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New on Netflix: We cautiously admit to loving 'Notting Hill'

The Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts rom-com is streaming now, as well as "The Shining" and one of last year's best films, "The Mend."

‘Notting Hill’

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We’re emphatic about our hatred of Richard Curtis’ “Love Actually.” But we’re only slightly ashamed of our love for other movies written by Richard Curtis. The Englishman became a cottage industry unto himself with rom-coms like “Four Weddings and a Funeral” as well as this one, with Hugh Grant at his stammeringest as a modest Londonite who suddenly finds himself getting it on with a Julia Roberts-like star (played by Julia Roberts). We can’t really defend its combination of the cornball and the awkward, but we like it anyway, and as journalists we especially dig the scene where Grant has to pretend to be one of us at a swanky and soul-deadening movie press junket, pretending to write for Horse and Hound and firing off inane queries like, “Are there any horses in it?”

‘The Mend’

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One of last year’s very best movies follows odd couple brothers — Josh Lucas’ wastrel and Stephen Plunkett’s uptight lawyer — as they spend some not-so-quality time together. But that hardly conveys the riches in John Magary’s indie, one of the most thrilling debuts in ages. The opposite of a shaggy mumblecore, it’s as tightly wound as its two heroes, who struggle to contain their anxieties and anger as they descend into self-destruction and decadence together. Great soundtrack, too, filled with everything from all-girl Swedish post-punk, Christian prog rock and bass-heavy Brazilian jazz.

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‘The Shining’

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Did you know Stanley Kubrick was once nominated for a Razzie? The anti-Oscars tend to go with whatever everyone else thinks are the year’s worst cinematic offerings, and the people of 1980 hated his loose stab at Stephen King’s hotel-set shocker so much that one of movies’ most respected auteurs was almost bestowed with its lowest accolade. But every Kubrick is eventually reclaimed as an untouchable masterpiece, and nowadays “The Shining” is considered one of the director’s finest works. In fact, “The Shining” is so loved now that it has spawned an underground of obsessees, as seen in the doc “Room 237,” who linger over every inch of it, hatching bizarre and genuinely insane theories (like that the whole film is Kubrick’s veiled admission of helping fake the Apollo 11 moon landing). Everyone else, though, can enjoy it on a more modest level.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 
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