Time Out takes a look at the best classic movies on Netflix UAE right now, including comedy, drama, action, thriller, horror and more. See the trailers
By Time Out Dubai staff26 June 2016
Hands up who wishes they'd seen more Oscar-winning movies? Everyone, right? Well while the awesome documentaries and original series' grab all the headlines with Netflix, it's worth remembering there are plenty of classic movies on there, too.
So whether you want some 90s action, or some serious stuff from the 60s, there's plenty to sink your teeth into.
And with the streaming site expanding all the time, there's plenty to look forward to. But first, you better get cracking with this lot.
Zapping every disaster movie cliché with the cartoon subtlety of Mad magazine may be nothing more than cannibal glee, but it prompts enough convulsions of laughter in this wacky spoof from the Kentucky Fried Movie team for you not to notice their dead hand at work. Imagine the same old '50s airplane yarn: pilots poisoned, passengers panic, while a traumatised war-hero lands the jalopy. It should be disastrous. But psycho ground controllers (Stack and Bridges), laff-a-second pace, and bludgeoning innuendo make this the acceptable face of the locker-room satire.
Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is as good as the awards suggest: it’s big, it’s wild, yet it’s also restrained by the sparing talk of his character and framed by a film whose ambitions are bigger than his acting. It remains Anderson’s masterpiece, which is quite something considering his filmography boasts everything from Magnolia to Boogie Nights. Enthralling and intensely satisfying.
We begin down a hole. It’s 1898 in the Southern Californian desert and Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) is a lithe, daddy-long-legs of a man, a lone-gun silver prospector whose tools, as he scratches around in the dark, are a pickaxe, a rope, some dynamite and sheer will. The scene, like many in the film, is gruelling, elemental, horrific even.
He falls, breaks his leg and gains a limp that will stay with him for the rest of this bold, epic film. We hop forward to 1902, and Plainview is digging again, only now he’s on the hunt for something else: oil. He strikes black and brandishes his filthy hands to his accomplices. The dirt under his nails is a badge of honour, and one never to be removed; he wears it years later, even when he’s moping around a mansion, his mind driven loopy by success and paranoia.
Another hop and it’s 1911, and we reach the meat of the movie. A smarter Plainview, a fedora on his brow, is in the shadows of a meeting of folk in Little Boston, California on whose land he wants to dig. ‘I’m an oil man…’ he implores, the first noise we hear from his mouth, not a word wasted, barely a breath not invested in his success. His voice is simple but mellifluous, its stresses and dips unusual but alluring. It’s the first hint in this long, odd and stunning film that this character – this wicked creation, this symbol of a nation, this quiet monster – will lodge in your psyche long after the movie cuts dead on an ending that’s strange and sudden, irritating and pleasing.
On one level, Plainview is a pure businessman – ruthless, self-centred, adaptable. On another, he’s a mystery – rootless, unfathomable, silent. The questions roll off the screen. Does he care for his adopted son, HW (Dillon Freasier) or does he see him only as a useful face to have around during negotiations? Are we meant to root for Plainview’s individualist tendencies against the expansion of the Standard and Union oil companies? No – as soon as the film hints this is going to be the tale of an underdog, Plainview does something awful. Faceless, corporate behaviour begins to look benign. On yet another level, Plainview reflects, then and now, the power of the church; it’s a local pastor, Eli Sunday (a wily Paul Dano) who leads him to the loot. It’s the same pastor whose pockets he must line and beliefs he must embrace.
This is Paul Thomas Anderson’s foundation myth – taken from Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel ‘Oil!’, which in turn was inspired by men like Edward Doheny, the oil man who went from rags to riches and died in 1935 in the same mansion where Anderson shot his final scenes. Anderson’s story is precisely dated, stretching from 1898 to 1927, and mostly lingers around 1911 as Plainview builds a gushing derrick.
But the beginning of his film feels like the beginning of the world for all its sense that nothing came before. Anderson is arguing that this chasm in the earth, and similar chasms, were the birthplace of America. Little Boston becomes a theatre for his Genesis, or for Exodus, from which the film takes its name. It’s stressed by the primal buzz of Jonny Greenwood’s wonderful score that’s set to the film’s first image of a barren hillside.
Day-Lewis’s performance is as good as the awards suggest: it’s big, it’s wild, yet it’s also restrained by the sparing talk of his character and framed by a film whose ambitions are bigger than his acting. That Anderson, the film’s writer-director, whose ‘Boogie Nights’ was a riot but ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ both noble failures, has come to make this intelligent and enthralling masterpiece is both a little surprising and intensely satisfying.
Tackling Harper Lee's novel, Stanley Kramer would have hit us over the head with a hammer, so perhaps we can be grateful that Mulligan merely suffocates with righteousness.
The film sits somewhere between the bogus virtue of Kramer's The Defiant Ones and the poetry of Laughton's Night of the Hunter, combining racial intolerance with the nightmares of childhood, born out of Kennedy's stand on civil rights and Martin Luther King's marching.
In Alabama in the early '30s, Peck is a Lincoln-like lawyer who defends a black (Peters) against a charge of rape, while loony-tune Duvall scares Peck's kids. It looks like a storybook of the Old South, with dappled sunlight and woodwormy porches, and Peck is everyone's favourite uncle.
But screenwriter Horton Foote does less well by Harper Lee's novel than Lillian Hellman did by Foote's The Chase for Arthur Penn. That movie really was a pressure-cooker; this one is always just off the boil.
In 1946 a young New England banker, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and sentenced to life at the Shawshank State Prison - twice over.
Quiet and introspective, he gradually strikes up a friendship with the prison 'fixer', Red (Morgan Freeman), and over the next two decades wins the trust of the governor and guards, but in his heart, he still yearns for freedom.
Darabont's adaptation of a Stephen King novella is a throwback to the kind of serious, literate drama Hollywood used to make (Birdman of Alcatraz, say) though the big spiritual resolution takes some swallowing - ditto the colour-blind relationships within the prison.
Against this weighs the pleasure of discovering a first-time director with evident respect for the intelligence of his audience, brave enough to let character details accumulate without recourse to the fast-forward button. Darabont plays the long game and wins: this is an engrossing, superbly acted yarn, while the Shawshank itself is a truly formidable mausoleum.
Truman Burbank is beginning to wise up. People seem to listen to him, but they never really connect; he feels trapped in a job he doesn't care about, a marriage he doesn't believe in, and a small island community he's never been able to leave.
It's as if his life has been pre-programmed from the start: as indeed it has, for Truman is the unwitting subject of television's most audacious experiment, a real-life soap following one man from birth to death.
When Truman (Jim Carrey) appeals to a higher power, he's actually addressing the show's omniscient creator/director, Christof (Ed Harris).
The best comedy since Groundhog Day - better, even, than that - this is more than just a savvy and ingenious satire on media saturation, it's a moving metaphysical fable. One movie you can pronounce a modern classic with absolute confidence.
A sprawling, discursive fresco: three stories bookended by a prologue and epilogue. In the first story, a mobster (John Travolta) is charged with looking after the irresponsible wife (Uma Thurman) of his vengeful boss. In the second, a washed-up boxer (Bruce Willis) tries to trick the Mob by failing to throw a fight. And in the third, two hitmen (Travolta and Samuel L Jackson) carry out a job, only to call on the services of a 'cleaner' (Harvey Keitel) when it gets messier than planned.
It's the way Tarantino embellishes and, finally, interlinks these old chestnuts that makes the film alternately exhilarating and frustrating. There's plenty of sharp, sassy, profane dialogue, and there are plenty of acute, funny references to pop culture, though the talk sometimes delays the action, and the references sometimes seem self-consciously arch.
And there are, too, the sudden lurches between humour and violence - shocking, but without moral depth. What writer/director Tarantino lacks, as yet, is the maturity to invest his work with anything that might provoke a heartfelt emotional response to his characters.
Serial killers and mismatched cops overcoming antagonism are seldom fresh, fruitful subjects for movies, but this exceptionally (and impressively) nasty thriller blends genres to grim and gripping effect.
Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt) are the detectives brought together when an obese corpse is discovered in a dismal apartment.
Mills, who with his wife (Gweneth Paltrow) has recently moved to the city from upstate, resents what he perceives as Somerset's patronising attitude; still, the older cop, about to retire and weary of crime and moral apathy, is unusually educated, as becomes clear when they find a second mutilated body and he insists his young partner start reading the likes of Milton, Chaucer and Dante. Somerset's theory? That a messianic murderer is perpetrating crimes to punish the Seven Deadly Sins - in which case there are five more to go.
The film's world is so shadowy, decaying and intentionally dated that one often wonders whether anyone involved has heard of electricity; at the same time, however, Somerset and Mills' slow voyage from claustrophobic murk into blinding light makes for a vivid dramatic metaphor.
Moreover, Fincher handles the violence with sensitivity, announcing its obscenity in spoken analyses and briefly glimpsed post mortem shots, but never showing the murderous acts themselves.
Investigating a bold armed robbery, which has left three security guards dead, LA cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), whose devotion to work is threatening his third marriage, follows a trail that leads him to suspect a gang of thieves headed by Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro). Trouble is, McCauley’s cunning is at least equal to Hanna’s, and that makes him a hard man to nail. It’s painstakingly detailed with enough characters, subplots and telling nuances to fill out half a dozen conventional thrillers.