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Thursday, October 30, 2014

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Netflix Pix: Picking the best new streaming releases

BY DAILY ARTS WRITERS

Published January 9, 2014

“American Psycho”

Not a lot of people like writer Bret Easton Ellis. His Twitter feed is an indigestible cesspool of hatred, he seems to enjoy defending his oftentimes borderline misogynistic attitude, and all in all, is the kind of guy who thinks he’s too cool to smile in photo-ops. He’s an asshole. And in “American Psycho,” now available for streaming on Netflix, that nihilistic asshole-ness is smeared across every scene, used masterfully by director Mary Harron to bring to light the twisted, materialistic world of the hyper-rich. The film follows Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street broker who doubles as a serial killer by night as he struggles — and fails — to control his addiction. Despite the film’s violence and gore, the most memorable aspect of “American Psycho” is Bateman’s creepy inability to separate himself from the sickening paranoia of normality.

“Amelie”

If you don’t like the bubbly, self-aware style that French Cinema tries to peddle these days, I get where you’re coming from. There simply isn’t enough conflict to hold our attention. Directors flip between sadness and comedy to maintain a lightness in attitude that starts to feel old only 30 minutes in. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of the genre until I saw “Amelie,” which Netflix made available for streaming this month. The film sticks to that recognizable “Frenchness,” but holds your attention by being genuinely funny. In addition, the love story holding the whole film together never feels belabored — it’s there in the margins to drive the plot forward, but takes second seat to the main theme: Amelie’s humorous attempt at coping with loneliness. It’s this heartfelt take on solitude that makes the film relatable and definitely worth checking out.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was only off the Netflix grid for a few months, but it felt like a lifetime. A dignified classic (albeit Mickey Rooney’s cartoonish parody of any and all Japanese stereotypes), Audrey Hepburn’s depiction of Holly Golightly will warm hearts and then unapologetically break them. Golightly, a young and beautiful New York socialite, spends her time pursuing wealthy men and hard liquor, appearing immune to her harsh reality of despondency, loneliness and (surprise!) alcoholism. The truth unravels as she befriends her new neighbor, writer Paul Varjak. As Golightly’s past reveals itself to Varjak, her personal life becomes increasingly chaotic and public, resulting in a climactic final scene full of everything you’d hope for in a Hollywood classic: rain, overdramatic kissing and the peak of a complicated relationship that in reality probably wouldn’t function past the end credits. A beautiful and poetic film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is back on Netflix for a reason, and more than deserving of a spot on your queue.


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