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.

MOVIE REVIEW: Sicario: Day of the Soldado

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO (2018)

When the man behind a suicide bombing at a Kansas City supermarket is revealed to have entered the country through the border between Texas and Mexico, the President of the United States is in a position to officially deem human trafficking a terrorist activity, giving them more latitude to deal with the controversial issue. With the intention of waging a battle on this new front in the war on terror, Josh Brolin’s Matt Graver and his team are given the task of firing the first shot.

“It might get dirty.”

“Dirty is why you’re here.”

Stefano Sollima’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado is the follow up to Denis Villeneuve’s outstanding Sicario that no one really knew we needed but were all, nevertheless, curious to see. Gone is Emily Blunt’s Kate Macer, the young FBI agent who served as the conscience and the audience stand in in the first film. Returning are Graver and Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), as well as their unorthodox, but unarguably effective, ways of dealing with troubles at the border. Their plan is simple. They are going to kidnap the 16 year old daughter of the cartel kingpin who killed Alejandro’s family and make it look like it was another cartel. The intention is to start a turf war between cartels so that the war on trafficking will be fought against distracted opponents. But of course, nothing is simple at the border.

To tell more would be to give too much away. Sollima has managed to craft a follow-up that perfectly inhabits the world created in Sicario. Villeneuve had a way of putting his camera in places that made the audience feel like they were in the vehicle crossing the border or in the hidden tunnels used to traffic drugs. Sollima, especially in action sequences, gives us that same perspective, heightening the tension with every note of Hildur Guonadottir’s haunting score. One of the biggest obstacles to a sequel in my mind was going to be that the protagonist (I use that term loosely) of this film was going to be a guy who we saw murder women and children in the first film. Taylor Sheridan is able to more fully round out the character of Alejandro in a way that doesn’t ask the audience to root for him but also doesn’t allow him to be despised. Once again, Del Toro is electric in the role, but at this point in his career, saying that Benicio Del Toro is great is pretty redundant because he’s just fantastic in everything. Most of the tales that Hollywood tells of hitmen either glamorize or bring a sense of humor to the profession. S:DotS shows us the blunt reality of the job, but Del Toro never lets Alejandro become a monster. Speaking of redundant, Josh Brolin is also fantastic as Graver. His character isn’t fleshed out too much more (other than apparently he’s left his flip-flops behind for a comfy pair of Crocs), but being in the dark about his past is what makes his character work so well. Isabela Moner shows a deep inner strength as Isabel Reyes, the kidnapped teen, even as she’s completely terrified and in the dark as to what’s happening to her.

This film is tight, this film is tense, and this film is timely. Child separation, human trafficking, terrorism…those are all things that you can read about on the front page of your newspaper tomorrow morning. And Sicario: Day of the Soldado doesn’t presume to have any answers to these issues. While the original gave us Kate Mercer and her earnestness and her moral compass to see this world through, this film kind of just makes us sit in the filth and be disgusted (hopefully) by the machinations on both sides of this volatile scenario. There aren’t winners. There aren’t losers. It’s all just dirty.

So don’t go see Sicario: Day of the Soldado if you need a couple of hour diversion from your problems. But if you want a thoughtful, well-executed thriller, you’re not afraid to sit with a bit of ambiguity, and you enjoyed (or at least saw) the first installment, I think it’s worth your time.

Rating:


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: June 28 – July 4

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 another career defining project from the gone-too-soon Bill Paxton, a darkly comic Jason Reitman romantic drama, and Wim Wenders contemplative exploration of a broken man.

Also, among the comings and goings, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Disney’s Tarzan have arrived on Netflix, Shutter Island has come to both Amazon Prime and Hulu, and last year’s I Kill Giants has come to Hulu as well. Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure are moving from Netflix to Amazon Prime. And the previously featured Changeling will be leaving Netflix on July 15. Arriving this week on Netflix is the original Jurassic Park trilogy and a whole lot more quality films to all the services as June turns to July.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Frailty

  

Year: 2001

Director: Bill Paxton

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Drama

Cast: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe, Matt O’Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Luke Askew, Levi Kreis, Derk Cheetwood, Missy Crider, Alan Davidson, Cynthia Ettinger, Gwen McGee, Rebecca Tilney

 

I start off with another film featuring the late, great Bill Paxton. On its face, Frailty, may appear to be a run-of-the-mill gory slasher movie. I assure you it’s anything but. Penned by Brent Hanley and directed by Paxton, who also plays the lead character Dad Meiks and offers another career-defining performance, the film is far from run of the mill with its narrator-driven story that offers no easy answers. Meiks loves his boys as much as any father could, but that love is challenged when he sees an angel of God and is told he must destroy demons who have taken on the guise of humans. His sons are to help. Fully convinced the calling is divine, he is compelled to carry out the task, no matter the cost to him or his sons.

While this is not a graphic film, it is a disturbing film filled with atmosphere and a soundtrack that adds to the creepy, foreboding nature of every scene. Paxton relies greatly on the Hitchcockian method of building suspense through anticipation and letting the mind visualize the violence rather than show it all. It’s a film that while offering satisfying answers, leaves many more questions unanswered. But these are the kind of questions that shouldn’t be answered by the film. Questions about the nature of God and demons and special revelation and justice and our responsibilities. Questions that matter.


Up in the Air

Year: 2009

Director: Jason Reitman

Genre: Drama, Romance

Cast: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Danny McBride, Jason Bateman, Amy Morton, Melanie Lynskey, Zach Galifianakis, J.K. Simmons, Sam Elliott, Tamala Jones, Adhir Kalyan, Ashton Kutcher, Keri Maletto, Steve Eastin, Adrienne Lamping, Chris Lowell, Erin McGrane

 

Being a corporate “downsizer” requires one to develop a certain kind of heartlessness about the pain inflicted on those being laid off. In this incisive and darkly comic Jason Reitman film, George Clooney as executive Ryan Bingham perfectly exemplifies such characteristics along with the sharp cynicism and cockiness that Clooney does so well. Bingham is all wrapped up in himself and his personal goals, which fits the like minded traveler who he crosses paths (and bodies) with named Alex (Vera Farmiga) just fine.

But when Bingham is tasked to train up and comer Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), who has a plan to make mass firings cheaper through videoconferencing technology, he’s forced to come face to face with himself and the emptiness of the life he’s living and his inner longing for meaningful relationship. In this film, George Clooney gets to be at his cockiest and most playful as well as at his lowest. And Vera Farmiga matches him note for note. Anna Kendrick is great too as she goes through her own emotional journey.


 

Paris, Texas

  

Year: 1984

Director: Wim Wenders

Genre: Drama

Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski, Dean Stockwell, Hunter Carson, Aurore Clément, Bernhard Wicki, John Lurie, Jeni Vici, Sally Norvell, Socorro Valdez, Claresie Mobley, Viva, Tom Farrell

 

Wim Wenders directs this remarkable film detailing the journey of a middle-aged man named Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton), a man who walked away from his young wife and child and disappeared into obscurity only to show up as a mute wanderer in poor health four years later. The script, co-written by Sam Shepard and L.M. Kit Carson shows great compassion for Travis, and at times, it can be difficult to see the sensitivity and lack of condemnation shown him, a man who chooses to run away from his commitments rather than face his failures, but that’s real life and there is value in seeing into the soul of such a man, to see the demons he is battling.

This is a tour-de-force from the late Stanton. The world-weariness he silently portrays, the moments of hope and happiness where a tentative smile lights up his face, the sadness he feels when he’s rejected by his son, the despair, the regret, the determination, all the emotion and personality of this broken man pours out of him. And while her part is much smaller, I would be remiss to leave out Nastassja Kinski for her role as Jane Henderson. The way she ever so slowly shifts from flirty to uncomfortable to breaking down into sobs is incredible to watch.

Partnering with cinematographer Robby Müller, Wenders uses atypical camera angles, careful framing (such as the precise use of mirrors to show both sides of a conversation simultaneously), and Ry Cooder’s gentle but haunting guitar-picking score along with brilliant dialogue all serve to create a film that is hypnotic and contemplative to frame its wonderfully evocative yet authentic performances.

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

June 30
An Honest Liar (2014)
Before Midnight (2013)
King Kong (2005)
Little Women (1994)
Michael Clayton (2007)
Midnight in Paris (2011)
On Golden Pond (1981)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Tropic Thunder (2008)
V for Vendetta (2005)

From the Lethal Weapon Collection:

Lethal Weapon (1987)
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

July 1
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

July 15
Changeling (2008)

 

AMAZON PRIME

June 29
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)
Basic Instinct (1992)
Friday the 13th (1980)
Marathon Man (1975)
The Music Never Stopped (2011)
A Simple Plan (1998)

June 30
Dogville (2004)
Escape from New York (1981)
The Karate Kid (1984)
Mystic River (2003)
Sleepers (1996)

 

FILMSTRUCK

June 29
History Is Made at Night (1937)
The Italian Connection (1972)
The Music Man (1962)

From the Lars Von Trier collection:

Breaking the Waves (1996) *
Dogville (2003) **
Europa (1991) *
The Five Obstructions (2003)

June 30
Caliber 9 (1972)
It Happened One Night (1934)
The Ladykillers (1955)
Uptight (1968)

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)

*  Remaining on the Criterion channel
** Remaining on the FilmStruck channel

 

HULU

June 30
Zodiac (2007)
Stories We Tell (2012)
A Simple Plan (1998)
Project Nim (2011)
Marathon Man (1976)
A League of Their Own (1992)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Tarzan (1999)

 

AMAZON PRIME

Breach (2007)
The Invisible War (2012)
Shutter Island (2010)
Suburbia (1983)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Don’t Look Now: We’re Being Shot At (1966)
Hype! (1996)
The Searchers (1956)
Sonatine (1993)
The Sorrow and the Pity (1969)

 

HULU

Ballet 422 (2014)
Shutter Island (2010)
I Kill Giants (2017)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

June 29
Tau — NETFLIX FILM (2018)

July 1
The Boondock Saints (1999)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Happy Gilmore (1996)
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Jurassic Park (1993) — Parts II and III also available
Menace II Society (1993)
Troy (2004)

July 5
Blue Valentine (2010)

 

AMAZON PRIME

July 1
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)
Barfly (1987)
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)
The Graduate (1967)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Invisible War (2012)
The Monster Squad (1987)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Patriot Games (1992)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
Six Shooter (2004)
State of Grace (1990)
V for Vendetta (2006)
Waste Land (2010)
Witness (1985)
Woody Allen: A Documentary (2011)
Zodiac (2007)

 

HULU

July 1
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)
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Midnight in Paris (2011)
The Monster Squad (1987)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
The Rainmaker (1997)
Six Shooter (2004)
Sleepers (1996)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Witness (1985)

July 3
Borg vs McEnroe (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.

You Should Be Watching: June 21-27

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 film about a conversation starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson, a creepy psychological thriller featuring Joel Edgerton as writer, director, and actor, and the little-seen debut film by none other than the great Christopher Nolan. Also, among the heavy hitters, it’s your last chance to see Captain America: Civil War on Netflix, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives there. It’s also your last chance for last week’s featured films, Room and the Human Condition Trilogy.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


The Sunset Limited

Year: 2011

Director: Tommy Lee Jones

Genre: Drama

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson

 

Based on a play written by Cormac McCarthy (The Road, No Country for Old Men), The Sunset Limited consists of a conversation between Black (Samuel L. Jackson), an ex-con believer, and White (Tommy Lee Jones who also directed), a suicidal atheist professor. While a film with no action that takes place in a single room may sound dull, believe me when I say this conversation is utterly riveting from the first words to the last, and the film is as dramatic, entertaining, emotional, and thought-provoking as any blockbuster.

Jackson and Jones play off each other with seeming ease and the nuance that comes with being experts in their craft. It’s fascinating to see ebb and flow of the dialogue as either Black or White finds his groove and pursues it. Likewise, the emotional beats affect how each carries on, whether in quiet introspection, attempts at humor, or bouts of indignance. Black’s eagerness to see White find hope and come to believe as he does while also being humorously honest about his own doubts is particularly refreshing.


 

The Gift

Year: 2015

Director: Joel Edgerton

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Mystery

Cast: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Allison Tolman, Tim Griffin, Busy Philipps, Adam Lazarre-White, Beau Knapp, Wendell Pierce, Mirrah Foulkes, Nash Edgerton, David Denman, Katie Aselton, David Joseph Craig, Susan May Pratt, P. J. Byrne, Felicity Price, Melinda Allen, Beth Crudele

 

Simultaneously showing off Joel Edgerton’s talents as a writer, director, and actor, The Gift is a surprisingly effective creepy suburban mystery thriller that keeps you on edge and off balance throughout and might have you a little paranoid yourself coming out of it, but you’ll want to go in as blind as possible.

The story centers around married couple Simon and Robyn (Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall), who following a miscarriage have moved back to near where Simon grew up in an attempt to leave the pain behind and get their relationship back on track again. Shortly after arriving, Simon has a chance but polite and friendly encounter with Edgerton’s character Gordo, who claims to know him from high school. But then a series of unnerving events start occurring that drive dread and paranoia into this already fragile marriage. This isn’t the funny Bateman, but it is the uncomfortable one and with an edge at that. The tale Edgerton has crafted is fiendishly clever and explores the power of fear and the importance of character and the nature of both in the context of a marriage.


 

Following

  

Year: 1998

Director: Christopher Nolan

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Drama

Cast: Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell, John Nolan, Dick Bradsell, Gillian El-Kadi, Jennifer Angel, Nicolas Carlotti, Darren Ormandy, Guy Greenway, Tassos Stevens, Tristan Martin, Rebecca James, Paul Mason, David Bovill

 

Christopher Nolan has proven himself to be one of the world’s premier filmmakers with every one one of his films becoming appointment theater. Anyone that enjoys his work should definitely see the film that started it all. Despite its low budget, Nolan’s full-length debut is a tightly scripted and masterfully edited surprise, full of the seeds of his later work. It’s a crime thriller that though using an entirely different story acts as something of a test-run for the time-bending mind-bender Memento that put him on the map.

From the opening scene, the tone is set with a bit of now-familiar percussive score full of energy and tension as we’re introduced to the main character, who’s found himself in a bit of as-yet-unexplained trouble. It also soon becomes apparent that Nolan was exploring interweaved, out-of-order chronology even at this very early stage, and he thrives on misdirection and refusing to spoon-feed any details. Instead, he forces the viewer to pay attention to dialogue and visual cues such as a haircut and puffy eyes to alert the viewer to shifts in time. Quite bluntly, if you’re a Nolan fan, you need to be watching Following.

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

June 24
Captain America: Civil War (2016)

June 29
On Golden Pond (1981)

June 30
An Honest Liar (2014)
Before Midnight (2013)
King Kong (2005)
Michael Clayton (2007)
Tropic Thunder (2008)
V for Vendetta (2005)

From the Lethal Weapon Collection:

Lethal Weapon (1987)
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

 

AMAZON PRIME

June 23
Room (2013)

June 29
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)
Basic Instinct (1992)
Friday the 13th (1980)
Marathon Man (1975)
The Music Never Stopped (2011)
A Simple Plan (1998)

June 30
Escape from New York (1981)
The Karate Kid (1984)
Mystic River (2003)
Sleepers (1996)

 

FILMSTRUCK

June 22
An American in Paris (1951)
An Angel at My Table (1990) *
The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959) *
The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (1960) *
The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (1961) *
The Piano (1993)

June 29
History Is Made at Night (1937)
The Italian Connection (1972)
The Music Man (1962)

From the Lars Von Trier collection:

Breaking the Waves (1996) *
Dogville (2003) **
Europa (1991) *
The Five Obstructions (2003)

June 30
Caliber 9 (1972)
It Happened One Night (1934)
The Ladykillers (1955)
Uptight (1968)

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)

*  Remaining on the Criterion channel
** Remaining on the FilmStruck channel

 

HULU

June 30
Zodiac (2007)
Stories We Tell (2012)
A Simple Plan (1998)
Project Nim (2011)
Marathon Man (1976)
A League of Their Own (1992)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

In Bruges (2008)
A Little Princess (1995)
Set it Up (2018)

 

AMAZON PRIME

After Tiller (2013)
Duck, You Sucker (1971)
The Great Silence (1968)
Janis: Little Girl Blue (2015)
The Last Seduction (1994)
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979)
Yellow Submarine (1968)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Ninotchka (1939)
Running on Empty (1988)
Queen Christina (1933)

 

HULU

Middle of Nowhere (2012)
Primal Fear (1996)
The Second Mother (2015)
Smoke (1995)
Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak (2009)
The Untouchables (1987)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

June 22
Brain on Fire — NETFLIX FILM (2016)
Us and Them — NETFLIX FILM (2018)

June 23
Tarzan (1999)

June 26
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

 

AMAZON PRIME

June 26
Shutter Island (2009)

 


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: June 14-20

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 an epic wartime trilogy about a man striving to live up to his pacifist ideals in 1940s Japan, an award-winning film about a mother and her son whose entire world is the room they live in, expiring from Amazon Prime soon, and lastly a fascinating documentary detailing the exploits of the man who famously walked a wire between the Twin Towers of Manhattan. Also, this week is  your last chance to catch Captain America: Civil War on Netflix.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


 

The Human Condition Trilogy

Year: 1959, 1960, 1961

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Genre: Drama, History, War

Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Chikage Awashima, Ineko Arima, Sô Yamamura, Akira Ishihama, Kôji Nanbara, Seiji Miyaguchi, Tôru Abe, Masao Mishima, Eitarô Ozawa, Kôji Mitsui, Akitake Kôno, Nobuo Nakamura, 山茶花 究, Eijirō Tōno, Shinsuke Ashida, Keiji Sada, Yasushi Nagata, Yoshio Kosugi, Toshiko Kobayashi, Taiji Tonoyama, Akira Tani, Junji Masuda, Torahiko Hamada, Teruko Kishi, Takamaru Sasaki, Akio Isono, Jun Ôtomo

 

The Human Condition, Masaki Kobayashi’s epic wartime trilogy is set in Japan during World War II. It represents one man’s complete journey to balance his drive to care for and protect the woman he loves against risking everything to live according to his idealistic principles. From technical details like his perfect blocking and shot construction to the universal concepts of romantic love, sacrifice, and the desire of all mankind to be treated with dignity, Kobayashi’s directorial and storytelling expertise shines through every frame, and his influence on future filmmakers is readily apparent, especially the threads between Part II and Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket as our hero experiences firsthand the brutality of the Japanese army.

Kobayashi centers our viewpoint firmly on Kaji (Tatsuya Nakadai) and his humble compassion right from the introduction, where we meet him and Michiko (Michiyo Aratama), the woman he loves. Kaji is a pacifist with socialist ideals, so despite them wanting to marry, he wants to protect her from the hardship a life with him would surely provide. At one point, Michiko fights to convince him to stand by and let injustice happen so that he won’t surely be killed for treason, and it’s one of the most powerful and heartrending scenes in cinema.

Throughout the trilogy, as Kaji goes from a metaphorical to a grueling literal journey, he continues to face internal conflict over his beliefs and his compassion for his fellow man. But between the utter exhaustion and delirium of himself and his companions, presented in the most visceral of ways, his growing inability to stop the cruelty around him slowly breaks down his resolve and his character. In this, his most broken down and desperate state, we see what is at his core that will drive him to hold on to his humanity.

EXPIRING: Last day to watch on FilmStruck channel is June 22. Will remain on Criterion channel


 

Room

Year: 2015

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Sean Bridgers, Tom McCamus, Amanda Brugel, Joe Pingue, Cas Anvar, Wendy Crewson, Kate Drummond, Randal Edwards, Jack Fulton, Justin Mader, Zarrin Darnell-Martin, Jee-Yun Lee, Ola Sturik, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, Rory O’Shea, Matt Gordon, Sandy McMaster, Chantelle Chung, Brad Wietersen, Derek Herd

 

For those few of you who have yet to see it, Room is an amazing film that will fill your heart with emotion, remind you of the powerful bond between mother and child, and challenge your perspective of the world around you. Brie Larson as Ma gives an Oscar-winning performance, and Jacob Tremblay as Ma’s son Jack gives an Oscar-deserving one. The premise is simple. Jack has lived his whole life in a small room with Ma. They receive a visitor every once in a while who gets them what they need to survive in exchange for sleeping with Ma while Jack goes and sleeps in the closet. Having given up hope of ever leaving the room and for the sake of Jack’s happiness, Ma has embraced the fiction the room is the world.

Their experience is grieving, the horror practically unimaginable. This is Larson at her most vulnerable, completely owning the reality of Ma’s wretched state and its effect on her body and mind. And Tremblay is a revelation. Even as a child actor, he makes it easy to believe the life experiences of Jack, his innocence, wonder, hurt, and anger are his own. This story presents a  fearful yet heavy reality of similar and even worse events occurring all around the world.

But It turns out to be a deeply layered film that sticks with you long after it’s over. Jack’s perspective relate to all of us in a philosophical, big picture, life-changing sense. But so did Ma’s in the sense of our day-to-day reality and how we bear the weight of our past. It’s not easy to take an all-too-common yet tragic story like this and have it say so much about life and death, good and evil, family, depression, perspective, burdens, sacrifice, the media, innocence, and wonder. But the combined efforts of both writer Emma Donoghue and director Lenny Abrahamson masterfully provided just that.

EXPIRING: Last day to watch is June 23


 

Man on Wire

Year: 2008

Director: James Marsh 

Genre: Documentary, History, Crime, Thriller

Cast: Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau, Annie Allix, David Forman, Alan Welner, Barry Greenhouse, Jim Moore

 

There’s a phenomenon that occurs now and then in the film world where the subject matter of an acclaimed documentary is sooner or later created as a narrative film. We see that currently with the movies about the life of Fred Rogers. But previously, this occurred with the awe-inspiring documentary I’m recommending, Man on Wire, which details the exploits of Phillippe Petit, a daredevil French high-wire walker who had an inner compulsion to perform increasingly dangerous feats of wirewalking. His ultimate obsession, as dramatized in Robert Zemeckis‘ 4th-wall-breaking film The Walk, was to attach a wire between the Twin Towers of Manhattan and walk from one side to the other.

What makes this film so fascinating and makes the aforementioned dramatization unnecessary, is its intercutting of interviews, archival footage, and re-enactments to clearly tell the compelling story of this strange yet entertaining showman who was driven to do the impossible and the band of friends and accomplices he compiled who would help him do so. As far Petit was concerned, the illegality of the feats he was compelled to perform meant nothing more than another obstacle. Nearly as much as danger itself, It is the forbidden, illegal nature of his plan to walk between the towers that infuses the film with tension and excitement. It plays very much like a heist film with all the detailed planning, setbacks, and specific windows of opportunity you’d expect, even though nothing is being stolen but an experience.


 

COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

June 15
Super (2010)

June 18
Theeb (2014)

June 24
Captain America: Civil War (2016)

June 29
On Golden Pond (1981)

 

AMAZON PRIME

June 15
Anomalisa (2015)

June 23
Room (2013)

 

FILMSTRUCK

June 15
City Lights (1931) *
A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
Metropolis (1927)
Peeping Tom (1960)
Wag the Dog (1997)

June 22
An American in Paris (1951)
An Angel at My Table (1990) *
The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959) *
The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (1960) *
The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (1961) *
The Piano (1993)

June 29
Dogville (2003) **
The Five Obstructions (2003)
The Italian Connection (1972)
The Music Man (1962)

June 30
Caliber 9 (1972)
It Happened One Night (1934)
The Ladykillers (1955)

*  Remaining on the Criterion channel
** Remaining on the FilmStruck channel

 

HULU

June 30
Zodiac (2007)
Stories We Tell (2012)
A Simple Plan (1998)
Project Nim (2011)
Marathon Man (1976)
A League of Their Own (1992)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Ali’s Wedding – NETFLIX FILM (2017)

 

AMAZON PRIME

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
Precious (2009)
Red River (1948)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Arthur (1981)
Baby Doll (1956)
Cabaret (1972)
Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1968)
Moses and Aaron (1975)
Of Mice and Men (1939)
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

 

HULU

Precious (2009)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

June 16
In Bruges (2008)

 

HULU

June 15
Middle of Nowhere (2012)
The Second Mother (2015)
Smoke (1995)
Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak (2009)

 


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: Ocean’s 8

OCEAN’S 8 (2018)

1 Hour and 50 Minutes (PG-13)

There is something magnetic about this film series. The crew up of unique and attractive personalities , the detailed planning, the intricate heist, and (almost always) the twist are all elements we love to see come together in a new way. But even when they don’t have anything drastically special to offer the genre, as long as the story is good and the cast sells it, we’re willing to be entertained. For this go-around, Steven Soderbergh exits the director’s chair and passes the torch Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit). Missing is the former’s saturating color palette, replaced by a brighter and crisper one that serves the New York City setting well. Remaining is the recognizable mosaic filming style that Soderbergh utilized in Ocean’s 11-13, replicated by Ross to great effect.

Story-wise, Ocean’s 8 is fairly simple. Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), estranged sister of series protagonist Danny Ocean, is being released from prison and seeking to assemble a crew for a major heist. Having spent her entire sentence planning the detailed job, she wants no part of her brother’s advice to move on from the criminal life and wastes no time in reuniting with longtime friend and partner in crime Lou (Cate Blanchett). From there the film follows a familiar structure as Debbie finds the players necessary to pull off stealing a $150 million necklace during the annual star-studded Met Gala. For this job, Debbie wants an all-girl squad, because in her opinion “A him gets noticed, a her gets ignored.” The crew includes the usual roles required: Nine Ball (Rhianna) the hacker, Amita (Mindy Kaling) the jewelry expert, Tammy (Sarah Paulson) the suburban mom and fence, Constance (Awkwafina) the quick-handed thief, and Rose (Helena Bonham-Carter) the fashion designer, whose job is to ensure that superstar actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) is wearing the diamonds the crew intends to steal. There is quite a bit of the film spent on the planning phase of the heist and it is quite enjoyable learning about the various members of the team and their unique talents and personalities. Understandably, they cannot all have top billing and those actresses not named Sandra, Cate, or Anne are truly supporting characters. They are given just enough development, but don’t expect deeply personal backstories and character arcs. All of the cast members fill their roles fantastically, though, with Awkwafina’s humor and Rhianna’s snarky intelligence standing out.

Debbie, however, is definitely in this for more than just the money. In a sense, the film touches on the very real problem many criminals face. When it’s time to come back to society the only thing they know is what put them behind bars in the first place. If that’s what your good at, and your entire family history involves said criminal activity, why would you do anything else? And she is good at this. Very good. The plan is very cool and includes some modern tech like 3D printing. Many things that happen (including a late third act surprise) require a sense of disbelief because if one thing goes wrong, it all falls apart. But in a way these heist films are like superhero stories – doing the impossible is part of the appeal.

One of the best parts of the Ocean’s series has always been seeing bonafide movie stars come together and exist in this somewhat meta universe where celebrity cameos are a common thing. Sandra Bullock is great as Debbie and Blanchett is her usual perfect self. The chemistry between these two is especially good and their relationship is probably one of the things I would have enjoyed spending more time developing. The real stunner of the cast, though, is Anne Hathaway. Her silly charm is just adorable to behold and she provides plenty of laughs as she steals every scene she is in. The guys that feature in the film are fine and serve their purpose, too, but neither Richard Armitage or James Corden do anything memorable. This is about the ladies, of course, and it’s presented in a way that is both respectful of the films that came before and freshly empowering as a thing all its own.

VERDICT

For me, Ocean’s 8 is likely to be the film in the series that I revisit the most. It’s fast fun from start to finish with great humor, strong cast chemistry, amazing costume design, and an exciting heist. It doesn’t offer the depth of relationships present in some of the other films or the most difficult heist, but it never stops being entertaining and does not try to force becoming something that isn’t a natural fit. If this is the start of a new trilogy, I’m absolutely in favor of it, and can’t wait to see what Debbie Ocean and her crazy crew cook up next.

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 the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

MOVIE REVIEW: Hotel Artemis

HOTEL ARTEMIS (2018)

1 Hour and 34 Minutes (R)

“It’s a busy night in the Artemis.”

The setting is Los Angeles 2028, on a Wednesday (that’s important, or at least it’s repeated enough times to make you think it is). The city’s water supply has been privatized and a primary provider is cutting off access which results in the most violent riots in the city’s history. This is the backdrop for Sherman (Sterling K. Brown) and his brother’s attempt to rob a vault. But when things go south, the pair of criminals must seek medical attention in Hotel Artemis, a special membership-only resort for unsavory types. While at Artemis, Sherman runs into other various underworld characters including the dangerous and mysterious assassin Nice (Sofia Boutella), cocky and mouthy arms-dealer Acalpuco (Charlie Day), and the two caretakers of the hospital – Nurse (Jodie Foster) and Everest (Dave Bautista). Much brutal and violence in a stylized aesthetic ensues, while backed by an awesome pounding electronic Cliff Martinez score.

The best parts of Hotel Artemis sadly come only in pieces. Foster’s performance is wonderful, but like the rest of the cast her efforts are hampered by a sub-par script. Sure, there is humor that works and one-liners that result in hearty laughter, but with few exceptions the rushed character development isn’t deep enough to create the kind of emotional response the film is clearly hoping for. Likewise, the socioeconomic issue outside the hotel and the fun little futuristic tech (like freaking 3D printed organs) are never given much more than a nod either. And Jeff Goldbum’s excellent turn as the Hotel’s owner, The Wolf King of L.A., is unfortunately only a juicy cameo that also fails to pay off a major emotional turn.

The action, though, is one thing that this film has going for it throughout. It does take a bit of time to build up to, but it’s worth the wait seeing Dave Bautista and Sofia Boutella getting their fight on. Things get quite brutal and bloody, just as the tone of the film has implied they should, making for a rather exciting and enjoyable third act.

VERDICT

Fans of John Wick who go into Hotel Artemis expecting more of the same are sure to be at least somewhat disappointed. Though the film does provide some fun action and ideas, its hurried world-building and character development only hint at the potential this story has. Ultimately, Hotel Artemis offers very little that is unique or memorable, wasting a solid cast in a merely passable film that most won’t see and few who do will ever revisit.

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 the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Minisode 044: Interview with American Animals Director, Bart Layton

Director Bart Layton leverages his history with documentaries in American Animals, a bold feature debut about four privileged real-life college friends who rely on their knowledge of movies to plan and execute a rare book heist. With a unique style that overlays interviews of the actual subjects into the narrative, this exhilarating crime drama is notable in how it depicts differing perspectives of how the events unfolded. Aaron sat down with Bart to discuss why he is fascinated with stranger-than-fiction tales, what it was like using the real life heist participants in this film, and what one film that impacted him emotionally was.

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You Should Be Watching: May 31 – June 6

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 one of my all-time favorite crime thrillers that doubles as a piercing character study of the everyman. Next, I have a classic pairing of Bogart and Hepburn on an adventure on the rivers of Africa. And finally, I’m recommending an intense Israeli courtroom drama about one woman’s quest for a divorce from a loveless marriage. And in the coming and going section, there are a whole bucketload of worthwhile movies coming to streaming in the first week of June including the arrival of Thor: Ragnarok to Netflix, Lady Bird to Amazon Prime, and Blade Runner 2049 to Hulu.

 

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


A Simple Plan

    

Year: 1998

Director: Sam Raimi

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Drama

Cast: Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda, Billy Bob Thornton, Brent Briscoe, Chelcie Ross, Gary Cole, Becky Ann Baker, Tom Carey, Jack Walsh

 

To start my recommendations, I’m headed back to 90s crime thriller territory to a can’t miss film about good people doing evil things. It’s easy to watch films like The Wolf of Wall Street and… well, Wall Street and self-righteously sit back and condemn the greed on display. We’re not heartless and self-absorbed like those jerks, we think. We wouldn’t put the pursuit of money above literally everything else. We’re not evil like that. But greed is not so easily dismissed. Greed does in fact lie in the heart of good people. And when that greed takes hold, well, as the Bible says, the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

The setup of A Simple Plan is just that, simple. Two kindly brothers, Hank and Jacob, and their good friend Lou (Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Brent Briscoe) discover a crashed plane in the woods near their home with nothing but a dead pilot and over four million dollars in cash. What Sam Raimi does with this setup is to masterfully challenge his audience through the consequences of one seemingly rational decision after another by each of these characters along with Hank’s wife Sarah (Bridget Fonda) to reveal the horrifying things human nature can convince us to do out of greed and fear of getting caught. It is a film rightfully at the top of Raimi’s filmography, one of the best studies of human nature on film, and among the best performed roles of each of its stars. I cannot recommend <i>A Simple Plan</i> highly enough.


 

The African Queen

Year: 1951

Director: John Huston

Genre: Adventure, Romance, War, Drama

Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Theodore Bikel, Walter Gotell, Peter Swanwick, Richard Marner

 

Sure, it’s directed by John Huston, the man who gave us such adventure classics as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Man Who Would Be King. Sure, it’s filmed on location in the jungles of Uganda and the Congo in lush technicolor. But what makes The African Queen really shine is the strength of its stars, that is Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Even playing the disheveled, ill-mannered boat captain Charlie Allnut, Bogie can’t help but charm. And with Hepburn as his near polar opposite, the straight-laced missionary Rose Sayer who has just seen her mission destroyed and the villagers run off by the Germans of World War I, the stage is set for this unlikely pair to set off on an unlikely adventure.

Through the trials of a handful of thrilling set pieces and especially the sharp, snappy dialogue and wonderful chemistry between Charlie and Rose, a relationship slowly begins to take shape. While neither expects the other to become something they’re not, they find satisfaction in learning about each other and looking out for their well-being, whether it’s Charlie taking ill or Rose about to dive into alligator-filled waters to get away from a horde of files. The more dirty, weary, and bedraggled the pair become, the more joy they find in simply being together and facing their obstacles as one. All in all, it’s a charming film showcasing Africa’s beauty and its exotic rivers and an inspiring story of love strengthened through trials.


 

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

  

Year: 2014

Director: Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz

Genre: Drama

Cast: Ronit Elkabetz, Simon Abkarian, Menashe Noy, Gabi Amrani, Dalia Beger

 

For my final recommendation, I head to the oft-neglected area of Israeli film for a searing single-room setting courtroom drama. Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem presents the unfolding of hearing after hearing as Viviane (Ronit Elkabetz) and her lawyer implore the Jewish religious courts to give her a divorce from her husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian) whom she can’t abide and no longer lives with. He is completely unwilling to grant her the divorce she seeks. While he claims to want her back, to love her, the bitterness is evident on both their faces. The acting in this film is stellar. It’s amazing to watch the change in Elkabetz throughout the extended trial, whether through her nonverbal reactions or her slow burning frustration that eventually bubbles over.

This is actually the third film in the Gett Trilogy. Weird recommendation, I know. However, I absolutely do recommend it even as a standalone film, even though Viviane’s stated goal is to obtain a divorce. Let me be clear. I hate divorce. It approves of selfishness, makes one’s happiness the ultimate priority, excuses a lack of sacrificial love, and tears apart families. I hate how prevalent divorce is, especially in western society, where people treat their vow to love and cherish the other for as long as they both shall live with utter disregard. So why the recommendation? It’s a brilliant study of Jewish culture and its court system and the bitter consequence of a lack of love lived out, a love in word not in deed until even the words are gone. While on one hand this film is a call to reform the Jewish court system, on the other, it’s a powerful revelation of how marriages die. It acts as a powerful warning to all husbands and wives to give themselves fully to their spouses, to love them deeply and unselfishly.

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

May 31
8 Mile (2002)
Janis: Little Girl Blue (2015)
Men In Black (1997)
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
Neerja (2016)
Oldboy (2003)
Scarface (1983)
Super (2010)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Resurrection of Jake the Snake (2015)
Training Day (2001)

June 24
Captain America: Civil War (2016)

June 29
On Golden Pond (1981)

 

AMAZON PRIME

May 31
From the Rocky Collection:

Rocky (1976)
Rocky II (1979)

From the James Bond Collection:

Dr. No (1962)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Goldfinger (1964)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

June 7
Remember (2015)

June 9
Rosewater (2014)

 

FILMSTRUCK

May 31
High Noon (1952)

June 1
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
A Night At The Opera (1935)
Natural Born Killers (1994)

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)

 

HULU

May 31
1984 (1984)
Breakdown (1997)
Manhattan (1979)
The Secret of N.I.M.H. (1982)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Coco (2017)
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Seven Beauties (1975)
The Unknown (1927)
Wendy and Lucy (2008)
The Women (1939)
Lolita (1962)
Grand Hotel (1932)

 

HULU

I, Tonya (2017)
Rain Man (1988)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

June 1
Blue Jasmine (2013)
The Departed (2006)
Miracle (2004)
National Treasure (2004)
Outside In (2017)

June 2
The King’s Speech (2010)

June 5
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

 

AMAZON PRIME

June 1
The Age of Innocence (1993)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
Breakdown (1997)
The ’Burbs (1989)
Day of the Dead (1985)
The Disaster Artist (2017)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
The Natural (1984)
The Running Man (1987)
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Space Jam (1996)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Wonder Wheel — AMAZON ORIGINAL MOVIE (2017)

June 3
Lady Bird (2017)
Stargate (1994)

 

HULU

June 1
Apollo 13 (1995)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Bull Durham (1988)
The ’Burbs (1989)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
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)
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Trainspotting (1996)

June 2
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

June 3
Stargate (1994)

 


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.

The Evolution of Eastwood: ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ

ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979)

“I may have found a way out of here.” – Frank Morris

Aspiring writer Richard Tuggle had painstakingly researched and adapted a script about the only potentially successful escape attempt from the world’s most notorious prison. He submitted it to multiple agencies and was consistently rejected. Finally, he sought out the agent of Don Siegel and cleverly deceived a way to get his script to him. Siegel read the script and enjoyed it, passing it on to Eastwood as their next potential partnership.

Siegel and Eastwood, once close friends and frequent collaborators, had not made a film together since the original Dirty Harry (in which Eastwood had even directed a few scenes). Eastwood agreed to let his old friend direct if the film could be made through Malpaso Productions (Eastwood’s film company which had produced nearly every film in which he’d been involved since Hang ‘Em High). Siegel wanted production credit, however, and went around Eastwood to acquire the script directly. This choice created tension between the longstanding friends and would seal Escape from Alcatraz – their fifth collaboration – as their final one.

The film tells the true story of Frank Morris (Eastwood), who partnered with the Anglin brothers to mount an escape from the legendary Alcatraz prison in 1962. The film presents the prison warden (Patrick McGoohan) as a cold and cruel figure, choosing not to have him represent a real warden from the prison but rather a fictional archetype. The prisoners suffer various injustices at the hands of the guards and the warden, pushing Morris to develop a risky plan of escape.

Escape from Alcatraz is a different breed of thriller for Eastwood, allowing a deliberate pace to develop tension over an extended time rather than in a series of action bursts. The first half of the film is almost entirely dramatic in nature, establishing a variety of characters within the prison community and the various troubles the inmates suffer while there. Eventually the casualties and restrictions become too oppressive and the second half of the film becomes an escalating puzzle of tension as our characters struggle to enact their plan without being caught by the rigorous routines of the guards.

The performances are unanimously solid, featuring particularly strong turns from Robert Blossoms and Paul Benjamin (and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him appearance by Danny Glover in his feature film debut). Patrick McGoohan is expectedly dastardly in a role perfectly suited for his special brand of passive malevolence. The film’s script is also remarkable in its focus, despite having little in the way of spectacle or shock and nothing in the way of romance. Whether or not the facts presented are authentic, the film’s tone makes you think that this all went down precisely how you’re seeing it, including the unstated but heavily implied outcome of the escape itself.

The pairing of Eastwood and Siegel has typically yielded strong work from each of them (Coogan’s Bluff was a real dud to me, but Two Mules for Sister Sara, The Beguiled, and especially Dirty Harry are all standouts in Eastwood’s filmography). Escape from Alcatraz represents strong work yet again, albeit of a more restrained variety. It would be easy to sympathize with viewers who are put off by the bridled pace, but chances are strong that most viewers will find the steadily ratcheting tension rewarding and compelling.

It is unfortunate that this marked their last partnership, but it is not wholly unexpected. Eastwood had reached a point in his career where he’d had too many established hits (particularly as a director) and it’s easy to imagine that they’d both outgrown the mentor/performer dynamic that had flavored their earlier collaborations. Presumably, they patched up their differences prior to Siegel’s death in 1991, but there would never be another film from the pairing that was most directly responsible (apart from Sergio Leone’s western trilogy) for Eastwood’s rise and development as a star. As finales go, Escape from Alcatraz may not be the biggest possible hit, but it’s an impressive work nonetheless.


Reed Lackey is based in Los Angeles, where he writes and podcasts about film and faith. His primary work is featured on the More Than One Lesson website and podcast, as well as his primary podcast, The Fear of God (which examines the intersection between Christianity and the horror genre). Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook to receive updates on his reviews and editorials.