Pocahontas was released at the tail end of my childhood, bookending into the dreaded teen years. Luckily it was awesome enough to draw me in even though I’m sure I acted too mature for it at the time. Pocahontas was inspired by the life of the famous Native American, known for working in harmony with the early colonists of Jamestown, VA. While history indicates that she did save the life of John Smith, they were not in a relationship. However that is not the film’s take, which I quite enjoy. The basic plot is the early colonists trying to take over the Native American’s land. The love story between Pocahontas and John Smith throws a monkey wrench in the works.
Watching the movie in my youth I was drawn in by the music (Tia Carrere has a beautiful voice) and seemingly magical properties of the Native Americans. While watching it early this year I not only was able to enjoy that but also the comedy. Seriously, rewatch it as an adult and guffaw at the awesomely fab songs by the baddies who openly admit their plans to steal the Native American’s land. Plus, the villain’s henchman is super flamboyant. The animal sidekicks (on both sides) are also a treat.
I have not had a chance to watch the sequel yet but I assume it’s some fun.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
I’m not sure if there’s anyone who isn’t at least passingly familiar with Tim Burton’s stop motion masterpiece at this point. The super quick rundown is that a skeleton king who resides in Halloweentown discovers Christmas. Fun ensues when he gets things a bit wrong.
I identify to much with the character of Dumbo to have watched it all that often. Dumbo is an unpopular elephant who is criticized for his large ears. Aw. Even before I hit adolescence and understood this type of cruelty I still found it a sad tale. The film involves Dumbo going to visit his mother. It also includes Dumbo accidentally getting drunk and crows that I (and many others) have found to be racially demeaning. So yeah, if you are planning to watch Dumbo with a child, I’d recommend using it as a way to teach acceptance to those who are different/unpopular but be prepared for questions on his inebriated state and why “the crows talk like that”.
So, what are your Disney favorites that can be found on Netflix? Yes, Mulan is in my queue.
This post is in the spirit of those year in review style posts. To be clear, these aren’t what I consider to be the best movies of 2011 out of every movie. Although a couple will also appear on that forthcoming list. These are just the best on Netflix. I know you need to watch something up to date every once in a while.
Technically some of these films are dated as being from 2010 but I’m going on when it was actually available to be seen by the majority of folks in the US. So I’ve included some that had a foreign, limited or festival release in 2010 but went wide on DVD in 2011.
Simply click the film’s title to be whisked away to it on Netflix.
It’s certainly difficult to describe Certified Copy without giving away the movie. So let’s put it this way, a man and a woman who have a barbed attraction share a day together. Yes, it’s a talking movie. I loved it! The film stars Juliette Binoche and William Shimell.
Oh, Passion Play. I love the entire idea, casting, visual choices, et al of this film. Mickey Rourke stumbles into a traveling sideshow and meets a beautiful young woman (Megan Fox) who plays the part of an angel. Of course they fall for each other. Then there’s the fact that he’s tangled up with some other unsavory folks. The movie costars Bill Murray, Kelly Lynch and Rhys Ifans.
Limitless is about a writer (Bradley Cooper) who ends up trying a drug that gives you hyper focus and confidence, or as I saw one commenter remark, something like a mix of Ritalin and Cocaine. Limitless was originally entitled Dark Fields and I get the feeling that it was supposed to be darker but it still works so well as this polished finished product. I’m still not sure of the character’s motivation but yeah, it was awesome!
Last Night is about a married couple (Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington) who’ve been together for a while but are both tempted to cheat on the same night. Knightley’s character is definitely more fleshed out and relate-able. Ah, maybe that’s just to me, she’s a novelist who currently writes fashion pieces. Her possible fling is with a hot, foreign ex. Worthington mainly seems like a stock faithful husband who is confused and tempted. It’s by Eva Mendes though so it totally makes sense. In real life I believe cheating is basically the worst thing you can ever do but when it’s possibly going to be Worthington and Mendes getting it on, well, yes, I was egging them on. And Griffin Dunne plays a writer! I love when he does that.
A Beautiful Life (Mei Li Ren Sheng) (China/Hong Kong) (Available Until 12/13/12)
A booze and high heel loving real estate agent meets a police officer. She leads him on a bit while basically using him to do things for her. It’s one of those friend zone relationships. Do they get together? Ooh.
Well this is one of the two fuck buddies movies that were released in 2011 and it’s not the better of the two, that would be Friends with Benefits. However this is a decent, entertaining movie. Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher are two acquaintances who keep meeting. Eventually they hook up and then fall into a friends with benefits situation. I adore Portman playing a woman who is now trying to compartmentalize her life into just work (as a doctor) and sex after seemingly just working for a while. Kutcher works in TV. Kevin Kline and Cary Elwes costar. I feel like they were underused. Well Kline gets some scenes but is a bit cartoony. Elwes gets to say like two words. Ludacris, Lake Bell and Mindy Kaling costar.
Topher Grace stars in this 80s themed comedy as a high school graduate (who was promising) but has been squandering his time since then. He runs into a crush (Amber Heard) and decides to lie his way into her good graces. The bulk of the film is set at a party involving a ton of great actors, Anna Faris (as his sister), Dan Fogler (as his sidekick), Chris Pratt (Faris’ IRL hubby as her onscreen fiance), Lucy Punch, Michael Ian Black and Michelle Trachtenberg. Funny flick. Check it out.
Potiche (Trophy Wife) (French) (Available Until 03/17/13)
Catherine Deneuve stars as the housewife of a jerk who runs a plant. She ends up taking it over. In doing so she meets up with a youthful dalliance (Gérard Depardieu) who opposes everything that her husband stands for. And it’s set in the 70’s! The costumes are awesome.
Milla Jovovich witnesses a murder and then is attacked by the murderer. In the process she is injured resulting in Prosopagnosia, which is severe face blindness. She can’t recognize anyone. Not only does this interfere with her day to day life but now she has no way of identifying the criminal. Julian McMahon costars as a police detective who takes a shine to her.
This was so frickin’ funny but it wasn’t really promoted at all. Tyler Labine (Reaper, Mad Love) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Dollhouse) are two likeable hillbillies who’ve saved up to buy a vacation cabin in the woods. They are all excited about chilling out when they meet some yuppie college kids who only see them as scary backwoods stereotypes. A ton of hilarious deaths ensue.
Three high school kids go in search of tail but end up in a really fucked up situation in this Kevin Smith film. Supposedly Kyle Gallner actually had a real panic attack during filming. The cast also includes John Goodman and Michael Angarano. The movie drags a little at one point but it picks back up.
Dylan Dog wasn’t that great or anything but I still feel the need to include it because there’s some good stuff in it. Brandon Routh is a supernatural PI who’s bestie, Sam Huntington, dies and is shocked to find out that he’s now one of the undead. Huntington always cracks me up. Routh’s chest is mesmerizing. Some of the undead stuff is pretty inventive. The big bad is way too Spawny though.
The creative team behind the first Saw film, James Wan and Leigh Whannell, wrote and directed this flick. It’s a vintage feeling ghost story. A family has to deal with a haunting. Rose Byrne (barf) and Patrick Wilson play the parents. Eventually they bring in a team of Ghost Hunters type investigators (including Lin Shaye and Leigh Whannell). The movie has a great ambiance. I didn’t see that first little twist near the ending coming either.
Please share your 2011 picks with us in the comments section.