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The Byrdes are back and a great modern sci-fi flick: 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.

Freaks

This incredible sci-fi adventure is a claustrophobic and mind-bending as they come in the genre.

Following a young girl who is trapped in her home by her father – intent on the idea that there is a war going on out his front door --  she becomes free and comes to figure out the outside world for herself.

But not everything is always as it seems, and the girl has powers that seemingly bend reality. This is one of those films anchored by beautiful, eclectic performances, like those from father Emile Hirsch and strange ice cream vendor Bruce Dern.

But it’s young Lexy Kolker who makes the entire movie. This is a taut, well-directed, truly enviable sci-fi feat.

4/5 Stars

Otherhood

This Netflix original comedy about three mothers who feel left behind by their adult sons is a hilarious – if ultimately forgettable – little gem.

Starring Angela Bassett, the ever-entertaining Patricia Arquette and Felicity Huffman, the three women have dynamite chemistry, and it’s the way they play off each other that ultimately makes this work.

The mothers push their sons – all nearly 30 – to form better, more connected bonds, and realize their kids keep more from them than they realized.

Underneath the genre tropes is a pretty interesting take on parents’ expectations of their kids, and the way their children, in turn, handle those pressures.

There’s more here than meets the eye, and it’s perfect escapism.

3.5/5 Stars

The Parts You Lose

Reviled and shrugged over at SXSW last year, I actually found this little crime drama to be wholly entertaining.

Aaron Paul has had a rough go finding roles to suit his talents since Breaking Bad ended, but he is given a fair amount to work with here. As an injured fugitive hiding in a family barn post-robbery, he befriends a young boy.

He and the boy form a bond – and begin to depend on each other – as Paul’s character evades detection in a small North Dakota town, where police are bent on finding him.

With strong performances by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Scoot McNairy especially, it’s a formula film that allows its performers to breathe and chew the scenery.

4/5 Stars

The Saint        

This little film about thievery and espionage has become something of a cult classic over the years.

The Val Kilmer vehicle was a perfect showcase for the actor – giving him different wigs, accents and personas – and allowing him to flex his action muscles.

He’s perfectly suited here as Simon Templar, who steals the plans for cold fusion, putting him in the crosshairs of someone trying to take down the Russian government.

Of course, there’s a woman to complicate it all – and Elisabeth Shue in 1997 is a pretty fantastic actress and distraction to match Kilmer.

This is one of those movies that has aged incredibly well and is still a major action force.

4/5 Stars

Ozark

Everyone’s favourite everyday crime family is back in this stirring Netflix original’s third season.

The Byrdes are just falling deeper in with the cartel as they continue to launder money in the small Ozarks, but where season two treaded water, this third outing ups the ante considering, finding ways to plausibly put the Byrdes in more and more peril.

Part crime show, part family drama, it works best when the two mix together to create the ultimate conflict. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney spar as husband and wife, with two opposite ideas on how to best protect their family. But it’s their employee and hardly-model citizen Ruth who really is the showstopper.

Emmy-winning Julia Garner plays trailer-trash Ruth with a difficult exterior and inner vulnerability that’s impossible not to be fascinated by.

This season is the best since the back-half of season one, and shock and awe will leave you with your mouth gaping open more than once.

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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