Summer Fun: Films on Netflix
Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 10:56PM
Warren Nightingale

The beginning of summer signifies the start of the blockbuster season. However, if you are in the mood for a subtle cinematic experience, there are many gems on Netflix that make for fun summer viewing. From the nostalgic to the subdued, here is a list of five films worth checking out this sunny season.

The Way Way Back (2013)
PG-13  |  103 min  |  Comedy, Drama  |  USA

Directed by Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Starring Liam James, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney
Mood: Fun, Nostalgic, Simple 

The Way Way Back is a coming-of-age story about a shy 14-year-old boy, Duncan, over the course of his summer break. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of a local water park.

Unlike most summer movies filled with big action scenes or special effects, this film captures a different side of summer. Particularly that awkwardness of being a teen, excited to have the summer break, but not knowing where to fit in or what the future may bring. The film is sharply written with identifiable characters, which makes this film feel rooted in an 80’s teen movie and fun to watch.


Tracks
(2013)
PG-13  |  112 min  |  Adventure, Biography, Drama  |  Australia 

Directed by John Curran
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver
Mood: Poetic, Cinematic, Relentless, Emotional

A superbly acted, visually stunning telling of the true story of Robyn Davidson’s 1,700 mile journey across the Australian desert in the mid-seventies.

Wasikowska gives a truly compelling performance as her character deals with the massive physical and mental toll of the journey. Thematically the film is a naturally pairing with The Wild (2014) and cinematically its visual realism is a nice contrast to the stylistic Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), where the imagery of deserts is just as picturesque, beautiful and harsh. For this summer viewing, don’t be far from the comforts of air conditioning and frosty beverages.


The Battered Bastards of Baseball
(2014)
73 min  |  Documentary  |  Netherlands

Directed by Chapman Way, Maclain Way
Starring Todd Field, Kurt Russell
Mood: Rebellious, Fun, Sporty

Baseball is summer’s game, and this Netflix original is a well-crafted documentary on Bing Russell and the Portland Mavericks.

Bing Russell, best know as Deputy Clem on the TV show Bonanza (1959) and father to Kurt Russell, ran the only non-MLB affiliated baseball team of its era. The film is much more than just an interesting baseball footnote, and will be enjoyed by sports and non-sports fans alike for its celebration of the unorthodox and blue-collar spirit. Filmmaker’s Chapman and Maclain Way, Bing’s grandchildren, handle the story with care presenting interviews, archival footage and much love for the rag-tag team know as the Mavericks.


World’s Greatest Dad
(2009)
R  |  99 min  |  Comedy, Drama  |  USA

Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring Robin Williams, Darryl Sabara
Mood: Sombre, Lonely, Dark, Juvenile

 

July 21st will mark the anniversary of the passing of Robin Williams. There are many films that can be called upon to commemorate the incredible talents of the gifted comic. There are also some great dramatic performances as well. One that I personally considered an unsung gem of tenderness and compassion is William’s portrayal of Lance, a father dealing with the aftermath of losing a son. While the film may not be for everyone’s taste, as some of the humour is dark, and the subjects and dialogue are taboo. Those who connect to it will likely enjoy it a lot.

Director/writer Bobcat Goldthwait demonstrates that he has much more emotional depth beyond his onstage screaming persona turning out dialogue gems like “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.” The film is also earnestly crude which adds a layer of uneasiness and honesty.


Drive
(2011)
R  | 100 min  |  Crime, Drama  |  USA

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston 
Mood: Melodic, Stylised, Voyeuristic, Explosive/Violence

 

 

Beautifully crafted and visually compelling film about a getaway driver who falls for his neighbour--a single mom whose husband is incarcerated. Drive is a cinematic story, short on dialogue and heavy on compositions and motifs. Ryan Gosling strikes the right tone with the main character that literally has a scorpion on his back in the form of a racing style jacket.

The film features car chase sequences that rival Bullitt (1968) and French Connection (1971). The soundtrack is hypnotic and complements the neon palette that strikes the shadowy dim lite night of the film’s setting making a fun watch for a summer’s evening.

Just when the film settles into a world of passive moments of tenderness it then bursts violently on the screen. Drive is a very memorable watch that is in my opinion, worth multiple viewings.  

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