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.