What to Watch: 35 Most Stylish Films

Thanks to Vice.com for compiling this wonderful list of the 35 most stylish films of all time.

Some will be welcome reminders of old favourites, others will make you wonder how you missed them.

If you haven’t seen any of them then you have hours and hours of fun ahead.

They just don’t make them like they used to.

Vice: The 35 Most Stylish Films of All Time


35 Most Stylish Films





What to Watch on Netflix: Scrotal Recall (2014)

Netflix: Scrotall Recall

Created by: Tom Edge
Starring: Johnny Flynn, Antonia Thomas, Daniel Ings

I have a confession: This is not an objective critique.  I want you to watch this Brit-sitcom.

Scrotal Recall, the latest original Netflix show to catch my attention off the scrolling banner, has the sentiment, humour and charm of the best British romantic comedies.  But we can only indulge in one, six episode season.  At roughly 20 minutes an episode, it simply isn’t enough for me; especially given the beautifully heart-wrenching and all-to-abrupt finale.

Don’t let the abrasive title fool you.  Recall isn’t an overblown sex romp. It has warmth and tenderness while being funny, even, at times, hilarious. Think New Girl rather than It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Here, series creator Tom Edge manages to create something new out of a genre that has failed miserably at being itself for a very long time.

What I liked: The premise offers a candy jar of material: Dylan, a 20-something still trying to figure it all out, contracts chlamydia and must revisit each of his previous sexual partners to let them know the bad news; and there’s a list of them.  The structure is concise: each episode revolves around the memory of an original sexual encounter with each former partner.  However, the writing does not limit itself to the structure or the premise. Dylan runs through his list alphabetically, not chronologically, so many storylines overlap out of sequence and are carried out over numerous episodes allowing for surprises in a genre whose plot is predetermined.

The actors are perfectly cast: Johnny Flynn (Song One) is sympathetic, if detached, as Dylan and serves as a  reliable, thoughtful narrator; Antonia Thomas (Misfits) is heart-wrenching as Dylan’s tortured best friend Evie; and Daniel Ings, now on my radar, shines as Luke, the womanizer of their bestie triad. He manages to deliver predictable lines to hilarious effect and most of my laughter generated from him.  In an early episode, a line as simple as “Oh F*uck OFF” at a three course dinner party had me busting a gut simply because I felt Luke’s genuine frustration; and I laughed harder and louder with each subsequent episode.

What I didn’t like: The show is a bit choppy at times and there are emotional moments that rely too much on the strength of its actors rather than the buildup, but it still works; and if we feel we have missed part of the story, we can hope that they will come back to it in future episodes.

There also isn’t much new here.  It’s a testament to the directors and the cast that they have elevated sitcom tropes, almost all of them, to something better; something charming, heartfelt and even moving. Episode 1 is thoughtfully reminiscent ofFour Weddings and a Funeral and Recall, as I’ll refer to it in polite circles, subsequently lives up to the standard, likely because it still feels fresh.

There is no word yet on whether the show will be picked up for a second series or if people have responded to Netflix’s recent push to watch.  I hope it has because it’s worth it.  That’s my campaign.

imdb: 7.7   netflix: 3.8 stars

Must See: Run All Night

Thanks to Justin Chang at Variety for this early review of Run All Night, Liam Neeson’s new bad-ass thriller which has been on my radar for some time:

Someday the mobsters, petty thugs and crooked cops of the world will finally get it through their thick skulls that you should never, ever mess with Liam Neeson’s family — not that audiences have reason to complain in the meantime, so long as they keep getting action pictures as straightforward and robustly satisfying as “Run All Night.” In his third and arguably most effective partnership with director Jaume Collet-Serra (after “Unknown” and “Non-Stop”), the 62-year-old Neeson puts his world-weary killer instincts to good use as an aging Brooklyn hit man trying to protect his estranged son — a twist that pushes this tense, elegantly assembled chase thriller into full-on male-weepie territory, so heavy with sins-of-the-fathers anguish that it almost plays out like a latter-day “Road to Perdition.” Yet Collet-Serra keeps things moving so nimbly that the emotions never turn leaden, suggesting that this Warner Bros. programmer could display some much-needed commercial stamina in a season of box office disappointments.

Read the full review here.

Chang’s appreciation for the film, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and starring Neeson, Joel Kinnaman and Ed Harris, lines up with my hopeful expectations that are usually unrealistically high; especially for a genre that sacrifices its character development and story line for a good chase scene.  Still, I love the cast, especially Kinnaman of The Killing, and Neeson does family shoot-em-ups better than anyone.

So far my only concern is writer Brad Ingelsby who penned Into the Furnace, another eagerly anticipated film that majorly disappointed, but Chang seems to enjoy the script and the film despite its faults, which is always a good sign.

Fingers crossed it lives up to the hype.

: Early rating 7.8 IMDb

True Crime Dramas Available on Netflix

Thanks to Lauren Duca at the Huffington Post for providing us with countless hours of true crime dramas available on Netflix.

In her article, 10 True Crime Documentaries You Need to Watch on Netflix, Duca lists important and acclaimed documentaries that have investigated or contemplated crime.  The ones I have seen on the list are encouraging and my expectations are high for those I haven’t.

My only complaint about the article, and this is directed toward any entertainment journalist looking to entice readers, is the constant comparisons to Serial; as though Serial was the first unsolved criminal case ever to publicly tap into voyeuristic tendencies.  The list is compelling enough on its own.

However, it’s a small complaint considering that without such comparisons I might not have been introduced to The Jinx which I am now clamouring to find; and not because I was a fan of Serial (though I was) but because Crime Dramas (fictitious or otherwise) make up some of my favourite storytelling.

Here’s a quick look at some highlights from Duca’s list, including The Jinx:

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)

IMDb: 8.3

 The Imposter (2012)

IMDb: 7.5

The Central Park Five (2012)

IMDb: 7.7

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

IMDb: 8.6

Watch List: Elephant Song (2014)

Currently on my radar is Belgian director Charles Binamé’s (The Rocket) new movie Elephant Song, starring Xavier Dolan (in his first English language acting gig), Bruce Greenwood and Catherine Keener.

Adapted by Nicolas Billon from his original play, the movie is a two-hander, cat-and-mouse psychological thriller about an institutionalized man and the information he may have regarding the disappearance of a psychologist.  According to most reports, the acting is excellent, the movie well-paced and the writing superb.  It may not be perfect and as T’Cha Dunlevy of the Montreal Gazette writes

“Binamé’s film has many elements of a gripping psychological thriller, and the verbal jousting between Greenwood and Dolan’s characters is rather entertaining; but by the time all is revealed, the punch doesn’t quite hit its mark.”

Still, I’m excited to see such great performers battle it out with each other.

Gazette Profile

IMDb: 7.0

tomato : Not yet rated

Coming Up: Sundance

Sundance Film Festival

Thanks to Kate Arthur at BuzzFeed.com for providing us with an exhaustive list of the 65 most anticipated movies at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival.  The festival gets underway in Park City Utah on January 22nd and runs until February 1st, 2015.

What’s most striking about the list is the variety of performances by recognizable actors.  There are a number of casts that I assumed to be comedies but are actually dramas, and vice versa.  That’s the beauty of Sundance.  It has yet to become the glamour-azzi of TIFF or Cannes and still offers upcoming talents who are able to offer interesting, new works or established names who can offer films that take chances.

Here are a few favourites as I make my way through the list, on my lunch hour…

1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (U.S. Dramatic Competition)

Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, and Molly Shannon
Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Thomas Mann plays Greg, an antisocial high-schooler who also makes movies as a hobby. He and his one friend, Earl (RJ Cyler), are forced by Greg’s mother to befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), who has been diagnosed with leukemia. I have prepared myself to be moved by this film, since I teared up while watching the Sundance video of director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon merely describing it. Jesse Andrews, whose 2013 debut novel of the same name inspired the movie, also wrote the screenplay.

10. Z for Zachariah (U.S. Dramatic Competition)

Starring: Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine
Directed by: Craig Zobel
Like I suspect of many children of the ’80s, I can remember reading Robert C. O’Brien’s novel Z for Zachariah when I was a kid, and imagining its spare, harrowing story as a movie. Anyone familiar with the novel, however, will already recognize that this film adaptation has made some significant changes to O’Brien’s story. It still tracks Ann Burden (Margot Robbie), who believes she’s the only survivor of a devastating nuclear war thanks to the secluded valley she lives in that prevented any radiation from reaching her, because sci-fi. But with The Wolf of Wall Street’s Robbie in the role, Ann is no longer a teenager (or, at least, no longer looks like a teenager), and her life is upended when two men enter the valley — first Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Loomis, and then Chris Pine’s Caleb — instead of just one like in the book. I suspect these changes will shift the story from a grim coming-of-age tale to something more overtly sexual and thematically complex, both of which I think are good things. (Fun fact: Director Craig Zobel is one of the co-creators of Homestar Runner, which is just too random for me not to share.) —Adam B. Vary

22. I Smile Back (U.S. Dramatic Competition)

Starring: Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Thomas Sadoski, Mia Barron, Terry Kinney, and Chris Sarandon
Directed by: Adam Salky
We always seem to make a big fuss whenever a comedian goes dramatic, but there has always been a chord of real darkness playing under Sarah Silverman’s comedy. Now that subtext becomes text in Silverman’s first fully dramatic lead role as a suburban mother whose depression, drug use, and sexual promiscuity slowly ruin her seemingly happy marriage and family life. I mostly liked director Adam Salky’s last film at Sundance (the 2009 coming-of-age film Dare) and I’m eager to see if Silverman can maintain her savvy live-wire spark without punchlines to leaven the gloom in I Smile Back, adapted by Amy Koppelman and Paige Dylan from Koppelman’s novel.

26. The Overnight (U.S. Dramatic Competition)

Starring: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Judith Godrèche
Directed by: Patrick Brice
If you have children and live in L.A. east of La Brea — or wherever you think the Eastside begins (a question no one agrees upon) — then you may already be aware that indie pop culture seems to want to reflect your days. There’s Jill Soloway’sTransparent (and, before that, her Sundance movie Afternoon Delight) and there’s the Duplass brothers’ Togetherness on HBO, which is set in Eagle Rock. And now there are two Sundance offerings! In The Overnight, Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling play a couple, newly transplanted to Los Angeles from Seattle, who meet another couple (Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche) with a small kid. They go over to their house, and then… raunchy comedy ensues? In his introductory video on the Sundance site, the movie’s writer/director, Patrick Brice, compared its humor to Wet Hot American Summer and Booty Call.

Here is the list in full.  Enjoy!


A New Year’s Resolution

It’s my hope to keep this blog going in 2015, despite a hectic writing schedule that has sadly left Can You Tell a Story at the bottom of my to do list. Still, I’m happy to announce, I’ve found a new home for Netflix reviews at Terra Magnum.

Can You Tell a Story

Here’s my latest review on Netflix’s The Killing.

If you haven’t watched it, do so now. It’s up among the greatest crime dramas, and I’m happy to have been late to this party so I could binge watch it, even if it meant this blog fell by the wayside…

Here’s a trailer of all four seasons for good measure:

I will keep you posted on those reviews as well as any news and reports about upcoming projects I’m excited about.

Cheers to 2015!

What to watch TV: True Detective

For an actor I once dismissed because of ridiculous cookie-cutter rom-coms, Matthew McConaughey’s recent string of outstanding performances have not only turned me into a fan, but I’ll tune in to almost anything in which he is cast.  And since I’m currently obsessed with crime dramas, well, his new mini-series is now pre-recorded on my PVR. 

Two of my favourite actors, McConaughey and Woody Harrelson star in a new 8 part HBO miniseries True Detective about a 17 year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana.

Has to be magic.

Grantland posted an early, rather critical, in-depth, review of the series and while I hope to disagree with Andy Greenwald’s opinion, though I’m sure I’ll relate to it, I was thankful to see the series’ two stars are worth watching:

“And it’s thrilling to see movie stars like McConaughey and Harrelson crackling in nearly every scene. They’re not slumming in TV, they’re soaring. Both are at the top of their game, though McConaughey in particular seems to be playing a different sport altogether: His True Detective turn comes smack in the middle of one of the more remarkable career resurrections in recent memory, immediately after a role that should get him an Oscar nomination (as unlikely activist Ron Woodroof in the excellent Dallas Buyers Club) and just before one that will likely break records at the box office (as the handpicked lead ofInterstellar, Christopher Nolan’s first movie after parking the Batmobile). Of course, Harrelson is no slouch, either: Between acts of grand theft cinema in smaller flicks likeSeven Psychopaths, he has kept busy collecting paychecks and a new generation of fans in the money-printing Hunger Games franchise. The two could have been anywhere else on earth during the long months it took to film True Detective, but they chose to be here, slipping in bayou mud and dodging crawfish shells. That desire is palpable in their performances.”

Creator: Nic Pizzolatto
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Michelle Monaghan.

Air date: Sunday, January 12th, 2014.