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A Bruce Willis sci-fi classic and Wahlberg’s big break: This week’s best and biggest on Netflix

Check out Jordan Parker's 'The week's best and biggest on Netflix' every Friday on HalifaxToday.ca
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Check out Jordan Parker's 'The week's best and biggest on Netflix' every Friday on HalifaxToday.ca.

12 Monkeys

Perhaps one of the most inventive, off-the-wall sci-fi movies ever made, 1995’s 12 Monkeys is a skillful, transcendent flick.

Starring an incredible Bruce Willis in fine form, he’s a convict sent back through time to find information about a man-made virus that’s wiping out the population in the present.

Terry Gilliam – one of the most brilliant auteurs in the business – gives his signature weirdness and flare to this dark spectacle.

Willis is awesome, Madeleine Stowe is wonderful, and a young Brad Pitt gives an Oscar-nominated supporting performance as mentally deranged Jeffrey.

With Oscar-nominated costume design and an incredible visual style, this one’s a keeper.

4/5 Stars

Funny People

One of the deepest films in the Judd Apatow catalogue comes in the form of this uneven, but intense dramedy.

The story of George Simmons, a once-revered comedian over the hill doing children’s movies is, in a sense, a cold, hard look at star Adam Sandler’s own career.

Kudos to Sandler for riffing on his own career here, and turning in a great performance. Writer-director Apatow makes a really, really in-depth film about George’s realization he has terminal cancer.

As he meets a young comedian and mentors him – and looks back on his bittersweet life – he begins to feel strange about what he’s done. But he wonders whether it’s too late to change things.

Sandler is revelatory, Seth Rogen shows range as the understudy, and Leslie Mann & Eric Bana make for some great support.

The film isn’t perfect, and it’s overlong, but it’s an ambitious work that deserves a gander.

3.5/5 Stars

The Jackal

In another Willis classic, an imprisoned IRA fighter is freed to help stop an assassin from his next assignment.

This is one of the better 1990's actioners in memory, and the cast is absolutely remarkable.

This riff on the 1970’s flick Day Of The Jackal sees Willis, Richard Gere – in an entirely uncharacteristic role – the legendary Sidney Poitier, J.K. Simmons and a very young Jack Black all come together, and it’s magic.

Lambasted upon release, it’s become more appreciated over time, and is a favourite for my father, brother and I to watch.

Director Michael Caton-Jones, who went on to make rotten fare like Basic Instinct 2 and City By The Sea, makes the best film of his career here. Not that the bar is high for him, but it’s lucky for us he stepped his game up.

Otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten this little gem.

4/5 Stars

Knocked Up

With all affection to The 40-Year-Old Virgin, it truly is Knocked Up that launched all the careers of people involved with it other than Steve Carrell.

Judd Apatow, mentioned above for Funny People, makes his absolute funniest film with this flick about a stoner partier Ben who had a one-night stand with young professional Alison.

They part ways never to see each other again, but when the unexpected pregnancy of Alison pulls them together, Ben has some growing up to do.

This is a sweet, funny, provocative and absolutely uproarious movie that made the careers of a slew of actors.

Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and more all catapulted into super-stardom following this flick.

It’s crass, it’s brash and unapologetic. But it’s also an absolute comedy classic that you won’t ever forget.

4.5/5 Stars

Boogie Nights

This story of a young man’s dealings in the California porn industry through the 1980s is a pleasure to behold.

Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson – who went on to direct There Will Be Blood, Phantom Thread and other hits – this marks only his second feature directorial effort.

This look at Dirk Diggler’s life is a wonderful display and so full of drama, comedy and intrigue.

Anderson writes an intense, scrappy screenplay, and Wahlberg gives a really wonderful performance. Watch out, though, for Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore, who both received Oscar noms here.

4.5/5 Stars

Jordan Parker's weekly film reviews can be found on his blog, give Parker & The Picture Shows.


About the Author: Jordan Parker

Jordan Parker is a freelance journalist and runs entertainment firm Parker PR. He's been a movie nerd since he was old enough to walk.
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