5 Best New Movies On Netflix Instant Streaming
Still trying to figure out whether you’ll need to wear hiking boots, snow shoes, or Wellingtons before venturing outside? Weather is for suckers! Stay inside and fire up the TV for some home entertainment instead. Here are some of our picks for the best and most interesting offerings from Netflix streaming this month.
Finding Neverland (2004)
Before he became a weird, self-conscious parody of himself, Johnny Depp was a spry, sublimely talented actor who would seek out roles that were genuinely interesting to him. Playing Scottish author J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, was just such an opportunity. The film posits Barrie’s first meeting the Davies family, four children and a stunning widow (played by Kate Winslet), whom he would go on to befriend. Later, of course, he would be inspired by them to write his seminal children’s novel about a group of kids who don’t want to have to grow up. The performances are rich and nuanced and Marc Forster’s direction is steady and sound. It might not be a homerun, but it’s a solid base hit.
30 for 30: Of Miracles and Men (2015)
In this country, it’s known as the “Miracle on Ice,” the defeating of the Soviet Olympic hockey machine back in the Lake Placid games in 1980. It endures as one of the greatest and most surprising upsets in the history of organized sport, but for the Russian players, it’s been an embarrassing burden they’ve all had to endure in the four-and-a-half decades since that fateful night. Jonathan Hock’s excellent, probing documentary examines the players who were on the wrong side of the score that night and finds a fascinating group of men, many of whom warm and funny, as they reminisce about the night that forever changed the course of their lives, and everything they endured to get there in the first place.
Cesar Chavez (2014)
Biopics are usually guilty of trying to cram too much of a person’s life into an extremely narrow two-hour frame, using all sorts of cheap shortcuts to get to the “greatest hits” moments. In truth, Diego Luna’s film about the unlikely champion of civil rights and organized labor falls prey to some of those traps, but it does enough other things well to remain well worth watching. It helps to have someone as talented as Michael Peña in the lead role, but it’s also Chavez’ life story, culminating in his time as the head of the United Farm Workers union, which almost can’t help but be fascinating, even displayed as it is in brief, dramatized snippets.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
As far as kid’s movies go, anything that isn’t incessantly loud, blaring, fart-jokey, or thoroughly asinine is ahead of the game in my book. The first Dragon film was a welcome surprise, a warm, good-hearted tale about a boy and a fearsome dragon who became friends. The sequel, amazingly enough, follows suit, creating an eminently watchable fable about bridging differences and finding common ground. Would I not have a 9-year-old in tow, I’m not sure I would be going out of my way to see it, but if you are similarly burdened (joyfully! joyfully!), you could do much, much worse than cracking this one open. Featuring the considerable vocal talents of everyone from Cate Blanchett to Djimon Hounsou. (Available March 11th)
Life Itself (2014)
You might have mixed opinions about the late Roger Ebert, prolific film critic, TV personality, possessor of thumbs, but after watching Steve James’s moving documentary about Ebert’s life and painful death—he contracted cancer of the tongue and ultimately had to have the entire lower part of his face removed—you will most certainly come away with a great deal of respect for the man. In his later years, especially after he lost the ability to speak (and his sonorous voice was forever silenced), he seemed to become a great deal more humane, and his writing, always prolific, was deeper, richer, and more connected to his soul. A surprisingly engaging and emotionally fulfilling film, which is pretty much the best epitaph imaginable for him. (Available March 19th.)
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