To reiterate a suggestion I previously made, if you’re a filmmaker/producer/distributor reading this, and your film is streaming on Netflix, please let me know. Netflix unfortunately doesn’t have what I feel should be a more efficient search/sort method, and it can be quite a chore trying to find something worth watching. So, help me out if you can.
The same goes for non-filmmakers. If you stumble across any titles that you think should be featured in this weekly series, let me know!
But as usual… These aren’t necessarily recommendations. Consider the list more of an FYI – films and TV shows we’ve talked about on this site, at one time or another, that are now streaming on Netflix, that you might want to check out for yourselves.
Without further ado, here is this week’s list of 5:
1 – Boaz Yakin’s 1994 drama Fresh, a film I rarely hear mentioned anymore, despite how fresh (pun intended) the movie is, with a stellar cast that includes Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, N’Bushe Wright, and Sean Nelson, as the title character.
In Fresh, Boaz Yakin’s feature debut, a 12-year-old drug runner nicknamed Fresh (Nelson), a precocious, introspective kid, uses chess philosophy, steadfastly taught to him by his estranged father (Samuel L. Jackson), a speed chess player/hustler, as the chess board becomes a metaphor for life, as seen through the eyes of young Fresh, who plots a cold and brilliant plan to save himself and his junkie sister (Wright) from a world of drugs and violence.
If you haven’t seen Fresh, it’s well worth a look! And lucky for you, it’s streaming on Netflix.
Here’s a scene:
Australian musical drama titled The Sapphires, which is inspired by the real-life story of a soul singing quartet comprised of 4 Aborigine women (all sisters), branded as Australia’s answer to The Supremes.
Directed by Wayne Blair, the film’s full synopsis reads:
1968 was the year the planet went haywire. All around the globe, there were riots and revolution in the streets. There were hard drugs, soft drugs, free love and psychedelic music. There was the shock of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy’s assassinations. And dominating every other news story… There was Vietnam. For four gorgeous young women from a remote Aboriginal mission, 1968 was the year that changed their lives forever. Sisters Gail, Julie and Cynthia, together with their cousin Kay, are discovered by Dave, a down-on-his-luck Irish musician with attitude, a taste for Irish Whiskey and an ear for Soul Music. Dave steers the girls away from their Country & Western origins then flies them to the war-zones of South Vietnam, where they sing Soul Classics for the American Marines. On tour in the Mekong Delta, the girls sing up a storm, dodge bullets… And fall in love.
The “feel-good” movie tells a story that’s undeniable familiar, even if specifics might differ – the evolution, lives, loves, ups and downs of a soul-singing group made up of young black women in the 1960s/1970s and the manipulative people around them. Comparisons to films like Dreamgirls, and Sparkle abound.
The Sapphires stars Chris O’Dowd, Aboriginal actress Deborah Mailman, pop singer Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, and Tory Kittles.
3 – Call Me Kuchu – the powerful, moving documentary that follows the daily lives of David Kato – the first openly gay Ugandan man – and three fellow “kuchus” (LGBT Ugandans), culminating in a brutal and senseless murder that sent shock waves throughout the world.
Over the course of two years, filmmakers Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall documented the daily lives of the outspoken and inspiring Kato and his fellow “kuchus” as Uganda was emerging as a frontier in the battle for African LGBT rights.
An alum of Film Independent’s Artist Development Program, Call Me Kuchu earned stellar reviews on the festival circuit, and during its theatrical release, including winning both the Teddy Award (Best Documentary) and the Cinema Fairbindet Prize at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival, the Amnesty International’s Human Rights Award at the Durban Film Festival, and Best International Feature at Hot Docs 2012.
Nijla Mumin who saw the film for S&A last year, in her review, called it: “A memorable, important work that will hopefully serve as required viewing for continued conversation around human rights issues.”
Consider it a companion piece to Roger Ross Williams’ God Loves Uganda, which is currently in theaters.
4 – Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb‘s Hors la Loi (Outside the Law), a 2010 Cannes Film Festival selection – a fictionalized account of the Setif Massacre – which caused quite a stir before a frame had even been screened at the festival, with French politicians and war veterans demanding that the film be pulled from the lineup.
Obviously it wasn’t.
It reminded me of another film that captured the Algerian liberation struggle from French colonialist rule – Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1966 masterpiece, Battle Of Algiers. That film too was considerably controversial in its day; it was banned in France for a number of years.
Obviously, 50 years later, some of the French aren’t quite yet willing to turn that page. Any attempts to paint the French government/army in a less than admirable portrait (even if it’s fact-based) gets French nationalists anxious.
If you haven’t seen Battle Of Algiers, I strongly recommend that you do, especially if you plan on eventually seeing Bouchareb’s film, as a companion piece. Both films take place at different moments when Algeria was under French rule: the Setif Massacre covered in Bouchareb’s film occurred soon after WWII, 1945; Battle of Algiers begins about 9 years later, reconstructing events that took place between 1954 and 1960, leading to Algeria’s eventual independence from France.
Here’s a trailer for Hors la Loi (Outside the Law) which is now streaming on Netflix:
5 – And finally, the documentary, The Order Of Myths, an intriguing 2008 film that examines the time-honored tradition of Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama, where celebrations remain segregated between white and black residents.
Directed by Margaret Brown, the film takes a look at the history and present-day reality of these 2 still very much segregated worlds of Mardi Gras in Mobile, AL., and explores the secret societies, the fancy-dress balls and the celebratory parades, all telling a story that is at once very site-specific, and seemingly simple, but is as richly complex, and even representative of the USA itself.
Here’s its trailer: