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Funny games, creepy kids, lost rooms and Chinatown

It’s been a while since I reviewed some of the Netflix movies I’ve watched, so I thought I’d talk about a few memorable films I’ve seen in the past couple of years. (This is just a rental rundown and not the ones I’ve instantly viewed. I plan to revisit those later.)

f2119-70075477255b1255dFunny Games – After reading a review about this 2007 German remake a few years ago, I decided to check it out. “Funny Games” is a must-see psychological thriller, thoroughly tense and unsettling.

While vacationing, Anna (Naomi Watts) and George (Tim Roth) are visited by two young men whose genteel, “Eddie Haskell” demeanor soon fades, revealing the depth of their insanity.

Actors Michael Pitt, of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” who is frequently cast as “the intellectual psycho,” (i.e. 2002’s “Murder By Numbers”) and Brady Corbet hold the family hostage, playing tormenting mind games.

05973-70059619255b1255dJoshua – This 2007 “creepy kid” thriller is about an 8-year-old genius named Joshua (Jacob Kogan) who begins misbehaving after the birth of his baby sister. When his parents (Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga) bring the new baby home, jealous Joshua begins plotting against them.

Kogan performs well with Farmiga and Rockwell, who is becoming one of my favorite actors. Many will recognize Farmiga from her mom role in another creepy kid movie, 2009’s “Orphan.”

a4303-the_lost_room_dvd__large_The Lost Room – I’ve been a fan of Peter Krause since “Six Feet Under,” so when I heard about this six-episode, sci-fi mini-series, I decided to give it a try.

Detective Joe Miller (Krause) finds a mysterious key that will open any door, but what’s inside the door is always the same – a hotel room that is a portal to another dimension.

When his little girl (Elle Fanning) disappears inside the room, Miller is forced to find a way to get her back. He meets a number of people on the journey who secretly collect mystical objects from the room, like the key. Each object has its own unique power. But what exactly are the objects? And what is the room?

The series is intriguing until the disappointing conclusion that explains very little. Maybe the directors ran out of money and were forced to wrap things up as quickly as possible?

b5ee5-374030255b1255dChinatown – I watched this movie at the suggestion of a friend, who thought it was amazing. Considering all the awards it was nominated for and won, I guess she is right, but I agree with the reviewers who thought it was just “OK.”

This 1974 Roman Polanski film set in 1930s Los Angeles stars Jack Nicholson, a private detective investigating corruption in the city waterworks. He meets secretive femme fatale (Faye Dunaway).

I love vintage Nicholson, but the plot had so many twists and reveals that it seemed to struggle for attention. However, the cinematography and costume design were excellent.

f545f-60025348255b1255dSpun – The late Brittany Murphy received critical acclaim for this 2002 film about the world of meth that debuted in 2002 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Murphy and her meth king older boyfriend Mickey Rourke are two of the more memorable characters.

Netflix describes the film as “a fast-paced, hard-hitting drama that combines the gritty reality of drug addiction with occasional biting humor for an unforgettable look at frantic lives spinning out of control,” and I agree. In a sense, the movie is really unlike any other I’ve ever seen visually as it intentionally jumps around like the brain of a drug addict.

Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.



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