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Steve Carell fronts hilarious new series and The Dude hits streaming: 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.

Big Lebowski

He may have won an Oscar for Crazy Heart, but Jeff Bridges was – and always will be – The Dude in the minds of discerning moviegoers.

An ambitious, light-spirited Joel and Ethan Coen film, as cerebral and funny as they come, The Big Lebowski is beloved in the film community.

Bridges and John Goodman come together as two hippies who hit a screwball-comedy style spin when The Dude is mistaken for a millionaire with his same name.

He goes on a quest for restitution for a rug he loves, and the men he bowls with join him on his journey. Is this a haywire, weird plot? Oh God yeah.

But Bridges, Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi and a fantastic, scene-stealing John Turturro make this film entirely worth it.

4/5 Stars

Empire

Since I was 13, I’ve felt Empire was one of the most underrated films I’ve ever seen. It’s sleek, stylish and the plot is fantastic.

It follows South Bronx drug dealer Victor Rosa who turns to Wall Street to make big bucks, much to the chagrin of those he loves on the street.

Directed by Franc. Reyes – also the scribe – who grew up in the South Bronx, and knows a little bit about the subject matter. He has done next to nothing since, and Empire was his debut feature, but I wish he had kept directing.

John Leguizamo takes a pretty incredible lead role here, and manages to make his mark. Denise Richards, rapper Fat Joe, and Peter Sarsgaard support the rest of the film. The former, in fact, gives some huge weight to the proceedings.

Empire is not an innovative film, but it’s a well-acted, entertaining, and frankly, enticing picture that did a whole lot with not a lot of budget. And it remains captivating.

3.5/5 Stars

Dante's Peak

At the height of his popularity, James Bond himself brought us one of the corniest, B-movie disaster pictures of all time.

But by God, it’s the type of charming film you’ll stop and watch every time you see it on cable TV.

When volcanologist Harry (Pierce Brosnan) – struck by grief – heads to a small town next to a long-dormant volcano, he raises warnings that Dante’s Peak may in fact blow.

Much like Chief Brody trying to warn the town in Jaws, he’s ignored by colleagues – and the politicians who want to keep tourists coming in.

The only person who believes him is Terminator 2 star Linda Hamilton, playing town mayor Rachel. The two endeavour to keep the town safe with the clock ticking, until the volcano breaks loose.

It’s a whole lot of fun – with memorable scenes and characters – but it’s sad director Roger Donaldson’s film suffers from special effects that have issues holding up 23 years later.

While films are products of technology and of the time, Dante’s Peak can’t be faulted too badly for the effects, but it’s definitely not a huge, heavy film. But if you’re looking for escapism, try this disaster-prone tourist town flick today.

3.5/5 Stars

Bird On A Wire

We’ve finally hit a point where Mel Gibson has paid his penance for his past transgressions. For years I didn’t watch any of his films – and I loved many – on principle.

But it makes me happy to get Braveheart, Payback, We Were Soldiers, Lethal Weapon and the litany of favourites back and feel good about it.

One film I re-watched recently was Bird On A Wire, reviled by critics in 1990, but an action film I think has stood the test of time.

A woman discovers the man who left her at the altar and disappeared is working in an auto garage, and has hundreds of questions.

What she doesn’t know is he is a relocated FBI informant who went under deep cover to keep himself – and those around him – safe. But those he turned on are out of prison and coming for him, and that’s where things get tricky.

Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn play the former loves, with lovely chemistry, and with villains David Carradine and Bill Duke on-board, it’s one high-flying adventure.

It’s fun, it’s entertaining and the whole final act is a heck of a ride. This is a truly great action film that I’ll go out on a limb with and recommend you see.

4/5 Stars

Space Force

The Office (U.S.) creators Steve Carell and Greg Daniels are back again with this hilarious Netflix show about the creation of Space Force, a new brand of the American armed services.

Part workplace-comedy, part satire, it doesn’t quite find the perfect balance all the time. But one thing is for sure: the cast is absolutely perfect.

From Steve Carell playing hard-nosed General Naird to John Malkovich as a scientist civilian, this is one of my favourite ensembles in years. Ben Schwartz, Fred Willard, Jimmy O. Yang, and Don Lake get special mentions.

The characters are fleshed out and well-drawn, and while the plot is kind of in the air and all over the place, the laughs you’ll get make up for it.

It has some work to do before it reaches Office levels, but this has some serious potential, and I pray it has another season to find its footing. Because this could be spectacular television.

4/5 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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