Jorge: Full disclosure, The Hunt is an unfair pick for a Netflix recommendation. If you’re settling down with a glass of wine and a partner to cuddle with this Valentine’s Day, you will be more than disappointed. You will be devastated. But if you’re in the mood to distrust your fellow man and sympathize with a poor soul, then where better to turn than Danish cinema? (Of course, if I were really mean it would be a Lars von Trier film.) In his best, most heartbreaking role, Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Hannibal) plays a family man wrongfully accused of molesting a child at his day care. Off to a rough start, I know, but follow him for a few minutes and you won’t be able to look away from the handsome, lovable man who somehow played a Bond villain. The Hunt‘s pace is slow and thoughtful, like most movies from anywhere other than the US and India, and it serves to convince us that this story is nothing but true and harrowing. It’s a tough two hours, yet worth it for a different perspective at a time when the media is quick to point the finger. This is a story about innocence in the face of blame and hatred.
Patrick: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a gem of a movie on Netflix, yet despite its solid ratings and great cast not many have seen it. The first and most obvious selling-point of this movie is its cast, though upon its release in 1993 there was far less intrigue to the actors and actresses. However, in 2015, a young Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio (in truly one of his best performances), Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, John C. Reilly (15 years later Reilly and Steenburgen would do Step Brothers together), and Crispin Glover is reason enough to see this movie. Depp plays Gilbert Grape, a young man who desperately wants to get out of his life but can’t seem to shake the responsibility he feels towards his family, particularly his morbidly obese mother and special needs younger brother (DiCaprio). The conflicts Gilbert feels throughout the movie between his family situation, his desire to get out of his small-town, his budding love interest with Becky (Lewis), and his affair with the elder Betty (Steenburgen) drive this movie, while DiCaprio’s portrayal of young Arnie makes it that much more realistic. Although perhaps seeming slightly exaggerated, Gilbert’s struggle and situation in small-town America is one that is real. Thus, in this movie you will also find many emotional moments and even some comedic relief, both intentional and unintentional (even just seeing John C. Reilly or Mary Steenburgen in their different roles is enough to elicit a laugh). So check out What’s Eating Gilbert Grape if you haven’t already, if only to see what all of these now-superstar actors and actresses looked like 22 years ago. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Matt: Scorsese’s The Departed is based on the 2002 Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, which recently became available for streaming on Netflix. In some places Affairs is much more explicit than Departed, especially in the introduction of mob boss Hon Sam (played by the fantastic Eric Tsang); in other places it’s much more subtle, failing to meet the visceral power of Departed‘s best moments (see: elevator scene). And overall, stylistic decisions aside, Affairs is strikingly similar to its American counterpart. Despite that, even though it’s nearly the exact same film, even though some parts might make you think “Scorsese did it better”, Infernal Affairs still tells a story every bit as gripping as The Departed.
John: 2010’s Submarine, starring Craig Roberts, is, as Netflix suggests, a hidden gem, and it is my recommendation that you give this quick 97-minute film a watch. This movie epitomizes the phrase “indie film.” Fantastically low-budgeted and without any big-name actors or actresses, Submarine is a hipster’s wet dream. That being said, the film is actually pretty good. The directing style is very cool and innovative, and all the performances, especially from Noah Taylor, are very solid. They way the film is structured is also unconventionally hip and stylish. While I thought that the second act of the film was a bit slow, the first and last 30 minutes make this film one worth checking out.
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