What We Learned This Week: February 3-9

LESSON #1: LIAM NEESON IS IN BIG TROUBLE NO MATTER HOW YOU LOOK AT IT— And here I thought a few weeks ago in this column space, that John Lasseter was going to a big test for post-outrage career paths.  Matching the pulling of the actor’s PR appearances for Cold Pursuit this week, his situation, stemming from his poorly-placed personal admissions and steps towards change in the years since, has two impacts: personal and professional.  The forgiveness, recovery, and damage control are different for both worlds.  He may be able to show his face and make appearances to continue the soul-baring conversation he started, but he may be radioactive on the business side for a while.  I still say if Hugh Grant can be arrested for soliciting a prostitute two decades ago and be the Oscar-worthy villain of Paddington 2 years later, the zero laws broken by Liam Neeson can make redemption possible.  It definitely going to take more than good kissing.

LESSON #2: INTERMISSIONS ARE A WORTHWHILE IDEA— Word around the internet campfire is that the latest edit of Avengers: Endgame is still a mammoth three hours and Disney is considering building in an intermission into film.  I’m all for it. Trim no more. Pick a dynamite editing point for some exhaling and reflection. Give us a bathroom break and a rousing Alan Silvestri overture while we refocus.  Nail that tone. If any film could pull it off, it’s this future juggernaut. Intermissions would extend running time and prevent as many turnstile turns and showings compared to some 90-minute hopscotch movie, but plenty of long films have scored at the box office.  Avatar was 162 minutes.  Titanic was 195.  They made billions.  Bottom lines will be fine.

LESSON #3: FINDING THE RIGHT TONE— Speaking of tone, one of the reasons Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe failed was that it wasn’t dark enough.  The Mummy was a Tom Cruise vehicle, not a thriller.  Even though the old Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi classics aren’t anywhere near hardcore horror by today’s tastes, these characters (and others) are still monsters.  Give them some teeth and some edge, not sugary action fluff. Universal’s hiring of producer Jason Blum and Upgrade director Leigh Whannell for their Invisible Man remake is the right direction to go with smaller aims and horror expertise.  That’s the tone you need here.

LESSON #4: STEVEN SODERBERGH IS THE SMARTEST GUY IN THE ROOM AND GETS NO CREDIT FOR IT— The Oceans series director recently did an interview with Deadline talking about his career path.  One tangent delved into the underwhelming results of his last two films Logan Lucky and Unsane.  Both were well-reviewed films that were lost to audiences.  The grassroots and cost-minded Soderbergh saw marketing costs skyrocketing in the industry and considered it a threat to the success of true independent film working on small budgets.  Fascinatingly, Soderbergh wanted to try spending less (no junkets, talk shows, and more) on those two recent films, going more the viral routes. He found that the silly and preening attention that comes from late-night couches and more gets more attention than social media.  I wish he wasn’t wrong because the fluff is too much and too frivolously expensive. Fascinating interview from a guy with a heck of career arc.

LESSON #5: KNOW WHEN TO SAY WHEN— It looks like Vice Oscar nominee Christian Bale got The Matt Damon Diagnosis recently.  Here at 45 years old, the toll of the “yo-yo dieting” going back and forth between dramatic weight losses for The Machinist and The Fighter and unhealthy weight gains to play American Hustle, Batman, and Dick Cheney has caught up to the actor.  Citing his mortality, Bale says he won’t go through those swings again and let the makeup do the magic.  Wise decision, Christian. We want you to hang around for as long as possible.


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson and also on Medium.com for the MovieTime Guru publication.  As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a new member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over a year, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the special “Connecting with Classics” podcast program.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.

Oscar Locks

It’s an annual tradition in my house. I spend 9 months of the year trying to convince myself that I don’t care at all about movie awards. I don’t need fancy, self-important awards shows to tell me what’s good. Sure, I’m not a critic, but I’m a dude who watches a whole lot of movies. I can decide for myself what’s good. Then, once December rolls around, I’m a triggered, angry mess for 3 long months as the awards roll in for all of the movies that I didn’t end up seeing. Well, not this year. This year, I’ve seen more movies than ever before and I’m ready to not be disappointed come time for Oscar’s big night. So for your reading pleasure, here’s a list of a few of the awards I’m looking forward to with a film/actor or two that should’ve been nominated but wasn’t, the nominee I want to win, and the nominee that I believe will win.


Animated Feature

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Incredibles 2, Mirai

Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, Isle of Dogs

Should’ve been nominated: I’m going to start off here with a pretty boring opinion, but I think the nominations here were pretty good. I haven’t seen Ralph Breaks the Internet or Mirai, but all of the other three were great movies that I really enjoyed.

I want to win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This movie is a game changer in the world of animation. It’s funny, smart and gorgeous to look at. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to visit the Spider-Verse.

Will win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Supporting Actor

Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born; Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Sam Rockwell, Vice; Mahershala Ali, Green Book; Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Should’ve been nominated: Hugh Grant, Paddington 2. The Paddington sequel was one of the first 2018 films I saw and Grant’s performance as aging villainous stage actor Phoenix Buchanan has remained my favorite throughout the entire year.

I want to win: Sam Elliott and his glorious mustache or Adam Driver. Sam Elliott because I love Sam Elliot and the small amount of time he gets in A Star Is Born is very, very good. Adam Driver is just dynamite in BlacKkKlansman. I’m always impressed when someone plays a role of someone who is playing a role and Driver does it about as well as anyone I’ve seen.

Will win: Richard E. Grant. I haven’t seen Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but he seems to be winning everything else.

Supporting Actress

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk; Amy Adams, Vice; Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Emma Stone, The Favourite; Marina de Tavira, Roma

Should’ve been nominated:Rachel McAdams, Game Night. She’s a total delight and boasts a comedic timing that is absolutely on point in the funniest movie of the year. “But she’s a lead, Jeremy,” you might say. And you’d be right, but so are Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.

I want to win: Regina King. I haven’t seen the movie, but I hear she’s great and I think the Academy finally makes up for snubbing her work in Jerry Maguire in 1996.

Will win: Regina King

Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale, Vice; Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born; Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book; Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Should’ve been nominated: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed. Paul Schrader’s film is criminally underrepresented in this year’s nominations. Sure it got a screenplay nod, but it very easily could have gotten a director and picture selection as well. Being left off of those lists is understandable. It was a strong year in film. What isn’t understandable is Ethan Hawke not being recognized for what is arguably the best work he’s done in a very long and storied career.

I want to win: Bradley Cooper

Will win: Christian Bale. Rami Malek does have momentum in this race, but for some reason, Hollywood is really keen on Vice. And Bale’s transformation just to get in character is easily the best part of Vice.

Actress in a Leading Role 

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born; Glenn Close, The Wife; Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Should’ve been nominated: The list here is really long. Regina Hall (Support The Girls) and Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give) both have strong arguments. But if you would’ve told me that Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade was simply video of an awkward teenage girl being filmed without her knowledge, first I would’ve thought that was super creepy, but second I totally would’ve believed you. That’s how amazing Elsie Fisher is in that film.

I want to win: Lady Gaga

Will win: Glenn Close. Because no one has seen The Wife and the Academy hates me.

Director 

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman; Alfonso Cuarón, Roma; Adam McKay, Vice

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite; Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

Should’ve been nominated: Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born. I don’t understand how Adam McKay got a nomination over Cooper in this race. Vice is fiercely adequate as a film, but from Adam McKay it’s hardly a stand-out. It’s an angrier The Big Short with the smugness turned up to 11. I don’t think it should’ve been shut out, there are some legitimately great performances that deserve to be recognized, but it doesn’t belong anywhere in the vicinity of this category or Best Picture.

I want to win: Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman. Some people might call a win for Lee a career achievement award. I think those people would be wrong. BlacKkKlansman is one of the most important films of the year and Lee presents it in a package that is funny, intriguing, intense, and uncompromising.

Probably will win: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma. I’m not sure if it’s the dog crap or the naked martial arts, but people are super into Roma. In all seriousness, it is a beautiful film and every moment feels crafted with love. I wouldn’t at all be upset to see Cuarón go home with the statue.

 

Best Picture

Black Panther, Green Book, BlacKkKlansman, Roma, A Star Is Born

Vice, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite

Should’ve been nominated: Blindspotting. It’s better than anything else on this list. Full stop. No snark, no quips, it’s better than anything else on this list.

I want to win: A Star Is Born is my favorite movie nominated, but as an unashamed lover of superhero movies, I’d love to see Black Panther go home a winner.

Probably will win: Roma. If I’m being honest, picture is the only category where I really don’t have any idea what’s going to win. I’d love to think that A Star Is Born would have a good chance because of how well it’s performed at the box office since it’s release in October, however that’s hardly an indicator of awards success. Roma is currently the odds on favorite, most likely due to it nearly sweeping the critic awards so far this year. But I think this is looking like a pretty tight race, so I’d keep checking in over there until you have to turn in your picks for the office Oscar pool.

 

There you have it. Those are my picks. Get your bets in on time. I’ll take 60% of your winnings and you can cover any losses (there won’t be any). And as a bonus for making it this far, I’ll give you one more quickie: I don’t want to be over-dramatic, but if “Shallow” doesn’t win Best Original Song, I’ll light myself on fire. Your move, Academy.


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

 

You Should Be Watching: August 9-15

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 a 2017 film that happens to be one of the best Westerns in years, transcending the genre itself. Next, a classic Japanese film that is as deep in meaning as the sand dunes its protagonist is trapped at the bottom of. Finally, a Robert Redford-led government conspiracy crime caper.

As always, be sure to check out the list of all the notable films that are expiring soon and newly arriving.


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Hostiles

  — Available Aug. 15

Year: 2017

Director: Scott Cooper

Genre: History, Drama, Western, Adventure

Cast: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Jesse Plemons, Adam Beach, Rory Cochrane, Ben Foster, Stephen Lang, Timothée Chalamet, Jonathan Majors, Q’orianka Kilcher, Paul Anderson, Ryan Bingham, Peter Mullan, Robyn Malcolm, Scott Wilson, Bill Camp, John Benjamin Hickey

From the shocking opening where the serenity of a mother in her home schooling her children is shattered in a flurry of sudden and vicious gunfire and brutality, the tone is set for this very bleak but somehow hopeful film. Christian Bale plays Native American-hating Army captain Joseph Blocker. His duty, against his will is to escort Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family through deadly territory back to their reservation. While the setting makes this a Western, deep themes run throughout that echo the entire history of human relations, cycles of violence and resulting prejudice and attempts to overcome it all. It’s a very unique film in that it shows compassion for all peoples but doesn’t hold back on showing how cruel and violent anyone can be, regardless of race. It also explores the nature of doing one’s duty despite how one feels about it and learning to forgive the worst wrongs.

In a film full of fantastic performances and colorful characters representing many types and races of people, Rosamund Pike (Rosalie) and Christian Bale stand above the rest. The pair’s relationship could have easily been abused for the sake of cheap romance, but instead through the trauma they share from their past, they take a fascinating and heart-wrenching emotional and spiritual journey together. They both have to struggle to overcome the pain of their past and the grief it is causing them as well as current danger and try to maintain their faith despite God having seemed to turn a blind eye to them.


Woman in the Dunes

  

Year: 1964

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara

Genre: Thriller, Drama

Cast: Eiji Okada, Kyôko Kishida, Ginzô Sekiguchi, Kôji Mitsui, Sen Yano, Hiroko Itô

Tokyo teacher and entomologist Jumpei Niki (Eiji Okada) is on a three-day vacation and gets tricked into going down a sandy cliff side from which there is no way out. The only way to survive and keep the house down there from collapsing is to shovel sand every night along with the unnamed woman (Kyôko Kishida) who lives in the house. Despite this relatively simple plot, Hiroshi Teshigahara has created a film incredibly dense with meaning.

Is it a nightmarish retelling of the Sisyphus myth? Is it a glimpse of a man in hell? Is it a commentary on the dehumanization of slavery or the nature of our innate lustful and voyeuristic attitudes? Is it a cautionary tale inspiring us to live with purpose rather than merely live to survive? Is it an homage to the allegory of Plato’s cave? Yes and much more. Hiroshi Segawa’s masterful cinematography along with claustrophobic editing serves to amp up the hopeless conditions. And Toru Takemitsu’s tense musical score gets at the sense of unease and downright fear at what’s happening.


Sneakers

Year: 1992

Director: Phil Alden Robinson

Genre: Crime, Drama, Comedy

Cast: Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, David Strathairn, River Phoenix, Timothy Busfield, Mary McDonnell, Ben Kingsley, James Earl Jones, Donal Logue, Denise Dowse, Eddie Jones, Time Winters, Bodhi Elfman, Stephen Tobolowsky, George Hearn, Lee Garlington, George Cheung, Michael Kinney, Gary Hershberger

With Robert Redford’s confirmation just days ago that he is retiring from acting after his next film is released this fall, now’s a great time to go back to Phil Alden Robinson’s (Field of Dreams) early Mission: Impossible-lite government conspiracy crime caper that put the NSA on the map of the public’s consciousness. Redford plays Martin Bishop, an affable former hacker who heads a security team of eccentric characters with dubious pasts. They get pressured into doing a favor for the government and soon find themselves caught in a massive conspiracy that could get any or all of them killed.

While the film is dated in its look and technology, the plot is entirely relevant to modern concerns of online privacy. It’s also far more entertaining than it has a right to be thanks to its clever writing, abundance of twists and turns, and light-hearted adventurous tone, and inspired casting, combining such disparate actors on the team as Dan Aykroyd as Mother, Sidney Poitier as Crease, and David Strathairn as Whistler, the blind guy who uses his other senses to greater effect than anyone else. Mary McDonnell adds a feminine presence as Martin’s ex-girlfriend Liz and along with Stephen Tobolowsky in a bit part creates one of the most memorable sequences of the movie. And last but not least, Sir Ben Kingsley gets to be a misguided, all-too-powerful villain, with a ponytail to boot.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

August 15
The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
Sweet Bean (2015)

August 24
The Road (2009)

FILMSTRUCK

August 10
Altered States (1980)
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
Dogtooth (2009)
Falling Down (1993)
Magnolia (1999)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Them! (1954)

August 12
The Last House on the Left (1972)

August 17
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)
The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)
Escape from New York (1981)
The Falls (1980)
Hairspray (1988)
A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)

August 20
Frances Ha (2012)

August 24

Act of Violence (1949)
Boy (2010)
Casablanca (1942)
The Freshman (1925)
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Get Carter (1971)
The Little Foxes (1941)
A Man for All Seasons (1966)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Nine Queens (2000)
Now, Voyager (1942)
The Producers (1967)
Stella Dallas (1937)
Swing Time (1936)
Top Hat (1935)
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

August 31
Badlands (1973)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
The Exorcist (1973)
Gun Crazy (1950)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Kameradschaft (1931)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The Searchers (1956)
They Live by Night (1948)
Tootsie (1982)
Westfront 1918 (1930)
You Only Live Once (1937)

HULU

August 31
Across the Universe (2007)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The ’Burbs (1989)
Clue (1985)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
Hellboy (2004)
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
Primal Fear (1996)
Rain Man (1988)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Trainspotting (1996)


JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Paid in Full (2002)

AMAZON PRIME

The Haunted Palace (1963)
High Noon (1952)
Hoosiers (1986)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Joe (2013)
Rich Hill (2014)
A Star Is Born (1937)
The Uninvited (1944)

FILMSTRUCK

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The Emigrants (1971)
The Exorcist (1973)
The New Land (1972)


COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

August 10
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – NETFLIX FILM (2018)
The Package – NETFLIX FILM (2018)

August 11
No Country for Old Men (2007)

August 15
Hostiles (2017)

HULU

August 10
Borg vs McEnroe (2017)

August 16
Role Models (2008)


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.

You Should Be Watching: July 5-11

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 on an all-Prime edition, I’m recommending a top-notch pairing of the Safdie brothers and Robert Pattinson, an intense Paul Greengrass docudrama that isn’t United 93, and Werner Herzog’s atypical film about Vietnam War POWs.

Also, Amazon Prime is knocking it out of the park with the quantity and quality of films that have arrived on the service this past week, everything from Buster Keaton’s The General to David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Martin Scorsese’s acclaimedTaxi Driver, written by Paul Schrader, has come to FilmStruck. And it’s your last full week to catch Sweet Smell of Success on FilmStruck and the previously featured Changeling on Netflix. This coming week, you can look forward to seeing Gone Baby Gone show up on Netflix and Snowden on Prime.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Good Time

Year: 2017

Director: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Drama

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Taliah Webster, Buddy Duress, Barkhad Abdi, Necro Peter Verby, Gladys Mathon, Saida Mansoor, Eric Paykert, Rose Gregorio, Rachel Black, Cliff Moylan, Hirakish Ranasaki, Maynard Nicholl, Craig muMs Grant, George Lee Miles, Lucas Elliot Eberl, Edgar Morais, Souleymane Sy Savane, Shaun Rey, Marcos A. Gonzalez

 

With Good Time, The Safdie brothers have cooked up a tense and energetic cautionary tale showcasing the selfish nature and disastrous and inescapable consequences of crime, especially on loved ones. Oneohtrix Point Never provides the brilliant 80s-styled synth score that perfectly drives tension and sets the mood.

Despite any significant makeup or disguise other than the incredibly lifelike mask he uses as a bank robber, Robert Pattinson is practically unrecognizable as lowlife Connie Nikas in this Murphy’s law crime thriller. And it’s not only his appearance that makes him a chameleon. He displays a tremendous range of emotion as his desperation grows and his life spirals out of control. In addition to Connie making things increasingly worse for himself, the real tragedy of this film is how he sucks his mentally ill brother, Nick, played to great effect by co-director Ben Safdie, into his ill-advised bank robbery and the aftermath thereof. Connie and Nick’s relationship is the heart of the film and colors every decision Connie makes.


Bloody Sunday

Year: 2002

Director: Paul Greengrass

Genre: Action, Drama, Adventure, History, War

Cast: James Nesbitt, Allan Gildea, Gerard Crossan, Mary Moulds, Carmel McCallion, Tim Pigott-Smith, Nicholas Farrell, Christopher Villiers, James Hewitt, Declan Duddy, Edel Frazer, Joanne Lindsay, Mike Edwards, Gerry Hammond, Jason Stammers, Ken Williams, Bryan Watts, Simon Mann, Rhidian Bridge, Johnny O’Donnell, David Clayton Rogers, Sean O’Kane, Thomas McEleney, Deirdre Irvine, Gerry Newton, David Pearse, Gerard McSorley

 

Far less well known than his 9/11 fly-on-the-wall docudrama United 93, Paul Greengrass‘ Bloody Sunday was his four years earlier but no less impactful foray into similarly-styled film making. This emotionally-charged film dramatizes the 1972 Northern Ireland massacre immortalized in the U2 song Sunday Bloody Sunday. Fittingly, that song plays over the final credits to its completion, long after the screen has faded to black. This incident is not well known on this side of the Atlantic, which means great skill was needed to create this kind of film that eschews exposition or character introductions or backstories and have it impact the viewer and make any sense. By the shocking, powerful third act, Greengrass has done just that, largely thanks to James Nesbitt’s anchoring of the film with his intense and heartbreaking portrayal of veteran civil rights campaigner Ivan Cooper, who has gone from waking up, expecting to participate in another quiet, peaceful protest to finding himself in the midst of blood and bullets.


Rescue Dawn

 

Year: 2006

Director: Werner Herzog

Genre: War, Drama, Adventure, Biography, Drama

Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Marshall Bell, Toby Huss, Pat Healy, François Chau, James Oliver, GQ, Saichia Wongwiroj, Brad Carr, Teerawat Mulvilai, Jeremy Davies, Kriangsak Ming-olo, Somkuan ‘Kuan’ Siroon, Mr. Yuttana Muenwaja, Chorn Solyda, Galen Yuen, Apichart Chusakul, Lek Chaiyan Chunsuttiwat, Zach Grenier, Evan Jones

 

Featuring nearly as much whispering and fly-on-the-wall footage as any Terrence Malick film, everyone gets to bring their own special brand of crazy to this atypical Vietnam war movie directed by Werner Herzog. By the time the cocky pilot Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale) crashes, gets captured and tortured, and is brought to the POW camp, the POWs he’s put with have already been there for so long, they’ve become shells of themselves, caricatures that are a bit one dimensional and weird, to put it lightly. Among the performances, Steve Zahn does crazy well, and it’s fascinating to see Bale go from cocky self-assurance to utter desperation over the course of the film.

While their experience is certainly not a pleasant one and quiet must be maintained at all times, other than being locked into stocks at night and all but starved, the prisoners have little interaction with their guards. Despite character names such as Little Hitler, this is no WWII death camp. Other more significant dangers lie outside the camp.

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

July 9
Closet Monster (2015)

July 11
Mountains May Depart (2015)

July 15
Changeling (2008)

 

FILMSTRUCK

July 6
Husbands and Wives (1992)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

July 8
Together (2000)

July 13
Losing Ground (1982)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

July 20
Blow-Up (1966)
Rififi (1955)
Thieves’ Highway (1949)

July 27
All the President’s Men (1976)
Ball of Fire (1941)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
His Girl Friday (1940)
The Killing Fields (1984)
Rio Bravo (1959)

July 28
Night and the City (1950)

July 31
Taxi Driver (1976)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Blue Valentine (2010)
The Boondock Saints (1999)
Certain Women (2016)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Happy Gilmore (1996)
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Jurassic Park (1993) — Parts II and III also available
Menace II Society (1993)
Real Genius (1985)
Troy (2004)

 

AMAZON PRIME

20,000 Days on Earth (2014)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
The Act of Killing (2012)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
All Is Lost (2013)
Angel Heart (1987)
American Psycho (2000)
Assassination (2015)
Bad Boy Bubby (1993)
Barfly (1987)
The Bear (1988)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Fearless (2006)
The General (1926)
The Graduate (1967)
Gran Torino (2008)
Indie Game: The Movie (2012)
The Insult (2017)
The Invisible War (2012)
The Last Waltz (1978)
The Monster Squad (1987)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Patriot Games (1992)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
Rescue Dawn (2006)
Shoeshine (1946)
Six Shooter (2004)
Sneakers (1992)
State of Grace (1990)
The Strange Little Cat (2013)
Tangerines (2013)
A Trip to the Moon (1902)
V for Vendetta (2006)
Waste Land (2010)
Way Down East (1920)
Witness (1985)
Woody Allen: A Documentary (2011)
Zodiac (2007)

 

FILMSTRUCK

La Terra Trema (1948)
Mafioso (1962)
The Public Enemy (1931)
The Roaring Twenties (1939)
Taxi Driver (1976)

 

HULU

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
All Is Lost (2013)
American Psycho (2000)
Assassination (2015)
Angel Heart (1987)
Barfly (1987)
Before Midnight (2013)
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Braveheart (1995)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Clue (1985)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Election (1999)
Happy Accidents (2000)
Hustle & Flow (2005)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Midnight in Paris (2011)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Prestige (2006)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
The Rainmaker (1997)
Six Shooter (2004)
Sleepers (1996)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Witness (1985)
Borg vs McEnroe (2018)

 


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

July 7
Scream 4 (2011)

July 12
Gone Baby Gone (2007)

 

AMAZON PRIME

July 8
Snowden (2016)

 

HULU

July 10
Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017)

 


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.

You Should Be Watching: May 17-23

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. I highlight films that come with my personal recommendation as well as provide a list of notable titles that are coming and going so you’re sure not to miss out on the good stuff.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Oculus

Year: 2013

Director: Mike Flanagan

Genre: Horror

Cast: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, James Lafferty, Rory Cochrane, Kate Siegel, Garrett Ryan, Katie Parker, Miguel Sandoval, Annalise Basso

 

I’ll be honest with you. I have relatively limited experience with horror. But I still believe that Oculus, a nightmarish puzzle box of a film directed, co-written, and edited by Mike Flanagan, is one of the most wickedly intelligent films in the genre. The genius is evident in the setup. By having Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites), brother to Kaylie (Karen Gillan) be a just-released patient of a mental institution because of a violent act he carried out as a child, sanity is already in question. Kaylie is convinced the whole affair began because of a haunted mirror and is committed to destroying it before it destroys them. But what’s easier to believe, that someone is crazy or that they’re under the influence of the supernatural?

Through Flanagan’s careful editing of the past and the present, and through keeping it unclear whether what the camera is presenting is real or imagined, the audience is continually kept off balance along with the siblings. Flanagan makes wonderful use of darkness and light throughout to maintain the ideal, haunting atmosphere, and the character motivations and actions are right on target, not easily second guessed. The terror is subtle yet just brutal enough to convey the true horror of the situation, and I can’t say enough good things about Karen Gillan. Her performance here reminded me why I loved her so much in Doctor Who.


 

Harakiri

  

Year: 1962

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Genre: History, Action, Drama

Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Rentarô Mikuni, Shima Iwashita, Akira Ishihama, Yoshio Inaba, Masao Mishima, Kei Satō, Ichirô Nakatani, Hisashi Igawa, Tôru Takeuchi, Tatsuo Matsumura, Akiji Kobayashi, Kôichi Hayashi, Ryûtarô Gomi, Nakajirô Tomita, Kenzô Tanaka, Shôtarô Hayashi, Tetsurō Tamba

 

Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri is a true masterpiece of Japanese samurai storytelling, deserving every bit as much praise as more popular fare such as Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Everything from the artistry to the intricately woven plot to the carefully developed emotion to the presentation of a time and a people long past is pure excellence. To begin the film, Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai) is introduced, stoic and seeming in full control at all times, which makes his stated intentions all the more confusing and shocking. He is an older samurai who comes to the house of a feudal lord with the claim that he is willing to commit the ritual suicide known as hara-kiri. But first he must be allowed to tell a story.

The bulk of this film is the presentation of that story and its aftermath, and let me tell you, it’s possibly the most exquisitely crafted story I’ve ever experienced through film, and it will keep you hanging on every frame. Through non-linear flashbacks, Kobayashi introduces the audience to each relevant character, their experiences, and the implications of those experiences at the precise moments needed to maximize intellectual engagement and emotional impact, leading to a progressive series of light-bulb moments as the full truth of the situation is gradually revealed.


 

The Flowers of War

    

Year: 2011

Director: Zhang Yimou

Genre: Drama, History, War

Cast: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Tong Dawei, Zhang Xinyi, Shigeo Kobayashi, Atsuro Watabe, Shawn Dou, Paul Schneider

 

Many people recognize Zhang Yimou’s 2002 film Hero to be a classic of Chinese cinema, with its eye-popping visuals nothing less than poetry in film form. Cut to 2011, and we have The Flowers of War, Yimou’s highly underrated, culturally diverse war film starring Christian Bale and set during Japan’s rape of Nanking in 1937 that seems to have fallen through the cracks of cultural awareness.    Through a contrast of visuals and characters, Yimou demonstrates the horrors of war and the beauty of sacrifice, especially when learned by the disreputable and self-centered.

Bale shines as the American John Miller, a self-indulgent mortician, who cares for nothing but his own comfort and pleasure as he seeks a quick payday on his way out of Nanking before it’s completely overrun by brutal Japanese soldiers. His unlikely counterpart is Yu Mo (Ni Ni), the leader of a group of prostitutes who are also trying to escape the city. Together with a group of schoolgirls, they all end up together, seeking sanctuary and survival at the girls’ convent. Zhang Yimou and his DP Zhao Xiaoding created a beautiful film about a horrifying event. The plotting is creative, and a wholly human face, with all of its cracks and blemishes is put on our unlikely hero, the innocent schoolgirls, and the prostitutes, many of whom were forced unwillingly into that life at a frighteningly early age.

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

May 21
Inglourious Basterds (2009)

May 27
Middle of Nowhere (2012)

May 29
The Jungle Book (2016)

 

AMAZON PRIME

May 18
Creed (2015)

May 30
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
1984 (1984)
Breakdown (1997)
Regarding Henry (1991)

 

FILMSTRUCK

May 18
Luchino Visconti:

La Terra Trema (1948)
The Leopard (1963)
Rocco and His Brothers (1960)

May 25
Carol Reed:

The Fallen Idol (1948)
The Third Man (1949)

May 31
High Noon (1952)

June 1
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
A Night At The Opera (1935)

June 8
Christopher Guest:

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

Elia Kazan:

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


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Phantom of the Opera (2004)

 

AMAZON PRIME

Winter’s Bone (2010)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Billy Wilder:

Ace in the Hole (1951)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Stalag 17 (1953)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

All the President’s Men (1976)
Dark Passage (1947)
Key Largo (1948)
The Killing Fields (1984)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Stella Dallas (1937)
To Have and Have Not (1944)

 

HULU

In the Fade (2017)
Still Mine (2010)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

May 18
Cargo — NETFLIX FILM (2017)
Catching Feelings — NETFLIX FILM (2017)

May 19
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Small Town Crime (2017)

May 24
The Survivor’s Guide to Prison (2018)

 

AMAZON PRIME

May 19
Beatriz at Dinner (2017)

 

HULU

May 19
Beatriz at Dinner (2017)

 


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.