You Should Be Watching: September 28 – October 3

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.

Note, as of September 28, Jeremy Saulnier’s (Blue Ruin; Green Room) anticipated new film Hold The Dark is now available to watch on Netflix.


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Scarlet Street

  

Year: 1945

Director: Fritz Lang

Genre: Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Margaret Lindsay, Jess Barker, Rosalind Ivan, Charles Kemper, Anita Sharp-Bolster, Samuel S. Hinds, Vladimir Sokoloff, Arthur Loft, Russell Hicks, Richard Abbott, Rodney Bell, Richard Cramer, Dick Curtis, Tom Daly, Edgar Dearing, Joe Devlin 

Edward G. Robinson highlights this Fritz Lang all too relevant morality tale. Robinson plays the uncomfortably timid Chris Cross, a man embarrassed about and unhappy with his job as a cashier for a clothing store. He’s found himself stuck in a marriage to a shrew of a wife named Adele (Rosalind Ivan), who berates and belittles him constantly and has no respect for his only true interest of painting.

It’s no surprise that Cross’ misery leads to him falling for another woman, especially one as captivating as Kitty March (Joan Bennett). His relationship with her starts innocently enough, as these things so often do. He finds her being attacked and rushes in to help, unaware the assailant is her boyfriend. In their subsequent conversation, she falls under the impression that he is a wealthy painter, setting the stage for a con and a trap exploiting his attraction to her. A terrifically dark film with great performances, memorable dialogue, a tough message, and a minimal score.


Remember

Year: 2015

Director: Atom Egoyan

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Cast: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Dean Norris, Henry Czerny, Bruno Ganz, Jürgen Prochnow, Kim Roberts, Peter DaCunha, T.J. McGibbon, Liza Balkan, Daniel Kash, Heinz Lieven, Stefani Kimber, Jane Spidell, Sofia Wells, Janet Porter, Amanda Smith

An elderly, frail Christopher Plummer impresses in this lesser-seen A24 studios film. First-time screenwriter Benjamin August’s inventive take on the revenge tale is directed by Atom Egoyan. Not only does it involve a necessarily elderly survivor finally discovering who killed his family at the Auschwitz death camp during World War II, but dementia and a ticking clock also plays a role as Plummer’s main character Zev is trying to accomplish his mission before he completely loses his mental faculties. This angle provides something of a Memento feel, though the plotting was not nearly as intricate.

At first, Plummer comes across as very old and almost helpless, but life infuses his body as purpose grows in him. He’s kept on track by a letter he keeps referring to which reminds him of all the important details of who he is and the importance of what he’s doing. Dean Norris provides a small but noteworthy, disturbing, and tension-filled performance as neo-nazi John Kurlander. It’s scary to think there are people just like him.


A Brighter Summer Day

 

Year: 1991

Director: Edward Yang

Genre: Drama, Romance, Crime

Cast: Chang Chen, Lisa Yang, Elaine Jin, Chen Shiang-Chyi, Chang Han, Lawrence Ko, Weiming Wang, Chiang Hsiu-Chiung, Wang Chuan, Chang Kuo-Chu, Stephanie Lai, Wang Chi-tsan, Tan Chih-Kang, Chang Ming-Hsin, Jung Chun-Lung, Chin Tsai

This incredibly ambitious nearly four-hour effort by director Edward Yang covers four years in the life of Xiao Si’r (Chang Chen), the fourth child in a large family living in mid-20th century Taipei. Featuring an enormous cast–nearly 100 relevant characters–and detailed set designs for the many locations within the village it’s set in, this is a dense film. It’s packed full of universal themes such as those accompanying adolescence, rival social groups, love, parenting, financial hardship, and life during political upheaval. Yet, the story explores life in a very specific time and place. Given all the diverse plot threads, it practically demands repeat viewings to be able to appreciate the diversity of characters and themes.

The village this film is set in, its homes, streets, and school feels very much lived in. There’s always activity going on around the characters, and sometimes the camera itself even seems to become distracted as it effortlessly shifts from following one character to another who happens to be passing by. The main plot itself often takes a backseat to the general exploration of post WWII Taiwanese culture and society. In lesser hands, that could just create a mess, but Yang handles it with care by creating rich back stories for every single one of the speaking roles. Everybody feels important. Everybody matters.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

September 29
The Commitments (1991)

September 30
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Blood Diamond (2006)
Boogie Nights (1997)
Cinderella Man (2005)
The Departed (2006)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Inside Man (2006)
Life Is Beautiful (1997)
The Lost Boys (1987)
The Mask You Live In (2015)
Menace II Society (1993)
Real Genius (1985)
Sin City (2005)
Trading Places (1983)

October 1
Out of Sight (1998)

October 2
Dheepan (2015)

October 3
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

October 5
The Beauty Inside (2015)
The BFG (2016)

October 7
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

October 13
The Babadook (2014)

AMAZON PRIME

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)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
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 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

20 Feet from Stardom (2013)
Nappily Ever After–NETFLIX FILM (2018)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

AMAZON PRIME

Bill Cunningham New York (2010)
City of Hope (1991)
The Golden Coach (1952)
Henry Fool (1997)
The Illusionist (2006)
I Never Sang for My Father (1970)
Limbo (1999)
My Little Pony: The Movie (2017)
Robot & Frank (2012)

FILMSTRUCK

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009)

HULU

Iris (2001)
My Little Pony: The Movie (2017)


COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

September 28
Hold the Dark (2018)

October 1
Black Dynamite (2009)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Empire Records (1995)
The Green Mile (1999)
Life of Brian (1979)
Mystic River (2003)
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
The Shining (1980)
V for Vendetta (2005)

AMAZON PRIME

October 1
Carrie (1976)
Election (1999)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
The General (1998)
Gods and Monsters (1998)
The Illusionist (2006)
Let Me In (2010)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Raging Bull (1980)
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
RoboCop (1987)
Starship Troopers (1997)
The Strangers (2008)
Trees Lounge (1996)
Wild Bill (2011)

HULU

October 1
American Psycho (2000)
Bitter Moon (1992)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Cinderella Man (2005)
Closer (2004)
Election (1999)
Frida (2002)
Galaxy Quest (1999)
Gods and Monsters (1998)
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
Insomnia (2002)
The Others (2001)
More than a Game (2008)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
The Music Never Stopped (2011)
Platoon (1986)
Raging Bull (1980)
[REC] (2007)
RoboCop (1987)
Starship Troopers (1997)
Trees Lounge (1996)
Wild Bill (2011)

October 2
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

October 3
Dheepan (2015)
RBG (2018)


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.

What We Learned This Week: November 5-11

LESSON #1: SADNESS AND DISAPPOINTMENT SHOULD BE AMONG THE FIRST EMOTIONS EMERGING FROM UNEARTHED SECRETS— Let me just start this whirlwind week to state what will be my universal stance.   I choose to stand on a shorter and calmer soapbox than others on the topic of revealed allegations of sexual misconduct that are popping up all over.   I choose to speak to something different than the immediate damning outrage and knee-jerk reactions that are becoming the norm with these headlines.  When these headlines arrive, from Kevin Spacey to George Takei, my first emotions are not anger.  They are sadness and disappointment.  I am sad that a person whose talent I recognize and work I admire and respect is now being torn down by their potential mistakes.  Even larger than the sadness is my disappointment in common people and their uninformed hot-takes that pile on top of allegations and not facts.  More on that comes in Lesson #2.

LESSON #2: WHERE ARE THE LIMITS?— A great deal of Lesson #1 echoes a fantastic Facebook discussion thread started by Feelin’ Film co-founder Aaron White this week.  It asked the essential question: “…at what point do we require more than just an allegation to ruin someone’s life forever?”  I will always be an “innocent until proven guilty” believer.  I don’t condone the content of the claims, but I refuse to label people until the label is proven to be proper.  However, I fear we have a majority society that reverses it to “guilty until proven innocent” with no basis, conscience, or respect.  I’m beginning to hate that lack of empathy and patience in people, from the clickbait press on down to trolls on Twitter.  When someone is found to be innocent, how willing will a public be to move on and let that previous hate and disdain go?

LESSON #3: THERE MAY NOT BE A BOTTOM TO THIS PIT— This might sound overly obtuse, but sexual harassment and misconduct is nothing new.  Expect more names and confessions for years.  That’s how alarmingly pervasive the behaviors have been.  For example (forgive the Fox News link) actress Maureen O’Hara was brave enough 70 years ago to try and get her story and voice heard on potential crimes committed and it created career consequences.  If you talked, even in truth, you lost your standing.  What is new is the ability of the public to listen and the landscape becoming more progressive to seek the proper justice, and that remains a very good global change.  The guilty deserve the consequences coming to them, but, again, let’s establish that guilt first.

LESSON #4: RESPECT AND SEEK CONTRITION—  Circle back to Lesson #2 for a seed in this next lesson.  Is there ever a good way to admit or reveal these mistakes?  What would happen if an actor or actress came forward on their own and admitted past mistakes before a story of allegations broke?  How much of a career suicide would that be?  More importantly, would you respect such honesty?  That’s where my sadness and disappointment and patience for innocence becomes a heart that respects those that seek contrition.  I think that’s huge and a step to a level of forgiveness that other folks aren’t willing to seek while they tweet and judge. Of all people, Louis C.K.’s admissions this week were really something.  Again, I can’t condone the behavior he admits, but I can respect his honesty and attempt at contrition.  I call that more positive than most of the ways these stories are spiraling out of control and temperament.

LESSON #5: THE BOTTOM LINE STILL MATTERS MORE THAN IT SHOULD— Social media can have their flag-waving moments of championing this entire cause of stomping out the atmosphere where harassment and misconduct are no longer accepted.  But make no mistake, the studios and corporations care about that flag-waving unity a distant second to the almighty bottom line.  They can say replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World is for the right reasons, but what they are really trying to do is save a costly project from getting a bloodbath haircut from box office protests.  They’re willing to spend millions in order to renew attention, save face, and, more selfishly important, save more millions.

LESSON #6: DISNEY IS NOT AFRAID TO THROW MONEY AND CLOUT AROUND— Disney has spent billions in the past to buy the worlds of Marvel and LucasFilm and has banked even more billions because of those properties.  With an air of “if you can’t beat them, buy them,” Disney has engaged business talks to flat out buy the majority of 21st Century Fox.  Fanboys go straight the dream of seeing the worlds of X-Men and The Fantastic Four welcomed into the MCU.  They miss what could lead to the erasure of 80+ years of proud studio history.  Put caution with the coolness of this.

LESSON #7: IN ADDITION, DISNEY IS GREEDY— As mentioned in this column earlier this year, theater companies are reeling.  AMC is losing a fortune and Regal is desperate to raise prices to cover box office bombs.  Yet, here comes Disney with an unprecedented profit grab focused on securing their take of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Read the details here.  Sure, Disney has the product everyone wants, but it’s the theaters that bring them in and sell the tickets.  This should be a partnership, not a dictatorship.

LESSON #8: DON’T F–K WITH JOURNALISTS— Speaking of studio bullying and big-wig hubris, even the supposedly unstoppable and untouchable Walt Disney Company can lose a staring contest with the First Amendment and public pressure.  After blacking out L.A. Weekly from screenings in retaliation to some previous bad press, several critics groups united to disqualify Disney properties from their upcoming year-end awards to back their fellow journalists.  The display of justified critical brotherhood drummed up the right public support.  Disney blinked and lifted its sanctions.  I guess like Midas, they can’t resist the urge for gold. Let that be a lesson to the big-wigs.  You can’t silence the newsmakers.

LESSON #9: DON’T COUNT YOUR CHICKENS BEFORE THEY ARE HATCHED— Universal Studios threw a whole of bunch of money and hullabaloo at their “Dark Universe.”  They secured high-end talent and made big plans, but forgot one thing we mentioned earlier: the almighty bottom line.  These plans and projects have to sell.  Tom Cruise’s The Mummy vehicle bombed at the box office and was ravaged with bad reviews.  Now, mutiple levels of sunk costs are lost and Universal has pulled the plug.  Studios, take your time and let connections grow organically.  Start small and pace yourself.

LESSON #10: LUCKILY, RIAN JOHNSON MADE OUR WEEK— This week has seen plenty of hate sent in Disney’s direction and endless scandal.  One really nice story of good news to come out of Disney, especially considering their recent string of disposable directors, was to hear that they are empowering Star War: The Last Jedi and Looper director Rian Johnson to create a new Star Wars series trilogy with original stories and characters away from the Skywalker/Solo universe.  In a day and age where many of us call out all of the sequels and remakes, something fresh applied to a big property is an exciting step.


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  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.