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A Tom Berenger B-movie bonanza and an Oscar-winning Churchill biopic: 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.

Arrival

This film is one of the most incredible sci-fi films of all-time, let alone the last decade.

Amy Adams is simply incredible as a linguist hired to work with the military in an effort to make contact with alien lifeforms who have dropped in on the earth in twelve spaceships all over the world.

As human and extra-terrestrial stories interconnect, director Denis Villeneuve’s film takes on one of the most touching, completely involving narratives in recent cinematic history.

Everyone, from Adams to Jeremy Renner as her former lover to military personnel Forest Whitaker is top of their game.

This is a film so good that it merits an almost-immediate re-watch, and you’ll love it more with every viewing.

5/5 Stars

Thunder Road

This one hit me hard, and I didn’t see it coming one bit.

Thunder Road is a pitch-black comedy about a decorated police officer in a small town who struggles to cope when his estranged mother and a messy divorce both collide into his life at the same time.

Director-writer-star Jim Cummings is quite simply magnetic here, and brings a level of sympathy to his strange, difficult character I didn’t think would be possible.

You both puzzle over his actions while unequivocally rooting for him, and it makes Thunder Road one of the great achievements of 2018.

4/5 Stars

The Bank Job

If you delve deep into Jason Statham’s filmography, you’ll find a trove of action hits, and butt-kicking odes to his gravitas.

But what you won’t find are a lot of films that use him for his acting talent and his depth. Besides Guy Ritchie vehicles, The Bank Job is your best bet at seeing Statham as a star who can do more than just drop kick bad guys.

The heist film about a hit on a London bank targeting safe deposit boxes is an awesome foray into the genre.

Co-starring Saffron Burrows, it’s a twist-a-minute thriller with one of the coolest endings I’ve ever seen.

This, to me, is Statham’s crowning achievement as a leading man, so take notice.

4/5 Stars

Darkest Hour

If we’re honest with each other, this Winston Churchill biopic makes the list for one reason only: Gary Oldman.

He completely embodies the gruff, rude and brilliant war-time British Prime Minister with so much vigour that we forget he’s acting.

The Oscar-winning role is worth seeing on its own, even if the film is pretty boiler plate. Set against Western Europe’s fight against Adolf Hitler during WWII, it’s a standard war film with an incredible performance at its centre.

Take that for what it is, but this drama lives and dies on Oldman, and for me, seeing him in action was worth every second.

3.5/5 Stars

The Substitute

The level to which you enjoy this movie will depend on your ability to deal with silliness and inane twists in the service of a good time at the movies.

I, for one, loved seeing Oscar nominee Tom Berenger absolutely raise hell as a retired mercenary who goes to his fiancee’s school undercover as a substitute teacher to sort out her class.

As Shale (who dubs himself Mr. Smith), he uses unruly tactics to get his students in line, and with the help of his old squad – including William Forsythe, Raymond Cruz and Luis Guzman – uncovers a drug smuggling ring run by the school gang.

With Marc Anthony (yes, former husband of Jennifer Lopez) playing a thug with neck tattoos, and former Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson as a corrupt principal, there’s some terrible writing to this flick.

But what it loses in coherence, it makes up for in action, thrills, and some really wonderful one-liners.

Think Road House in a school, and you know exactly what you’re in for. You’ll love it or hate it, but it was a whole lot of fun for me.

3.5/5 Stars

Jordan Parker's weekly film reviews can be found on his blog, 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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