With Netflix there’s a ton of options, sometimes you can’t help but think, “what should I watch?” Here is my list (in no particular order) of stuff I’ve come across that I don’t hear most people talking about but should. Maybe you’ll enjoy these too.
1. Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau
This is a documentary about the making of the 1996 flop “The Island of Dr Moreau”. The ’96 film is one of those movies I always knew about. My older brothers and dad would talk about it as such a weird failure of a film. As I got older I read about how it apparently was even worse for the filmmakers making it. This documentary (like similar docs “Jodorowsky’s Dune”) shows us the making of the film with interviews from all involved.
What’s great about these kind of documentaries is it has been so many years since the events happened that there’s no need for the false “working on this is great” attitude, the interviewees are allowed to be as blunt and candid as possible such as, “I made another strategic error, I met Val Kilmer.” To give you and idea of the problem Kilmer was, this is a movie that had Marlon Brando in it and at the end all you can say is, “Wow Val Kilmer sounds like a jerk.” In case you don’t know, Marlon Brando was known as the most famous difficult actor to work with. As you watch you realize this is a reverse “Jaws” film. For those who don’t know, “Jaws” was one of the most troubled productions ever but somehow not only turned out to be a great film but a classic we’re still studying to this day. This was the reverse of that, instead of all these bad circumstances helping the film they made a bad situation even worse. In a way it’s a cautionary tale for filmmakers with a message of, “Just because you have great ideas and a drive to make something truly unique, it can still all add up to be crap.”
2. The Babadook
Really all I should have to say is William Friedkin (director of “The Exorcist”) tweeted, “I’ve never seen a more terrifying film than THE BABADOOK.” Sold! But some may be a little more curious. It is after all one of the weirdest sounding names for a horror film. (How can I take it seriously?) Well I can’t say I speak for everyone but I will say I don’t normally get scared by horror films. I suppose I’m good at remembering it’s just a movie and moving on from it, however after I saw this film…let’s just say I felt compelled to keep all the lights on around me for the next couple of weeks.
The story is about a single mother who has an amazingly problematic child. One night she finds a strange book about a creature named Mr. Babadook. Shortly there after it seems the creature from the book has somehow found its way to the house and wants to stay. The Babadook is one of the most interesting monsters on film in a long time, both visually and what he represents thematically. Just a warning, some will not be able to overcome the kid. For me personally it helped put me more into the mind frame of the mother and care more about the story. And for me that’s what the film truly gets about being a horror film, the scares don’t work nearly as well if we don’t care about the characters or the story and this is a film that if you cut out the scary bits could still function as a drama about the struggles of this mother and her child. It had a brilliant way of getting under your skin and changing its tone to something very sinister so subtly you often don’t realize it until it’s too late. Watch it if your nerves are strong enough.
3. In A World
This was a movie that seemed to be calling for me. I love trailers and in particular the announcers in trailers. This is the story of a young voice actress who is the daughter of the most famous trailer narrator in the world. She’s trying to make her way in the world when she sees an opportunity to be a narrator for a new trailer that could change her career. Sadly it’s a not only a highly sought after gig but even her famous father becomes one of her rivals. The movie has some great laughs but it’s also very much a slice of life with some extremely talented (though not well known) actors. (With the exception of a little cameo by Geena Davis.)
There’s some examination of this little-seen corner of the film business, such as how it is so thoroughly dominated by men. But again most of it is just being with these characters going to work or interacting with each other and sometimes that’s enough to really carry a film. I have no clue how this movie passed my radar back in 2013 but I hope I can make up for it now by telling as many people I can about it.