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An underrated gangster tale and a Ben Affleck tour-de-force: This week’s best and biggest on Netflix

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

Cradle 2 The Grave

Everyone has a few movies they're embarrassed to say they truly enjoy, and this is one of them for me.

Director Andrzej Bartkowiak's little crime thriller is absolutely nothing special, but I've enjoyed every viewing since 2003.

It follows a jewel thief on the brink of chaos who must try to rescue his kidnapped daughter from someone intent on nabbing his latest stolen goods.

The late DMX proved he had charisma and star power here, and the film knows just the kind of B-movie it is.

He and Jet Li go toe-to-toe, with an eclectic cast of actors including Mark Dacascos, Anthony Anderson, Gabrielle Union, Kelly Hu, and even Tom Arnold on board.

It's silly, rollicking entertainment, and it knows it. For a guilty pleasure good time, look no further.

3.5/5 Stars

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel is brought to glimmering light once again in this showy adaptation.

With Oscar-winning Costume Design and Production Design, it's a beautiful affair on the kind of grand scale most filmmakers could only dream of.

But Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann has a habit of being the showiest one in any group, and he gleefully pulls his former Romeo + Juliet leading man into this one with him.

He and Leonardo DiCaprio once again make magic, and Leo shines as the intense, bold Jay Gatsby. The millionaire entrances neighbour Nick – a writer and Wall Street guy – and the two form a new, enticing bond. But there's more to Gatsby than meets the eye.

Tobey Maguire and DiCaprio – real-life best friends – have incredible chemistry here, and both Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton round out this fabulous, winning cast.

It's a great, bold adaptation, even if it misses the mark on a few smaller levels.

4/5 Stars

Gangster Squad

Somehow, this one was almost entirely ignored at the box-office and maligned by critics upon release. I'm still not sure I understand why, even almost a decade later.

The movie – set in 1949 L.A. -- follows the exploits of notorious gangster Mickey Cohen, who runs things. But Sergeant John O'Mara leads a team of cops against the mobsters in the city in an effort to take back his town.

Based on Paul Lieberman's book of the same name, it's a wildly entertaining thrill-ride that never quite caught on.

Despite fantastic director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) on board, it just didn't stick, despite incredible costume design, great visuals and wonderful acting,

Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin and Giovanni Ribisi make up a dream cast, and if you missed it upon release, I think you need to give this one a shot.

3.5/5 Stars

Argo

I can't be the only one still upset Ben Affleck didn't receive an Oscar nomination for either his acting or directing in this one.

He goes all-in here, and earned an Oscar for producing the Best Picture winner about one of the craziest true stories I've ever heard.

Argo follows a CIA Agent who goes undercover as a Hollywood producer to rescue Americans in Tehran during the U.S. Hostage crisis in 1979 in Iran.

Affleck directs his best movie ever, and the screenplay by Chris Terrio is fabulous.

Nominated for seven Oscars, it won Best Picture, Best Writing and Best Film Editing, and deserved them all.

Affleck, Bryan Cranston, nominee Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber and Kyle Chandler make up part of a huge ensemble that blew me away.

It's a film that still somehow feels underrated, and one of my favourites of the last decade.

4.5/5 Stars

Prisoners (On January 16th)

One of the top five films of the 2010s, Prisoners is a disturbing, terrifying and transfixing movie that was largely ignored by the Academy Awards.

It has endured to become a major cult classic and critic favourite over the last nine years.

Directed by Dune auteur Denis Vileneuve, it's an expertly plotted crime picture that will have you on the edge of your seat.

When two little girls go missing, a father goes vigilante-style to find them and throw down his own brand of justice on the man he suspects took his child.

The screenplay from Aaron Guzikowski is top-notch, and full of intense twists and turns.

Hugh Jackman gives a career-best turn here, and deserved an Oscar nomination. He's joined by Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Dylan Minnette and an absolutely terrifying Paul Dano.

Once you see it, it will be impossible to forget Prisoners.

4.5/5 Stars

Jordan Parker's weekly film reviews can be found on his blog, Parker & The Picture Shows.



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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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