As the Netflix streaming library has increased, so has their exquisite taste in solid films by solid filmmakers, more specifically independent and cult favorites. Here’s a Netflix movie list that has the ability to change your life or at least make for a great night. Happy streaming!
Nicolas Winding Refn jumped on the scene way back in the mid 90s with his Scorsese-esque crime thriller Pusher, and then kind of disappeared till the magnificent Kubrick-like Bronson, and gory Valhalla Rising. Both of these are epic films that could be on this Netflix movie list. Refn finally went mainstream with Drive, adapted from the James Sallis book of the same title, and an instant classic was born. Ryan Gosling, who can go from sappy to cool from movie to movie, plays “The Driver.” He’s a stunt-car driver who moonlights as a get-away driver for bad guys and gets involved with a woman and her kid after moving in next door. People get shot in this, skulls get cracked in, and Ryan drives around LA in a prosthetic mask over minimalist techno that screams Michael Mann (i.e. Thief) in this wonderful, noir-ish, psychedelic, pulpy flick.
Pulp Fiction is great, but it’s Reservoir Dogs that made Quentin Tarantino a household name with movie geeks back in the 90s. After its debut on home video, it changed the American indie landscape and spawned a record number of horrible imitations. If you seem to have missed Reservoir Dogs, watch this as soon as possible (three words: the ear scene). The story is told, like Pulp Fiction, in a non-linear fashion. After a heist gone wrong, the surviving crooks begin to turn on each other. Reservoir Dogs is more David Mamet-like (i.e. Glengarry Glen Ross) with dialogue that crackles, plus style that seemed absent for almost ten years in Hollywood cinema. Tarantino arrived with a bang. And, Reservoir Dogs with its brutal honesty, 70s classic soundtrack (the genius comedian Steven Wright plays a Vanishing Point-like radio DJ voice-over), Godard-like cool, Hong-Kong shoot outs, and pop-culture idioms about Madonna and the metaphors in her music, Reservoir Dogs is one of the best independent movies ever made.
The last of his “Vengence” trilogy, Chan-wook Park made this movie back in 2003 as an adaptation of the comic. If you’re not familiar with Chan-wook Park, or Korean film in general, they are some of the most creative films in the world with directors like Kim Ki-duk and Bong Joon-ho (The Host) making serious waves. Oldboy is a revenge film. After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, and plans the revenge of his captors. First, he has to go through a lot of crazy stuff, like eating a live octopus and fighting gangsters in a sequence stylized like a Nintendo game (no joke, it’s amazing to watch) and other brutal and crazy insanity. But, as an American revenge B-film would just exploit gratuitous sex and violence, there’s an art-house quality to Oldboy that is really unmatched. Before watching films like Thirst and Stoker, do yourself a favor and watch Oldboy, but make sure you prepare yourself for some intense brutality. Oldboy is made so wonderfully, it really makes the rest of the world’s filmmaking look incredibly behind the times. Enjoy!