By Dan Cava
January 7, 2017
In honor of how deep the snow isn’t in Charlotte, our film editor Dan Cava picks a few deep cuts and throwbacks to stream on Netflix (with one by CLTure founder Cameron Lee). Snow always makes us a little nostalgic; and since Netflix does a pretty good job of screaming their new original programming at you when you log in, let us help you find some vintage viewing (or at least slightly less recent viewing) for you snuggle up to while you try to stay warm.
It’s like Downton Abbey, but for grown-ups. Yes, Anna Karenina is from the huge Russian novel that you pretended to read in college, but don’t go to sleep on me yet. This artistically ambitious adaptation almost completely refreshes the story with modern pacing, elaborate camerawork, and gorgeous sets and costumes. Director Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement) turns Tolstoy’s timeless tale of adultery and aristocracy into an unforgettable dance of literature, theater, and cinema. Keira Knightley and Jude Law do a lot of the heavy lifting, but look for an early yet already amazing performance from Ex Machina’s Alicia Vikander.
P.T. Anderson’s adult film industry mini-epic blew everyone away (ahem!) when it came on the scene (cough!) in the late nineties. The movie expertly winds through two decades of debauchery and desperation, looking at the thrill and the toll of exploitation without actually exploiting its characters or its audience. A young Mark Wahlberg, playing a busboy recruited into the biz for his sizeable talents, leads an exceptional cast: Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Heather Graham. The soundtrack is itself a classic collection of classics. Hot, hilarious, humane, and a little haunting, Boogie Nights is 90s filmmaking at its funky finest.
Once Upon a Time in the Old West
Sergio Leone’s sprawling spaghetti western is the most Clint Eastwood movie that doesn’t feature Clint Eastwood. Once Upon a Time is even more stylish than Leone’s previous film, the uber-classic The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Everything is pushed gloriously over the top here: the crazy-long buildups to the gunfights, the wonky harmonica-driven score, the super close close-ups that zoom out to the widest wide shots. Leone’s movies were the crunchy opposites of safer John Wayne movies audience had grown accustomed. With a dark sense of humor and a slaphappy sense of justice, Once Upon a Time twists its standard western characters into an opera of violence and revenge.
Planet Earth: The Complete Collection
Snow days are a tidy reminder of the natural world’s quiet but extensive power. BBC’s landmark documentary series Planet Earth is the perfect way to bring the elements inside. Guided by David Attenborough’s smooth grandfatherly narration, Planet Earth is a gorgeous and awe-inspiring tour of our cosmic home’s many wonders. The series has enough drama to reward a marathon viewing, but it’s also chill enough to function as a kind of cinematic screensaver if you just leave it running while you do some forced winter cleaning.
I’m usually too skittish to watch horror, but when I manage to gather the courage, it’s usually for a gothic guilty pleasure like Penny Dreadful. Showtime’s paranormal thriller is set deep in the cold heart of Victorian-era London, a place where science and the supernatural blended uncomfortably in people’s fears. The show craftily combines good old-fashioned ghoulishness with legendary literary figures like Dr. Frankenstein and Dorian Gray. Smart, scary, and sensual, Penny Dreadful is a treat for even the most hesitant horror fans.
While You Were Sleeping
This recommendation comes straight from my wife to rest of the unapologetically sappy, sweatpants-wearing winter refugees out there. While You Were Sleeping is the Snuggy of snow day movies. No one will ever confuse this Sandra Bullock rom-com with a great movie, but it has the kind of cozy, PG-rated charm that seems like the natural companion for the warm slippers and hot chocolate that chilly weather give us an excuse to indulge in. There’s something reassuring about the gently boxy early-90s fashion, the sweetly awkward attraction between Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman, and the harmlessly stereotypical Chicagoan supporting characters.
Menace II Society
The original west coast gangsta film directed by the Hughes Brothers in 1993 featured several up-and-coming talent’s including Larenz Tate, Samuel L. Jackson, Jada Pinkett, Charles S. Dutton with cameos by Too $hort and MC Eight. The controversial film tackled some uncomfortable social issues in the midst of heavy racial tension and censorship debates across the country during the rise of hip-hop culture in America. Depicting the reality of gang violence in South Central Los Angeles, the film drew a mass of criticism for graphic violence and profanity. A powerful film that raised a great deal of awareness about the harsh truths of inner city gang life. – Cameron Lee (CLTure Founder)