Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
I swear to god I’m not trying to be topical with this weeks selection, the Israeli dramedy thriller something-or-other Big Bad Wolves (Netflix). I’ve been away on vacation. My iPhone was dropped (not by me) to the bottom of a lake from whence it shall never return. I had no idea Israel has been bombing the shit out of Gaza for the past week when I picked this movie. I am not great with current events even on my best day.
My ignorance doesn’t stop there in this case. I decided to watch this movie because I thought it was a werewolf movie. It is most decidedly not, as I should have realized after the first ten minutes. Instead it was halfway through the second act when I finally gave up hope of a full moon transformation. It may be time to amend my policy of refusing to read synopses for movies I hear good things about.
Here at FNF, I do not claim that every movie I recommend will be hot shit. Many of these titles would not be my first choice on movie night. This column exists for those that have exhausted their first choices, as well as their second, third, and so on. I draw the line at recommending terrible movies but let’s be real: I don’t get paid to do this and I only have so much time. Unless it’s awful (like All Cheerleaders Die, which you almost got until I discovered how unbearable it was) you’re getting the first and only movie I try.
Big Bad Wolves is at least watchable and interesting but it isn’t great. For one thing, the story is all about two men who seek revenge on a supposed child murderer. See, we’re supposed to assume he’s guilty at first so that eventually, when doubt starts to creep in, we wonder if maybe our heroes are torturing an innocent man. Except there’s never ANY evidence he’s done anything wrong. We never see the perpetrator in the act and the police don’t mention any tangible evidence. The best they can do is a young witness who says she thought she saw her teacher abduct her friend. So from the beginning we’re not on board with our two vigilantes’ plan. Regardless of whether the man ultimately ends up being guilty, that’s careless and a little deflating.
Big Bad Wolves is hard to classify. There’s a bit of torture, but it’s not Hostel. It’s not horror at all. There’s some minor suspense but by no means is it a thriller. A little action but not that much. Maybe it’s a black comedy? There are plenty of well executed laughs, which now that I think of it are a little out of place in a movie about such a serious subject.
I did love the window into Israeli culture. Characters say that housing prices go down when you’re surrounded by Arab neighborhoods but the real point is to see how ignorant that attitude is. I found it fascinating that some Israeli artists are more than happy to poke fun at Jews who treat Arabs as if they were backwards and dangerous, the way white suburbanites in America treat minorities. In my head I imagined all Israeli citizens as being of one mind when it comes to Arab populations. Because, admittedly, I am an uncultured idiot.
Added bonus: Who is this guy? I thought for sure he was the producer or some Israeli national treasure or something. How else can you explain why a frumpy bald guy who plays a 45-year-old character (he looks at least 60 and the sweater jacket doesn’t help) with so much machismo a gorgeous real estate broker practically begs him to take her to bed in the middle of a sales meeting? The casting director was really stretching on that one.