Best movies on netflix

31 Days of Horror – ‘The Invitation’

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The Invitation

Directed by: Karyn Kusama

Starring: Logan Marshall-Green and John Carroll Lynch

Review by CinemAbysmal

First of all, this is not really a horror movie. Well, I suppose you could call it one, but let’s be safe here and call it a psychological thriller. The Invitation (if you invite it to…rimshot, please) will take hold of your brain like a pitbull to a rubber toy and make you second guess yourself for a good hour and a half. It burns slow, but damn it pays off.

The director of the film, Karyn Kusama, is probably most well-known for her other films, like Aeon Flux and Jennifer’s Body. When I saw that she was the filmmaker, I was a bit hesitant on even watching this to be honest. I’ve heard Aeon Flux is just god awful. I actually liked Jennifer’s Body quite a bit, but it wasn’t really enough to get me jacked for this one. I checked out the trailer, and couldn’t really tell what was going on but was intrigued enough. And honestly, I’m really glad I did.

This is not really a horror movie because not enough happens in it to make it horrific. Most of the film, the characters are talking in living rooms or dining rooms inside of a really nice Hollywood Hills home. Don’t let this scare you away, though. The acting is pretty terrific, as lead Logan Marshall-Green is confusing and at times insufferable, complementing the serpentining storyline perfectly. John Carroll Lynch (that weird bald guy that always plays that really weird bald guy in movies) is amazing, but I’m not going to tell you anything about his character because he’s that good.

I hope the words I’ve chosen for this review have not pushed you away from watching this film. I know that “psychological thriller” tends to be a bit overused when describing movies, but this honestly is one of those occasions where this term works perfectly. It’s vicious, confounding and has one of the better payoffs that I’ve seen in movies like this. Check out The Invitation on Netflix now!

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Stranger Things

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Stranger Things (2016) – Science Fiction | Horror

Created by: The Duffer Brothers

Starring: David Harbour and Winona Ryder

How I Watched: Netflix

Best Line: “Mouth-breather.”

Stranger Things is technically a television program. What it plays like, however, is the best 7-hour movie that you’ve never seen. For this reason, I have decided to review the series as a film. Stranger Things begins all too familiar. We are immediately reminded of the Spielberg family-scapes of a 1980’s suburbia and given to a not-so-motley crew of nerdy kids that even The Goonies would probably bully. The 80’s worship does not stop there, though. Everyone enjoys a good helping of neon, John Hughes inspired feels and a good Reagan-era pop hit, but Stranger Things takes the decade and molds the story around it.

I was born in the 1980’s. Before I was 5, though, they were over. I can’t really say I know what the decade was actually like, but I’ve always felt a strange kinship to its music, movies and pop culture. So whenever someone makes the creative choice of setting their story in the 80’s, I’m usually intrigued. Donnie Darko did an excellent job making you feel like you were watching something made in the 1980’s and Stranger Things is no different. The music is blissfully extreme in its synth-heavy soundscape, evoking the most insane crescendos in John Carpenter films. The characters’ fashion choices are tamed but convincing, and even a lot of the architecture looks as though it was ripped from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Matthew Modine and Winona Ryder hold their respective places in 1980’s filmdom. Ryder is excellent as a grieving mother in the series, slowly descending into understandable craziness while she desperately searches for her son. Modine plays a soft-spoken and mysterious doctor in a laboratory on the outskirts of town, and his looming, often creepy presence grows as the show progresses. Perhaps the most impressive character among the show’s adults, though, is that of David Harbour’s Sherriff Jim Hopper. We’ve all seen Harbour before in small parts (TV and film) but this is really a breakout role for him, as he excellently guides the cast through the series’ ups and downs.

The real stars of the series though, are the four geeky kids mentioned earlier. Never have I been more impressed with children acting than I have with Stranger Things. Led by the spectacular Finn Wolfhard as Mike (who has been cast as Richie Tozier in the new 2017 incarnation of IT), these three boys never give up looking for their friend Will who goes missing in the first installment. Will does not get much screen time, but when he does, he steals every frame. The actors playing Dustin and Lucas are excellent as well, battling bullies and difficulties of middle school life as D&D loving dorks. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is also a really cool character and the focus on her storyline grows throughout the series.

I think what impressed me most about Stranger Things was its ability to take so liberally from those projects that inspired it, and make it its own original story. At times, you’ll feel you’ve seen certain scenes before, whether it’s the bike chase scene in E.T., an alternate universe in Poltergeist or Under the Skin, telekinetic abilities in Stephen King stories like Carrie, a synth-heavy montage in a Carpenter flick…the list goes on and on. Once you watch it yourself, you’ll probably even discover nods yourself that I never would have thought of. It’s really incredible how well the Duffers acknowledge their influences in this.

It’s hard to put into words how much I really loved Stranger Things. It’s become so easy to just sit for hours and “binge” on shows featured on Netflix. But when a project like this comes out and there are only eight nearly hour-long episodes, it really becomes a feature film. A couple “episodes” in, you’re going to be facing a tough choice, just like I did: “I know it’s late, but this is so damn good. I need to finish this.” I suggest you do just that before someone ruins Stranger Things for you.

Final Score: 4/4

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Similar Films: E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, The Goonies, Poltergeist

Cathy’s Take on ‘Turner and Hooch’

Turner and Hooch (1989) – Wacky Family Romp | Investigative Mystery

Directed by: Roger Spottywood

Starring: Tom Hanks and Hooch

How I Watched: The USA Channel, Complete with Commercial Interruptions

I am so so so sorry to all the Net-Heads and Flix-Feets out there that were so disappointed by the lack of column, especially with such great films leaving Netflix last week. Oh, boy, did I have a doozy of a week, my friends.

It started off well enough with Pam, my bank teller, introducing me in the line at the bank to this wonderful gentleman named Cash Jones, which as I write this seems like a fake name. But he was a really handsome man with a bald spot surrounded by salt-and-pepper hair. He kind of looked like Sam Elliot if Sam Elliot was a foot shorter and a hundred pounds heavier and didn’t have a mustache or cowboy hat.

We got to talking while I filled out my deposit slip and he laughed at all my jokes and anecdotes about when I worked as a receptionist for a veterinarian clinic. We planned a date after I wrote my number on a deposit slip and that evening, I waited in the parking lot of Sonic for him to show up, but he never showed up. I then tried to buy some tater tots from Sonic because they have wonderful tater tots, but my debit card was declined which I thought was strange. I am in no way a wealthy lady, but I am definitely tater tot rich.

So, I called the bank and it turns out my bank account was empty. I had no clue what was going on so I called Pam, but the bank was closed. I called the one eight-hundred number on the back of the card, and they answered and stated that all my money had been withdrawn earlier that day at four-twenty-five from the bank, which was five minutes after I left the bank. 

So, I called Cash Jones’ cell phone, both to remind him that we had a date tonight and also to warn him that there was apparently a thief among us at the bank who had stolen all of my money and could have possibly stolen his money too. But I couldn’t get a hold of him. It would seem that in my haste to write down such a beautiful man’s number, I must have jumbled some numbers, because the line I called was a dry-cleaner’s number in Des Moines.

So, I went home to settle down and watch some of the new season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix which I am over the moon about and came to find out that Netflix tried to bill my account, but since I had no money, it wouldn’t go through. There I was, pennyless and Netflixless and without a friend in the world until Penny got into the bank the next day. 

I toiled around on the cable television, watching the last part of Turner and Hooch complete with commercial interruptions. I had never seen the film before and found Tom Hanks to be delightful and the investigation very interesting, as I was going through my own investigation, albeit without a massive dog. Just me, Pam, and Carmen, my mutt puppy. 

I am still working on getting my money back, but have since got my most recent paycheck and a new bank account and a new lease on a new cautious outlook on life. Netflix is back. It is a scary world out there, kids. Change those PIN numbers and be careful when you stop at an ATM Machine.

As it turns out, Turner and Hooch just got added to Netflix. Haven’t seen all of it, but it is pretty good. You should watch it.

Cathy Gives It: I give Turner and Hooch 10 out of 10 hooches.

Cathy’s Take on ‘The Shawshank Redemption’

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Great Family Romp | Total Science Fiction

Directed by: Not Steven Spielberg

Starring: Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman

How I Watched: VHS Rental from the Uptown Library

Full disclosure: I have never been to prison. I live my life according to the law and have never had a run-in except for when I dropped a Dairy Queen Chocolate Cherry Blast Blizzard in my lap in front of a police officer and got pulled over. The officer said I almost swerved into the oncoming lane and he feared I’d had a stroke. I was so T.O.’d for dropping my Blizzard that I almost had an aneurysm. Those treats are seasonal and it was the last day of the season according to a Blizzard-specific Facebook group I am a member of. When I called DQ, they said they’d send me a coupon for a free one and I ended up getting Heath flavored because they were in fact out of Chocolate Cherry Blast. I got off with a warning is the point of the story, and I never went to jail. Not like Andy Dufraine, or Red, or Boggs, or the librarian with the crow. They are all characters in the 1994 classic, Shawshank Redemption.

Shawshank Redemption is a movie about a guy, named Andy Dufrayn, played by Tim Robbins, who goes to jail for killing his wife. He has a hard time, but then plans an escape thanks to getting a miniature pick-ax from Morgan Freeman, which he hides behind a poster of some scantily clad ladies. I should warn you guys, this is a prison movie so it is a bit violent. There is a scene in which he gets raped by some other people in prison. They are real bullies. But the rape is not shown and is really tastefully done. The film focuses on the whole gamut of prison life, from the rape, to the doing of income tax, to the playing of opera music on the loudspeaker. Eventually, Andy escapes prison and builds a boat and Red comes and visits him. And I know this movie doesn’t sound very good, but trust me, it really is. There is also a sad part in which the librarian with a crow gets sad about not being a librarian in prison, so he hangs himself. That really added some weight to the film.

All in all, this is a warm hearted prison movie that says that even if you are convicted of killing your wife and her lover, you can still have good times and do taxes for your buddies and even build a boat in Mexico when you get out. It is a movie about redemption and it is a movie about the prison life, but I forget the name of the prison. Close your eyes during the rape and violence, but otherwise this is a great family romp and a really good Netflix movie.
Cathy Gives It: I give it 10 out of 10 smuggled miniature pick-axes for making prison chess.

Cathy’s Take on ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’

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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – Fun Family Romp | Total Science Fiction

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Dee Wallace and E.T. The Extraterrestrial

How I Watched: The Drive Thru

If you would have told me 30 years ago that a Reeses-Pieces loving alien that looks like a penis would become a cultural sensation, I would have told you, “That sounds like E.T. The Extraterrestrial, and it did become a cultural sensation 4 years ago.” If you were to ask everyone in my apartment building the greatest movie of all time, most of them would say, “Oh yeah, that one’s pretty good,” after you mentioned E.T. The Extraterrestrial. There is perhaps not another movie more emblematic of the 1980s than the tale of a young boy and his non-earthling friend. I watched it originally in the drive thru when it came out and was instantly mesmerized by its love and friendship. It is currently on Netflix and is this week’s must see.

E.T. The Extraterrestrial is about a young boy named Elliott who discovers an alien in his backyard while taking out pizza scraps after getting in trouble by his mom (played by Dee Wallace) for cussing at his brother. He then traps the alien and they become friends. A young Drew Barrymore plays Elliott’s little sister and they have a big brother, though I don’t know his name. There is some weird stuff that happens like when E.T. The Extraterrestrial is watching The Quiet Man at home, Elliott starts sexually assaulting one of his classmates because all the frogs escape. Later on, they dress E.T. The Extraterrestrial up like a ghost and take him trick-or-treating. Then people in space suits find out that E.T. The Extraterrestrial is hiding with Elliott and they kidnap the whole family and put them into a bubble where Elliott and E.T. The Extraterrestrial almost die for some reason, but they escape and E.T. The Extraterrestrial gets picked up by his alien friends and presumably flies home.

Upon rewatching and relaying the action of E.T. The Extraterrestrial, I realize I don’t really understand what happened in that movie. But I really love the film and hope you choose to see it, if you haven’t. It is a fun family romp and deserves to be seen by all lovers of alien movies, especially the ones in which they aren’t trying to kill everyone. It has everything you would want in a science fiction movie; bicycle chases, Peter Coyote, aliens in women’s clothing, and little children flying through the air.

 
Cathy Gives It: I give this movie 10/10 phones home.

Cathy’s Take on ‘Looney Tunes: Back in Action’

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Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) – Family Friendly Romp | Wickedly Smart Adventure Romp

Directed by: Joe Dante

Starring: Brendan Frasier and Dharma from Dharma and Greg

How I Watched: When it was on Netflix for the first time

Everyone knows it’s summertime when I start donning my Daffy Duck windbreaker and start placing my Tweety Bird sunshade in my windshield to keep the faux leather seat of my Nissan Sentra from burning my legs. From Sylvester speaking in a lisp to Bugs Bunny saying, “What’s Up, Doc?,” summer is so completely full of Looney Tunes references. And because of the sweltering heat lately, I felt it my duty to talk about my favorite Looney Tunes movie; Looney Tunes: Back in Action, which is currently playing on Netflix. Looney Tunes: Back in Action follows the lineage of so many cartoon shows to make their way to the big screen alongside real life actors, such as Rocky and Bullwinkle, Space Jam (also featuring Looney Tunes: Back in Action characters) and the Muppets. And while these are all great movies, none of them are on Netflix this month.

Looney Tunes: Back in Action is a return to form for the characters of Looney Tunes: Back in Action. We see Bugs playing his sarcastic jokester type and Daffy (my favorite) being playfully mean and neurotic. We see Brendan Frasier being amazed and frustrated by everything that is going on, and Dharma from Dharma and Greg being rigid, but ultimately funny; reminding me of my third favorite actress, Rene Russo. The plot is that Bugs and Daffy and Dharma and Brendan Frasier are working together to save the world from being turned into monkeys. The evil villain in this movie is so funny and downright looney, that he should be a Looney Tune as well, but for the life of me, I cannot place where I have seen him before.

The movie is a laugh-a-minute with multiple jokes that are just for the adults in the audience. I first saw this movie about three years ago when it was on Netflix the first time, and I really enjoyed it. After a re-watch (and of course, because I am spending all my time studying film to help with Nick’s website), I found I got a lot of jokes that I may have missed the first time. So this is one film that I recommend watching twice on Netflix. One for the kid jokes, one for the adult jokes. Both viewings will leave you in stitches, and that’s a Cathy guarantee.

Ultimately, this film is a family friendly romp that has the lovable characters of many people’s childhood globetrotting the globe in a wickedly smart adventure tale with a great cast. Also, the film is (space) jam-packed with hilarious guest stars and cameos from famous people such as Jeff Gordon and Matthew Lillard, playing themselves. Keep your eyes peeled and enjoy this wonderful comedy.

Cathy Gives It: I give this movie 10/10 diamonds that turn people into monkeys.

Cathy’s Take on ‘A Walk to Remember’

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A Walk to Remember (2002) – Fun Family Romp That Is Fun For The Whole Family | Cancer Romance

Directed by: Adam Shankman

Starring: Mandy Moore and Shane West

How I Watched: VHS Like, 30 Times

Sweet November. Love Story. The Fate in Our Stars. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. These are all movies that take the tragedy that is cancer and turn them into a super romantic movie. All of these movies are five star affairs with great casts, but all of them pale in comparison with my all-time favorite film of all time; A Walk to Remember. I own this movie on VHS and I own this movie on a DVD-Blu-Ray combo pack that I bought at Best Buy on Black Friday 2011, though I do not own a Blu-Ray player. And now, starting June 1st, you and me and Earl and the Dying Girl can all watch A Walk to Remember on Netflix as it is the latest addition to the wonderful library of streaming films.

A Walk to Remember, like I said, is my favorite movie and I find it such a blessing to be able to share this recommendation with you loyal followers. It is about a young stallion of a guy played by Shane West as Landon Carter, also known as a modern day Johnny Castle from Dirty Dancing. Though there is no dirty dancing in this. He meets a wonderful religious girl named Jamie Sullivan played by pop-star turned actress, Mandy Moore. He gets forced to work on her school play and finds his new love of acting and relationship with Jamie to be a stabilizing force as well as reinvigorates his zest for life.

As their love grows, Jamie pulls away emotionally. She has a secret. She has cancer. Which is pretty amazing considering most people I know with cancer don’t keep it a secret. They talk about it all the time. My aunt had breast cancer for a while but she passed away. Every time she’d come over, she’d just complain about my cooking, saying that the chemotherapy won’t allow her to eat chicken fried steak, so I’d have to pull out Lean Cuisine Stroganoff that I usually saved for work for her. I understand she was sick, but I wouldn’t want to be alive if I couldn’t eat chicken fried steak. But she passed away. Just like Mandy Moore does at the end of this movie.

I highly recommend this movie for anyone who loves movies about true romance. I don’t know why cancer makes romantic movies more romantic. Maybe it is the fact that when you die, you don’t give people the opportunity to get bored or disappointed by you. They can choose to remember you as they want to cause you are no longer living. Sounds pretty romantic to me. This is a pretty fun family romp that is fun for the whole family. I have seen it like thirty times, so you should see it also.
Cathy Gives It: I give this movie 10/10 of those bags they keep chemotherapy in.