Struggling to find something good on Netflix you haven’t watched yet? Here are ten films new to the catalogue in September 2014, all critically assessed by our expert film team. Happy viewing!
Blue Is The Warmest Colour ★★★★★ ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’ is a minutely detailed, searingly erotic three-hour study of first lesbian love. Nothing about the film’s coming-of-age narrative, nor the rise and fall of its core romance, is intrinsically new or daring, yet director Abdellatif Kechiche’s freewheeling perspective on young desire is uncommon in its emotional maturity. Adèle Exarchopoulos, who plays the heroine, is nothing less than astonishing.
Café de Flore ★★★★☆ Love makes the world go round, but it can also turn your universe inside out. That much is clear in French-Canadian writer-director Jean-Marc Vallée’s time-skipping drama, which fuses passionate emotions with ecstatic filmmaking to startling effect.
Tiny Furniture ★★★★☆ Lena Dunham’s feature film predates ‘Girls’, although the material will feel familiar to fans of her TV series. Dunham plays a newly single recent graduate moving back to her mother’s upscale Manhattan pad; her kooky best friend is played by Jemima ‘Jessa from Girls’ Kirke; and Dunham’s pear-shaped frame is placed defiantly centre stage. Yet it’s a deft self-portrait of her bumbling misadventures, recalling early Woody Allen retooled for a new century.
Girl Rising ★★★★☆ All over the developing world, girls are often second-class citizens at best. Taking the form of a series of short films telling individual stories, ‘Girl Rising’ documents the situation from Peru to Ethiopia, Nepal to Cairo. The tone won’t be to everyone’s taste, often evoking a particularly well-meaning Coke advert. But it’s impossible to argue with the sentiments and churlish to suggest that any voice given to these powerless girls isn’t entirely worthwhile.
Muscle Shoals ★★★★☆ This engrossing documentary outlines the story of a tiny rural community whose recording studios delivered a remarkable output of classic recordings, from Aretha Franklin and Percy Sledge to the Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Occasionally baggy but always sincere, this is an essential document of a defining era when ‘soul’ really meant something.
Skyfall ★★★★☆ Sam Mendes brings a stately look with stunning visual touches to the most recent Bond movie. Craig’s harried, stern Bond is as inscrutable and wordless as ever, while his nemesis (Javier Bardem) proves a camp, creepy foe.
In Our Name ★★★★☆ Suzy, a private in the British Army, returns to a rundown estate in Newcastle after a stint in Iraq and finds it tough to reconnect with her daughter (Chloe Jayne Wilkinson) and squaddie husband. The unfussy shooting style, the casting of actors both familiar from television and unknown and, of course, the dramatisation of a hot-button social issue all recall the films of Ken Loach.
The Machine ★★★☆☆ Good British sci-fis don’t come along very often, so this stylish slice of a dystopian near-future should be welcomed by fans of the genre. Centering on a morally conflicted computer expert working on a robot weapon for his army boss, it’s an engaging story that owes a clear debt to the likes of ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Metropolis’.
Touchy Feely ★★★☆☆ In this observational ensemble comedy from US indie filmmaker Lynn Shelton, we meet a massage therapist (Rosemarie DeWitt) with a fear of touching others. Allison Janney’s widowed Reiki practitioner is as warm and soothing as a worn flannel shirt, and even Ellen Page, as the dentist’s anxious daughter, lets her hair down a bit, although the script is on the clunky side.
Detachment ★★★☆☆ ‘American History X’ director Tony Kaye’s dissects of the US school system in this film with a striking ensemble cast – Adrien Brody, James Caan, Lucy Liu, Christina Hendricks and Marcia Gay Harden among others. It doesn’t quite work, but the directing style is at times audacious, resulting in a fascinating, hypnotic and sometimes powerful failure.