You Should Be Watching: June 7-13

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found. This week I’m recommending Baz Lurhmann’s charming directorial debut, an electric and moving exploration of the tempting and destructive power of greed set amidst the housing crisis, and a classic film full of high-stakes tension. There are also a whole bunch of great titles that arrived on streaming platforms this past week and several leaving as well.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Strictly Ballroom

Year: 1992

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Cast: Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, Pat Thomson, Gia Carides, Peter Whitford, Barry Otto, John Hannan, Sonia Kruger, Kris McQuade, Pip Mushin, Antonio Vargas, Armonia Benedito, Lauren Hewett, Steve Grace, Paul Bertram, Todd McKenney, Kerry Shrimpton

Pretty much all Baz Luhrmann films share similar traits. They’re stylish, full of energy, from the editing to the music, and more than a little quirky. As Lurhmann’s endearing directorial debut, Strictly Ballroom offers all that and more wrapped up in an infectious package. It contains many poignant moments of humor and wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s also genre defying in the best way, essentially a romantic sports dramedy with a touch of mockumentary with the setting being a ballroom dancing competition.

The plot is your basic boy meets frumpy, overlooked girl who turns out to have hidden talent and a protective family and isn’t so frumpy after all, but it’s the characters, the relationships, the humor, and the choreography, and the family dynamics and history that make this movie extra special. Paul Mercurio as Scott Hastings is full of charisma and passion. He just wants to dance his heart out and doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, making him easy to root ford. He has wonderful chemistry with Tara Morice who plays Fran his would-be new partner after his last one left him, and it’s a sheer joy watching them dance together. There’s a lot more to Fran than meets the eye. The scene where Scott meets her family is a key turning point in the film as is him learning his parents’ past. There’s a little something here for everyone, so I would highly recommend it to pretty much everyone.


 

99 Homes

Year: 2014

Director: Ramin Bahrani

Genre: Drama

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern, Michael Shannon, Tim Guinee, J.D. Evermore, Noah Lomax, Clancy Brown, Nicole Barré, Cullen Moss, Wayne Pére, Judd Lormand, Gretchen Koerner, Yvonne Landry, Donna DuPlantier, Jordyn McDempsey, Gus Rhodes, John L. Armijo, Jayson Warner Smith, Ann Mahoney, Juan Gaspard, Nadiyah Skyy Taylor, Deneen Tyler, David Maldonado, Cynthia Santiago, Joni Bovill, Carl Palmer, Albert C. Bates, Tom Bui, Manu Narayan

 

In the vein of Wall Street comes this incredibly depressing yet extremely satisfying film that shows the tempting yet destructive power of greed and incremental moral compromise. Michael Shannon is scary good as Rick Carver, a ruthless and charismatic real estate broker, who will do whatever it takes to make as much money as he can, no matter who he hurts in the process. This includes him taking on an unlikely employee and ultimate partner whom he will have leverage over.

This man is Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), a single father who along with his son and mother have been evicted from their home by this same Rick Carver. He’s desperate for an opportunity to earn the money necessary to get their home back, but desperation makes one forget about consequences to his actions. Garfield shows great range as he goes on this journey from one side of the evictions to the other, finding himself increasingly helpless to his greed, his lies, and Carver’s silver-tongued influence, leading him step-by-step down his moral decline. It’s a powerful lesson on how we rationalize sin and temptation.


 

The Wages of Fear

  

Year: 1953

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller

Cast: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck, Folco Lulli, Véra Clouzot, Antonio Centa, Luis De Lima, Jo Dest, Darío Moreno, William Tubbs, Grégoire Gromoff, Joseph Palau-Fabre, Darling Légitimus, François Valorbe

 

With The Wages of Fear, Henri-Georges Clouzot created one of the most heightened and sustained exercises in tension found in classic cinema. Due to an oil field fire and no time for proper equipment, two pairs of desperate men, of which Mario (Yves Montand) and Jo (Charles Vanel) receive primary focus, are contracted to drive trucks full of extremely volatile nitroglycerine 300 miles across horrendous terrain and obstacles. And it is not tension for tension’s sake. The film exists as a cry of frustration towards the miserable and oppressive conditions encouraged by corporate imperialism and the unavoidable consequences of the resulting desperation.

To make the tension of the journey meaningful, Clouzot first establishes the hopelessness of the characters and their internal tensions caused by a sort of love triangle. He takes his time establishing the setting, an isolated town of poverty and sweltering heat in southern Mexico that’s surrounded by desert, and the pitiful lives of its inhabitants. The only way out is by airplane, but that takes money, and the town is all but controlled by the oppressive and manipulative company that owns the nearby oil fields and keeps jobs hard to come by. The friction that builds between the men who become drivers only add to the stress and fear that a truck could explode at any time, which takes toll after toll.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

June 9
Omar (2013)

June 11
Kano (2014)

June 15
Super (2010)

June 18
Theeb (2014)

June 24
Captain America: Civil War (2016)

June 29
On Golden Pond (1981)

 

AMAZON PRIME

June 7
Remember (2015)

June 9
Rosewater (2014)

June 15
Anomalisa (2015)

 

FILMSTRUCK

June 8
Christopher Guest:

Best in Show (2000)
Waiting for Guffman (1996)

Elia Kazan:

On the Waterfront (1954)
A Face in the Crowd (1957)

June 15
A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
Metropolis (1927)
Peeping Tom (1960)
Wag the Dog (1997)

June 22
An American in Paris (1951)
The Piano (1993)

June 30
Caliber 9 (1972)
It Happened One Night (1934)


JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Bad Genius (2017)
Blue Jasmine (2013)
The Departed (2006)
The King’s Speech (2010)
Miracle (2004)
National Treasure (2004)
Outside In (2017)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

 

AMAZON PRIME

The Age of Innocence (1993)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
Breakdown (1997)
The ’Burbs (1989)
The Disaster Artist (2017)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
Lady Bird (2017)
The Natural (1984)
The Running Man (1987)
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Stargate (1994)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Wonder Wheel — AMAZON ORIGINAL MOVIE (2017)

 

HULU

Apollo 13 (1995)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Bull Durham (1988)
The ’Burbs (1989)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
The Green Mile (1999)
Hellboy (2004)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Margin Call (2011)
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
The Running Man (1987)
Stargate (1994)
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Trainspotting (1996)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

June 8
Ali’s Wedding – NETFLIX FILM (2017)

June 14
Cutie and the Boxer (2013)

 


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

Episode 062: The Social Network

The story of Facebook, sort of. To many this Oscar-nominated film from director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is a masterpiece, crafting an interesting narrative in a thrilling and exciting way. To others it may be considered a gross misrepresentation of the truth, thus limiting their enjoyment. We discuss creative liberty in biopics and more as we have a fun conversation about this compelling dramatized historical account of a social media giant.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:40
(Aaron – Batman the Movie)
(Patrick – Batman the TV series)

The Social Network Review – 0:13:43

The Connecting Point – 1:20:14

Contact

Join the Facebook Discussion Group

Download this Episode 


Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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What We Learned This Week: March 5-11

LESSON #1: THE SUCCESS RATE OF INDIE DIRECTORS STEPPING TO BLOCKBUSTERS IS IMPROVING— Other than Marc Webb stepping up from “(500) Days of Summer” to the ill-fated “Amazing Spider-Man” double bill and “Moon” director Duncan Jones bombing on “Warcraft,” the recent push of larger studios’ farming of indie directors to helm blockbusters have gone pretty successfully.   All of the greats started small (take Christopher Nolan going from “Memento” to Batman), but the trend is swelling lately.   Colin Treverrow turned “Safety Not Guaranteed” into “Jurassic World” and J.A. Bayona will be moving from “The Impossible” and “A Monster Calls” into the dinotastic sequel.  “The Kings of Summer” director Jordan Vogt-Roberts cashed up to “Kong: Skull Island.”  This list goes on and on, and 2017 is full of more.  Rian Johnson flips “Looper” for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and Taika Waititi goes from “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” for “Thor: Ragnarok.”  Jon Watts of “Cop Car” hopes to not pull a Marc Webb with “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

LESSON #2: BIGGER IS BETTER— Speaking of “Kong: Skull Island,” the head honchos at Legendary Entertainment found the easiest and most irresistible route to selling a new Kong film: Make him bigger.   The powers that be have smacked an invisible label on the cinematic Cheez Whiz jar that reads “now bigger than ever,” jacking up the normally and plenty-imposing 25-foot gorilla into a gigantic 100-foot bipedal behemoth.  That changes everything when it comes to the monster’s capacity for destruction and man’s impossible chances of opposition.  Go see the film.  It’s a blast.

LESSON #3: KEEP AN EYE ON THE SXSW FILM FESTIVAL— For nine days and 125 features this month, Austin, Texas becomes the center of the independent film scene with the annual South by Southwest Film Festival that is starting to rival January’s Sundance Film Festival for exclusive films and a Hollywood-level red carpet.  This year, you’ll get the premieres of the latest films from Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver”), Terrance Malick (“Song to Song”), and Ben Wheatley (“Free Fire”).   SXSW’s merger of the arts is becoming a hot ticket with good gets.

LESSON #4: THE WHITEWASHED CASTING OUTRAGE IS STARTING TO SMARTEN STUDIOS UP— I think the combination of warranted complaints,  butthurt rants, and internet courage-fueled protests are starting to work.   Movie news reported this week that director Guy Ritchie will seek Middle Eastern lead performers for Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” re-imagining and Niki Caro looks to be doing the same for “Mulan.”   If you look past the animated curtain and beyond all of its inherent entertainment value, “Aladdin” is one of the worst perpetrators in film history for white-washing.  I’m intrigued to see something different and call these active attempts an initial victory towards improved diversity.

LESSON #5: LET’S MAKE UP A NEW WORD: “BRITWASHING”— Piggybacking from Lesson #4, race relations also have a national vs. international bend to them from time to time.  Samuel L. Jackson just stepped out in an interview to criticize the casting of black British actor Daniel Kaluuya to play an American African-American guy in “Get Out” and wonders about missed opportunities.  Honestly, the man isn’t wrong and, as I coin the term, “Britwashing” has been a quietly unsettling trend when you see the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, Christian Bale, Henry Cavill, Andrew Garfield, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, and David Oyelow playing real and fictional American heroes.  One has to wonder if there is a talent gap between the Brits and the Americans.  What do you think?  How do you feel about foreigners playing American figures and heroes?

DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  He is also one of the founders and the current President of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.