Netflix Queue: Hidden Gems
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For every time a person may consult Netflix for a classic re-watch of “Pulp Fiction,” there lies a hidden trove of entirely underrated yet satisfying film selections. Aside from the fact that Netflix still does not offer any of the four “Bloodsport” movies, the site offers an impressive collection of low-profile content. Calling all movie connoisseurs with an appetite for eclectic motion pictures, here lies a list of exciting films to diversify your Netflix palate.
For those who missed its screening at the Tulane University Film and Art Festival, “Tangerine” is shot solely using three iPhone 5s’s. The movie takes the viewer on a dizzying journey through the gritty streets of West Hollywood, as transgender prostitute Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) seeks vengeance upon her cheating boyfriend and pimp. Set on realizing a sense of justice, Sin-Dee and her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) pursue the sidewalks of the roughest neighborhoods in Tinseltown. From run-ins with the police and enough fistfighting to make “Fight Club” look like a PSA, “Tangerine” provides an adventure worth exploring.
Surprisingly, the fact that the entire movie was shot using an iPhone camera adds an appealing touch to the film’s cinematography. During scenes of action and turmoil, the camera’s limited quality and shakiness serve to heighten the plot’s intensity. Despite the limitations of the iPhone’s video-taking capacity, the movie’s visual appeal stands as one of its ultimate triumphs. The narrative unravels with a colorful edge as Sin-Dee and Alexandra move through scenes of neon graffiti, gloomy night clubs and shabby diners drenched in synthetic light.
Unlike a stereotypical “coming-of-age” flick, “Dope” rejects cliches and archetypes, instead opening up a frank dialogue on the issues of race and economic inequality in the United States. The film succeeds in developing original characters to facilitate this discussion. “Dope” follows high school senior Malcolm Adekanbi (Shameik Moore) and his best friends, Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), as they approach graduation, set to leave behind their lives in a poor suburb of Los Angeles. With a passion for ’90s hip-hop and a dream of attending Harvard, Malcolm exists as an anomaly from his peers.
All that he strives to achieve is challenged after a mix-up with the neighborhood drug cartel sends him on a wild escapade filled with drugs, music and crime. Whether Malcolm and his friends can outsmart the gang members who seek to manipulate them remains unknown. Contrary to the standard story arc that pins young protagonists as naive, the key players in “Dope” offer a refreshing change of scenery.
Perfect Sense: 3/5
On a rather unsuspecting afternoon in modern-day Scotland, hoards of individuals break out in uncontrollable bouts of crying. Shortly hereafter, their sense of smell is gone forever. In “Perfect Sense”, this phenomenon sweeps the world, all humans experiencing an intense emotional outbreak followed by the loss of one of their key senses. Meanwhile, Susan (Eva Green), an epidemiologist, and Michael (Ewan McGregor), a chef, find themselves falling in love amidst the chaos. As the two characters spiral towards a seemingly unstoppable state of total darkness, their relationship and resolve will face insurmountable odds.
Blow after blow, “Perfect Sense” is a painful display of people learning to live with the loss of their senses. Learning sign language, altering the taste of food — characters in the film seek endless ways to cope with a tragedy that will not quit. More grim than the other two films, the fascinating storyline of “Perfect Sense” calls into question the power of human compassion, connection and resilience.