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An underrated Denzel Washington thriller and Tom Cruise's best performance: This week’s best and biggest on Netflix

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Check out Jordan Parker's 'The week's best and biggest on Netflix' every Friday on CityNews Halifax.

The Last Shift

This Sundance selection is a slow-burn of a comedy, and it has more subtlety than your typical blockbuster.

Your lessons and ideals about the film are earned, and it doesn't spell things out. It's the thing about this one I liked most.

Stan is a lifelong, passionate fast food worker who is finally taking what little he's saved and retiring. He's set to move away to take care of his elderly mother.

His replacement, Jevon, is required to work to meet the terms of his probation, and the fish shack he meets Stan at is his last choice of employment.

Yet, despite their differences, the two form an unlikely bond. Each learns from the other in this bittersweet film.

Richard Jenkins effortlessly carries this one, even when the script falters. Writer-director Andrew Cohn creates a competent – if not dazzling – debut.

Young Shane Paul McGhie gives a promising turn, and hilarious supporting performances from Da'Vine Joy Randolph and Ed O'Neill help keep this one afloat.

It's not an incredible effort, but I did find myself reasonably entertained. The actors involved alone make it worth the 90 minute venture.

3.5/5 Stars

Love In The Villa

What can I say? I'm a sucker for a beautiful location and a rom-com.

Love In The Villa gave me everything I could desire and more. It's cuter than the average genre film, and has a winning cast.

Writer-director Mark Steven Johnson – whose resume includes Daredevil, Simon Birch, and the wonderful Love, Guaranteed – makes a capable film, and his actors infuse it with genuine charisma.

Vampire Diaries alum Kat Graham teams with Umbrella Academy star Tom Hopper, and they have a wonderful, breezy chemistry.

It follows two broken people who end up in a double-booked villa in Italy. They soon realize their inconvenience might just be fate. It's a funny, entirely-enjoyable film that delivers exactly what's expected of it.

I genuinely enjoyed this one, and it made me smile and chuckle more than a few times. If you like cheesy love stories, you'll truly enjoy this Netflix original.

4/5 Stars

The Little Things

The fact this beautiful little crime-noir got savaged by critics actually still bothers me over a year later.

Originally touted as perfect Oscar bait, many left The Little Things disappointed. I, however, loved it.

Writer-director John Lee Hancock – known best for The Highwaymen and The Blind Side – makes an intelligent, competent, and entertaining serial killer movie that didn't get its due.

The performances are sublime, from Denzel Washington's muted turn as a tortured detective to Rami Malek's interesting take on a hot-shot copper.

Jared Leto – nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award here – is entirely creepy as suspect Albert Sparma.

Criticized for not being inventive enough in its plot, I have to wonder what films these days aren't reminiscent of something else.

What this one does have going for it is a disquieting, film noir sensibility only heightened by the decision to not go blood-and-guts, full-tilt like many of its ilk do these days.

It's the little things that make this one soar, and I really hope you agree with me here.

4/5 Stars

The Dressmaker

This is a scathing little film, and one I saw during FIN years ago. I've never forgotten its impact on me.

Based on the novel by Rosalie Ham, this is a biting comedy-drama that is made even better by exceptional performances.

Kate Winslet shines as Tilly, who returns to her rural Australia town after years, draped in beautiful clothing. She introduces those in the town to her style, all while planning her revenge on those who did her wrong years prior.

Winslet is truly fabulous, and she's joined by suitably wonderful turns from Judy Davis and a career-best Liam Hemsworth. Hugo Weaving is also truly incredible here, in a turn that made me love him even more.

Director Jocelyn Moorhouse walked the line between comedy, drama and scathing satire perfectly, and this is one you just need to seek out.

4.5/5

Collateral

When you watch as many movies as I do, you sometimes have to wade through some pretty terrible content.

It's important to have a list of movies that, after sitting through some awful flicks, can renew your faith in great cinema.

Collateral is a captivating crime-thriller that I've come back to again and again for more than 15 years.

It follows cab driver Max, a man who dreams of a different, more impactful life. He picks up Vincent, who offers him a large sum of cash to be his personal driver for the night.

Max accepts, but comes to regret his choice when he realizes he's become a getaway driver for a contract killer.

Director Michael Mann makes a film that's better than anything else he's ever touched – excluding classic bank robbery film Heat.

Jamie Foxx nabbed an Oscar nomination for playing cab driver Max, and Tom Cruise gives what I feel is his best turn ever as cold-blooded Vincent. The two have undeniable chemistry together.

They're joined by a wonderful ensemble that includes Jada Pinkett Smith, Javier Bardem, Bruce McGill, Mark Ruffalo and Peter Berg.

I absolutely love everything about this film, and return to it at least twice a year religiously.

4.5/5 Stars




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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