I noticed it got dark at 4:30 yesterday.
It’s the time of year a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of Netflix.
Here are some odd little movies that my husband and I enjoyed (or, at least, watched all the way through without either of us complaining too much).
Beautiful Creatures is a Twilight ripoff that features some pretty terrible faux Southern accents, but to make up for it, has a bizarrely all-star cast of Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, Viola Davis, and Margo Martindale. Plus, some 35 year olds pretending to be teenagers.
Hector and the Search for Happiness features Simon Pegg in a navel-gazing jaunt around the world. It’s not great, but has enough interesting and touching moments to keep a person vaguely interested.
Little Evil – A well-meaning guy gets a new stepson whose biological father may be Satan. Like, literally. It’s actually funny and heartwarming. Some people might find certain elements of this movie problematic.
Black Snake Moan I really, really wanted to hate this movie. But it wasn’t horrible. Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci star in a movie that is quite a bit better than it looks.
Baby Mama – Despite liking Tina Fey, I put off watching this movie for a long time because I expected to be offended by the white trash couple played by Dax Shepherd and Amy Poehler. But it was a sweet and cute little movie that made fun of everyone equally (which is really all I ask).
Jane Got a Gun is a Western with a woman’s touch. Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, and a nearly unrecognizable Ewan McGregor star.
The Vault – A ghost story mixed with a heist gone wrong. Stars James Franco, although he’s really more of a supporting actor here.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World has gotten a cult following since it came out back in 2010 but I only just now watched it. It was, much to my surprise, a lot of fun. It doesn’t seem like the type of thing many Ordinarians would watch without prompting, so prompt you I shall. Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead star, Edgar Wright directs.
The Way Back – My husband really liked this Peter Weir movie about prisoners escaping from a gulag and walking 4000 miles through spectacular scenery to safety. It wasn’t my thing but if it is your thing, enjoy.
Mute is an intriguing train wreck. There’s a forced and silly plot about a mute Amish man (Alexander Skarsgard) in a fascinating near-future world I would have liked to know more about. Enter couple of bad guys (Justin Theroux and Paul Rudd, who, despite his cuddly schtick, makes an outstanding bad guy) who so effectively steal the show that it’s worth sitting through the whole dull first hour to get to the second half of the movie.
Shoot ‘Em Up stars Clive Owen as a gunslinging drifter going up against hordes of bad guys led by Paul Giamatti (I know what you’re thinking, but Giamatti is great in this), all to protect a baby. Luckily this drifter has a sidekick who is lactating.
He Never Died is a kind of a vampire-ish movie about someone who isn’t a vampire. It stars punk singer turned actor Henry Rollins, in a mesmerizing performance that somehow manages to be both emotionless yet compelling. You think this movie’s going to go to an obvious place, but it ends up somewhere else entirely.
Spanglish – Just like Baby Mama, another movie I had long put off watching because I couldn’t imagine it was good, that I then ended up enjoying. If you hate movies where the shrewish mother (Tea Leoni) is completely unlikable and everyone else around her tolerates her with the patience of a saint (Adam Sandler, Paz Vega) because they’re all obviously better people than she is, watch this anyway because I also hate those movies and yet I liked this one.
Mud – This is a coming of age story set in the modern South. It has Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, but it’s really more about the kids and the location.
Get The Gringo is a prison dramedy that starts off with a really bad voiceover but quickly gets a lot better. It does have Mel Gibson unfortunately, but a unique setting, colorful secondary characters, and an interesting plot make up for it.
Tale of Tales – If your tastes run towards high art check out this movie anthology of fairy tales that competed for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. It is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. There were some very feminist but also profoundly misogynistic elements coexisting side by side here. Salma Hayek and John C. O’Reilly are in this movie, but it’s mostly an ensemble of faces you won’t recognize.
Ex Machina is an excellent movie that’s ostensibly about artificial intelligence, but it’s about a lot more than that. This is a deep movie about what it means to be alive, coupled with some intriguing exploration of control, manipulation, and domestic violence. If you watch one movie on this list, make it this one.