By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 5, 2013 at 5:31PM
I used to post Netflix streaming offerings weekly late last year, but it's tough to keep up with it on a weekly, given how much else I have to handle. But I'll post when I can.
These arent all necessarily recommendations (although a few of them I do definitely recommend); consider it just an FYI - films we've talked about recently that are streaming on Netflix, that you might want to check out for yourselves.
Without further ado, here's this week's list:
1 - Sergio reminded you of Anna Lucasta a week or two ago. The play the film was based on, was written in 1936 by Philip Yordan, and was about a Polish family. It was later adapted by Abram Hill for American Negro Theater in New York. Yordan brought Hill’s adaptation to Broadway, where it ran for a record 957 performances at the Mansfield Theatre in 1944, and inspired two films, including the late-1950s version starring Eartha Kitt and Sammy Davis Jr. In the 1958 film, Eartha Kitt stars as waterfront prostitute Anna Lucasta, called back home by her greedy brother-in-law (Frederick O'Neal) to be married off to a moderately wealthy young man (Henry Scott). Anna spoils the brother-in-law's plans by falling in love with the young fellow and seeing to it that no one gets their mitts on his money. But a visitor from Anna's past (Sammy Davis Jr.) nearly wrecks the marriage, as her unforgiving father has his own vengeful plan in motion that would affect her future! Not a perfect film, but enchanting and a pretty big deal for the time it was made. I'd even say that, if made today, since we really haven't progressed all that much, it would still be a big deal today. No trailer, but here's a clip:
2 - Halle Berry's shark thriller Dark Tide, in which Ms Berry stars as a diving instructor who is drawn to close encounters with the White Sharks that rule the shores of the isolated island on which she lives. Olivier Martinez plays Halle’s husband in the movie, who chooses ambition over his wife’s safety in a split second encounter with the jaws that almost kills her, leading to their marriage nearly falling apart. She swears she'll never return to the waters after that incident, but, of course, she does, when a wealthy man and his son seek her expertise as a diver in those same shark infested waters. It's not a film that I can recommend. I did see it last year, and reviewed it on this site; let's just say that my reactions weren't positive. But you can now check it out for yourselves, and make your own decisions. So don't take my word for it. Trailer below:
3 - Directed by Neema Barnette, the second film in Pastor TD Jakes' Woman Thou Art Loosed! series, sub-titled On The Seventh Day, stars Blair Underwood, Sharon Leal, Nicole Beharie, and Pam Grier. On the Seventh Day, which premiered at the Pan African Film Festival last year year, had a limited theatrical release in April, via CodeBlack Entertainment and its partnership with AMC theaters, grossing around $1.2 million domestically. The film centers on a husband and wife who find themselves in the midst of a crisis, when their young daughter is kidnapped. The kidnapper is supposedly a serial killer who murders his victims "On the 7th Day," hence the title. As you'd expect, during their search for their daughter, secrets are revealed that put the marriage and their daughter's life in jeopardy. It's another film on this list that I personally can't recommend either. But, again, decide for yourselves and catch it as a streamer on Netflix.
4 - In Our Nature premiered at last year's SXSW Film Festival, and was released in theaters in the fall. Gabrielle Union co-stars in this indie dramedy alongside Jena Malone, Zach Gilford and John Slattery, which was directed by Brian Savelson, from his own screenplay. In Our Nature centers on the relationship between an estranged father and son. Thanks to a mistake in their schedules, the son brings his girlfriend to his father's vacation cottage, only to be later surprised when the father unexpectedly arrives with his own girlfriend, played by Gabrielle Union; and as you'd probably expect, things get weird and drama ensues. I saw the film when it premiered at SXSW, but, despite good performances, I wasn't especially moved by it. A marginal thumbs-up. The performances (over the story) saved it for me. Watch the new trailer below:
5 - It was nominated in the Best Animated Feature category at the 84th annual Academy Awards (it didn't win however). Chico & Rita, set in Cuba in 1948, follows Chico, a young piano player with big dreams, and Rita, a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and desire unite them as they chase their ambitions and each other from Havana to New York and Hollywood to Paris, in an epic story of love and heartbreak spanning six decades. Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba and Spain’s renowned artist and designer Javier Mariscal, are the creative minds behind the dazzling film, which features a great soundtrack by five-time Grammy-winning Cuban musician and composer Bebo Valdés, with the music of (and animated cameos by) jazz legends Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Chano Pozo, and others. You've got to see this one!! Chico & Rita received a limited theatrical release last year, earning more than $2.2 million at the box office, and while it didn't win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, it did take home the Best Animated Feature award at the European Film Awards, and was an audience favorite at the Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals. Here's its trailer as a refresher:
6 - In my review of Djo Tunda Wa Munga's crime drama, Viva Riva!, I highlighted the film's audacious depictions of the kind of orchestrated sexuality and violence rarely seen in African cinema (specifically cinema of the DRC - the Democratic Republic Of The Congo, where such scenes are taboo); a kind of "fuck-you" to the status quo in a country that hadn't seen a feature film produced in over 2 decades. So while it may not be as great a film as it aspires to be, see it if only for the reasons I just gave. It's a ground-breaking film from the DRC, and unlike any film from that country prior to it. If you didn't get a chance to see the film when it toured cities around the country (and it looks like many of you did not, since it only made $61,759 at the box office after 13 weeks in release), you now have a chance to do so from the comfort of your living room, as it's streaming on Netflix, just a few clicks away. In the film, Riva (Patsha Bay) is a small time operator who has just returned to his hometown of Kinshasa, Congo after a decade away with a major score: a fortune in hijacked gasoline. Wads of cash in hand and out for a good time, Riva is soon entranced by beautiful night club denizen Nora (Manie Malone), the kept woman of a local gangster (Diplome Amekindra). Into the mix comes an Angolan crime lord (Hoji Fortuna) relentlessly seeking the return of his stolen shipment of gasoline. Trailer below: