Wednesday, February 16, 2011

(My) Streams

I have this theory that Netflix streaming is intended for movie addicts. Sure, there are so good, universal films on there, but it's always seemed as if the streaming offered much more classic, unique or even odd films. Which I happen to love. I love finding unknown stuff online to watch and figured I'd share five films I've streamed recently.

The Parking Lot Movie
Yes, it's a three-year documentary about guys who work at a cheap, run-down paid parking lot. And it's 200% better than you expect. The parking attendants are a highly (maybe even "over") educated lot with engaging lives and perspectives on what power really looks like in today's culture. Personally, I came away fascinated at how something that seems so trivial can be so formative in the lives of people. If you dig documentaries, this one is definitely worth your time.
(As an added bonus, most of the "stars" of the movie
are now on Facebook, so it's great to see what they're up to!)

I'm not much of a horror-movie guy, but I dig a suspenseful "thriller". This low-budget mystery packs a big punch with a clever storyline and a small group of skilled actors. The overall payoff wasn't as great as I would have hoped, but there are plenty surprise moments that will definitely stick with you. The cast is great, but I could imagine it being redone with some more recognizable faces to possibly make it a bit more mainstream. There's a great "universal" aspect to the story that I enjoyed - it might seem a bit far-fetched, but the movie avoids diving too far into the nuance as deference to the better, more powerful battle-of-wits that drives the work. This thing comes off like a really well-scripted stage play. It works!

The Wild & Wonderful Whites
I'm not gonna' lie - this one is rough. With the goal of understanding what's been called "America's last outlaw family," this documentary ends up more an analysis of drug use and crime. There's no redemption to be found in this story, even though the filmmakers make an obvious effort to find something "light" or enjoyable about the White family. Sadly, it's a futile search, but it does make for a riveting look into a family seemingly intent on destroying itself. I didn't come from a family like the Whites, but I know people who did and I say confidently say this movie gets it "right."

I love this movie for two reasons. Primarily, because it's smart and awesome and thought-provoking. But there's a second value that I look for in any movie: conversation. It doesn't seem as if Moon has been seen by an abundance of people, so finding people who've seen and who want to talk about it is a rare treat. Sam Rockwell is fantastic and somehow the movie manages to build so many twists that some of them are still there after the movie is over! Much like Exam, this is another project that invests in story over style. That's not to say it looks bad - I thought the special effects were flawless. But even in science fiction, Moon pursues something bigger.

More Than A Game
This lengthy project following four child basketball players does a good job of balancing the story and avoids being too focused one particular team member, a certain LeBron James. LeBron is in there, most definitely, but it's not a star vehicle. While the story itself is interesting enough to warrant viewing, it's more of a study on arrogance. I might have gone in thinking the "more" spoke of friendship or hard work or life lessons, but by the end, the message is something different. For me, I felt like this pursuit of championships was "too much" more than a game. You don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy this, but be careful - it can be more cautionary than celebratory.

What about you? What's out there on Hulu or Netflix or the like that I need to see?