Stream Police: Running on Empty Edition
Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to another edition of Stream Police! I'll be your host John Lein, and after this week I'll have to sit down and watch about forty hours of Netflix junk to try and find another 10 hours worth of watchable content, because I am completely out of shows. The only thing still on my list is Hell on Wheels Season 4, and I've already suggested the show as a whole, so I'm wary of pointing you to it again just because the new season is out. Until then however, take a look at the eclectic dregs of my suggestion list.
The Bag Man
Starring the almost always entertaining John Cusack, lookin at you 2012 and The Raven, The Bag Man is one of those perfectly awesome films that only got released on a miniscule number of theaters. It's Cusack at his best, playing Jack, an emotionally distant, psychologically cynical, and morally gray professional criminal. He stars alongside characters such as Rebeca Da Costa's Seductress, Crispin Glover's nosey motel owner, Martin Klebba and Sticky Fingaz's pimps, and even Robert De Niro as a mob boss named Dragna.
When Jack is hired by Dragna to pick up a brief case and deliver it to a run down motel without looking in it, and wait there for Dragna to show up. However, it seems that everyone in the area knows what's in it and wants it, so this huge cast of oddly unsettling characters continues to make passes for the briefcase, and Jack has to protect it in order to earn a big pay out.
For Fans Of: Collateral, Identity, Grosse Point Blank, The Ice Harvest
The Road to El Dorado
I'm not sure how many of you remember this animated film from the big bad year of 2000 considering its box office failure. I certainly had, until I saw it pop up on the que of Netflix while I was searching for random junk to watch. Starring Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh as Tulio and Miguel, The Road to El Dorado follows the story of two petty criminals from Spain who stow away aboard a ship bound for the new world. On their arrival they discover that they may have a real map to the ancient city of gold, El Dorado itself. Upon their arrival they are greeted as gods, and while trying to use this mix up to their advantage and maintain the ruse, they find that there is more to life than money and power. The film also has performances by Rosie Perez, Armand Assante, Edward James Olmos, Jim Cummings, and Elton John as the Narrator.
With such a great cast, an interesting animation style, humorous writing, and a story that seems to usually lead to success in the animated film department, The Road to El Dorado should have been far more successful at the box office, and should be given another chance today if that's the sort of movie you're in to.
For Fans of: Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet, The Emperor's New Groove
Released in 2011, Ironclad is a not very historically accurate historical fiction in which mean King John of England, played by Paul Giamatti, hires an army of Danes, led by Vladimir Kulich's Captain Tiberius, to try and kill the nobles that made him sign the Magna Carta. At the same time, a rag tag group of English veterans is assigned the task of holding a single castle that functions as the key to the rest of England. These men, played by James Purefoy, Brian Cox, Derek Jacobi, Jason Flemyng, Mackenzie Crook, and others. The film has hints of Game of Thrones, The Magnificent Seven, and Vikings, though with what feels like a slightly smaller budget and a quicker shooting schedule.
The action scenes are more than entertaining, Paul Giamatti is as great as he always is, despite not really trying to a British accent. James Purefoy and Kate Mara play against each other well in the relationship forged under fire. Even the secondary characters each get one or two interesting scenes geared specifically toward them. If you can watch the film without worrying about the truth of it and simply enjoy the medieval combat and the character interactions, it's a more than entertaining little flick with which to while away the hours. There's also a sequel available on Netflix, though I haven't found the time to watch it yet.
For Fans of: Solomon Kane, Kingdom of Heaven, Vikings
The Big Lebowski
I was surprised to find that none of our other writers had suggested The Big Lebowski in a Stream Police before now, and if they did, I certainly couldn't spot it during my run through to try and proof for repetitions. The classic comedy from 1998 is one of the most widely known and well loved movies of the Coen Brother's entire collection. It's performances by John Goodman, Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, Julianna Moore, and a whole long list of other well know talent make it a constant parade of familiar faces in interesting roles. whether you've magically managed to not watch it, or more likley have seen it before, it's off beat sense of humor, it's signature Coen Brother's sense of style, and it's colorful plot lines make it a great Netflix choice.
For Fans of: Fargo, Snatch, The Coen Brothers
Once Upon a Time in the West
If you listen to our Kulturecasts, you'll have heard our episode on Once Upon a Time in the West and The Salvation. The two westerns are, according to the majority of our staff members on the cast, visually compelling character studies set in the hard world of the classical western mythos. Needless to say, the ones that disagree with that are wrong, and you shouldn't trust them. That being said, Once Upon a Time in the West isn't for everyone. It is, however, a classical western, oft referenced in modern films of the genre. Check it out if you're into westerns, and if you want to hear our more in depth thoughts about the film, check out our podcast.
For Fans of: Sergio Leone, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, For a Few Dollars More, Westerns