Netflix Picks – 6th February 2015

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If you’re experiencing the ‘Nothing-to-Watch’ blues, and Netflix is your only saviour, then here are a few of our favourite things to watch right now!

Anime – Kill La Kill

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If the opening scene of a school boy being thrown across the school field by a 10ft superhuman school council member doesn’t grab you, then this probably isn’t for you. But if it does, then Kill La Kill will be your latest anime obsession. Ryuko Matoi is a wandering schoolgirl searching for her father’s killer, carrying around half of a giant scissor blade as a weapon. Her travels have led her to Honnōji Academy, a school dominated by a superhuman student council and led by the iron-fisted, unwavering Satsuki Kiryūin. It includes all the typical traits of anime that we know and love – over-the-top action, great comedy and interesting story lines – but also wavers from the norm as the story gets deeper, becoming a social commentary and a parody of anime’s over-sexualisation. With a narrative full of twists and turns, and well thought-out characters, Kill la Kill is a great way to get of those ‘nothing-to-watch’ blues.

Documentary – And the Oscar Goes To…

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Angelica Huston narrates this wonderful look into the history of the Academy Awards. The Oscars began in 1927, a very big year for film as the Jazz Singer (the first talking film) was also released, and the awards are now in their 87th year. With actors such as Tom Hanks (who is shown giving a very touching speech after winning his award for Philedelphia) and Jane Fonda, and directors including Jason Reitman and Steven Spielberg, the documentary provides a real in-depth look at some of the performances that have won over the years. It touches on political and social issues, such as Hattie McDaniel, the first black woman to receive an Oscar, winning in 1940, Marlon Brando refusing to accept his award, and the effects of Communism in the 1950s. And the Oscar Goes To… is an incredibly interesting watch for anyone that wants to delve that little bit deeper into the awards ceremony, and learn about the motives behind some of the great films and speeches.

Indie Hit – Frank

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Loosely based on the life of Frank Sidebottom – front-man of the Freshies in the late 1970s – Frank tells the story of a young musician, Jon, who joins a pop band with an eccentric leader. Michael Fassbender gives an incredible performance as Frank, the papier-mâché mask wearing front-man who invites Jon to join the group, after playing a, less than successful, performance. The film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Domhnall Gleeson, Scoot McNairy and Carla Azar (drummer of the band Autolux), playing their in-film musical concerts live, really proving their talent as all round performers. The film was very successful, winning awards for Best Screenplay and Best Score at the British Independent Film Awards and the Les Arcs European Cinema Festival, respectively. If you’re looking for a comedy-drama, some great music and a heartfelt, but slightly weird, story, then Frank is definitely a must-watch on Netflix.

You can read our Review for Frank Here.

Foreign Classic – Battle Royale

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This Japanese action thriller came out in 2000, but has established itself as a classic with its inspiration and critical acclaim. Based on the novel by Koushun Takami, Battle Royale has influenced films like the Hunger Games trilogy and Kill Bill. After a new act (the BR act) was installed to deal with unruly children, a group of middle school students are taken to a remote island and told by a former teacher, Kitano, that by the end of three days, there should only be one student left. As some students become unexpectedly violent, some start plotting a way to destroy the systems, and some try to forget that anything is even happening – Shuya Nanahara and Noriko Nakagawa team up with transfer student, Kawada, to stay alive. There are great performances from the young cast, especially considering that they all performed their own stunts. Battle Royale is a modern classic and marks Kinji Fukasaku’s last film.

Jenn Spiers

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