Instant Gratification: “The Fairy” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix right now

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Today I’ll be debuting a new weekly feature here on Madison Movie, “Instant Gratification.” While Netflix Instant and other online streaming services are great ways to access tons of good movies, searching for stuff you haven’t seen before can be a hit-and-miss proposition.

So, every Tuesday, I’ll feature five winners that were recently added to Netflix Instant, trying to focus on movies that you might not have heard of. And I may include other streaming sources as well. If you’ve seen something good that you think I should include in this column, let me know in comments. (And hat tip to my brother Dave for this column idea.)

Top pick of the week: The Fairy“: One of the sheer delights of the 2012 Wisconsin Film Festival was this ingeniously daffy film about a seedy motel clerk who meets a zany fairy who grants him three wishes. From there comes some truly inspired physical comedy and oddball musical numbers, all delivered with charm and brio. Highly recommended.

Action movie of the week: “Safe“: Jason Statham action movies are a dime-a-dozen, but I enjoyed this gritty R-rated film about an ex-cop protecting a young girl from both cops and criminals alike. The action scenes are filmed with style but relatively believable (by “Transporter” standards anyway) and the movie actually takes a little time to develop the relationship between Statham and the girl.

Arthouse film of the week: “Alps“: Greek writer-director Yorgos Lathimos followed up his black comedy “Dogtooth” with this unsettling film about a group of well-meaning people who volunteer to play the part of deceased people for the benefit of their grieving families. When a thirtysomething woman gets too attached to her new role as a high school tennis star, chaos ensues. The comedy is so dark and so dry that I can’t say it elicits any laughs, but “Alps” is still a strange and singular film.

Kids movie of the week: “ParaNorman“: This stop-motion animated marvel got a little overshadowed by Tim Burton’s similar “Frankenweenie,” but shouldn’t be missed. It’s a nifty twist on the “ghouls-invading-a-small-town” plot, as a boy who can see dead people must deal with a vengeful spirit. The painstaking animation, filmed one frame at a time, is simply gorgeous to look at.

Documentary of the week: “The Island President“: Unfortunately, we’re starting to see movies that don’t just talk about the effects of global warming, but can actually show us the real-world damage being caused. To “Chasing Ice,” add “The Island President,” a stirring film about the president of the Maldives, whose country is literally being submerged around him by rising sea waters, as he urges the global community to act. My full review is here.

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