Scene from Dark. Explore!
At The Independent, we pride ourselves on bringing readers the latest and most up-to-date reviews of culture and the arts. In this issue, however, we depart from our usual mien to bring you some of Netflix’s hidden gems: the movies and shows buried so deep within your queue that they might as well have disappeared. I have taken the liberty of dredging those bilges and recovering the gems lost within. These are three of The Independent’s buried treasures.
The son of David Bowie made his directorial debut with sci-fi psychological thriller Moon. Duncan Jones tells the story of astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), who has spent three long years harvesting helium gas on the dark side of the Moon to solve Earth’s energy crisis and is making preparations to return to his loving wife and daughter on Earth. Savvy moviegoers might have already noticed that “loving wife and daughter far away” is cinematic shorthand for “something tragic is about to happen.”
Sure enough, a moon rover accident lands Sam in the moon base’s infirmary. Not long after, however, he discovers that the wreck of the rover contains another barely-conscious Sam Bell (also Sam Rockwell). As his doppelganger regains consciousness, Sam starts to realize that he is just one in a series of Sam Bells (Sam Rockwells) to be stranded on the dark side of the moon. And he has no idea why.
Aside from a computer voiced by a pre-disappointment Kevin Spacey, Moon is a minimalist, one-man play that delves into the psyche of a man who has either been alone for far too long, or who really is the subject of an insidious conspiracy. The incredible acting and paranoid, claustrophobic atmosphere make Moon a must-see for fans of sci-fi, existential horror, and psychological thrillers alike.
Welcome to Winden, Germany, a small town where the weather forecast is a 100% chance of rain and the nuclear reactor is always smoking in the background. The townsfolk are all either related to or cheating on each other, and everyone is equally fluent in German, English, and pimp-slap. A young boy has just gone missing in the caves, and a wormhole to the eighties has just opened underneath the power plant.
Often glibly described as “the German Stranger Things,” Dark is a hit-or-miss series for most viewers. The plot takes place across three time periods and six decades as characters age and time-travel, and even by time-travel standards, the storyline and relationships are extremely convoluted. On the other hand, half the appeal of Dark is that the writers tell nothing and show everything; the viewer is challenged to decipher and interpret for themselves. Beautifully shot, with scenery and soundtrack that ooze Bavarian grimness, Dark is no casual marathon, and should be reserved for viewers who want an austere, melancholic story that refuses to hold their hand.
The Bad Batch (2016)
A young woman (Suki Waterhouse) is abandoned in the feral desert wastelands outside of Texas, where she is quickly captured by, and loses a couple limbs to, a group of cannibal bodybuilders. Effecting her escape, she is taken in by a group of scavengers, and plots her revenge--vengeance which leads her to kill the wife and kidnap the daughter of Miami Man (Jason Momoa), the warlord artiste who imprisoned her.
If you ever wondered what daily life was like for the inhabitants of a Mad Max movie, The Bad Batch has your answer; it’s a gritty, brutal punk western told largely without dialogue. The story flows along lines drawn by stunning visuals and masterful camerawork. The pacing can drag somewhat, and its genre-bouncing inability to commit can be as much of a weakness as a strength, but its bizarre, eclectic vision shines through--even if it sometimes tries much too hard to be bizarre and eclectic.
Starring Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey of all people, with a soundtrack that bounces from Die Antwoord to Boy George, The Bad Batch is a dark, twisted, and wholly bizarre film most definitely not suited for minors. More than just grindhouse — though it most certainly takes its cues from the genre — The Bad Batch is at once empowering, explicit, and more than a little disgusting. Fans of grindhouse, Tarantino, and just good messed-up movies in general should bump The Bad Batch to the top of their Netflix queues.
PC: Walt3r / Flickr