The Anglo-Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski may be an unfamiliar name, but you may have seen his wonderfully atmospheric first two features. If you haven't, add them to the Netflix queue without delay: Pawlikowski's 2000 feature debut, Last Resort, made utterly plausible and romantic an unlikely love story between a Russian immigrant and an amusement-arcade manager in a decaying detention center on the English coast.
Like the twisted love child of Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" video and the Mary Kay Letourneau scandal, the Adam Sandler comedy That's My Boy opens with a middle-school Lothario bedding — and later impregnating— a sexually voracious instructor.
If their genders were reversed, That's My Boy would be cause for a congressional hearing. But in a film defined by juvenile fantasy, the kid becomes not only the class hero, but an '80s cultural icon on par with Vanilla Ice and Diff'rent Strokes' Todd Bridges (both of whom appear as themselves.)
Outer space is a magical place, isn't it? As a storytelling device it's nonpareil — as soon as the writer has introduced the possibility of a leap to the stars, anything goes imagination-wise. The restrictions of primitive Earthling reality no longer need apply.
In his debut feature, Americano, writer-director Mathieu Demy casts himself as Martin, a brooding French real estate agent who travels to Los Angeles after his long-estranged mother dies. He plans to sell her apartment quickly — until he finds a letter in which she promises to leave the place to a friend, Lola. Martin can't locate the woman, but hears she may be in Tijuana.
When Jack (Mark Duplass) continues to act out a year after his brother's death, his best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), who's also his late brother's ex-girlfriend, invites him to rest and recharge at her family's cabin.
Credit IFC Films
Jack with Iris and her sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt). Jack and Hannah's tequila-soaked one-night stand is the catalyst for the film's comedic twists.
As played by Mark Duplass, Jack is a sweet guy, though that's not really something you'd guess from his lashing out at the friends who are trying to celebrate his brother's life at the memorial service that starts Your Sister's Sister.