Streaming Surprises, Volume 15

Our “Streaming Surprises” series calls attention to good movies new and old. Titles are available from various streaming services.

“Revolting Rhymes, Part 2” (2017)
Revolting Rhymes is a computer-animated adaptation of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake’s classic children’s book which presents a mischievousness re-interpretation of six well-known fairy tales including Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood. “Part One” was featured at our February screening of the Oscar-nominated short films and it left the audience mouth agape and on the edge of their seats with a cliffhanger ending. But fear not, “Part One” and “Part Two” are available for streaming on Netflix. A UK production animated by South African studio Triggerfish, it marks the first animated film nominated from the continent of Africa. The film was originally produced for the BBC and aired in December 2016. It has already won numerous awards, but now has its sights set on the biggest – the Academy Award. Submitted by Bryan Harley. Available on Netflix.

“Mudbound” (2017)
It can be easy to overlook Netflix films, which circumvent the traditional theater route and get less attention than Netflix’s Super Bowl PR stunts. At least Mudbound is getting plenty of rightful award attention, most notably for its cinematographer, Rachel Morrison, who is the first female director of photography to receive an Oscar nomination. Mudbound’s color scheme and gritty feel echoes its harsh, yet moving story. The film’s images seem to evoke Dorothea Lange Depression-era photography and one main character even resembles the “Migrant Mother.” Things are not always dark and dreary, there are frequent pops of lush green farm vegetation amid the mud-stained clothes and dusty roads. Mudbound’s premise starts simple: two World War Two veterans, one black and one white, return home to two completely different worlds and each must confront their traumas and the threats at home. This home, a divided rural Mississippi, will test both men with conflicts of prejudice, family, poverty, and friendship. While it can be hard to watch, it feels more important than ever to remember our shared history and reflect on related stories of struggle and triumph. Submitted by Cassandra Ruby. Available on Netflix.

“The Trip to Spain” (2017)
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon reunite for a third film (“The Trip” 2010, and “The Trip to Italy” 2014 – also available on Netflix) chronicling their trips to fine eateries across Europe. One isn’t required to have seen the first two to enjoy the sharp (and largely improvised) humor in the constant back and forth between Coogan and Brydon, here playing fictionalized versions of themselves but still with their real credits — Coogan mentions, for example, quite frequently as Brydon criticizes, his real-life Oscar nominations for writing and producing the film “Philomena”. The film is an enjoyable series of hilarious conversations between the two actors, who play off each other perfectly, often competing with one another to do the best impression of the likes of Mick Jagger, Michael Caine, David Bowie, Marlon Brando, and the list goes on and on. As does Brydon’s impression of Roger Moore in one hilariously tense moment as Coogan gets increasingly frustrated with Brydon’s Moore interrupting his history lesson of the Moors. But the film is not just a one-course meal of spot-on impressions and witty banter over tapas. Coogan does exhibit some fine acting (even if he is just playing himself), as his vain “character” deals with getting older and dreams of things that could have been. Submitted by Justus Bier-Stanberry. Available on Netflix.