The Grey is one of Liam Neeson’s — and the director Joe Carnahan’s (Narc, Smokin’ Aces) — finest. Based on the short story “Ghost Walker” by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, The Grey is about survival. Liam Neeson plays John Ralph Ottway, a hunter that works in Alaska killing wolves that threaten oil-drilling operations. He’s mean, tough, and extremely troubled. He’s married, but he hasn’t seen his wife in a really long time. When John gets assigned on a routine mission protecting oil workers, their plane crashes in the middle of nowhere. One by one, the survivors start to be picked off by wolves. But not just regular wolves. Insanely frightening, badass Arctic wolves. If you’re afraid of flying, maybe skip this one, because this contains one of the most realistic plane crashes you’ve seen since Cast Away. Liam Neeson is perfect (and it’s lucky he got cast, because originally this role was for Bradley Cooper). But what makes The Grey so brilliant is how much of a horror film it is (graphic wolf attacks with plenty of blood and gore). The tension and urgency just don’t let up till the very end. One of the greatest scenes is when a survivor sits, with the most beautiful Alaskan landscape behind him, and talks about giving up. That he realizes that it’s over. Well, John Ottway continues, because he was hardwired for survival. It’s all he knows. The Grey is one of the best Netflix movies available!
The Long Goodbye
One of the best directors of the 1970s was the idiosyncratic genius Robert Altman. After he made the wonderful MASH — the movie that inspired the TV show — he made a couple of masterpiece films: Brewster McCloud, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and The Long Goodbye. Being one of Quentin Tarantino’s and Paul Thomas Anderson’s favorite films, as well as the best Elliot Gould film of his short yet solid career, The Long Goodbye is Altman’s best — but nobody really knew it when it first came out. The Long Goodbye is classic Raymond Chandler. Elliot Gould plays Phillip Marlowe, the classic private eye — yet, this is the LA of the ’70s, so we have racist LA cops, nude hippie chicks, Arnold Schwarzenegger (whoa!), strange Jewish homicidal-yet-sensitive gangsters, drunk genius Hemingway-like writers, creepy shrinks, and finicky cats — oh yeah, and crooked Mexican officials. This is Chandler updated for the ’70s, so what you have is a tough critique of ’70s self-obsessed Hollywood where money is everything and loyalty is pointless. Shot incredibly by the legendary Vilmos Zsigmond, The Long Goodbye is the perfect cult classic: under-appreciated in its time, but now considered a classic. You’ll fall in love with Elliot Gould … and his finicky cat. Trust me.
Enter the Void
I saved the most insane for last. You’ll love it or hate it, but this film will change you — for the better, or maybe worse. The latest Gaspar Noé flick is nothing like Irreversible (one of the most shocking Netflix movies to date). What’s Enter The Void? It’s the most psychedelic movie ever made, with the greatest opening title sequence of all time set to a banging techno soundtrack. It’s a modern day Lady in the Lake (1947), where the film is shot from the viewpoint of the central character. Enter the Void is about a drug dealer living in Tokyo. After he is shot dead, we witness his out-of-body experience, in first-person, and it is literally a “trip.” This film is really strange, but if you love adventurous cinema — the DMT sequence and just about every scene with vixen Paz De La Huerta are worth the subscription alone — you’re going to love this. And remember, it was actor Vincent Cassel who said Gaspar Noé is the closet director to Luis Buñuel we have ever seen in modern cinema — a huge compliment indeed.