell, Troels Lyby, Mille Dinesen
Director: Bo Mikkelsen
Summary: A family living in a small community in Denmark tries to stay together during a zombie outbreak.
For those who can stomach yet another zombie flick (and won’t cry over subtitles), this classy entry from overseas is not a bad way to spend an evening. It doesn’t break new ground, but the movie is well-paced and knows how to build tension. Getting back to the basics of the horror genre, the characters spend most of the time scared out of their minds instead of automatically turning into efficient killing machines, as is the case in so many of these type of films these days.
The first half centers around the military locking the town down as the virus spreads. If that sound a lot like Season 1 of Fear the Walking Dead, fear not, because this is much better executed. Perhaps the best thing about What We Become is that its best zombie-related moments happen just as the film climaxes, making for a satisfying ending.
The Automatic Hate (2015)
Starring: Joseph Cross, Adelaide Clemens, Ricky Jay
Director: Justin Lerner
Summary: A young man uncovers a family secret that changes his life forever.
This indie drama with some comedic moments is one of those films where the less you know about it going in, the better. Still, because of its provocative nature, it might be wise to warn people that this movie is not for everyone. Just pay close attention, and you’ll be able to figure out pretty quickly what’s going on, and then you can decide whether to keep watching or ditch it before the film crosses the line. (Although, to be honest, it’s damn near 2017, and there’s not that much that can shock people these days, and this isn’t that shocking.)
It’s always fascinating to discover things about your family roots, so the film pulls you in as the protagonist gets deeper into solving a personal mystery. The whole thing is held together by some sturdy writing and knockout performances.
Turbo Kid (2015)
Starring: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside
Directors: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell
Genres: Sci-Fi, Action
Summary: Rad futuristic adventure about a kid on a bike on a mission to save the day.
A gem of a movie that deservedly got a lot of buzz, Turbo Kid plays like a cool-as-hell mix of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), BMX Bandits (1983), and Cherry 2000 (1987), and brings back the nostalgic memories of mom-‘n’-pop VHS rental spots and late nights spent watching cable TV in the ’80s. The look and feel is spot on and its gory special effects are superb. It’s also well cast, so you’ll be rooting for the heroes in no time. Check it out if you’ve been putting it off.