CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
Streaming Feature: Best of New to Netflix December 2013
We’re back! Full of turkey, ready to sit down in front of the TV and zone out with a full Netflix queue. What’s the latest and greatest to hit the streaming service du jour? There are some major Hollywood hits like “Skyfall,” “Dances with Wolves,” and “Apocalypse Now” new to the Netflix universe but we here at HC try to focus on what you might not have seen.
Here are ten flicks to add to your queue that could have fallen under your movie radar if we weren’t here to pick them up. You’re welcome. There’s a foreign film, two documentaries, a sci-fi flick, and even a musical. Pick your favorites. Or just watch all ten.
On the heels of a rough assignment, assassin Jack declares that his next job will be his last. Dispatched to a small Italian town to await further orders, Jack embarks on a dangerous double life while falling for a lovely villager.
Because it got screwed by bad marketing. Some numbskull decided to try and turn this introspective, philosophical piece about isolation and age into a “Bourne” sequel, which it most DEFINITELY is not. In fact, even that poster up there is misleading. This is a drama, featuring some of Clooney’s best work against a gorgeous backdrop. People went to see it in theaters and rented it expecting a very different movie and so hated the one they got. Check it out again without the false expectations and you may be surprised by the one you get.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s vivid and unflinching biopic delves into the life of Britain’s most notorious prisoner, Charlie Bronson — who’s been jailed for nearly 35 years — and attempts to dissect the real man behind the deranged persona.
Because Tom f**king Hardy. The star of “Warrior” and “Inception” broke through in this intense work from the man who would go on to direct “Drive.” It’s an amazing piece of acting by Hardy. He’s a force of nature and one sensed immediately upon seeing “Bronson” that one was watching the emergence of a future household name. See where it began.
Meet the firefighters of Detroit, who battle the nation’s highest arson rate in a bid to save their once-thriving city from virtual collapse. At the helm is commissioner Donald Austin, whose firebrand attitude has galvanized the city and its leaders.
Because it’s fascinating. Detroit is burning. The city faces more fires every year than any other in the country and they’re not only fighting them differently than other squads but they’re letting a lot of them burn. Produced by Denis Leary, this is one of the best docs of the last few years.
This comedic period piece set before PCs became commonplace centers on a 1980s chess tournament in which human competitors get their first crack at testing their skills against a machine.
Because it’s goofy. While I don’t love Bujalski’s film as much as some, one has to admire its commitment to its creative cause. Set at an ’80s chess tournament in which programmers vie to create the better machine, “Chess” actually looks like it was made on the technical product of its period as well. The aesthetic choice to make a movie that doesn’t just take place in the era of the VHS recorder but was made on one as well is fascinating. And the movie is often very funny and consistently entertaining. It’s slow and not for those easily turned off by indie oddities but if you’re looking for something different…
Helmed by director John Waters, this kitschy comedy set in 1950s Baltimore stars Johnny Depp as Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, a street hood who falls for a goody-two-shoes girl. The unlikely romance sparks a battle between rival factions.
Because Johnny Depp used to be interesting. Before he gave up acting in favor of silly costumes, Johnny Depp was one of the most engaging actors of his generation and this early oddity is a film that many derided at the time but has grown a cult following over the years. It’s a wacky musical comedy that makes it clear that Depp was fated to become a household name and has that unique John Waters tone that so many have tried to copy but few have succeeded in doing so.
Five more on the next page…