Hidden UK Streaming Gems – August 2017

A new aim of mine is to regularly share things that I think are worth watching that you may not have heard of or that simply passed you by. With that in mind this page highlights a selection of what I call ‘hidden gems’ that can be found across Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in the UK. Here’s my list for August 2017.


Hunt for the Wilderpeople


Genre: Comedy | Service: Netflix

One of my favourite films of 2016, this is an absolute blast. The story of a teenage boy and his foster father who trek into the local woods when social services threaten to take the boy away. If you’re new to the work of Taika Waititi, give this a spin ahead of his upcoming Thor movie. If you like, deep dive and you can also see his equally funny work “What we do in The Shadows” on Netflix.

 

Chef


Genre: Comedy | Service: Netflix

Jon Favreau cleanses his palette in-between his work on giant Marvel/Disney films. In this he directs himself as a chef who’s humiliated in a public spat with a critic. He takes time away and opens a food truck that forces him to take an introspective look at the important things in life. Whilst a little cliched, this is easy to enjoy and will drive your tastebuds wild. Those who like to study film more closely can easily study “Chef” for metaphors about Favreau’s feelings towards critics and that small budget films are his personal food truck.

 

I, Daniel Blake


Genre: Drama | Service: Amazon

Ken Loach proves he remains one of the best directors to use the power of storytelling to enable social discussion and change. This won the 2016 Palme D’or and I fail to see how anyone can watch and not be moved by a story based on the cold realities of the modern British welfare system. You may not agree with the politics of the film maker, but if you’re not finding yourself somewhere between tears and anger at the end of “I, Daniel Blake” then you’re inhuman (in my opinion). This is sure to set discussions in motion and that is it’s most powerful card.

 

It Follows


Genre: Horror | Service: Netflix

Whilst it’s lacking in gore “It Follows” is the kind of horror movie that will creep under your skin and stick in your mind for days. Like the best horror it’s success lies in psychological human fear. Combined with a delicious Carpenter-esque score the many slow and static shots will have your eyes scanning the frame within minutes of the premise being established. Furthermore this habit will follow you out of the cinema. Saying any more would be considered a spoiler!

 

 

The Big Short


Genre: Drama, Comedy | Service: Netflix

A drama that tells the tale of the people who saw the 2008 financial crash coming. Director Adam McKay is better known for straight out comedy work such as “Anchorman” might seem an odd choice for a serious drama, but his work here allows him to use comedy beats and breaking of the forth wall to add refreshing moments to a story that is full of the harsh realities of what actually took place in the lead up to global economic meltdown. It’s also a timely reminder to any Brit that many of the root causes for fiscal ruin lay far from our shores.

 

Adult Life Skills


Genre: Drama, Comedy | Service: Amazon

A 2016 favourite of mine. I saw this completely blind, no trailer, synopsis, etc. I was blown away by the inventiveness of Rachel Tunnard’s touching comedy. This is the story of Anna who finds herself approaching 30 having had a few years of being ‘stuck’ in life, living in the shed at the end of her mums garden. What happens from there is worth discovering. If that doesn’t draw you in then watch for Jodie Whittaker, the next actor to take the role of Doctor Who, as she once again proves how fantastic she is on screen.

 

Adventureland


Genre: Comedy | Service: Netflix

I’m ashamed that this film overlooked me until recently. It’s just brilliant. All I will say is make sure you take the time to visit this amusement park.

 

Cinema Paradiso


Genre: Drama | Service: Netflix

I love this film for many reasons. Partly, yes, because I love the history of film and everything it encompasses (projection, format, community) but also for the message it brings. It’s a foreign language classic that everyone should watch.

 

Life Itself


Genre: Documentary | Service: Netflix

This documentary follows the career of one of the great defining film critics, Roger Ebert. For anyone who want’s to know more about the professional criticism and writing.

 

Bernie


Genre: Dark Comedy | Service: Netflix

This film defines “hidden gem” for me. It’s one of those films you always see in the shops being sold on DVD for a few quid but don’t be put off by that. “Bernie” is a film that deserves a lot of love. Director Richard Linklater is one of those people who likes to jump genres in his work and whilst that doesn’t always end in great movies, this for me is one of his best. Reunited with Jack Black (whom he worked with on “School of Rock”) they tackle a true story of a local mortician who finds good in everyone. His attempts to befriend the local grinch end in darkly comedic events.

 

Sing Street


Genre: Drama, Musical. | Service: Netflix

Another of my personal favourites of 2016. Writer/Director John Carney (Once, Begin Again) was a founding member of The Frames and so is well placed to tell the story of a young Dublin teen who forms a band to impress and win a girls heart. That surely sounds like a story that’s been told a thousand times, so why is this special? There’s a real heart to this. Carney is able to take us as viewers to something he understands well; the reason why we make music, art and form bands. For passion, for love and to express ourselves. With a side story of a family falling apart the music here is fully nostalgic for fans of the 80s, but also deeply emotional. Oh. It’s really funny as well.

 

Mars Attacks!


Genre: Comedy | Service: Amazon

Tim Burton hasn’t made a film as good as this in years. It’s one of those films that shaped my film tastes when I saw in the cinema back in the 90s and for me is a rare slice of cinematic perfection. I still want a rep house to screen this as an “ACK-along” event. Maybe one day!

 

Captain Fantastic


Genre: Drama | Service: Amazon

I watched this on the plane over to New York last year. When it finished I scrubbed back to the start and had an immediate repeat viewing. “Captain Fantastic” is the story of a father who dedicates himself to raising his children off grid and deep in the forest so that they can become extraordinary adults. It doesn’t take long to immerse yourself in the lifestyle of this family who (obviously) soon face an event that will force a life change. Entertaining and amusing as it is, it forces you to ask the question of whether there is a right or wrong way to raise children.

 

Searching for Sugar Man


Genre: Documentary | Service: Netflix

Rock’n’roll is full of myths and legends and the tale of Rodriguez in “Searching For Sugar Man” is one of the greatest that I didn’t know. The film-makers investigate the true story of a failed musician whose work is revered in South Africa with that of Dylan. The only issue is no one outside of the continent knows this and all that is known of the mysterious singer-songwriter is that he killed himself during an infamous gig. The story is incredible, inventively communicated and the music will certainly be added to your library soon after viewing.