5 Netflix Streaming Titles You May Not Know Are Available & May Want To Check Out (1/29/14)

5 Netflix Streaming Titles You May Not Know Are Available & May Want To Check Out (1/29/14)

Reiterating 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 series, let me know!

But as usual… These aren’t necessarily recommendations (except for where specified). 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 – Assault On Precinct 13 – the original John Carpenter-directed version, released in 1976, not the 2005 remake which co-starred Laurence Fishburne
A taut thriller made for just $100,000 in 1976 money, which, even when adjust for inflation to reflect 2013 dollars, still only comes to about $400,000. Compare that to the inferior (although decent) 2005 remake, which cost $20 Million
One big difference between the original and the remake is that, the race of the two main characters (the police officer and the prisoner) are switched in both films; specifically, in the 1976 original, the film’s hero, a virtuous police officer, is played very well by Austin Stoker, a black American man, whereas in the remake, the same role is assumed by Ethan Hawke; and the prisoner, played by Darwin Joston in the original, is white, but is taken over by Laurence Fishburne in the remake. 
If you haven’t seen the 1976 original, I recommend it – especially if you’re a filmmaker. I think you’ll recognize a few items from my list of things that writers/filmmakers should consider when working on low-budgeted projects. Also, it was a rarity at the time to see African American actors in heroic starring roles in an action films, outside of the blaxploitation genre.

Stoker did co-star in several blaxploitation films, by the way.

Here’s the trailer for the original Precinct 13

2 -The PBS’ Independent LensITVS-funded feature documentary, The Waiting Room, takes the viewer inside the doors of an ER at an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. 

With unprecedented access, the character-driven, cinema verité documentary provides a raw, intimate, and uplifting look at how patients, caregivers and hospital staff deal with each other, illness, bureaucracy and hard choices.

Here’s a longer synopsis:

The ER waiting room serves as the grounding point for the film, capturing in vivid detail what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance. Young victims of gun violence take their turn alongside artists and small business owners who lack insurance. Steel workers, taxi cab drivers and international asylum seekers crowd the halls. The film weaves the stories of several patients – as well as the hospital staff charged with caring for them – as they cope with the complexity of the nation’s public health care system, while weathering the storm of a national recession. The Waiting Room lays bare the struggle and determination of both a community and an institution coping with limited resources and no road map for navigating a health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction. It is a film about one hospital, its multifaceted community, and how our common vulnerability to illness binds us together as humans.

Directed by Emmy-award winning African American documentarian Peter Nicks, the film made its debut in competition at the 55th annual San Francisco International Film Festival, 2 years ago, and made its broadcast TV debut on PBS, last year, after a very limited theatrical run.

Check out the trailer below:

3 – Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, released by Lionsgate last summer, via its partnership with CodeBlack, after making its world premiere as
the closing night film at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF). 

Financed and executive produced by Hart and his Hartbeat Productions, and produced by CodeBlack’s Jeff Clanagan, Let Me Explain includes a 2012 10-country concert tour, which saw Hart travel to 80 cities, generating over $32 million in ticket sales.

It’s been a great last 12 months for Hart, who just continues to be in demand, piling up new projects on his upcoming slate. He’ll be busy for a little while. Here’s one of the films that helped launch his current run.

Watch a red-band trailer for Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain below:

4 – Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm’s feature film, A Hijacking, a mid-2013 Magnolia Pictures theatrical release.

The fictional narrative provides audiences with a window into the phenomenon of modern piracy as yet another by-product of the catastrophic economic disparity between impoverished countries and the “First World.”

A Hijacking’s synopsis reads:

Tensions are high after a Danish freighter is captured and held for ransom by Somali pirates, leading to weeks of high-stakes negotiations — and an escalating potential for explosive violence — in Tobias Lindholm’s grittily authentic and suspenseful thriller.

A little bit more of what I read about the film: 

Hewing to the aesthetic he devised for his co-directed feature debut R (which dealt with life in a penitentiary), Lindholm and his collaborators make vivid use of actual locations and draw some of their cast from people who have been involved in similar situations… Far more than a gimmick, these elements of authenticity and Lindholm’s documentary style not only invest the proceedings with a lived-in, matter-of-fact air, but ratchet up the tension and create an all-too-believable atmosphere of claustrophobia and fear. Forgoing exploitation tactics and cheap thrills, Lindholm zooms in on the harsh reality of his scenario.

A Hijacking made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in late 2012.

Watch the trailer below:

5 – Another Somali piracy film; although this one is a feature documentary (not a work of fiction like A Hijacking) from director Thymaya Payne, titled Stolen Seas.

Offering a more comprehensive look at the phenomenon, the doc is, here’s its synopsis:

Welcome to piracy in the 21st century—where it’s anyone’s guess who comes out on top. It’s the story of 12 powerless men suffocating on a ship, and why their captors feel justified in their tyranny. It’s the story of a Somali translator who does the wrong thing for the right reason—trying to give his son a chance—and of all Somalia’s sons who will never have one. Stolen Seas is about the failure of international aid and the real for-profit solutions that could get these boys off boats. It’s another kind of story too: it’s a high seas adventure.

3+ years in the making, Stolen Seas includes exclusive interviews and unparalleled access to the just about every side of this story. The film throws the viewer, through audio recordings and found video, right into the middle of the real-life hostage negotiation of a Danish shipping vessel, the CEC Future – a situation that gives birth to an unlikely friendship. 

The film had its world premiere at the Lorcarno Film Festival 2 years ago, where it won the Boccalino d’Oro Independent Critics’ Award for Best Picture.

It had a limited theatrical run in the USA last year, released to strong reviews. 

Watch the trailer below:

Stolen Seas – Trailer from Saboteur Media on Vimeo.

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George Romero's Living Dead influence on John Carpenter was apparent for Assault on Precinct 13th. Death of a child.

The siege at the station. Relentless, remorseless, voiceless killers.

And Black male hero.

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