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New on Netflix: 'I Love You Phillip Morris' is Jim Carrey's gay old time

Also new to streaming are the terrifying documentary "The Nightmare" and the screwball legend "His Girl Friday."
‘I Love You Phillip Morris’
Jim Carrey’s career today isn’t what it was in 2009, the year of “A Christmas Carol” and “I Love You Phillip Morris.” One was a hit, the other barely got released, which seems particularly inexplicable given it’s a very funny Jim Carrey comedy featuring some of his finest rubber face-manic work. The reason, though, is obvious: It stars one of Hollywood’s mightier stars as a very open gay man who has gay sex on screen with other gay men. Stateside distributors, trepidatious about an America still six years from nationwide same-sex marriage, didn’t know what to do with it.
That’s especially sad given it’s one of Carrey’s finest performances — not one of the serious, handdog Oscar-bait roles in “The Truman Show” and “The Majestic,” but a full-on funny turn that makes you appreciate how much he physically commits to using his body and soul to make people laugh. It has a killer plot, too, chronicling the crazily true story of Steven Russell, a con man who managed to escape multiple times from prison, often to be with his one true love (Ewan McGregor). It’s like a classic Carrey movie only one where everything else about it is as good as Carrey. Which is to say you’ll feel much better about yourself than you did after cackling through “Liar Liar.”

‘The Nightmare’

Documentaries tend to be thought of as journalism first, formalism a distant second, maybe third. There are many practitioners who think otherwise. Rodney Ascher is one of them. With “Room 237” he trapped us inside the conjoined, logic-handicapped headspace of people with wacko theories on Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”

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The people in his follow-up, “The Nightmare,” at least have an excuse for their crazy beliefs: They all suffer from sleep paralysis, in which sufferers wake up without the ability to move and speak. They also claim to sometimes see things, including frightening figures made entirely of shadow. A film where even the requisite talking heads are strikingly filmed, “The Nightmare” casts a sickening, terrifying mood as it recreates their visions, all the while trying to find a balance between staying skeptical and being open to the mysteries of the universe, or at least the human mind.

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‘His Girl Friday’

Few movies move as fast as Howard Hawks’ newsroom screwball, which is even more impressive when you consider it only takes place in about six rooms. A semi-radical reworking of the oft-filmed stage staple “The Front Page,” it made its two leads a she and a him rather than a him and a him, with Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant as exes who wind up rushing through a farcical murder case.

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Hawks had experimented with overlapping dialogue before — particularly in bits of the even better “Bringing Up Baby” — but here he does it stem to stern. It’s a beautiful cacophony of quotables, perhaps none more enjoyably evil than when Grant’s frazzled-yet-cucumber cool editor reacts to hearing about a reporter who’s on sick leave by crowing, “Diabetes? I ought to know better than to hire anybody with a disease!”

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
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