All good things must come to an end, even on Netflix US – and that means some very fine films face the final curtain this week. You've only got a few days before some of my favourite films leave the service, so if you fancy a film feast involving any of these ones you'd better move fast.
Let's start with something serious. Paranormal Activity has been widely imitated –and is partly an imitation itself; the filmmakers are clearly familiar with The Blair Witch Project – but rarely bettered. It's the tale of a couple who experience things that go bump in the night, and because this is a 21st century couple they don't immediately think of exorcists or other religious figures: they decide to break out the video cameras so they can get whatever it is on film. It's a brilliant bit of low budget filmmaking and its tight 90 minutes runtime means it's short enough to watch on a school night, and while it's more suspenseful than scary it'll still give you nightmares.
I love this film. Steve Carell absolutely kills it as Gru, a supervillain with a heart of gold, and the script is tremendous with lots of belly laughs. The relationship between Gru and his unexpected new family is really lovely, and while the Minions have become somewhat overexposed in the years since this, their debut, is them at their funniest and most anarchic. If you're looking for something that'll amuse the kids without boring you to tears, this is a great choice.
Gremlins is actually two films. One of them is silly, splattery slapstick, a gleeful and chaotic monster movie that takes great delight in creating the cutest possible characters and turning them into destructive devils. And the other is a satire and social critique of a very particular kind of American myth, as depicted in It's A Wonderful Life (which makes an appearance in the film). If you haven't seen it recently it's absolutely worth a rewatch to remind yourself of how wonderfully, hilariously and perfectly nasty it is. It's one of the least kid-friendly kids' movies ever made, and that's a big part of what makes it so great.
As a Scot, I have to point out that Braveheart is a load of old rubbish that couldn't be more historically inaccurate if the script were written by a dog and all the characters were biscuits. But while it's hilariously wrong on some quite important details, such as pretty much everything that actually happened, it's still a brilliant bit of cinema with some spectacular battle scenes and as much melodrama as you could possibly want. It's gorgeous to look at, thrilling to watch and may well be one of the best war films ever made.
Interview With The Vampire
In just a few days time it'll be fangs for the memories as this excellent and superbly silly vampire movie turns to digital dust on Netflix US. If you're anywhere on the goth spectrum you've probably seen this a million times already, but no amount of familiarity can change how wonderfully odd the whole thing is. Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst are tons of fun, the film manages to stay just on the right side of camp and it's an absolute feast for the eyes.