New on Netflix Instant: 'Kid With a Bike' and 'Pina' debut before disc
Plus 'The Story of Film,' 'The Queen of Versailles,' 'Lost Girl: Season One,' and more
A pair of acclaimed imports debut on Netflix instant months in advance of disc release.
"The Kid With a Bike" (2012), from Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, is a small story with a power in its simplicity. A young teenage boy (Thomas Doret), abandoned by his father (Dardenne regular Jérémie Renier) to a government home, is taken in by a single hairdresser (Cécile De France) who shows him a kindness. Part of the beauty is the mystery of this happenstance relationship between total strangers, and the perseverance to make it work, in the face of some difficult hurdles (not the least of which is the boy's desperation to find father figures in screwed-up men). "What eventually unfolds is a film about, to use Brian Wilson's phrase, love and mercy, and also about goodness and the finding of goodness," proclaims MSN film critic Glenn Kenny. "In less than 90 minutes, it builds to a quiet resolution, a cinematic miracle in which nothing happens and everything happens, and which brought some tears to this critic's eyes."
"Pina" (2011) is Pina Bausch, the German choreographer who passed away in 2009. Wim Wenders was preparing to make a dance film with her. When she died he turned the project into a tribute to her art, with members of her company performing her great works, including "Café Muller," on stages and sometimes in the streets and in the countryside. Appropriate locations for a works as earthy and primal and muscular as these. Her "dance theater" makes body into emotion, impulses turned into physical expression both raw and graceful, and even on stage they are performed amidst the elements: earth and water, wood and stone. Flesh and muscle become more raw material. In between (and sometimes in the middle of) productions, the dancers talk about their work with Pina. The rest is movement.
In "The Story of Film: An Odyssey" (2011), which debuted on disc last week, Mark Cousins takes an unconventional approach to the history of cinema, from the first moving images to modern movies, that emphasizes innovation, expression, and the cross-cultural fertilization of ideas spanning the entire globe. The 15-hour series acknowledges the business and culture of movies, but celebrates the art above all. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
Julie Delpy directs, writes, and stars in "2 Days in New York" (2012) with Chris Rock. San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle writes that "Delpy's second film as a director confirms the two best indications given by her first directorial effort, "2 Days in Paris" - that she has a gift for the wildly absurd and that she can direct herself It's extremely funny, one of the funniest films of 2012, with a particularly winning style - far-fetched, extreme and nonstop."
"The Queen of Versailles" (2012) looks at the real-life billionaire couple David and Jackie Siegel who are suddenly caught short when, in the middle of building the single largest home in America, the economy collapses and their lifestyle (and hubris) takes a hit. Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman calls it "a succulently entertaining movie that invites you to splash around in the dreams and follies of folks so rich they're the 1 percent of the 1 percent. It's like a champagne bath laced with arsenic."
"Last Ride" (2009) is a gritty and lyrical portrait of a criminal on the run (Hugo Weaving, by turns gentle and terrifying) and the ten-year-old son (a heartbreaking Tom Russell) who both loves and fears him and his tough-love parenting. A portrait of living tough and sleeping rough, it's directed with an unforced naturalism that drinks in the beauty of the South Australian countryside: national forests, rocky plains and the shallow, sprawling Lake Gardener.
Julianne Moore stars in "The Forgotten" (2004) as a grieving mother mourning the death of her 8-year-old son who wakes up one morning to discover that the boy never existed, or so says her husband (Anthony Edwards) and her psychiatrist (Gary Sinise). But when she meets a man (Dominic West) who says the same thing happened to him, their investigation churns up some disturbing revelations.
"Lost Girl: Season One" stars Anna Silk as a beautiful succubus straddling with worlds of humans and Fae. The Canadian supernatural / fantasy series, which borrows from such shows as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel," and "True Blood" without adding anything distinctive of its own, only recently arrived stateside on SyFy. But if you like your detectives with supernatural flourish, you might check it out. Reviewed on Videodrone here.