Do you ever open your Netflix account with the intention of watching one of their streaming videos, yet don’t know what to choose because you are so overwhelmed by the number of films that are listed?  This morning, I thought I would make a few recommendations of good films that we have seen lately.

In anticipation of his going back to work in the SF Bay Area, my  husband and I have been curling up together on our office sofa bed at night and watching a film after dinner.   We have seen some good ones over the last week or so….as well as some not-so-good ones.    (He is a self-described film critique who occasionally writes reviews for, “Film in Review” and also teaches the occasional film at school.  I simply love film.  Period. ….so we’re a good match.)   Here are a few of the ones that we particularly enjoyed:

A movie that we saw and both liked was, “Today’s Special. ”   This is an excellent watch for foodies.  It is a sweet film  about a haute cuisine sous chef played by Assif Mandvi,  who  gets passed over for promotion at a fancy restaurant, so quits to pursue his dream of cooking in Paris… but then, an emergency forces him to take over his family’s shabby Indian restaurant in Queens.  This film was intelligently written and directed and had a nice sense of humor and style.  We both enjoyed it very much.

“Janie Jones,” was another one that we liked.  Mind you, this isn’t a great film.  It was weak in some areas, but admittedly, I will watch anything that has sexy Alessandro Nivola in it.   He was brilliant  in, “Laurel Canyon,” which is one of my top ten favorite films of all times, and also in, “Junebug,” which I also loved.  In “Janie Jones,”  he played a rock star who , late in his career, was attempting a comeback .  One day after a gig, a former groupie shows up back stage to tell him he has a 13-year-old daughter, Janie, and leaves her in his care.  The ensuing drama was fairly predictable, but both of us still enjoyed watching the (weak, at times) plot unfold.  The daughter was played by the same actress who played that darling child in, ” Little Miss Sunshine,” Abigail Breslin.  This piece also has some nice music in it.

Both of us were crazy about, “Black Butterflies,” and I highly recommend this film.  It is fabulous!  It is a  passion-filled  biopic that profiles South African poet,  Ingrid Jonker, whose exuberant nature is destroyed by her repeated betrayals of her supportive lover and her complex relationship with her disapproving father, the minister of censorship.  It is well-acted.  Beautifully shot in Africa and tugs at the heart relentlessly!  Great film!

“Burning Plain,” was another brilliant film,  much of which was filmed here in Portland… which Charlize Theron played a depressed, sex-obsessed restaurant manager .  The story weaves together four seemingly unrelated tales that are  separated by time and space. A New Mexico housewife (Kim Basinger) begins a torrid affair, two teens mourn the death of their parents, and a young girl tries to mend her life in a Mexican border town.  It all comes together beautifully in the end.  We loved this one!

My final recommendation is, “Winter’s Bone.”  This is a  noir drama  that is set deep in the Ozarks, where that culture was represented so realistically!   A resilient teen girl, played by the fantastic, Jennifer Lawrence,  goes on the trail of her missing, drug-dealing father whose absence jeopardizes the family’s safety. Her deadbeat dad has a key court date pending, and Ree is determined that he show up — despite the objections of the insular Dolly clan. The film earned Oscar and Independent Spirit Award nods for Best Picture and for Lawrence, and fully deserved those awards.  This one can be tough to watch in parts, especially one scene, but it is still an excellent picture.

So these are my recommendations for now.  I hope you will watch a couple of them, at least, and let me know what you think.