11 films you probably have not come across on Netflix

Do you ever feel like you spend more time scrolling than actually watching shows on Netflix? Three odd weeks (give or take) into the national lockdown, and you probably feel like you’ve watched everything that there is to possibly stream online. Maybe not. Here’s our picks.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

The Coen brothers’ six brief Western sketches blend bits and pieces of cinematic tropes, conventions, and clichés, including ones borrowed from a range of genres, from comedy and romantic lyricism to Gothic horror. All centered around a common theme: the relentless cruelty, wanton violence, deadly recklessness, and cavalier abuses of unchecked power that prevailed in the thinly and casually governed Wild West. 

The Laundromat (2019)

A tale of international money laundering and its effect on local business, politics, and family life which includes some startlingly comedic sequences, as well as a few dazzling performances (starting with that of Meryl Streep). An account of the phenomena of financial power and abuse, as well as of the grand-scale greed and petty venality, the brazen deceit and endemic indifference on which they run that exist as a sort of deep yet ubiquitous undercurrent of modern life. We’re hooked. 

Imperial Dreams (2014)

A tense drama about a young black writer’s struggle with the Kafkaesque nightmare of the carceral system and its long reach into family life. A young father returns home from jail eager to care for his son and become a writer, but crime, poverty and a flawed system threaten his plans. 

Shirkers (2018)

The title of Sandi Tan’s feature refers both to this documentary and to the freewheeling, independent science-fiction film that she and friends shot as teenagers in Singapore in 1992. This is the troubling story of its incompletion is the mystery that the filmmaker probes. *forgets to eat the popcorn out of anticipation

The Other Side of the Wind (2018)

Orson Welles’s last dramatic feature, shot between 1970 and 1976 and recently completed by a consortium of experts, is a tautly scripted settling of scores – with Hollywood, history, and, above all, himself. It’s a mockumentary – a posthumous reconstruction of the last day in the life of a seventy-year-old director, Jake Hannaford, who’s struggling to complete a film without studio backing. A must-watch.

Big Fish (2003)

From scissorhanded misfits to headless horsemen, nuances in Tim Burton’s work have almost certainly revealed that real life is frankly not good enough and needs embellishing. Will Bloom returns home to care for his dying father, who had a penchant for telling unbelievable stories. Funny and feel-good with strains of sadness and regret around the edges, Big Fish is an entertaining synthesis of Burton’s trademark quirkiness and a touching family drama. 

Fracture (2007)

We’re die-hard Anthony Hopkins fans, no really. Fracture is high up there in Hopkins’ repertoire – cunning, clever, cold-blooded, yet beautifully cold-blooded. Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) is accused of the attempted murder of his wife. He is locked in a battle of wits with a young assistant district attorney who thought the case was open and shut. 

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017)

Adam Sandler plays a recently divorced man (as he tends to do) called Danny. Danny moves in with his father (Dustin Hoffman) who himself is dealing with feelings of failure. Grudges and rivalries arise as Danny and his siblings contend with their prickly artist father and his fading legacy. Their family dynamics are portrayed in a beautiful and sometimes moving way. With A-listers like Dustin Hoffman and Ben Stiller, we were lining up.

Virunga (2014)

A documentary that is reminiscent of a thriller. Beautifully shot in Virunga National Park in the Eastern Congo, the story focuses on the struggles between Park Rangers and a list of adversaries including poachers, oil company goons, and an Islamic revolutionary army. The stories of the endangered gorillas and the people who struggle to protect them will break your heart and at the same time give you hope in humanity.

Room (2015)

An exploration of the complex and loving relationship between a mother and her son – uplifting, disturbing, provocative, sad, and hopeful among many other things. A kidnapped girl (Brie Larson) has a son with her abductor and tries to provide a “normal” environment for the kid in the room where they’re being held captive, until they attempt to escape. Brie Larson won an Oscar for Best Actress in Room, so we had to check it out. 

How to Change the World (2015)

A tale of inspired activism exploring Greenpeace’s early tribulations: idealism vs. anarchy, social movement vs. organisational structure (or lack thereof) and leadership vs. disunity. In the 1970s, a group of activists gathered to protest nuclear testing, and formed the iconic Greenpeace environmental organisation. A compelling and educational viewing experience, to say the least.

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