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5 Netflix Streaming Movies You Need to Watch This Weekend (Feb. 3, 2017)

An everyman sports story, glorious ’80s cheesiness, vengeful mourning mothers, and more!

by Gabriel Alvarez

by Gabriel Alvarez

Super Bowl weekend is upon us, which means football, parties, and an onslaught of expensive TV commercials.

While some might find this the perfect opportunity to try out some cannabis-inspired cocktails, most folks will be content with regular booze or just lighting up. And while you can get weed these days in some places you wouldn’t think would be possible, just be aware that some cannabis might be tainted with harmful chemicals, which is why it’s always better to try and know where it comes from. (There’s more useful advice for heavy smokers in the latest “Mother Knows Best” column.)

But whether your team wins, or loses, or even if you don’t have a dog in the race, just have fun and be careful. Don’t get arrested doing dumb shit, especially if you’re a person of color.

And if the big game turns out to be a blowout, don’t forget you can always go check out a movie or two on Netflix.

Warning: May contain spoilers.

Little Sister (2016)

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Starring: Addison Timlin, Keith Poulson, Ally Sheedy, Barbara Crampton
Director: Zach Clark
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Summary: A young nun in training returns home to visit her older brother who has just gotten back from the war.

Taking place in 2008, Little Sister tells the story of Colleen Lunsford (Timlin), who travels from New York back to her North Carolina hometown at the suggestion of the mother superior (Crampton), who has noticed that the young woman seems hesitant about her future and could use a few days of fun before she takes her first vows. Once back home with her estranged family, we start to figure out what might have caused Colleen to move away and join a convent. For starters, her mom (Sheedy) has some sort of depressive disorder that medication barely seems to help, but really it seems like their relationship would have been strained regardless. Then there’s her brother Jacob (Poulson), who she was once close to, but who hasn’t been the same since the Iraq War.

Much of the film maneuvers through the awkward space between naive Colleen, whom you can’t help but root for, and her family. She could probably use some reassurance that she’s making the right choice, but her parents don’t seem particularly religious. Add the fact that Colleen comes off more adult-like than her mother, expressing disappointment the same way a strict parent does to a teenager when she discovers her mom’s weed stash.

Little Sister, thankfully, never stoops to melodrama. And, although we do get to see Colleen finally unwind and enjoy reliving some of her teen goth-punk phase, the film is more interested in how dealing with her dysfunctional family will probably help her life as a nun in the long-run. After all, patience is a virtue.

The Wraith (1986)

Starring: Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn
Director: Mike Marvin
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Summary: A stranger in a state-of-the-art car arrives in a small Arizona town terrorized by a local gang.

Some ’80s movies when watched decades later feel more ’80s than other ’80s movies, if that makes sense. The Wraith is one such movie. Everybody has got a mullet, Mohawk, or weird, overblown haircut, the soundtrack is full of songs that recall “The Final Countdown” without ever coming close to being as memorable, and every teenager gets to live an awesome life without any parental control whatsoever.

Coming out the same year as Knight Rider’s final season, The Wraith’s biggest attraction is seeing the ultra cool Turbo Interceptor tearing up the highway. It was and still is a badass machine.

But there’s more, like the never-ending amount of cheesy fun. Pre-Tiger Blood Charlie Sheen (who can’t seem to keep his shirt on) picks up an easy paycheck as he rides around on a motorcycle, enjoys time floating down stream on an inflatable raft, and gets to make out with babe Sherilyn Fenn from Twin Peaks, while stuntmen do all his action scenes. Meanwhile, the dialogue is sure to provoke quite a few unintentional laughs since it sounds like it was written by an out-of-touch adult who’s trying extra hard to appeal to teen audiences.

But that’s part of what makes this movie so rad. So what if the plot of the whole movie is basically just main bad guy Packard Walsh (Cassavetes) being a dick to everybody while cars keep crashing and exploding over and over, and you have to google “wraith” to figure out what it means. Don’t worry about all that. Just get ready for a kick-ass time.

Invincible (2006)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, Kirk Acevedo
Director: Ericson Core
Genre: Sports, Drama
Summary: A 30-year-old bartender tries out for a pro football team.

Based on a true story, Invincible stars Mark Wahlberg as Vince Papale, a down-on-his-luck guy hailing from the rough and tumble Philly streets, where grown men play full-contact football in vacant lots and drink brewskis at the corner dive afterward. It’s the ’70s and the whole neighborhood is trying to stay afloat during tough economic times. When word comes down that new head coach Dick Vermeil (Kinnear) is having open tryouts for the beloved hometown Eagles, everyone encourages Vince to go show ’em what he’s got. After all, it would be a big morale booster for all his buddies and the rest of the hood if he made the team.

Most sports flicks are about winning a championship and recreating last-second heroics. There’s none of that here. In fact, the biggest on-field moment happens during a regular season game and Vince is not even the quarterback but a special teams guy—an unglamorous position, relatively speaking.

Invincible, instead, is about how much sports can mean to people, and seeks to give all the fans who ever dreamed of playing in the NFL a vicarious thrill. The film gets extra points for getting the ’70s look down to the grime and dust. You almost expect Rocky Balboa to be living next door to Vince.

If you need something to watch before the Super Bowl to get you pumped up, this one is for you.

Point Blank (2010)

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Starring: Gilles Lellouche,  Roschdy Zem, Elena Anaya
Director: Fred Cavayé
Genre: Action, Thriller, Crime
Summary: A male nurse soon regrets his good Samaritan deed when he unwittingly gets caught in the middle of a deadly plot involving dangerous criminals.

Point Blank is a perfectly paced French thriller that grabs you from the start.

Samuel Pierret (Lellouche) is our unlikely hero, a man working his way to becoming a full-fledged nurse at a hospital that has recently admitted a man (Zem) with a shady past. Before he knows it, Samuel is embroiled in the patient’s prior criminal dealings, and is forced to cooperate when his pregnant wife (Anaya) is kidnapped and held hostage.

What follows is a series of adrenaline-pumping, death-defying circumstances as Samuel does everything possible to stay alive long enough to save his better half. All the while, we learn more about the mysterious stranger’s involvement in an inside job gone wrong, of which the consequences are far-reaching.

Lellouche confidently handles the role of the bewildered desperate man who somehow survives one perilous close call after another. Zem, as the heavy, is a silent menace. He doesn’t have to tell you what he’s thinking—it’s all in his face.

Point Blank is the kind of crowd-pleasing movie that you’d expect Hollywood would have remade by now, maybe with Tom Cruise in the lead. It’s a safe bet that an American version would throw in some car chases, something this film avoids, opting to keep the pursuits on foot. But, whether they’re sprinting through subway stations or across the streets of Paris, the action never runs out of gas.

Lila & Eve (2015)

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Starring: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez
Director: Charles Stone III
Genre: Crime, Drama
Summary: Two mothers turn into vigilantes after their teenage children are murdered.

This contemplative cautionary tale from the director of Paid in Full (2002) and Drumline (2002) plays with the assumed notion that men are more likely than women to express anger when processing grief over the loss of a loved one. When Lila (Davis) attends group counseling to cope with the drive-by killing of her oldest son, the other mothers claim they understand her misery, but overlook the fact that Lila has revenge on her mind. She is able to find temporary solace, however, through her friendship with Eve (Lopez), one of the women at the meetings who is on the same wavelength as her.

Viola Davis is proof that a great actor can carry a movie a long way. She turns this picture, which is essentially a Death Wish-style exploitation flick, into more than just a shoot-’em-up, adding emotional depth and keeping us invested even when important plot points become evident a little too soon.

Lopez, whose pop music career has overshadowed a film resume that’s slightly better than usually given credit for, holds her own, standing side by side with the force that is Davis. That’s not an easy task.

Lila & Eve works despite some of its shortcomings. One can criticize its faults, but in the end, the movie keeps you interested all the way to the finale, and therefore does it job.


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Gabriel Alvarez

Gabriel Alvarez has written about rap music and movies for over 20 years. He’s from Los Angeles.



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