Not the most exciting week on Netflix, but November 1 has a few titles worth highlighting. Those looking to recover from all the horror this Halloween (and prepare for “Dumb and Dumber To”) can sit down with the Farrelly Brothers’ best film, “Kingpin,” which features winning performances by Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and a ridiculous toupee and combover-wearing Bill Murray, not to mention the Farrelly’s funniest lowbrow gags (see: Harrelson learning that the cow he just milked was a bull). Those looking for a different kind of grossness can check out Paul Verhoeven’s terrific sci-fi action flick “Total Recall,” a film that openly recognizes the absurdity of Arnold Schwarzenegger fitting into a normal society by suggesting that his character must be some sort of a spy, one who fights for mutants and chops off bad guys’ arms in an elevator.
Other films possibly worth checking out on Netflix this week include “Flashdance,” the Adrian Lyne film that established what the Jerry Bruckheimer-Don Simpson producing team was about; “Fading Gigolo” (available November 5), John Turturro’s film featuring a rare performance from Woody Allen outside of one of his own films (and as a pimp, no less!); Don Siegel’s World War II film “Hell Is for Heroes,” starring Steve McQueen and Bobby Darin; new seasons of “Portlandia” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia;” and, for those who can’t wait until December to get the Christmas season started, the holiday specials “Babes in Toyland” and “The Legend of Frosty the Snowman.”
New titles on VOD this week, all arriving November 4, include Disney’s”Maleficent,” which boasts a terrific performance from Angelina Jolie and a strong, revisionist feminist concept that it can’t quite do justice. Less high profile but probably more wholly successful is the documentary “Rich Hill,” which chronicles three young men growing up in a rural American town amidst economic hardship. Fans of “Community” might want to check out the documentary “Harmontown,” about its idiosyncratic creator Dan Harmon on a cross-country tour for his podcast of the same name. Those eagerly awaiting “Planes: Fire & Rescue” to hit VOD, the wait has ended.
More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:
Criticwire Average: B-
Mike D’Angelo, The Dissolve
Once Fading Gigolo finds its way to the tender, impossible relationship between Fioravante and Avigal, it becomes affecting; Turturro gives his character an old-world courtliness that makes him seem like an ideal match for a woman scared to emerge from her cultural shell. Trouble is, the route the movie takes to arrive there is so patently absurd, and often so tonally disparate, that it’s difficult to take its central love story seriously. Read more.
Criticwire Average: B
Bill Graham, The Film Stage
Yet it turns out that Harmontown is so much more than just a study on what makes Harmon tick. Furthermore, it turns into an exploration of the kinds of people that surround Harmon, past and present, and their own reflection on him. And there also ends up being quite a lot of focus on his three traveling companions, Spencer, Jeff, and Erin. Thankfully, Harmon is as brash and outspoken as you might be led to believe. Read more.
Criticwire Average: C+
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club
Though it manages to subvert the story’s climax, “Maleficent” never feels of-a-piece; it’s a collection of interesting directions, run through a post-Renaissance Disney filter. It sets out to humanize one of the studio’s most iconic villains, and in the process, creates a new one-dimensional villain in the form of King Stefan. Read more.
“Planes: Fire & Rescue”
Criticwire Average: C+
Claudia Puig, USA Today
Following up on 2013’s even-less-exhilarating “Planes,” this movie about anthropomorphic machines seems to be aimed at kids younger than 10. The comedy is feeble at best, and the story of second chances and courage is barely distinguishable from other well-meaning animated films. Even the derring-do seems strangely out of whack — the story appears to come to a sudden halt amid montages of rapidly spreading blazes in a forest. Read more.
Criticwire Average: A-
Eric Kohn, Indiewire
With its constant melancholic tone, which blend voiceovers and somber asides from its characters, “Rich Hill” often feels like a Terrence Malick movie that trades majestic spirituality for burgeoning teen angst. Revealing very few details about its subjects outside of their own admissions, it unfolds with a straightforward verite approach that makes its bleak reality fully immersive, though the perpetual shifting between a trio of focuses never obtains a satisfactory rhythm, but it does serve a point. Read more.