It’s been a long, rough week. We understand if you’re feeling numb from Trump’s continuing fuckery at the third presidential debate, another needless police killing, or the FDA’s leaked reasoning for not considering marijuana medicine? What you need is to cool out with your best buds and get some life from some Netflix streaming movies. MERRY JANE has the perfect recommendations to bring you back from the brink, just like we did last week. Check out any of these five flicks and you’re guaranteed to have a great weekend full of feels.
Starring: Jessica Sula, Lucien Laviscount, Ntonga Mwanza
Director: Rebecca Johnson
Summary: A Trinidadian girl comes to Brixton to live with her mother and gets caught up in a gang plot.
Fifteen-year-old Layla seems eager to start a fresh new life in London, where she’s reunited with her estranged working-class mother. In an effort to make new friends, Layla falls in with the wrong crowd and soon finds herself confused about her rocky relationship with her rapper boyfriend.
The story is simple enough, yet it’s the painful details that give life to Honeytrap, which captures the insecurity all teenagers experience growing up and demonstrates how peer pressure (and raging hormones) can lead to drastic situations made worse by naivety, jealousy, and pettiness. The film’s strongest attribute is the exceptional performance by lead Jessica Sula. Her ability to convey emotions through spot-on facial expressions and body language is alone worth the watch.
The Fear of 13 (2015)
Featuring: Nick Yarris
Director: David Sington
Summary: A death row convict talks about his life in and out of prison with fascinating results.
It’s understood that most of society views the lives of people who are incarcerated as precautionary tales. None of us wants to end up where they did. Nick Yarris ended up in prison and went through the type of trials and tribulations you might expect an inmate goes through. But what you might not be ready for is how he’s able to fully captivate you with his compelling stories that range from criminal activities to routine acts, like reading books or writing letters.
An early anecdote about an unlikely love affair in an equally unlikely place will have you appreciating how well he constructs the flow of his words. Soon you’ll be thinking about whether or not solitary confinement is cruel and unusual punishment just as much as contemplating the simple joy of learning. As Yarris reflects on his mistakes and misfortunes, you just might think about regrets of your own. Even though there are re-enactments on screen to help tell the often emotional tales he weaves, it’s really just the power of pure storytelling that makes The Fear of 13 so spellbinding.
Bounty Killer (2013)
Starring: Christian Pitre, Matthew Marsden, Barak Hardley
Director: Henry Saine
Genres: Sci-Fi, Action
Summary: In the future, elite businessmen are the targets of bounty killers after corporations destroy civilization.
Bounty Killer, which started as a script, then was pitched as an animated series before being turned into a comic book and a short film, is strictly for B-movie fans who understand that films don’t have to have a $200-million budget to be entertaining. Our two heroes, the sexy and dangerous Mary Death and the stoic gunslinger Drifter, are archetypes we’re all familiar with, but Christian Pitre and Matthew Marsden infuse enough personality and charm into their characters to make them memorable. (Kristanna Loken in limited screen time is also quite good as a boardroom villain.)
The whole thing comes together in a mixture of ’60s chic, Mexican Dia de los Muertos iconography, and post-apocalyptic mayhem featuring gratuitous violence that’s not for the squeamish. Add to that appearances by Gary Busey, Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s Vacation), and rapper Eve, and you got yourself a scrappy, rough-around-the-edges, time-killer worth peeping.
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Ed Helms, James Badge Dale, Brooklyn Decker, Chris Pine, Jessica Alba
Director: Joe Carnahan
Genres: Crime, Comedy
Summary: A limo driver who’s heavily in debt has a fucked-up night he’ll never forget.
A lot of people can relate to the main character played by Patrick Wilson in Stretch—a down-on-his-luck dude with serious money issues whose girlfriend recently dumped him. These kind of problems happen to everybody at some point, which is why you’ll probably start rooting for Wilson early on as he embarks on a disastrous night that only seems to get worse—and funnier for audiences—at every turn.
In the same vein of Scorsese’s After Hours (1985), Stretch is filled with a nonstop parade of absurd characters and awkward situations that’ll keep you guessing what the hell could possibly happen next. This is the right choice for when you just want to shut off your brain and laugh, and possibly feel better about any crap you might be going through.
Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (2015)
Featuring: Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala, Jayson Lamb
Director: Jeremy Coon, Tim Skousen
Summary: Three kids and bunch of their friends spend the ’80s making a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark in Mississippi.
Every film geek has dreamed of making a movie. Of course, making one is a lot harder than it sounds. Back in 1982, a trio of creative kids (average age: 11 years old) decided they just had to do their own version of one of the greatest adventure films of all time. For the next seven summers they toiled on their adaptation of Raiders of the Lost Ark, risking serious injury as they recreated famous scenes of Indiana Jones being dragged from a truck or staging a fight in a burning bar (which was actually the basement in one of the kids’ homes). What started out as fun would, by 1989, become an obsession that had turned into a real pain in the ass. But they finally finished their epic, matching the original scene-for-scene—well, almost. The only thing they couldn’t shoot was the part where Indy fights a buff, shirtless Nazi soldier next to a plane.
The tape ended up being bootlegged and eventually became a cult item admired by movie nerds far and wide, including director Eli Roth. But that wasn’t the end of it. Over 20 years later, the friends set out to complete their Steven Spielberg tribute by shooting the missing scene. What could go wrong? Quite a lot, as you’re about to see….
Bottom line: What these kids did was dope and should serve as inspiration for any aspiring filmmaker of any age.