The Netflix Fix: February

Every month, we select a quartet of ‘Netflix Originals’ and review the lot in less than 500 words. Rated this month: ‘Voyeur‘, ‘Amanda Knox‘, ‘The Foreigner‘ and ‘Strong Island‘.

The Foreigner (2017) – 3/5

The Foreigner

Reuniting the director and star of ‘Goldeneye’ (1995) and based on a 1992 novel, it’s no surprise this genre-blending thriller is more mid-90’s distraction than modern-day necessity.

Jackie Chan’s deadpan ‘foreigner’ Quan dominates the set-up, but as he morphs from grieving father to vengeful hunter, the focus shifts to Hennessy – Brosnan’s morally complex politician – leaving Quan, quite literally, out in the cold.

F2

Heralding a solid return to form for director Martin Campbell, this odd mix of ‘The Long Good Friday’ (1980) and ‘Rambo’ (1982) somehow works, boasting two fantastic performances, bone-crunching action and a throbbing Cliff Martinez score. A shame then, that the wider cast is plagued by cardboard stereotypes, the action equates to little more than two set-pieces, and the sometimes jarring soundtrack is too loud in the mix.

Amanda Knox (2016) – 2/5

Amanda Knox

The Knox case is a captivating one, and snagging the woman herself to walk us through it is this documentary’s USP. Much like the case itself though, there’s a feeling that something is being kept from us, and whilst having the wrongfully(?) accused murderer as unreliable(?) narrator lends the film an edge, the structure here feels wrong; the details we linger on strange; the overall picture blurred. Again, much like the case itself.

Strong Island (2017) – 3/5

Strong Island

‘Strong Island’ is a brutally honest, agonisingly intimate account of William J Ford’s 1992 murder, as told by his brother, director Yance Ford. Oscar-nominated, the film now has the ultimate recommendation, supporting the case for straight-up documentaries that tell cohesive, chronological stories in intricate detail.

Examining race and injustice, Yance’s most revealing exploration here is his own and his family’s grief, making it a tough watch at times, but one worthy of your attention.

Voyeur (2017) – 4/5

Voyeur 2

Fascinating and complex, ‘Voyeur’ tells the story of Gerald Foos – a peeping Tom who bought a motel purely to spy on his guest’s sexual activities – and Gay Talese – the famed journalist who interviewed him over several decades.

No sooner have Foos’ fat thumbs reached into a scale model of his motel (a clever visual for his stories and power), than we’re swerving into thematically deeper, textually darker waters. Journalistic ethics, manipulative mind games and the cult of celebrity are all examined as Talese and Foos flit between friendly compliment and cryptic power play.

Voyeur

One senses that Foos is something of a holy grail to a journalist who’s spent a lifetime documenting human behaviour. Perhaps it is Talese then, that’s the more interesting of these two ‘voyeurs’. His history of personally exploring his subject’s pastimes to inform his work, coupled with his assertion that Foos ‘isn’t creepy’, certainly casts the spotlight as much on him as his muse.

Well-told, beautifully constructed and engagingly organic, ‘Voyeur’ isn’t just gripping, it’s immersive. By the final third, Foos’ gradual descent into angry paranoia (literally – he’s on the world’s slowest stair-lift as he spits venom) is only bettered by Talese’s own late attack on the filmmakers. Every interaction here invites fresh exploration into human nature, something Talese should be proud of…

NETFLIX

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