Tag Archives: Netflix

Should Movies Be Reviewed Subjectively or Objectively?

The lowest rung of humanity is populated by the couch critics, the apathetic advisors who, from a detached perch of safety, believe that every whim that breezes over their small minds, and every one of their witless arguments, ought to carry the same weight as the hard-won wisdom of those who are actually in the fight, whose minds have been sharpened with real-world experience, whose legends are being forged by action.

—Brendon Burchard, The Motivation Manifesto, p. 39

Who is qualified to review a movie? And what kind of review are they qualified to make?

Personally, I think it’s absolutely necessary to consider context before one reviews a movie. That is, who is the audience you’re reviewing the movie for?

If it’s simply Joe Public, then we should embrace subjectivity.

I think Netflix gets it totally right with its rating system:

***** “Loved it”
**** “Really liked it”
*** “Liked it”
** “Didn’t like it”
* “Hated it”

Beyond star or numerical ratings, your review should reflect on the experience you had as a viewer. Optionally, you could also discuss the quality of that experience with the goal of informing potentially like-minded people and helping them choose whether they might or might not have a similar experience.

“I enjoyed it, I hated it, it forced me to rethink my position on X, it scared me, it annoyed me, etc. And here’s why I feel that way.”

The ONLY time I think it’s worth talking about the “objective” quality of a movie is in the context of filmmaking and film history. And that’s a really small audience: Basically filmmakers, film students, and film historians.

And if the reviewer doesn’t have some pretty awesome credentials or experience in filmmaking or film history before he makes his “objective” proclamations, then he’s just a poser with a podium. Or a blog. 🙂

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31 Scary Movies for Halloween on Netflix Streaming

Curtis loves scary movies + Curtis loves October = Favorite month of the year!

Here’s an alphabetical list of 31 horror movies I recommend that are currently streaming on Netflix. So pick a movie, grab a pumpkin beer, and enjoy! [Note: I’ll be completing the descriptions over the next few days.]

The ABCs of Death: Anthology movies can be hit and miss, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone who said there are some misses in this collection, but overall I found it pretty darn creative and varied. With 26 short films, the key here is to take breaks whenever you start feeling fatigued.

The Bay: Think Jaws but instead of a giant shark, it’s something much smaller… and much grosser (in a good way).

Black Death: While my first viewing of this movie was an experience of “anticipointment,” it’s become one of my favorites that I revisit every year. It’s more about the horrors we visit on each other motivated by fear, dogma, and revenge.

The Cabin in the Woods [Review]: Man. This is one of those movies I want to strongly recommend but can’t really talk about without spoiling the fun of it all. Haven’t you been reading this blog long enough to just trust me? If not, I have two words for you: Joss Whedon.

Carrie (1976) [Review]: It’s hard to watch Carrie today without evoking current societal crises like the escalation of bullying and school shootings. Rewatching it recently for the first time in maybe 10 years, I felt the horror in a way I never have before.

Dream Home: Not to be confused with the awful Daniel Craig movie Dream House, this gory Hong Kong horror movie is the new face of the slasher genre. It’s the first movie I’ve seen in a long time that embraces the “inventive kills” of the early Friday the 13th movies.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010): This near-perfect “monster in the house” movie has that great Poltergeist mix of playful and spooky. And Katie Holmes can act!

The Evil Dead (1981): The classic “cabin in the woods” movie. Low budget in all the right ways. What’s it about? First, shame on you for not knowing. Second, it’s about the dead. And they’re evil. Duh.

The Frighteners: Some people would say The Lord of Rings trilogy. Others might go old school with Dead Alive or Meet the Feebles. But this brilliant horror comedy about a charlatan ghost-hunter (Michael J. Fox) who can actually see ghosts is my favorite Peter Jackson movie (inching out Heavenly Creatures). It pre-dates Scream, and I wish it got the attention that movie did (and I love Scream).

Funny Games (1997): A home invasion movie. I’m know I’m a little late to the party, but this movie was brilliant. So sadistic with a (Andy) Kaufmanian f*** you to the audience.

The Grey

The Host

Human Centipede II (Full Sequence): Two things struck me about this movie. First is how different this movie looks and feels from its predecessor—almost as if it were a totally different genre. Second is how it’s completely exploitative and over-the-top yet doesn’t have that shocking-for-the-sake-of-being-shocking feel of A Serbian Film, for example. The things you see in this movie you can’t unsee, so consider yourself warned.

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Kidnapped: Another home invasion movie, this time from Spain. Lots of interesting cinematography, supposedly comprised of just 12 long shots (similar to Children of Men in that regard). Unofficially “remade” in the US with Nic Cage and Nicole Kidman as Trespass.

Kill List [Review]: A former contract killer agrees to come out of retirement for one more job. On its face, it sounds like every other hit-man movie you’ve ever seen—which only belies the bizarre twists and turns that are to come.

Let the Right One In

Melancholia [Review]: Not a horror genre movie per se, but seriously, what’s more horrifying than our own inevitable doom, especially when there’s literally nowhere on earth that’s safe. Lars Von Trier can even make the apocalypse beautiful.

The Pact: I was pleasantly surprised by this indie horror film that mixes the slasher and ghost story sub-genres.

Paranormal Activity 3: There should be no more debate about the Paranormal Activity series. You either like the formula or you don’t. I do, and Paranormal Activity 3 learns all the lessons from the first two and executes the formula almost perfectly.

Piranha (1978): Surprisingly smart and suspenseful for a cheap B-movie that was made to exploit the success of Jaws.

Pontypool: A clever (yet imperfect) twist on the idea of what a “zombie” is. If you’re smart and you like idea movies, check this one out.

Quarantine 2: Terminal: I never bothered to see the first Quarantine because I’m such a big fan of the movie on which it is based, the Spanish [Rec], but this sequel strikes out on it’s own with an original story that moves the rage zombie action to a plane and airport. Totally watchable flick.

[Rec]³: Genesis: Speaking of [Rec], the second sequel ups the chaos to Dead Alive levels. This time rage zombies crash a wedding.

The Road (2009): Like Melancholia, the horror of The Road is more dramatic-based than what is typically called a horror movie. Only here, it’s not your own, but your child’s impending death that provides the context for horror.

Rosemary’s Baby

Scream: Some people like to blame Scream for the glut of awful horror movies that followed in its wake, but this slasher movie is smart, funny, and genuinely scary. That opening scene is sadistic and brutal in the best way. And the whodunnit ending paid off better than any other slasher movie I can think of, including the classics.

Scream 3: I know I may get a lot of shit for this one, but I found it to be a lot of fun. Yes, it jumps the shark, but the franchise needed that. I mean, Scream 2 was just bor-ing. And how can you not love Parker Posey and Courtney Cox scooby-doo-ing their way through the studio basement archives as the two Gale Weathers? Face it, you don’t enjoy this movie, you’re just no fun.

Severance: A company’s backwoods retreat goes backwoods bad. If you like subtle, dark humor give this movie a look.

The Tall Man: I know, I know, people trashed this movie big time. It’s more a thriller than the horror movie it was marketed as, but I enjoyed the many twists and turns, even if they are a bit unbelievable.

TimecrimesTimecrimes [Review]: Like with The Cabin in the Woods, it’s difficult to talk about Timecrimes without spoiling anything. And because I had such a great time watching this movie with no information about it other than the poster image and some positive buzz, I’d like to do my best to recreate that experience for you. “It’s smart, it’s scary, it’s funny! Wow, look at that cool poster!”

Trollhunter [Review]: A horrible idea for a movie. “I got it! Found footage and trolls!” But somehow it works. And boy, does it work!

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil: A brilliant spoof of the hillbilly horror subgenre! Made all the more watchable by the wonderful chemistry between the two leads.

The Woman: This a weird one. Capturing a wild woman and locking her in your basement like some bizarre family pet warrants all the punishment she will inevitably mete out.

Zodiac: This one gets under your skin like the very best true crime documentaries. The terror builds gradually like a setting sun, and before you know it, it’s pitch black and you’re all alone. Makes a great companion piece to Fincher’s Se7en.

[10/3/2013: Netflix just added Dressed to Kill, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, and Pumpkinhead.]

What did I miss? Any oversights that have you screaming at me through your computer screen? Hit me with comments to share your favorite movies for the Spooky Season!

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Timecrimes (2007)

(Streaming on Netflix as of 2/10/2012)

It’s really difficult to talk about Timecrimes (aka Los Cronocrímenes) without spoiling anything. And because I had such a great time watching this movie with no information about it other than the poster image and some positive buzz, I’d like to do my best to recreate that experience for you. So I’m going to break this review into 3 parts.

These first two paragraphs will simply express my enthusiasm and encourage you to see it before you read anything more about it. In the second section I will talk about it while doing my best not to reveal too much. And then the final section (below the spoiler warning) will be for people who have already seen the movie and want to know what I liked about it. So if you like foreign sci-fi movies and/or tend to share my tastes in film and/or are intrigued by the poster image that you see here, stop reading and go watch Timecrimes on Netflix right now.

Okay, now for the rest of you who aren’t totally convinced, let’s see what I can tell you. Maybe it’s easier to say what this movie is not:

  • It’s not a big budget thriller
  • It doesn’t have any big name actors
  • It doesn’t have an attractive, sexy lead character that we’re supposed to believe is a normal person
  • It doesn’t have elaborate set pieces

Sounds like a real piece of crap, right? If it doesn’t have any of that, then what does it have? It has intelligence, a sense of humor, solid acting and directing, and lots of surprises. And I think what I appreciated the most is that it doesn’t treat you like you’re stupid or not paying attention like lots of more popular Hollywood thrillers.

If you don’t want to risk spoilers, stop reading now. Otherwise… Continue reading

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The 100 Best Movies Streaming on Netflix

If you’re looking for something to watch on Netflix, Complex.com has compiled their list of the 100 Best Movies Streaming on Netflix Right Now.

You’ll find several of their selections reviewed here at Curtis Loves Movies, so it must be a good list.

Plus, for horror fans, there’s a good percentage of horror movies on this list. And not just mainstream stuff. Some of my favorite indie and foreign horror movies made the cut.


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13 Scary Movies for October!

[Updated on 10/25/2011]

In celebration of my favorite holiday and the month in which it falls, I’ve scoured through Netflix to pick out my top horror movie recommendations. If you’re looking for a Halloween movie experience, but don’t know what to watch, start with these. Continue reading

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Poll: What’s your favorite way to see movies?

Turns out there’s a “Polls” feature in WordPress! Who needs Facebook now?

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