What a disappointing month this turned out to be, if only due to frequent dips into the achingly torturous pool that is Netflix’s Instant selection. Be it my or my friend’s curiosity, I successfully streamed four titles in their entirety to no semblance of gratification, each occasion transitioning from quiet group viewing to screaming match without fail. In the end, we’re both to blame, however February wasn’t without its high(er) points as it indeed yielded two pleasantly surprising theatrical releases, of which you can read about below.
Where to begin? A frustratingly hyper-realistic take on the could-be perils of modern science gone wrong, the overachieving Shane Carruth’s crafted one of the more beguiling indie darlings of the past decade. Detached and engaging as it is, your attention spans and patience are tested in equal measure as Aaron and Abe endlessly (and meticulously) toil to keep their discovery under wraps and in check – an exercise that inevitably ends in failure as a hard-to-digest narrative twist plays out during the film’s final act. Refreshing? Sure, yet there’s a fine line between innovative and self-important when it comes to Primer‘s hard sci-fi trappings, and Carruth is sure to walk it from start to finish.
Breathing new life into the hackneyed, supernaturally-infused YA romance subgenre, Jonathan Levine adapts Isaac Marion’s novel of the same title with heart and finesse. Focusing on the witty, frequently conflicted R as a run-in with young Julie – and the consumption of her boyfriend’s brains – triggers a sense of romantic longing, the two soon strive to achieve equality for humans and zombies alike as a transformation is triggered within the latter. Benchmarked by insightful bouts of existential conflict and assured directorial quirks, Warm Bodies takes two steps in the right direction that imitators should strive to replicate.
A typically savvy and stylish effort from Soderbergh and previous collaborator Scott Z. Burns (Contagion), Side Effects uses its intelligence and timeliness to paint for us an agreeably taut thriller. With a first act setup that paves the way toward twists and turns aplenty, the film slowly but surely pulls the rug out from under you as it nears its stellar conclusion. Rarely faltering in the realm of mystery and intrigue, Side Effects is never not involving as a plausible backdrop and stellar performances echo throughout Soderbergh’s slick closing chapter of his illustrious career.
Other first time viewings (in alphabetical order):
Beautiful Creatures (LaGravenese, ’13)
Conan the Barbarian (Nispel, ’11)
A Good Day to Die Hard (Moore, ’13)
[REC] 3: Genesis (Plaza, ’12)
Sleeping Beauty (Leigh, ’11)
Total number of films watched (including re-watches): 9