Amid all the motion in the motion pictures – megahits drawing hundreds of millions in box office grosses, films like Bad Boys: Ride or Die leaving theatres with takeovers of bank accounts at one end of the spectrum, and Netflix at the other – there is a quiet corner in the shadow that spins a yarn it hopes you’ll love. This week on this weekend’s edition of Let’s Netflix That, we eschew the beaches and cool towels in favour of curling up and a very selective trio of movies. Let’s Netflix three sleepers that are unsung legends, that could spin you into an adventure if you roll with it, and that you probably missed the first time around.


The Legend of Unconventional Escapes

An apt comedy for an age when the siren call of wanderlust gets increasingly difficult to resist is the 2012 stoner comedy flick, Wanderlust. George and Linda Gergenblatt are a couple whose lives are going off the rails. They risk serious injury on a swerving rollercoaster; George’s short-lived venture as a New York real-estate mogul ends with a cratering stock market and a 30,000-dollar medical bill when he accidentally commits a violent gun crime; even the wiry urban kittens adorable enough to land a viral video on YouTube have been killed when the new Vault won’t open. On the brink of homelessness, they accept an offer that seems at first appalling, and then irresistibly appealing: to see if they can ‘transform’ themselves by moving in with a hippie commune in the mountains of North Carolina known as Elysium. As the legend of comedy goes, the journey is all. But it’s clear that the journey is good primarily because of the destination. Think about the plot of a traditional romantic comedy, like Sleepless in Seattle (1993), or a bittersweet romantic comedy, like Love Story (1970), or even an indie comedy that toes the line between drama and comedy, such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). In all of these films, and many, many others, the characters are miserable and miserable with each other, until they aren’t, and the world seems so incredibly better for it.

A GLIMPSE INTO THE HEARTLAND: "Places in the Heart" (1984)

The Legend of Resilience and Americana

Not every legend is of the fairytale persuasion; some are rooted in the everyday reality of life — the human spirit’s universal will to overcome, and continue — something Places in the Heart (1984) recognises. Set during the Depression era, this underappreciated masterpiece is a testament to perseverance through the eyes of Edna Spalding (Sally Field to her legions of fans). Never has the power of community or kinship been so palpably illustrated, and so beautifully filmed, with Sally Field earning her second Oscar along the way. It remains a work of Americana to be treasured, and one that indubitably deserves legendary status within the dramatic canon.

SWASHBUCKLING INTO THE PAST: "The Legend of Zorro" (2005)

The Underrated Legend of Adventure

In an era of computer-enhanced action and adventure, the blockbuster sequel The Legend of Zorro serves up a timeless love of a classic story structure that emulates the cinema of yesterday. Overall, the sequel is fueled by the return of Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones to their iconic characters, evoking fond memories of the swashbuckling genre, which many believed to be extinct. The film’s old-school feel combined with its action-packed elements makes it a legend that will endure up to the present day as a classic among blockbusters, and serve as proof that true adventure never gets old.


Delving Deeper into the World of Legends

No matter how many legends Netflix offers, each weekend, as the weather keeps shifting from hot to cold and back, there will still be plenty of surprises to be found – as long as Netflix continues to honour genre diversity in storytelling. The battle between good or evil, be it accomplished through action, drama or comedic means, never truly goes away. It’s entrenched in the legends – and in our minds.


In film and storytelling, legend connotes something worthy of remembrance, a devotion to lasting impressions and impact, signified by stories, characters or films that retain their memory in us and we in them. A legend is the memorialisation of a memory as a feeling, and the shared feelings of a moment or memory transmitted via others, like legend. We’re talking about the life of the human spirit and the evolution of the human memory to make sense of our shared existence, our visions, our dreams.

These underrated films are merely the beginning of what should be a journey of discovery throughout your life. There are more legends out there than you could ever hope to have time to watch, filling the fringes of the culture with all-time greats hiding in plain sight, waiting for you to go digging. Dig anyway, because even the ones you didn’t seek out might well turn out to have the potent properties of a Cloverfield: surely we’ve already been warned that an entire world of legends await us at the ends of the Earth. This weekend, go out into the wilderness of Netflix, let these legends inspire you, amuse you, and remind you of the immense powers in ourselves that great storytelling can unleash.

Jun 15, 2024
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