Movies/Entertainment,  Quick 5/Top 10

G-S-T Quick 5 – Netflix Recommendations That Surprised Me…Round 1

One of the thing I like about Netflix is their “Watch Instantly” feature. That way I can try a movie out with out waiting for the DVD to show up, so if it sucks, I haven’t wasted 2 days waiting for its arrival.  Anyway, after the successful viewing of Cashback (which I’ll write about below) I bought the compatible ROKU player (FYI: not a sales pitch) so I could transmit the signal to my TV. The also just released a workable disc for the Wii and both work fantastic!! So after some great viewings of films I would have otherwise never watched, I was so impressed with them after the film was over that I just went out and bought the DVD – Nice job Netfilx.

So anyway, here are the movies (and their trailers) which I saw on my Roku and ones I consider hidden gems. They’re a little off the path of mainstream films (probably because they don’t fit snugly in a participial genre) but as you will read they floored me with their own special quirks and flat out quality film making. In the coming weeks I’ll have more titles to recommend/suggest to you all, so stay tuned. But for now, here are the 5 that I have been most unexpectedly smitten with:


Cashback – I’m a sucker for British film as I prefer the subtle comedic timing of the Brits as opposed to the slapstick that seems to dominate American Cinema.  This film is about an art school kid who breaks up with his girlfriend, gets down about his life, takes a late night job at a supermarket and after suffering from insomnia, finds out he has the ability to stop time.  Weird premise I know because it sounds like I mixed up the plots of two different types of films, right?  Well, turns out this works in the films favor because you never really know which way the film is going to go. It’s kind of like a teenage version of Trainspotting. I promise you, even if you don’t like British films, this movie will surprise you.  Last note to the kids or parents at home: this film has a lot of nudity (from the top up) but it comes off as artistic. So watch the trailer, give the movie a try and let me know what you think.


Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon – I really didn’t know what to expect from this based on the description, but HOLY COW…this movie was incredible.  It was funny, it was very witty and the plot was downright genius. I don’t know why I didn’t hear about this earlier. The movie has a film crew following hopeful serial killer Leslie Vernon in his attempts to become as legendary as Freddy, Jason or Michael (who they elude to as actual people). It is amazing how in-depth he goes as to his grand idea, the stereotypical victims, his methodology, his mentors, the intense preparation and even how he picks his victim. As morbid as this may sound, this film is not violent and is absolutely hilarious.  The main character, played by newcomer Nathan Baesel is like a mix of Ryan Reynolds, and a less obnoxious Dane Cook. The movie takes a turn about 3/4 of the way through, but I’ll leave that for you all to discover.  Lastly, make sure you watch all the way through the credits.


OSS 117 – Cairo, Nest of Spies – If you love Sean Connery’s James Bond and Austin Powers…then you HAVE to see this movie. I don’t think I can do any justice to the movie by writing about the highs and lows (there are no lows BTW), so I’ll just tell you all to see this movie.  It is a French film so you have to read subtitles but you’ll find that you’ll have trouble reading them because you’re laughing so hard. He is half Inspector  Jacques Clouseau, half James Bond (and there are scenes where you’d think he was Sean Connery), and equal parts hilarious. I don’t want to give anything away which is why this entry is so short, but trust me, just go see this movie!! (P.S. Look for an Off the Shelf write-up coming very soon!)


Otis –  First off, I have to say that this movie does for films horror/suspense films (like Saw and Seven) what Shaun of the Dead did for the Zombie genre.  Again, had I seen this movie on the racks at a store, or under other circumstances I’d just have passed over it.  The premise of this movie may sound like a Leave It to Beaver version of Hostel, but this movie was just funnnnny! Now this is a bit of a stretch and people may or may not agree, but it kind of reminded me of how in Airplane it was so funny but they were still trying to play it serious. I think this movie worked for me because I wasn’t expecting it to be funny because the premise sounds a lot like The Last House on the Left. I liked The Devils Rejects and as much as I’m not into torture horror, I decided to give this movie a chance based on the recommendation. When it turned out to be a dark comedy, I was immediately on board and loved this movie for its quirkiness, it’s dry wit and goof-ball antics thrown in to turn serious moments into laugh riots.


Let the Right One In – This film got nothing but stellar reviews and very high praise, got great reviews but was a little skeptical because I didn’t like Nightwatch despite it getting amazing reviews. Now I’ll start by saying this was a veerrryyy slow movie that developed as it needed but didn’t lead to a massive “Hollywood” ending to make up for the slow pace. Instead they made it more about mood and the setting of the film (like most French or foreign film is known for). Since this was a quasi-horror film, I’d say it was comparable to a Hitchcock film or Twilight Zone short.

Without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it yet, I’ll just say it ended very well and with the ending you would have wanted to see.  Now I don’t think this movie was the “” as the quote that’s used to describe it, but it was very very good. Also, for those of you interested in seeing this movie, pay attention…PLEASE wait after the film ends (to where there are usually credits).  Just like the beginning of the film you will see a grey and dimly lit snow scene. Give it about 10-20 seconds, there will be one final scene…that is worth waiting for and adds just a bit more to this movie which I thoroughly enjoyed.


So that’s it for now. As I wrote above I’ll be up putting more titles as I plan this to be an up to suggest to you all as on-going series. I have quite a few more movies in my “Watch Instantly” Queue still to be seen. I am eager to see if those are nearly as good as the ones written above, but I can’t wait to find out. How about the rest of you? Do you have any film recommendations for films you found surprising?


  • Aiden R

    Let the Right One In is the bomb, need to watch that again before the American remake gets churned out, but I saw OSS in theaters and I thought that was pretty damn funny, too. That running gag with the chickens and him getting the massage from that German guy in the sauna were great. Well played, been meaning to check out Cashback for a while myself.

    • Marc

      I’m not really looking forward to the remake of Let the Right One In, but since Hit Girl is in it, it should be interesting to see how she plays a reserved brooding vampire rather than her foul mouthed assassin alter ego.

      OSS just makes me laugh more every time I see it. I wish all spoofs could be that smart. Also, I think you’ll like Cashback, but sadly I’ve found it didn’t live up to the first viewing…so enjoy it for all it’s worth Aiden:)

  • Castor

    Yea I agree that Let the Right One In was really slow building and there is never one of those Hollywood set action pieces. I enjoyed the movie. Made vampires a bit cooler after getting trashed by the Twilight franchise.

    • Marc

      True Twilight is blasphemous in what it has done to vampire lore. The good news is that it has created more interest in vampires in general, the bad news is the schlock that is being greenlit and rushed through production to ride this wave out. That results in some poor vampire films and TV shows. But again the good news is that amongst the bad, it makes theses already good ones look even better by comparison:P

  • Klaus

    “I didn’t like Nightwatch despite it getting amazing reviews”.

    Me either! I have friends can’t understand why I don’t get it. It’s not that I don’t like the genre. It’s just not that good.

    Let the Right One In – on the other hand is very very good! I’ve also read the novel by John Lindqvist, and highly recommend it.

    • Marc

      I’m on a bit of a reading kick and I think I’ll check it out Klaus, thanks for the heads up.

      And I will never see the sequel to Nightwatch because I simply am not a fan of the first. Glad to see I’m not alone:)

  • Klaus

    Cashback looks great – from your description, definitely worth a look. Have you read The Fermata (1994) by Nicholson Baker? Sounds like a loose adaptation – or at least inspired by it. The book is a crazy read! Someone *should* adapt it to film.

    • Marc

      Cashback is really funny despite the trailer making it look kinda serious. It still has it’s drama but the jokes are unexpected and just work. Interested to hear your thoughts!

  • Addicted to Films

    Saw Cashback and Night Watch a few years ago. Cashback was good. But Night Watch…it was one big incoherent mess to me. There was just too many stuff going on, too many others with all the supernatural powers…was thoroughly confused. I had initially planned on watching the trilogy, but after Night Watch…

    Now I greatly enjoyed Let the Right One In (I’m looking forward to Let Me In). I didn’t really mind the slowness of the movie…kinda required for the build up to the very satisfying ending. And Marc…you seem to be a fan of vampire movies…what then would you say is the “”.

    You know what…I’m so envious that you all get to watch movies instantly. I’ll probably watch tons of movies and not leave home if I were you. DVD rental by mail, is probably as good as it gets where I’m at.

    • Marc

      Glad to see we’re eye to eye on Night Watch…nuff said there:P

      I don’t think I know (or have an opinion on) what the I’ll have to get back to you on that. But I quite liked the pace of ‘Let the Right One In’ looking back on it.

      Do you not own a Wii, PS3, or X-Box? They stream Netflix. I think you might be able to start a Netflix account and then have a solely Instant Queue…although you can’t get new releases on Instant. But try Amazon for streamed new releases maybe??

  • Klaus

    Following your review, I watched Cashback last night and quite enjoyed it. It had a bit of a Donnie Darko look & feel, but without the menacing rabbit. I also briefly searched for any reference to Nicholson Baker’s book “The Fermata” – which, surprisingly, seems to be uncredited.

    • Marc

      Well I’d never heard of it, but you got me curious, it might be worth a look. I am just not a fan of Donnie Darko, but I really love this movie. Read your write up, and glad you enjoyed it!! Now, if you haven’t already, try OSS 117:)

  • mill1924

    Yes, yes, yes on Let the Right One In. Matt, who works on CyniCritics with me, forced me to watch it when he hadn’t seen it either. We weren’t really expecting a whole lot, but after Twilight craze and it being in subtitles, I was just like… no way. But it turned out to be one of my favorite films of 2008.

    • Marc

      I didn’t see it til late last year, so that makes me retort that it was one of my favorite movies of 09;)