Every week at Movie Mezzanine, we pick some of the best films currently on Netflix Instant. Whether they are big releases or hidden gems, these movies make your subscription worth the price. From each library we select one Newly Added film, one Catalog Title and one Expiring Title for your viewing pleasure. Read on for this week’s picks.
New Title: Four Lions (Christopher Morris, 2010)
A comedy about suicide bombers cannot help but come off as too-precious offensiveness, but Christopher Morris’ Four Lions is not only one of the funnier comedies of recent years, but one of the most melancholic. Its view of clumsy but radicalized British Muslims spending more time looking for selective passages in the Koran to justify themselves than they do in planning their attacks reads as broad farce, but the sense of hopelessness that creeps into the men’s faces as they realize past the point of no return the cost of their extremism is vaguely tragic. Religious fundamentalists may get the brunt of Morris’ humor, but the writer-director is equally considerate of the sloppy, destructive means of combatting such violence, reactions that often do more harm than good. — Jake Cole
Catalogue Title: The Invisible Man (James Whale, 1933)
James Whale emerged from the Pre-Code era as the preeminent horror director in Hollywood alongside Tod Browning. Frankenstein and its superior sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, showed a capacity for patience, mood and tragedy that eludes most horror cinema to this day. The Invisible Man sometimes acts like more of a showreel for this workman’s technical capacities. But what a sizzle reel, with pioneering wire effects, experimentally developed shots and some clever double work to handle its star’s intense claustrophobia. Whale’s ‘30s films are as essential as Jacques Tourneur’s in the following decade, and The Invisible Man remains the best cinematic telling of H.G. Wells’ book. — Jake Cole
Catalogue Title: Ulzana’s Raid (Robert Aldrich, 1972)
I’ve not yet gotten to this revisionist Western, but it comes as a comfort to know some of Aldrich’s Instant-available movies survived the “Streampocalypse.” Aldrich’s meaty, unsparing style is perfect for a cowboys vs. Indians story as Vietnam parable, and the presence of Burt Lancaster, perhaps Old Hollywood’s most adventurous actor, only further bolsters confidence in it. Aldrich’s more blatant Cold War movie, Twilight’s Last Gleaming, teems with the same nihilism as his definitive noir Kiss Me Deadly, so to see his disgust with foreign policy at the height of its madness must be a terrifying thing, indeed. — Jake Cole