This week is exactly the sort of round-up I would love to be writing every week in terms of the diversity and general quality. We have a lovely mix of the new, the old, the obscure and the cult which means there is something for everyone.

There are even some things this week that I did not have space and time to write about like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film from 1990 on Lovefilm which I have a fondness for that somehow hasn’t dimmed.

Netflix also has come out swinging grabbing the week’s award for most diverse line up of new content. Regardless of its actual quality, Seven Psychopaths is exactly the sort of exclusive that Netflix should be getting on a regular basis over Lovefilm and Now TV. If they can also start adding forgotten older titles weekly like Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and Cropsey as well then they might still be in with a chance in the streaming wars.

Now TV have also added a new bunch of categories in time for Halloween so all Vampire, Devil and Ghost horror films are now collated under a menu option under which you can search should you be so inclined when the spookiest day of the year rolls around next week, which is a nice touch. No word on whether we are going to be able to stream Toy Story of Terror yet but I imagine with all the Disney content on there (including the shorts!) this is highly possible.

Les Misérables - Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen

Les Miserables (2012)

There is a growing trend where every January something comes out that gets the over forties flocking to the cinema in droves. This past January it was this adaptation of the stage musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo.

It’s suitably huge, well-staged and well-acted for the most part especially by Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway who emotes and sings at the same time in a stunning and heart-breaking sequence. However the less said about Russell Crowe’s singing the better really. This is epic musical filmmaking the way it should be done.

Available on NOW TV


Seven Psychopaths (2012)

There isn’t really anything that bad about Martin McDonagh’s follow up to In Bruges it just doesn’t feel anywhere near as good as it should be or as clever as it thinks it is. It’s basically a Meta tale about a dog kidnapping that brings a down on his luck screenwriter all manner of trouble when the dog ends up belonging to an unhinged mobster and the screenplay he is working on starts to bleed into real life and vice versa.

It’s entertaining enough but somehow never goes far enough in either the Meta direction or the wannabe Tarantino satire it also seems to hint at. Still great performances by Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, with whom lead Colin Farrell cannot hope to keep up with.

Available on Netflix

rise of the planet of the apes trailer shot 1

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

This reboot/ prequel to the classic films is every bit as good as you have heard. Director Rupert Wyatt really gives the film some weight with an astonishing motion capture performance by Andy Serkis as key chimp Caesar who is still the best performance in the film alongside a heartbreaking John Lithgow.

James Franco and Frieda Pinto are adequate but feel a little inconsequential when the stuff with the brilliantly rendered monkeys is so compelling. I still have some hope for the next film based on the strength of this, even though Wyatt left over the old creative differences chestnut to be replaced by director Matt Reeves.

Funny how earlier in the summer before this came out, people were roundly expecting a turkey but Wyatt takes the material seriously giving it the edge over what came before with Tim Burton’s disastrous remake.

Available on Lovefilm


Cropsey (2009)

This is a chilling documentary sadly denied the high-profile DVD release which it deserves and has now popped up on Netflix.

Basically this is two filmmakers going back to Staten Island where they grew up and delving into a local boogeyman known as Cropsey and his link to the disappearance of five kids in the area. It doesn’t quite play the ‘is it true… is it staged…?’ game that Catfish did so well but kind of delves into the nature of urban legends and the gossip in a local community and how that can then lead to absolute belief some years later if enough people speak about it for long enough.

Was Cropsey just the local hobo in the woods or something more sinister? Highly recommended Halloween viewing.

Available on Netflix

The Help Picture 1

The Help (2011)

It took me a long time to put aside my cynicism and give this a watch and I am glad that I did. The Help is a touching and well-played story set during one of the darkest periods of American history which in the scheme of things, wasn’t that long ago.

Emma Stone truly became a star based on this but she is backed up brilliantly by Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard and Viola Davis. You will laugh, you will cry, you will probably need a hug and have a warm glow afterwards. Not traditionally my cup of tea but I was won over by its charm and warmth and it’s perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon this autumn.

Available on Netflix.


Identity (2003)

Director James Mangold is impossible to pin down based on the choices he makes. After an indie start and some acclaim with Heavy and then Copland, each new film completely baffles in terms of how versatile he is, from Walk the Line to 3.10 to Yuma to The Wolverine and back to Girl Interrupted.

In 2003 this take on Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians came out with a great cast including John Cusack, Ray Liotta, John Hawkes and Rebecca DeMornay. Identity is basically a slasher movie set in one location with the pretentiousness turned up but it works great, has just the right balance between violence and creepiness and even if the ending does cause a groan, it’s still great fun.

Available on Netflix

Terminal Velocity

Terminal Velocity (1994)

For a brief shining moment in the early 90s, Charlie Sheen was a viable action lead who had a whiff of what we would come to love about Robert Downey Jr in the Iron Man films and elevated a lot of pretty weak material.

This was one of the two skydiving movies that came out around the same time and is miles better than Wesley Snipes starrer Drop Zone. The plot is ridiculous involving a faked death from an airplane, the KGB and a menacing James Gandolfini.

It’s actually a pretty witty script by David Twohy and includes the immortal line “Pack the bags we’re going on a guilt trip” which I never get tired of saying.

Available on NOW TV

In Dreams

In Dreams (1999)

Starring Annette Bening and a pre comeback Robert Downey Jr, this is nonetheless one of Neil Jordan’s more overlooked efforts. The plot is as conventional as they come but it’s interesting in the way that Jordan takes fairy tale like tropes and weaves them into the Macguffin of a flooded town and a missing girl.

Also as its Jordan, it’s as visually arresting as the recent Byzantium and despite its conventional plot, is still well worth a look.

Available on NOW TV.


Bram Stokers Dracula (1992)

Hard to believe that this film is now over twenty years old and marks the last time Francis Ford Coppola made something worth watching (seriously have you seen Twixt?).

Yes, it’s true that Keanu lets the side down with his woeful performance but Gary Oldman is stunning as the Count with the broken heart and Winona Ryder matches him in terms of the weight she gives the central romance.

The film is also really inventive visually and only uses CGI sparingly giving the film a kind of handmade feel that is part hallucination and part homage to what has gone before. I still love the score and the operatic nature of this film and it’s been a long time so it’s high time for a revisit.

Available on NOW TV

Dead Again

Dead Again (1991)

Back to the 90s again. Before The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense, there was brief moment in the early 90s where Hitchcock like thrillers with huge twists were all the rage.

So I lapped up the likes of Shattered, Deceived and Malice and then there was this oddity by Kenneth Branagh starring himself and his then wife Emma Thompson. This melds a weird new age reincarnation plot with the neo noir that would become more popular later in the decade.

Sadly watching this again and I see that it falls apart in the climax where Branagh sadly succumbs to the histrionics that so ruined Frankenstein. Still for most of its running time this is intriguing stuff.

Available on NOW TV

Dragon The Bruce Lee Story

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)

Ah Rob Cohen, once so promising before making studio summer bilge. Cohen made this life story (ish) of Bruce Lee and his journey to stardom starring the great Jason Scott Lee who pulls off a great impression if not exactly an embodiment of the great one himself.

The most interesting aspect of this story is the apparent curse that haunted Lee all of his life. When it comes to the romantic angle and the degrees of prejudice and racism Lee faced, then the movie comes across like a TV event of the week. Still worth a watch as it so far remains the only attempt at this story and thus is as good as it gets with some great fight scenes too.

Available on Netflix

Repo Man

Repo Man (1984)

Not to be confused with the so-so Jude Law sci-fi movie from a few years ago, this is cult auteur Alex Cox’s feature debut and is a strange, snarling oddity which set the precedent for Cox’s career and lays down his punk surrealism template wonderfully.

Repo Man has been quietly influential to a whole generation of independent genre filmmakers who probably wondered what they had stumbled into when they saw it on TV as a teenager. The effects work is dated but the central performances by Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton remain as great as ever.

Many supposed cult films feel manufactured to be cult these days but this one is a true blue original.

Available on Netflix