Weekend Streaming Recommendations: Only God Forgives, Brick, & More
Welcome the feature where I recommend 4-5 under watched, under-appreciated or films that I just personally love. My goal is to take the hassle out of deciding on which film to stream on the plethora of streaming sites that populate the internet. To make your streaming life easier, I include which streaming platform each film is available on along with a link to the trailer. Now sit back, relax, and click on play!
Only God Forgives
Nicolas Windig Refn lit the world on fire 2 years ago with his flashy, bubble gum bursting, pop music fueled love letter to Westerns and 70s action flicks with Drive. The film launched both Refn and star Ryan Gosling into the stratosphere and the two haven’t looked back since. Well here they are together again with this violent, ugly and downright mean spirited thriller set in Bangkok. Gosling plays the owner of an illegal Maui Thai boxing arena (where he also sells drugs), whose brother (a sadistic and vile rapist) is murdered by a Karaoke worshipping detective who dishes out justice with a finely sharpened sword. Gosling is urged by is unloving and unscrupulous mother (the scene stealing Kristin Scott Thomas) to seek vengeance. Gosling barely says 30 words in the film (literally) and Refn’s tone is unbelievably baroque and nightmarish; the colors are vibrant and assaulting all at once. The film really doesn’t amount to anything in the end, but boy is it a wild ride. Only God Forgives isn’t for the squeamish. – Watch the trailer
Director Gus Van Zant teams up with frequent collaborator Matt Damon once again for this small town drama. Promised Land, the least meaty of their efforts thus far, is about a salesman (Damon) for a huge natural gas company who, along with his partner played by Frances McDormand, is tasked to get the trust of a small town so his company can drill on their land. Things don’t go smoothly as they had hoped as they run into an aging school teacher (Hal Holbrook) who challenges them at every step. Also complicating matters is John Krasinski, a grassroots activist who decides to counter every move Damon and McDormand make. Even though it’s nowhere near the level of Good Will Hunting or even Gerry, Promised Land is very good drama. All the acting is great, especially Holbrook who (like every other film he’s been in) steals nearly every scene. The screenplay, co-written by Damon and Kransinski, is finely tuned and graciously allows the characters room to breathe and the story to fully blossom. An underrated gem. – Watch the trailer
Long before Rian Johnson knocked out Looper and a few (of the best) episodes of Breaking Bad, he wrote and directed this sizzling high school drama about the murder of a young girl. Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a loner who one day finds his ex-girlfriend murdered in a massive drain near his high school. He decides to investigate. On his own terms, Brendan scours the hallways and classrooms that are populated by the shady characters of his school for clues or any information leading to who might’ve committed the murder. What sets Brick apart from other modern day “who-dunnits” and high school dramas is the way Johnson sets up his story. Brendan is the Bogart-esque detective hot on the trail of the murderer. There are damsels in distress, heavies and then of course there’s the sinister mastermind who is behind everything; all of whom spit out dialogue as if they were Sam Spade. All of the film noir stuff fits in great with the sadness and regret that fills Johnson’s film. My only complaint, which is small, is that the film has some bad pacing issues at times. In my opinion though this is a career high for both Johnson and Levitt. – Watch the trailer
End of Watch
For me, this was one of the very best films of 2012; penetrating on a level I hadn’t experienced in quite some time. Anchored by brilliant performances by both lead actors (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) and supported by a screenplay that tip toes a high wire of an outright intense police procedural along with great scenes involving the officers’ personal lives. Gyllenhaal and Pena play cops who roam some of L.A.’s toughest streets. A deadly Mexican drug cartel starts moving into the city in a big way and the officers start making catch after catch. Guns, drugs and human trafficking; they find it all. The cartel puts a bounty on the officers’ heads and soon enough the streets become a warzone. Writer/director David Ayers films nearly the entire film with hand held cameras that are attached to both Pena and Gyllenhaal, so everything you see is from their perspective. This choice, along with the subject matter, makes for one extremely tense cop picture. End of Watch will have you gripping the arm rest while your heart pounds at your rib cage, but the end result is one of the most satisfying cop films that has ever been released. – Watch the trailer