In honour of our minimalist theme this week we're just going to jump straight into it today. We've got five films. They're all on Netflix. They're all great. They'll make your weekend better. You have my word.


Nebraska (2013)

"Have a drink with your old man. Be somebody!"

Up for an Oscar a few years ago, Alexander Payne's Nebraska continues the director's string of unassuming yet emotionally impactful family dramas. As an estranged son is forced to reconnect with his father - who's convinced he's won a million dollars after receiving a mailing scam - the two find themselves on a road-trip across middle-America. Perhaps the director's most pessimistic view of family yet, the film doesn't feature any particularly likeable characters - especially Bruce Dern's disgruntled and jaded alcoholic father - but the black comedy that arises from the dour situations they get themselves in is always gold. More than that though there's a genuinely affecting undercurrent to the whole family narrative, even if on the surface Nebraska presents itself as a film that's as cold and detached as the characters in it.


No Country for Old Men (2007)

"If I don't come back, tell mother I love her"

I've never been much of a Coen brothers fan, yet No Country for Old Men might just convince me that the directing duo aren't as overrated as I've always suspected. An always tense thriller, the film's game of cat-and-mouse between a modern day cowboy and a brutal serial killer makes for a brilliant set-up, while Tommy Lee Jones' always one-step-behind cop transforms the movie into something more than just an average action film. In fact, the Coens' movie is closer to an old Wild West tale than anything else. The gunshots are loud, the action is brutal and dialogue is sparse, and it all comes together to make one of the best thrillers of the 2000s.


Reservoir Dogs (1992)

"You shoot me in a dream you better wake up and apologise."

For all of his later affectations, you couldn't really describe Quentin Tarantino as a minimalist director. Yet Reservoir Dogs is surprisingly reserved, taking place almost entirely in one location with a small cast of characters. Even the violence and set-pieces the movie is most known for are rather contained and straightforward in nature, used sparingly to punctuate the gripping character study at the heart of this botched heist flick. It still holds up after all these years, and stands strong as one of the most gripping pieces of work the director has ever produced.


The Sacrament (2013)

"We were gonna change the world."

A slow-burn found footage horror film, The Sacrament isn't really like anything else you've seen in the genre. As a group of young filmmakers infiltrate the inner workings of an increasingly menacing cult, they become embroiled in the brainwashing going on inside the walls of the supposed getaway retreat. It's an interesting set-up, and the gritty aesthetic makes the eerie obsessions of the group that bit more realistic, while at the same time the more menacing aspects of the film become all the more ugly. It takes a little while to get into a groove, but if the narrative sounds intriguing then this might just be the horror film for you this weekend.


Clerks (1994)

"This job would be great if it wasn't for the fucking customers."

Unlike some of the other films on this week's list, Kevin Smith's Clerks isn't exactly minimalist by design. Instead, the amateur shoot and micro-budget meant that the director didn't have the luxury of choice when it came to making the comedy classic. Fortunately though it makes for a tighter movie overall, with the confined and mundane storefront almost becoming its own character over the course of the few hours spent locked inside of it. The dialogue is snappy and blisteringly funny, and even though it's clearly lacking in production value, the crisp black and white cinematography renders the look of the film virtually timeless. You can't say that about the rest of the film though; Clerks is a definitive 90s movie through and through - for better and for worse.