You Should Be Watching: September 21-26

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.


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Ben-Hur

 — Expires Sept. 28

Year: 1959

Director: William Wyler

Genre: Adventure, Drama, History

Cast: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O’Donnell, Frank Thring, Sam Jaffe, Ady Berber, Finlay Currie, André Morell, Terence Longdon, Lando Buzzanca, Giuliano Gemma, Marina Berti, Robert Brown, Liana Del Balzo, Enzo Fiermonte

With 11 Academy Awards won–a record yet to be surpassed–, a career-defining performance by the dynamic, self-assured Charlton Heston as the titular Judah Ben-Hur, and the largest budget and most elaborate sets of its time, William Wyler’s Ben-Hur is a monumental achievement and the very definition of Hollywood epic. Everything about it is huge, from the 10,000 extras to the centerpiece chariot race, to the 3 1/2-hour runtime to Miklós Rózsa’s majestic score. Adapted from the 1880 Lew Wallace novel and a remake of the 1925 silent film, Ben-Hur is in the vein of the classic BIble epics, even interacts with events in the Biblical narrative, but remains its own story.

Judah is an early first century Jewish nobleman living in Jerusalem who is knowingly and wrongfully accused of attempted murder by his once childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd). Now a Roman commander, Messala shows himself willing to destroy the life of a family he once held dear all for the sake of Rome’s glory. The betrayed Judah will have to endure intense undeserved hardship and face his desire for revenge as he struggles to get back what he lost and encounters one who was more deserving of revenge than anyone who has ever lived.


We Need to Talk About Kevin

      

Year: 2011

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell, Rock Duer, Ashley Gerasimovich, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Alex Manette, Kenneth Franklin, Leslie Lyles, Paul Diomede, Michael Campbell, J. Mallory McCree, Mark Elliot, Wilson, James Chen, Lauren Fox, Blake DeLong, Andy Gershenzon

This is a dismal but important film by a director who has made a career of such films, Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here)The story centers on the lives of Franklin and Eva Khatchadourian (John C. Reilly and Tilda Swinton) and their troubled son Kevin. All three actors who play Kevin at his different ages–Rock Duer, Jasper Newell, and Ezra Miller–display such smug, manipulative attitudes it is downright scary. Franklin acts as a cautionary figure. He is easily manipulated by Kevin, receiving all of his love and affection, and refuses to listen to his wife and look deeper, causing his relationship with Eva to fracture. Eva falls into misery and isolation because her child has a clear predilection towards rebellion, manipulation, and downright evil from the time he was born.

The narrative jumps around the timeline of their lives, but a painful sense of dread hangs throughout as Kevin’s true nature becomes increasingly difficult to ignore as well as the knowledge that there are many Kevins in the real world. But by God’s grace, any one of us could be a Kevin or have a child like him.


The Third Man

Year: 1949

Director: Carol Reed

Genre: Film-noir, Mystery, Thriller

Cast: Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Paul Hörbiger, Ernst Deutsch, Siegfried Breuer, Erich Ponto, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Hedwig Bleibtreu, Alexis Chesnakov, Thomas Gallagher, Herbert Halbik, Hannah Norbert, Eric Pohlmann, Carol Reed, Annie Rosar, Frederick Schrecker, Hugo Schuster, Karel Stepanek, Brother Theodore, Jenny Werner

Voted the greatest British film of all time by the British Film Institute in 1999, the Third Man is a film-noir like no other. It starts out as a merely an intriguing murder mystery where a writer named Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) has arrived in Vienna at the invitation of his childhood friend Harry Lime only to find out he has died, but it becomes something else entirely as the story, written by Graham Greene, develops.

With the genre already being rooted in German expressionism, director Carol Reed takes the idea and runs with it, creating one of the most distinctive combinations of sight and sound on film. From the outset, the energy and tension of the film is established through Anton Karas‘ musical score, consisting of a single instrument, the zither. Reed uses Dutch angles galore that perfectly enhance the off-kilter tone of mystery and the post war environment itself without ever coming across as pretentious. And Robert Krasker’s Academy Award winning stark black and white cinematography sets a deep contrast between shadow and light to further accent the mood. Not only is the film set in post WWII Vienna, which becomes a character itself, but many of the Austrians speak German, which is often left unsubtitled, putting the audience in the same state of confusion as Holly as he tries to work out the mystery of Harry Lime.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

September 22
Trollhunter (2010)

September 25
The Assassin (2015)

September 27
The Imitation Game (2014)

September 29
The Commitments (1991)

September 30
The Departed (2006)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Life Is Beautiful (1997)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Rust and Bone (2012)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Menace II Society (1993)
Cinderella Man (2005)
Inside Man (2006)
The Lost Boys (1987)

AMAZON PRIME

September 23
Shutter Island (2010)

September 29
Carrie (1976)
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Miami Blues (1990)
Spaceballs (1987)
Stargate (1994)

September 30
American Psycho (2000)
Angel Heart (1987)
Babel (2006)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
The Crow (1994)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
The Graduate (1967)
Hoosiers (1986)
Insomnia (2002)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Witness (1985)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)

October 1
Raging Bull (1980)

October 3
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

FILMSTRUCK

September 21
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)
Mean Streets (1973)
Night Moves (1975)

September 28
Accattone (1961)
Being There (1979)
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
Ben-Hur (1959)
The Breaking Point (1950)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
East of Eden (1955)
The Gospel According to Matthew (1964)
JFK (1991)
Kes (1969)
Local Hero (1983)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
The Pianist (2002)
Rain Man (1988)
The Right Stuff (1983)
The Roaring Twenties (1939)
Teorema (1968)
Winter Soldier (1972)

October 5
White Heat (1949)
Infernal Affairs (2002)
The Narrow Margin (1952)
The Thing from Another World (1951)
Gigi (1958)

October 12
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

HULU

September 30
American Psycho (2000)
Angel Heart (1987)
Babel (2006)
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Bound (1996)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Field of Dreams (1989)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Ladies Man (1961)
Miami Blues (1990)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
The Rock (1996)
Sleepers (1996)
Spaceballs (1987)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Witness (1985)


JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

The Endless (2017)
Role Models (2008)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
The Third Man (1949)
The Witch (2015)

AMAZON PRIME

Angels Wear White (2017)
The Big Combo (1955)
Blow Out (1981)
Charade (1963)
The Conformist (1970)
Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
Kansas City Confidential (1952)
Locke (2013)
One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)
Western (2017)
Wild Bill (2011)
Woman on the Run (1950)
Zombie (1979)

FILMSTRUCK

Ball of Fire (1941)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)
Full Moon in Paris (1984)
Wuthering Heights (1939)

HULU

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
The Queen (2006)


COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

September 21
Nappily Ever After–NETFLIX FILM (2018)

September 25
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

AMAZON PRIME

September 21
My Little Pony: The Movie (2017)

HULU

September 21
My Little Pony: The Movie (2017)

September 24
Iris (2001)


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.

MOVIE REVIEW: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Rated: R

 


Going In

In 2015, a new project from director Matthew Vaughn and comic book writer extraordinaire Mark Millar became a surprise theatrical hit, grossing $128 million domestically. As legend has it, Vaughn and Millar were at a bar one day discussing spy movies and decided that the genre had become overly serious. The two decided to make “a fun one”, which ended up being based on one of Millar’s comics, and Kingsman: The Secret Service was born.

In my opinion, Vaughn and Millar succeeded in their attempt to liven up the secret agent movie. I enjoyed Kingsman: The Secret Service (K:TSS) immensely and now have high expectations for its sequel. I’m particularly interested in learning how Colin Firth’s character (code name Galahad) returns and whether or not Julianne Moore’s new villain can reach the eccentric excellence that Samuel L. Jackson provided in the first film. The sequel is also pulling in some big names for what seem to be smaller roles. Will Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, and Channing Tatum enhance the film or be a distraction? The action will be grand, I have no doubt, and I’m crossing my fingers that the humor will work as well as it did before (vice following the raunchier trend of modern-day Hollywood comedies). Regardless of whether Kingsman: The Golden Circle wows me, I do expect to have a good time at the theater. If it turns out to be special, even better, but that would be enough.

 


COMING OUT

I went, I saw, and… I was let down. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (K:TGS) did not, in fact, turn out to be special. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a good time either.

In K:TGS, the Kingsman headquarters has been destroyed and Eggsy must unite with new American allies (The Statesman) in order to once again save the world, this time from a ruthless villain. One of my burning questions for this sequel was whether or not Moore could live up to Jackson and the answer is a resounding “NO.” Despite her fantastic performance as a bubbly psychopath drug lord, the character motivations are selfish and far less interesting than the thought-provoking topic of overpopulation that is explored in K:TSS. There is also an increase in the violent/gory content of the sequel (stemming from her ruthless nature) that I found off-putting and unnecessary. Another of my primary concerns was how the return of Colin Firth’s character of Galahad would be handled. To put it bluntly, it’s a complete joke. I was not the only one to sigh and roll my eyes at the explanation of how he survived the events of the first film, and his reappearance here retroactively lessens the impact of K:TSS.

With regards to those new American spies, it was disappointing how little screen time Channing Tatum was given. He was one of the few bright spots, stole every scene he was in, and yes, he dances. Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry are… fine. All of the American agents other than Pedro Pascal’s Whiskey feel like they’re window dressing or present only to set up bigger roles in a sequel. Oh, and can we talk about those code names? It’s quite obvious that the film is meant to be satire and poke fun at Americans, but whereas the Kingsman mythology is modeled after old knights and tales of honor, the American agency is modeled after liquor tycoons and its agents named after different brands of alcohol. This serves as a perfect example of how K:TGC takes a big step back by being overly silly in its stereotypes. Its numerous attempts at cultural commentary were a big miss for me.

Lastly, I have to address one specific scene that really ruined the movie for me. As mentioned above, my hopes were that the film would not be too crude. In one entirely avoidable moment, Vaughn instead pushed far enough that I will now choose not to let my young teenagers see the movie. And the question I kept asking myself is “why?” There are so many inventive technologies in this series, but when it comes to getting information from a gorgeous blonde that creativity manifests itself in teenage boy fantasy instead. Luckily, this overtly and uncomfortable sexual scene only occurred once, and Vaughn deserves some credit for attempting to fix his mistake with a certain Princess at the end of K:TSS. But even that still falls short and the film lacks any semblance of a strong female character.

To end on a high note, the film does feature one of my favorite scenes of the year. Mark Strong’s Merlin was a highlight in K:TSS and here he provides an emotional center to the film that I was easily able to connect with. This scene will forever change my thoughts when I hear John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Strong’s performance in this scene (and this series) is exceptional and has inspired me to seek out more of his work.

Verdict

Kingsman: The Golden Circle takes everything about its predecessor and cranks it up to 11. If you didn’t enjoy that film, you definitely won’t like this one either. My expectations were not met, I didn’t enjoy the film, and I’ve lost the desire to see future installments in this series. When Vaughn keeps the focus in Britain and on the Kingsman, it’s great stuff. Too much of this film is an on the nose joke or critique about modern day America, though, and the results are underwhelming.

Rating:


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on how his expectations influenced his experience. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.