I had some free time this weekend and while I have a ton of stuff to catch up on in the world of movies and TV, I decided to sit down and watch a few new Netflix original movies that have come out over the last month. I really want Netflix to succeed in this department, despite Hollywood trying to come down on streaming services that are producing good movies. Last year saw Okja, Mudbound and more turn out pretty good while some were not very good at all. But that is no different than theatrical releases.
This weekend I watched three films: Anon, Kodachrome and Amateur. Here are my thoughts on all three.
First up was the sci-fi thriller Anon. I love Clive Owen as an actor and I am a pretty big fan of what director Andrew Niccol has done over time. Niccol wrote The Truman Show and The Terminal (both of which I liked) and also directed and wrote Gattaca, In Time and The Host (other movies I really liked). His latest is Anon with Owen and Amanda Seyfried (who was also in In Time).
The movie is set way in the future where everyone basically has an implant (or something in their head, it’s never really explained) that records everything and uploads it to the “Ether”, basically a cloud based service that allows the government to keep track of everything that happens and allow law enforcement to always be able to see through the eyes of victims and criminals. People do everything through this service from answering telephone calls (where they have to look into a mirror so the other person can see them) to texting and pretty much everything.
The movie follows a hacker who has started hacking into victim’s eyes and showing them the hackers eyes as the hacker then shoots the victim so the victim can’t see the hacker. I know, it sounds confusing. It’s basically a Black Mirror episode similar to “The Entire History of You” and “Nosedive”. It’s very Big Brother-ish. If you like sci-fi thrillers that keep you guessing, then you’ll probably like it. If you’ve liked Niccol’s other movies, then you’ll probably like it. If you don’t fall into those categories, you may want to stay away.
Next, I decided to take it down a notch and watch Kodachrome, a film by Mark Raso who I have never heard of before. It stars Jason Sudeikis as Matt, a record executive who is in danger of losing his job when he finds out his dad, Ben (Ed Harris), is dying of cancer. Ben is a world-famous photographer and wants to get a few rolls of old Kodachrome film developed in Kansas, which is a long drive, and Ben wants Matt to drive him even though Matt hates his dad for never being there when he was a kid. Ben also has an nurse/assistant named Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) who travels with them.
It follows the road trip between a father and son who aren’t necessarily on the best of terms, and while it is fairly predictable, it does a good job exploring the complicated relationship between father and son and the added tension between Zoe and Matt who have an attraction to one another. Despite it’s predictability, it still does a very good job and the acting is phenomenal, especially from Ed Harris. The entire thing is actually based off the true story of the final photo shop to ever develop Kodachrome film. There was a New York Times article that the whole thing was based off.
I highly recommend it and it is currently my second favorite film of the year to this point (behind Annihilation). This is what I’m glad to see Netflix produce with three actors I really like. It also does a good job of showing serious acting chops from Jason Sudeikis. Really the whole cast are in different places now but come together for a good movie like this: Sudeikis is still looked at as that SNL comedian who does funny roles, Ed Harris is best known for being the Man in Black on Westworld right now and Elizabeth Olsen is busy being Scarlet Witch in the Avengers.
This was one that looked interesting due to the time we’re living in where the entire basketball world is going up in flames. The movie follows 14-year old Terron Forte (Michael Rainey Jr.) as he gets recruited to a prep school and struggles to fit in with the school. It follows a lot of the themes we’re seeing these days in college athletics of apparel companies taking over, high schoolers getting pulled from classes and basketball just being a dirty game off the court in general. It’s all fictional, and I would have rather seen a documentary on the players who are actually going through this stuff right now. I assume we’ll get that soon enough.
While the movie is very timely, it falls flat overall. The movie tackles a few different issues on top of how crooked basketball is, including learning disabilities, how many of these players are taken advantage of by their parents when they are athletically talented and more. The ending is where it really fell flat, as basically no one learns a lesson. Not to spoil anything (even though I kind of am), but treating your kids the way LaVar Ball is isn’t exactly the right way to live life and no one learns anything from that.
If you want a timely basketball movie that follows all of the cliches of a typical sports movie, then go watch it. Overall, it just didn’t do much for me though. It’s still not the worst thing Netflix has put out this year though (looking at you Mute).