Ah, January. The month where making it out to theaters is a challenge due to all the polar vortecies creating ice dragons all over the place. But that’s okay, since the majority of January releases are films that studios are ashamed of, and you don’t want to spend your money on that crap anyway. Renny Harlin’s The Legend of Hercules is a fine example. So don’t even bother going anywhere. Just stay home and warm your mitts with some of this week’s Cross the Streams recommendations.
Attack the Block (Crackle)
If you haven’t heard of Joe Cornish’s directorial debut, Attack the Block, it’s probably because the film got next to no promotion in the U.S. and followed a favorable SXSW debut with a tiny release, despite being one of the best sci-fi films of 2011. Remember I Am Number 4 or Battle: Los Angeles? Those got way bigger releases and both of them sucked enough shit to officially count as colonic treatments. Attack the Block took the alien invasion thriller to the urban side of London. Gangs of young street toughs — and occasionally Nick Frost — make people’s lives a living hell and take on an infestation of toothy black space creatures in manners both tense and amusing. Don’t let another day go by without checking this one out, but hold on to your purses and wallets.
Plus One (+1) (Netflix Instant)
Coinciding with its Blu-ray and DVD release, Dennis Iliadis’ Plus One is turning Netflix into one big party. Albeit a party where not only your friends are invited, but so are all of your unassuming doppelgangers. This oddball movie is entirely too focused on the unimportant relationships between its main characters, but those relationships do become enjoyably twisted as the film goes on and the mysterious doubles begin to arrive, over and over again. This movie should be remade by another country and set at an office party far away from annoying teenagers. As it stands, it’s still a pretty good time, especially for those who want to see a girl make out with herself, and who doesn’t want to see that?
The Divide (Hulu Plus)
There have been plenty of post-apocalyptic films over the years…and this is one of them. Hitman director Xavier Gens went to a post-nuclear landscape for The Divide, pitting a group of survivors first against each other inside of a bomb shelter, then against a group of soldiers, and then back against each other one more time. All manner of emotions, physical atrocities, and cruelty are on display here, and it kind of makes you wonder what you and your friends would do in a similar situation. Not perfect, but The Divide is a pretty solid little movie, with a nice cast that includes Rosanna Arquette, Michael Biehn, and Milo Ventimiglia. Hot damn!
Scavengers (Hulu Plus)
Scavengers obviously belongs on this list because it involves space scavengers discovering alien technology and then fighting over it. Still, this isn’t the best thing you’ll experience on any given day. And that includes days where you have to go to seven different funerals and are scheduled to spend the night inside of an iron maiden.
Outland (Hulu Plus)
No, this isn’t the 1981, Sean Connery-led space crime flick. In fact it’s quite the opposite. This Australian TV series revolves around a gay science fiction fan club, and tells the stories about their lives and their loves and stuff like that. Admittedly, I only watched the first of the six episodes, but it’s pretty damned good. It’s smart, witty, and delves into a subculture that really hasn’t been explored in sitcom form before. I hear it’s Orson Scott Card’s favorite show. (Insert rim shot here.)
Rewind This (Hulu Plus)
This isn’t science fiction at all, but it’s a killer documentary that perfectly exemplifies the love and devotion that VHS tapes provoked since they first gave movie lovers the choice of home viewing in the 1970s. It wasn’t really until the 1980s and early ’90s that the format was taken to its illogical extremes and the direct-to-video market allowed just about any filmmaker to get their work out there for others to see. That meant a lot of low-budget sci-fi and horror movies found their way into people’s homes in a way that wouldn’t have been possible 10 or 15 years earlier. It’s a documentary that goes beyond just the nerdish love for the medium and actually tells a story, one that is definitely worth a watch.
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (Hulu Plus)
This one is also a bit of a cheat, because I didn’t realize I hadn’t mentioned it when it hit Hulu. Shameful, since this is one of my favorite TV series of all time. Created by Matthew Holness and Richard Ayoade (of IT Crowd fame), Darkplace is a multi-level spoof of high-concept 1980s supernatural/sci-fi dramas, presented as a current-day retrospective. The show takes place in a hospital that sits over the very gates of Hell, and utilizes every trick in the book to mock the material that serves as its inspiration. There’s everything from awful camerawork and sound editing to cringe-worthy dialogue and purposely wooden performances. Matt Berry is a goddamned mad-genius in this. If it isn’t one of the funniest series you’ve ever seen, then I probably hate your sense of humor and we can’t be friends.
Not the best assortment, but all the British stuff is top notch. The first three Star Trek films also hit Redbox Instant recently, and the time traveling indie Fetching Cody is on Hulu now, but we’ve talked about those before. See you next time, nerds!