Movies, Netflix
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Netflix Recommendations: From Poland to North Korea

Ida

Directed by → Pawel Pawlikowski

Written by → Pawel Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Starring → Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzebuchowska

Synopsis → “Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation.”

Why I enjoyed it → If you can’t handle deeply depressing films, then Ida is not for you. But if you can, and you enjoy simple story telling and stunning cinematography, then you should give it a shot. Ida is one of the saddest movies I’ve seen in recent memory, but it is so well done that I found myself in complete awe of its beauty. It is unadorned on the surface, but vast in its emotional impact. The austere simplicity of the art direction and cinematography, spectacularly raw performances, and gut-wrenchingly sorrowful story that somehow remains hopeful, makes it one of the best films of 2013.

Inequality for All 

Directed by → Jacob Kornbluth

Synopsis → “A documentary that follows former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich as he looks to raise awareness of the country’s widening economic gap.”

Why I enjoyed it → Inequality for All is seriously eye-opening, educational, and entertaining. Robert Reich is a spectacular teacher; he explains a ton of complicated economic stuff in layman’s terms and is somehow still completely engaging. He shares extensive evidence of America’s widening wage gap and the facts are hard to argue against. Every American – whether they are a part of the 99% or not – should see this film in order to become more aware of the country’s current socio-economic climate.

Nebraska

Directed by → Alexander Payne

Written by → Bob Nelson

Starring → Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, and Bob Odenkirk

Synopsis → “An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.”

Why I enjoyed it → Each actor is perfect in their role. I am such a fan of Will Forte’s comedic work, and dark comedy suits his acting abilities exceedingly well. He and Dern have great chemistry as estranged father and son, and June Squibb is a hoot as the family’s no-nonsense matriarch. At its core Nebraska is quite sad, but it’s also funny, touching, honest, and beautifully shot.

The Interview

Directed by → Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

Written by → Dan Sterling (screenplay) / Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, and Dan Sterling (story)

Starring → James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Randall Park

Synopsis → “Dave Skylark and producer Aaron Rapaport run the celebrity tabloid show “Skylark Tonight.” When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission.”

Why I enjoyed it → If you’re looking for an intellectual comedy about the complexities of foreign relations, you must know that that’s not what you’re getting yourself into by watching The Interview. But even if I didn’t love Rogen and Goldberg’s brand of comedy, I’d still watch The Interview just to see what all the hullabaloo was about. It’s really quite amazing that this movie incited the devastating Sony hack and was literally yanked out of theaters because of terrorist threats, because it’s really just a dumb comedy. But I love dumb comedies, and I think they have an important place in American media, so I totally enjoyed it. After the film’s Christmas release at a few small independent theaters across the country, I was amazed to read reviews in which critics were surprised by the movie’s lack of nuanced political commentary. Did they know what they were watching? Did they not see This is the End? James Franco and Seth Rogen have a very particular on-screen chemistry, and Goldberg and Rogen’s sense of humor is distinctly immature, but worthy of its popularity. Don’t go into watching The Interview thinking that it deserved the over-seas backlash it received. It’s mainly just a lot of sex jokes, and a ton of fun.

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