If you’re like me, you binge-watch TV shows and formulaic rom-coms on Netflix to unwind. But look hard enough and you’ll find someÂ terrific Criterion Collection-worthy films and indie gems that aren’t easily accessible elsewhere.Â Here are 7 films I highly recommend. Watch them while they’re still up on Netflix (at least on Netflix Canada):
William, an immature American in his late twenties, fucks his way through Europe and arrivesÂ in Copenhagen. There, he searches for a grandfather he’s never met. He enlists Effy, a worker at his hotel, for help and quickly developsÂ feelings for her. When he discovers Effy is half his age, William finally starts growing up.
This is Mark Raso’s first film so it feels a little unpolished, but Copenhagen is beautifully captured and the lead actors’ performances are great. If you’ve ever spent a summer in Europe, this film will make you nostalgic.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
Greg has managed to survive high schoolâuntil senior year, when he’s forced by his mom to spend time with Rachel, a classmate who’s dying from leukemia.
Watch this quirky film even if you can’t stand weepy films about teens with cancer. It’sÂ beautiful, creative, funny, and touching. If you’re a film buff, the parodies Greg and Earl make of cinematic classics are a hoot.
Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)
Acclaimed actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) travels to Switzerland with her personal assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) to accept an award on behalf of a playwright who gave Maria her big break on stage over twenty years ago. At the awards, a hot new theatre director persuades Maria to act in the same play thatÂ jump-started her career, but this time as the older woman.
A film about complicated women and their relationships, time and aging, Clouds of Sils Maria is an atmospheric marvel. I don’t care what anyone says about Kristen Stewart. She’s talented and I’ll be watching Camp X-Ray next (also on Netflix).
The Great Beauty (2013)
Jep Gambardella wrote a novel in his twenties that became an Italian masterpiece. He hasn’t written a novel since because he’s been searching for real beauty, until his 65th year, when he finds it.
I wish I’d watched La Grande Bellezza when it first came out in theatres. We follow Jep as he walks around Rome and wastes his nights away at lavish parties. Every scene is gorgeously shot and packed with meaning. Some sayÂ this Oscar-winning film is boring and pretentious because nothing seems to happen. Others say it’s a masterpiece. It’s one of those films you either love or hate. Those who loveÂ Fellini films will surely appreciate it.
Damsels in Distress (2011)
Lily, a transfer student at Seven Oaks College, starts hanging out with Violet, Rose and Heather because she thinks they’re the cool crowd, but quicklyÂ discovers howÂ bizarre they are. From running a Suicide Prevention Centre to trying to start an international dance craze, Violet (Greta Gerwig) always has the best intentions.Â This is Whit Stillman’s version of a teen comedy, so be prepared for silly deadpan humour.
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) has seven sisters and they drive him crazy. He hates himself and lives a lonely life until Lena (Emily Watson) draws him out of his shell.
This is Paul Thomas Anderson’s version of a romantic comedy. So it’s weird and artsy. I’m so glad that I did catch this one when it first came out in theatres, and I was obsessed with it for a while. There are subplots involving four blond brothers, pudding, and a harmonium. Luiz Guzman and Â Philip Seymour Hoffman are hilarious. Punch-Drunk Love is massively underrated. This is my favourite Adam Sandler film by far.
If you have no idea what the heck is going on in this trailer, just watch the film. Pedro AlmodĂłvar is a genius. There’s a murder and a ghost, but the story is really about a community of women helping each other.Â PenĂ©lope Cruz is luminous. This is my first AlmodĂłvar film and still my favourite.