Press Play? Netflix Instant Reviews: Starlet, Branded, 6 Souls, and ‘night Mother
“Press Play?” posts are mini-reviews of movies currently (as of the date posted) playing on Netflix Instant that may help you determine whether it’s worth a slot in your queue.
Starlet: Dree Hemingway stars as the starlet in question, though her dog is the one actually named Starlet and he’s pretty great in this too (without turning it into a cutesy precious dog movie). This is one of those short-story films: character-focused, atmospheric, it approaches tropes and assumptions then backs away and keeps it realistic. Some reviews of this movie were maddening because the reviewer got thrown off by the subtleties and interpreted this movie incorrectly, including the rather factual depiction of working in an industry. And I love that this is a first-time starring role for Besedka Johnson, who started her career at 85 and sadly died this past spring at 87. It’s hard to say too much without spoiling things that I think are best experienced by letting them play out at the pace of the movie, but I’m putting it first on my list because it’s probably been one of my favorites on Netflix Instant this summer, so yes, Add To Queue and hit play sooner rather than later. [4 Stars] Speaking of Hemingway, check out this interview with her mom, Mariel, done by Sloane Crosley for Interview Magazine.
Branded: Ugh. This movie started off with strong potential, but halfway through it just got kinda ridiculous, fell off the rails (the weirdo evil genius pulling the strings suddenly gets hit inexplicably hit by lightning?), and oh, it got stupidly fatphobic to boot, so I pretty much tuned out. But in case you were wondering, Leelee Sobieski still looks like Helen Hunt’s twin niece. [2 Stars]
6 Souls: Julianne Moore plays Dana Scully playing a forensic psychiatrist who has spent her life debunking Multiple Personality Disorder but her father tricks her into interviewing Jonathan Rhys Meyers, playing a creepy patient doing some unexplainable things (most noticeable cracking his neck back in some freakish ways when transforming between identities). It’s visually stylish, Moore looks great as usual and plays a good Scully, and while it tweaks a little something new into the genre, it’s mostly the same old thriller tricks, but still fun to watch and worth your time if you’re a thriller movie (and Julianne Moore) junkie like me. [3 stars]
‘night Mother: Kia referenced this in a conversation on Twitter right when I happened to be surfing around to find a movie to watch. I remember mention of the play years ago, but had never seen the movie, but lo and behold, there it was on Instant! Oh, and it stars Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft as mother and daughter? Yes, please! This film is a pretty straight interpretation of the play – they did add a few secondary actors but they are literally always kept in the yard and there are no close-ups of their interactions with the mother, the bulk of all the action and dialogue happens in their house between the two lead. This 1986 film based on a 1983 play has some powerful 80s fashion, house decorations, and references, but the reality of a stifled tiny life, the inability to articulate to family, the misunderstanding by said family to fully grasp ones experience of life and how it might differ from theirs – still holds true. If you’re a fan of Spacek and Bancroft and not turned off by straight adaption of plays-on-film, this is one of the better ones out there (unlike Carnage, the last one I watched which just felt too claustrophobic and circular and I swear my clothes reeked of Kate Winslet’s vomit afterwards).
More Netflix Instant reviews to come!