Monday, July 17, 2017

Aaron's Ten Summer Netflix Picks!

Summer is in full swing! Record breaking heatwaves here in Las Vegas, and I still have not switched to iced coffee. How do I beat the heat then? I go from air-conditioner to air-conditioner and I watch movies. So here is a top ten list of cinematic gems to celebrate this sweltering hellfire summer and although the films are numbered, they are not arranged by priority or preference. Enjoy friends!


1.) CHEF - (2014)
Jon Favreau (also the writer and director) is Carl Casper, a head chef in a trendy L.A. restaurant. Through a series of horribly hilarious events, Casper finds himself starting over and driving a food truck. One of Favreau's many talents as a writer/director is setting the stage for other talented actors to shine. Sophia Vergara, Robert Downy Jr., Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, and John Leguizamo are among the all star cast.

2.) Nightcrawler - (2014) 
Jake Gyllenhaal lost thirty pounds to play the bug-eyed sociopath Lou Bloom, who films tragedies at night and sells them to a news channel in the morning. Gyllenhaal succeeds in making Bloom both terrifying and genuinely charismatic. Writer/director Dan Gilroy fills the movie with lush night shots of L.A., complementing the dreamy music and dark comedy undertones of the story. The supporting cast is spot-on also. Look for Riz Ahmed in his breakthrough role as Bloom's naive assistant.

3.) Mulholland Drive - (2001)
David Lynch received a Best Director Oscar nomination for this surreal film noir masterpiece. Like a twisted dream that ventures into nightmare territory, Mulholland Drive is everything at once: a love story, a mystery, and a slowly unfolding drama of confusion, that all only makes sense in dream-logic. Mulholland Drive put Naomi Watts on the map and she creates a character here unlike any other I have seen in Hollywood films.

4.) Sunset Boulevard - (1950)
 Continuing my Los Angeles theme, I would be amiss to not mention Sunset Boulevard. Gloria Swanson is a washed-up silent film starlet who traps a screenwriter (William Holden) in her Hollywood mansion, hoping that he will write her next big film. Director Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot ,Double Indemnity, Stalag 17) combines brilliant humor, solid melodrama, and masterful suspense in this sordid tail of loss and obsession. 

5.) Man Up - (2015)
 There just simply aren't many intelligent romantic comedies anymore; leave it to the British to provide us with one. Man Up stars Simon Pegg as Jack. Jack is supposed to meet a girl on a blind date, but meets the wrong girl. Lake Bell plays Nancy (the wrong girl), who goes through with the date pretending she is someone else.  I like this film because it made me laugh without hitting me over the head with obnoxious one-liners or comedy that is trying too hard to be clever.

6.) Million Dollar Baby - (2004)
Clint Eastwood's film about a retired boxing coach and the young white-trash girl who pesters him into training her, is so much more than a boxing movie. The characters in Million Dollar Baby are fatally flawed, heartbreakingly vulnerable, and amazingly tough. Eastwood nabbed a Best Director Oscar for Million Dollar Baby and Hillary Swank won Best Actress.

7.) Heathers - (1988)
Heathers is two things: a quintessential 80's film and the best dark comedy on my list next to Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. Director Michael Lehmann and writer Daniel Waters take on high school cliques and social elitism, using a hot outcast couple (Wynona Ryder and Christian Slater make the best on screen "Bonnie and Clyde" duo since...well, Bonnie and Clyde) who kill the popular kids and disguise it as suicide. High school social pressure, young love, murder, and suicide. Now that's comedy!

8.) It Follows - ( 2014)
There is a deadly curse that follows teens around and is passed from one to the other through sexual intercourse – yes this plot sounds ridiculous and I'm not sure how the writer/director David Robert Mitchell pulled it off but he knocked it out of the park. Truly Creeeeeeeepy and scary in the best possible way. An independent film that uses unknown actors and good writing instead of stars and special effects. Watch it with the lights on and phone a friend...

9.) Midnight In Paris - (2011)
Owen Wilson plays Gil, a writer who is visiting Paris with his fiancee Inez (the always wonderful Rachel McAdams). Gil begins taking a series of midnight strolls through the city and each time, he inexplicably finds himself transported through time to the 1920's where he meets Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, and many other icons from the Gatsby/jazz era. The funniest bits of comedy occur when a confused Gil must return to his regular life during the day and attempt to go about his normal routine.

10.) Inglorious Basterds - (2009)
All Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill 1 and 2) films are an event and Inglorious Basterds is no exception. This movie is seemingly about Nazis and WW II but the three intersecting plots that emerge only use this as a back drop. What we get is an entertaining film with fresh dialogue, surprisingly infectious humor, unforgettable characters and bizarre violence that all culminate in an extraordinary final act.  Christoph Waltz won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal as Nazi "detective" Col. Hans Landa.

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