It must be admitted: Netflix’s cinema offer is less and less exciting. The original catalog has somewhat frayed, events are rare, and it’s not certain supposedly prestigious additions that will be enough to make the whole thing sexier – sorry, but who subscribes to Netflix or keeps its subscription to see films by François Truffaut?
Fortunately, not everything is to be thrown away, and this is particularly the case with these five films, which, to varying degrees, raise the bar. And remember that Netflix, even if we often forget it, is not just a platform for consuming series.
“The top of the basket”, the rookie in the airlock
Adam Sandler’s career consists of a fascinating collection of peaks (Punch-drunk love, uncut gems) and large turnips (from Jack and Jill at The Ridiculous 6), this second category being much more extensive than the first. The top of the basket (Hustlein original version) joins the list of the actor’s best films, as well as that of the most interesting productions on basketball – alongside another Netflix film, high flying bird by Steven Soderbergh.
The plot is classic: a middle-aged recruiter, who was once promised a bright future as a player before ruining everything, tries everything to allow a street basketball player from Spain to join a team of NBA. The top of the basket is a high-flying sports film, which says very nice things about existence. Is there anything more important than a career? What is a successful life? There is a small side Creed in the film directed by Jeremiah Zagar. Except that if the actor (and basketball player of the Toronto Raptors) Juancho Hernangómez does not quite have the charisma of Michel C. Jordan, Adam Sandler is on the other hand ten times better than Sylvester Stallone.
A successful sports film is one that manages to provide as many thrills during the sequences taking place on the ground as in the in-between. Because basically, a sports career is certainly hours of effort, sometimes superhuman, but also a good dose of questions, doubts and pitfalls to avoid. Hustle perfectly lives up to this observation. Sandler’s eyes, clouded with fatigue and emotions of all kinds, do the rest.
“Spiderhead”, masked guinea pigs
This is a film that is good, stimulating through and through even if it is not perfect. Spiderhead is a devilishly clever film, without being a headache; he calmly unrolls his postulate, which is original to say the least, and it is truly a pleasure to attend such a spectacle. Welcome to the near future: in an institute located on an island, a scientist played by Chris Hemsworth (yes, and it’s very believable) is piloting an unprecedented experiment, whose guinea pigs are people sentenced to prison but preferring to make them useful – and also benefit from a not unpleasant semi-freedom.
Equipped with a box allowing them to inject substances from a distance, Jeff (Miles Teller, the hero of whiplash) and his comrades submit themselves to a series of experiments in which chemistry can cause them to become instantly talkative like magpies, overexcited like bonobos, or even depressed to the last degree. Are we heading for the Nobel Prize or for disaster? You probably have an idea of the answer.
Eminently witty, often funny despite its subject, Spiderhead is not even a very trying film – graphic violence is rare, and the gaze of Joseph Kosinski (director of the recent Top Gun: Maverick) is never complacent. Its somewhat predictable moral – better to work on yourself than to stick anything in your veins – in no way detracts from the quality of a feature film well above the average of the big productions recently offered by Netflix .
“I Came By”, the cellar rebels
After the very weird Woundstraumatic but indigestible thriller which will undoubtedly remain one of Armie Hammer’s last roles, Babak Anvari signs here his second film for Netflix. In I came bythe Anglo-Saxon director first focuses on two young graffiti artists who like to enter the homes of bourgeois families to tag “I came by” (“I went through there”).
For his first solo mission, one of them enters the home of a retired judge and discovers that his cellar is far from being used only to store bottles of wine. But when you have illegally entered the home of a man respected by all, it is difficult to make your voice heard. Surprise: this is all just the beginning. Babak Anvari and its co-screenwriter Namsi Khan have embroidered a plot full of swirls.
Not content to develop a nicely sticky atmosphere, I came by is distinguished by its refusal of concessions. It does not matter the status of this or that protagonist: if a tragic end must come prematurely, then it will come. Playing with mischievous ellipses and changes of point of view, the film has the charm of 1990s thrillers. In the chilling role of the ex-magistrate, Hugh Bonneville (one of the Downton Abbey) works wonders.
“Under his thumb”, the devil dresses up as mama
Here too, the charm of the nineties is not far away. First feature film by Spaniard Fran Torres, under his thumb oscillates between The Hand on the Cradle and Venom in the veins, two films about female rivalry and fertility. But it is first Devil wears Prada one thinks, since the film starts with the arrival of an ambitious but ingenuous young woman among the collaborators of a great lady of fashion.
Soon enough, the relationship between Sofía (Cumelen Sanz) and her boss Beatriz (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, seen recently at Almodovar) will go beyond the professional framework. One is pregnant but doesn’t want a baby or an abortion, and the other desperately dreams of being a mother. And it’s an improvised surrogacy that will be set up on completely rotten bases: agreeing not to go out for months so that no one knows that she is carrying a baby, Sofía will end up realizing that she is prisoner. In every sense of the term.
It would be a lie to assert that under his thumb is the film of the year; on the other hand, it emerges clearly victorious from the fight which opposes it to most of the thrillers recently proposed by Netflix, which recalled Hollywood Night TV movies offered by TF1 in the 1990s – if you’re too young to have experienced this era, know that no, it’s not a compliment. Convincing actresses, a well-established atmosphere, twists that hit the mark: here’s a perfect Saturday night show, and sometimes, that’s all you need.
“Day Shift”, vampires strike back
Forgiveness for the contempt, but when a stunt specialist goes to the realization, there is enough to have some cold sweats. And yet; for his first film, JJ Perry, 150 films to his credit as an action scene coordinator, is doing quite well. without being perfect, Day-Shift fulfills its mission: to renew the vampire film by giving it freshness and inventiveness. When it comes to entertainment, it’s pretty unstoppable.
Always as charismatic, Jamie Foxx embodies a Californian father working undercover: no, he is not really a pool maintenance specialist; his thing is to knock out vampires. In broad daylight. The opening sequence announces the color: Day-Shift is a true horror comedy, one of those that manages to make you laugh while lifting your heart. Because it is as loaded with valves as it is with scenes of fights, to say the least epic.
funny and sticky, Day-Shift does not skimp on the buddy movie either, since the hero, repeatedly warned by his employer for breaches of the regulations, is forced to embark with him a cowardly probation officer played by Dave Franco. The duo between the two men, which works extremely well, will not really evolve as planned – and the presence of a third thief played by Snoop Dogg injects even more madness. In the genre, we had perhaps not experienced so much pleasure since the first zombielandand that is extremely pleasing.