Netflix Pix: Funny Girls and Serious Boys

Kevin from Awkward is What We Aim For here.

It seems like Netflix Pix features come far too quickly every week--each time I'm done with one it's onto the other. It'll probably go every-other-week in Season Two so I won't feel so drained by it to the point where I miss deadlines by a mile. But I digress.

This week we have two vastly different movies, and that's where this series makes its bread and butter. We'll be taking a look at the film that earned Tommy Lee Jones his last Oscar nomination, In the Valley of Elah, a film I've always considered underrated. Then we'll look at Funny Girl, the Barbra Streisand-starring musical that made popular such anthems as "Funny Girl" and "Don't Rain On My Parade." The theme this week is weak (no pun intended), but it's essentially this: boys are serious and talk about war, girls are divas and sing about things. Sexism! Now available in fantastic films.

In truth, Funny Girl isn't a fantastic film--it isn't even a very good film. It's all centered around the first half, deflating immensely in the second and does a poor job of sustaining the energy between musical numbers.

But what musical numbers they are. "Funny Girl" is a heartwrencher, one that will seriously leave you in tears. "And though I may be all wrong for the guy, I'm good for a laugh." Who among us hasn't felt that pain in relationships when you realize you're funny/cute/useful but they're just not interested beyond that? Put all that pain into an under-three-minute song and have Barbra Streisand belt it out. That's how painful it is.

Speaking of Barbra belting, the big masterpiece is "Don't Rain On My Parade," which most Glee fans know from Lea Michele's barn-burning version in last year's mid-season finale. Trust me, it's better here. Streisand completely deserved the Oscar she won for this film, even if the movie really doesn't hold up well years after its release. C+

Now, if you wanna talk about a movie that not only holds up but gets better every time you watch, it's the glorious In the Valley of Elah. Tommy Lee Jones pulled off a miraculous Oscar nod despite a void of buzz for his performance, but it is easily the best work he's ever done. Powerful, stoic, moving--just like the movie.

Charlize Theron is similarly great in the Iraq War-staged murder mystery that creates this story. The movie just came out too early--Iraq War movies didn't become popular until The Hurt Locker two years later. But this is superior to Locker in almost every way (and that's coming from a fan of Locker, so that's high praise indeed). A definite must-watch. A

I know, I know, these are getting less and less descriptive each time. But blame my lethargy. I'll try to give more to next week's entry. In the meantime, if you've seen either of these movies, take your thoughts to the comments!