You Should Be Watching: July 19-25

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 highlighting a change of pace food-focused indie film from Jon Favreau (expiring soon), a surreal mindbender from Denis Villeneuve, and another all-time classic from Charlie Chaplin.

This month is your last chance to see Finding Dory on Netflix, Gran Torino and The Hurt Locker on Amazon Prime, and classics like His Girl Friday, Rio Bravo, and Taxi Driver on FilmStruck. Now streaming are titles such as Room, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, and The Spectacular Now on Netflix and The Philadelphia Story and the Judy Garland version of A Star Is Born on FilmStruck.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Chef

Year: 2014

Director: Jon Favreau

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Cast: Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara, Emjay Anthony, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Amy Sedaris, Robert Downey Jr., Russell Peters, Chase Grimm, Will Schutze, Gloria Sandoval, Jose C. Hernandez, Alberto Salas, Alfredo Ortiz

 

When he’s not busy making movies or in a past life, Jon Favreau—who plays main character Carl Casper—seems to have spent a fair amount of time in the kitchen and frequenting food trucks. As writer, director, and lead actor on this picture, his love for the world of food shines through, as does his frustration with artists being told how they have to make their art  and critics–professional and otherwise–putting down the art.

Casper is a head chef at a high-class restaurant in Los Angeles, but he’s fed up with being told how to make his dishes and blows up at a stuffy, influential critic both on Twitter and in person after receiving a scathing review. With his reputation now trashed and unable to make the dishes he knows would be loved, he leaves the restaurant and has to figure out what’s next for him career-wise and what to do about his relationships with his estranged son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara).

In all, Chef is a unique look at the classic middle age crisis but in the modern world of friendly divorces and social media, where emotions run wild, reputations are changed in a moment, and news today is gone tomorrow.

EXPIRING: Last day to watch on Amazon Prime is July 27


 

Enemy

Year: 2013

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Joshua Peace, Tim Post, Kedar Brown, Megan Mane, Misha Highstead, Alexis Uiga, Darryl Dinn, Kiran Friesen, Loretta Yu, Stephen R. Hart, Paul Stephen

 

Despite it being far more surreal than any of his other films Denis Villeneuve’s (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) fingerprints can be seen all over Enemy, from pacing to atmospheric score to thematic color design. It is sublimely edited, attention-grabbing throughout, and terrifically haunting in its direction. For what it’s worth, even his use of nudity, while graphic, is limited and more artistic than titillating.

But none of it works without Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as two radically different characters who look the same, one a professor named Adam Bell, the other a small-time actor named Daniel St. Claire, who Adam stumbles upon after renting one of his movies. Unable to shake the reality that Daniel is a mirror image of himself, Adam becomes obsessed with him. And it only gets stranger and more challenging and confusing from there. It’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between dreams, reality, imagination, and symbolism, and why the heck spiders keep appearing. But despite the likelihood that the film will leave you in utter confusion, it’s a fascinating experience with knockout performances, an incredible score, and wonderfully creative visual design.


 

City Lights

  

Year: 1931

Director: Charlie Chaplin

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers, Al Ernest Garcia, Hank Mann, Albert Austin, Eddie Baker, Henry Bergman, Buster Brodie, Jeanne Carpenter, Tom Dempsey, James Donnelly, Ray Erlenborn, Robert Graves, Charles Hammond, Jean Harlow, Joseph Herrick, Austen Jewell, Willie Keeler, Robert Parrish John Rand, W.C. Robinson, Cy Slocum, Tony Stabenau, Mark Strong, Tiny Ward, Stanhope Wheatcroft, Florence Wix

 

A delightful film through and through, full of laughter, awe, and heartwarming goodness, but it also embraces the reality of the hard times. You can’t help but root for Charlie Chaplin’s character The Tramp. He has such a good heart and keeps finding himself a victim of circumstance, for better and worse. Virginia Cherill as his love interest is so cute and  great at playing blind. Their on-screen chemistry is special.

There is a lyrical quality to the film that uses the perfect choreography of movement and wonderful musical score to keep each scene flowing smoothly into the next. Incredible timing is needed to make the interactions work as they need to, but Chaplin is such an expert, he makes it all look easy.

There are diverse settings, and the film is chock full of gags, but one of the highlights is the boxing match. Its choreography is among the most creative of its type. And not only is that entire sequence laugh-out-loud funny, both before and during the match, it’s also thrilling and suspenseful. If you only see one Chaplin film, make it City Lights. It’s a true joy to experience.

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

July 29
Assassination (2015)

July 31
Finding Dory (2016)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

 

AMAZON PRIME

July 19
Embrace of the Serpent

July 27
Chef

July 30
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Wild Bill (1995)

July 31
A Christmas Story (1983)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Hurt Locker (2009)

 

FILMSTRUCK

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)

August 3
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Marty (1955)
Network (1976)

August 4
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
The Phantom of Liberty (1974)

August 10
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
Dogtooth (2009)
Magnolia (1999)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Enemy (2013)
Locke (2013)
Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017)
Obvious Child (2014)
Room (2015)
The Rover (2014)
The Spectacular Now (2013)
The Stranger (1946)
Under the Skin (2013)

 

AMAZON PRIME

The Doors (1991)
Return to Me (2000)
Walking Tall (1973)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Gaslight (1944)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
A Star Is Born (1954)
Two Women (1960)

 

HULU

Cold in July (2014)
The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

July 20
Father of the Year—NETFLIX FILM (2018)

July 22
An Education (2009)

 

AMAZON PRIME

July 24
How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017)

 

HULU

July 20
Embrace of the Serpent (2015)

July 25
Black Cop (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: July 12-18

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 featuring a 90s Jim Carrey film that is as relevant as ever, classic Billy Wilder that blurs the lines between true Hollywood and fantasy, and a powerful New Zealand film about mental illness, gang life, and chess.

Be sure to see Bringing Up Baby, expiring from FilmStruck on July 27, and then listening to the associated Feelin’ Film Connecting With Classics podcast. Same goes for All the President’s Men. Also on FilmStruck, Rio Bravo has a short-term engagement and will be leaving July 26. Also, the Jaws franchise has arrived on Amazon Prime, and Blue Valentine and Gone Baby Gone on Netflix.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


 

The Truman Show

Year: 1998

Director: Peter Weir

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

Cast: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Ed Harris, Brian Delate, Paul Giamatti, Peter Krause, Blair Slater, Heidi Schanz, Ron Taylor, Don Taylor, Ted Raymond, O-Lan Jones, Krista Lynn Landolfi, Harry Shearer, Jeanette Miller, Philip Glass, Una Damon, Joe Minjares, Philip Baker Hall, John Pleshette, Terry Camilleri, Joel McKinnon Miller

 

Most of you have seen The Truman Show, but chances are, it’s been a while, so you might be surprised to hear how well it holds up. On its surface, this is a vehicle for Jim Carrey to show he’s much more than just a rubber-faced funnyman in a prescient surface-level commentary on the culture of reality TV and YouTube. For that alone, it’s a brilliant piece of work, but below the surface, director Peter Weir and writer Andrew Niccol have incorporated many other layers along with a lovely and complex score that is shamelessly self-aware in its manipulation of the viewer.

Weir isn’t just telling a story about a guy whose whole life is a reality TV program, he’s showing us how we’re all in a sort of reality TV program, and we all need our perspective challenged. If truth isn’t revealed to us, we’ll happily live in a lie. “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented,” says Christof (Ed Harris), who represents a God figure or rather a critique of belief in a certain type of God, which provides a lot of food for thought and discussion.


 

Sunset Boulevard

  

Year: 1950

Director: Billy Wilder

Genre: Drama, Film-noir

Cast: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough, Jack Webb, Buster Keaton, Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper, Anna Q. Nilsson, Ray Evans, Jay Livingston, H.B. Warner, Franklyn Farnum, Larry J. Blake, Charles Dayton, Fred Aldrich, Joel Allen, Gertrude Astor, Edward Biby, Danny Borzage, Ken Christy, Ruth Clifford, Archie R. Dalzell, Eddie Dew, Julia Faye, Al Ferguson, Gerry Ganzer

 

The quintessential movie to represent the realities, often painful, of classic Hollywood and the fleetingness of fame. Gloria Swanson’s performance as forgotten silent movie star Norma Desmond is one for the ages. You never quite know whether to be sorry for her, intimidated by her, or downright afraid of her. The tension is carefully built throughout such as the feeling of entrapment and loss of control every time another of Joe Gillis’ (William Holden) connections to his life apart from Norma is severed. While this is not a horror film, much about the basic plot and its themes is reminiscent of the writer’s plight in Stephen King’s Misery.

Seeing Hollywood behind the scenes is often fascinating for people who love the world of film, but Sunset Boulevard is truly exceptional. The lines between fantasy and reality are completely blurred due to the presence of real life players like the famous director Cecil B. DeMille and real world silent film stars such as Buster Keaton, playing themselves. I can only imagine the dramatic impact it would have had to sit in the theater in 1950 and see this Hollywood story unfold.


The Dark Horse

Year: 2014

Director: James Napier Robertson

Genre:  Biography, Drama

Cast: Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston, Kirk Torrance, Sia Trokenheim, Andrew Grainger, Xavier Horan, Roseanne Liang, Miriama McDowell, Rachel House, Wayne Hapi

 

From the burgeoning film world of New Zealand comes the best film you’ll see about high-functioning mental illness, gang life, and chess clubs for underprivileged kids. Now that may sound like damning with faint praise, but you don’t win a slew of international awards for nothing. Cliff Curtis phenomenally portrays Genesis, a man who has a brilliant mind for chess but who also takes prescription drugs to keep himself on the edge of semi-independence. Sometimes he slips off that edge ever so gradually. Other times it’s a sudden fall and he’s lost in his repetitions.

Thankfully, Genesis has an older brother Ariki (Wayne Hapi) who cares about his well-being and takes him into his home, providing him with a modicum of stability. This gives Genesis the opportunity to discover the local Eastern Knights Chess Club run by an old friend. The club is a group of ragtag, unmotivated kids, which inspires him to encourage and teach them so they can compete in the Junior National Championships. But things aren’t so great at home after all. Ariki’s son Mana (James Rolleston) has connected with chess, but Ariki is a gang member and intends to raise his son in the gang as well. The priorities of all three are challenged.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

July 15
Changeling (2008)
Opening Night (1977)

 

FILMSTRUCK

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)
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Scream 4 (2011)

 

AMAZON PRIME

Jaws (1975)
Snowden (2016)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Auntie Mame (1958)
Beyond the Hills (2012)
Moi, Un Noir (1958)
The Right Stuff (1983)
Rio Bravo (1959)

 

HULU

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017)
Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017)
The Heart of Nuba (2016)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

July 13
How It Ends—NETFLIX FILM (2018)

July 15
Going for Gold (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 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.

You Should Be Watching: May 24-30

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 the most classic of Westerns, a film about the love of cinema, and Don Bluth’s magical animated directorial debut about mice and rats. Also, among the films coming and going Coco arrives on Netflix this week and I, Tonya on Hulu.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


High Noon

Year: 1952

Director: Fred Zinnemann

Genre: Western

Cast: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges, Katy Jurado, Otto Kruger, Lon Chaney Jr., Harry Morgan, Ian MacDonald, Eve McVeagh, Morgan Farley, Harry Shannon, Lee Van Cleef, Robert J. Wilke, Sheb Wooley, Jack Elam, John Doucette, Ted Stanhope, Lee Aaker, Guy Beach, Larry J. Blake, John Breen, Tex Driscoll, Herschel Graham, Paul Kruger, William H. O’Brien, Roy Bucko, Russell Custer, Nora Bush

 

<i>High Noon</i> is the epitome of the classic Western, featuring a small Old West town with a virtuous good guy lawman named Will Kane (Gary Cooper) and a formidable bad guy outlaw (and his gang) named Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), who is headed for town to get revenge against Kane for sending him to prison. To complicate matters even more, our hero, Marshal Kane, has just turned in his badge so he could marry his love, a pacifist Quaker named Amy (Grace Kelly), and with the news of Miller’s gang having arrived with Miller soon to follow, the newly married couple are rushed out of town in hopes of avoiding bloodshed. But Kane is torn between the love he has for his new bride and his duty to the unprotected town he was to leave behind, even though he struggles to find anyone willing to help him defend it.

This film is tightly scripted and tension-filled with the ever-present clock serving as a ongoing countdown towards the likely demise of both Kane’s life and his young marriage. And Amy’s discovery of “another woman” only makes matter worse. With each minute that passes, and with each request for help that’s refused, the desperation grows. Gary Cooper is a perfect fit for the Marshal role, stoic but heartfelt. Grace Kelly, in only her second film, delivers a wonderfully complex performance as the bride who loves her husband dearly but also has her own values to which she is fiercely loyal and refuses to sit around waiting for him to get killed.

EXPIRING: Last day to watch is 5/31


 

Cinema Paradiso

Year: 1988

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore

Genre: Romance, Drama

Cast: Philippe Noiret, Jacques Perrin, Marco Leonardi, Salvatore Cascio, Agnese Nano, Antonella Attili, Enzo Cannavale, Isa Danieli, Leo Gullotta, Pupella Maggio, Leopoldo Trieste, Tano Cimarosa, Nicola Di Pinto, Roberta Lena, Nino Terzo, Brigitte Fossey, Mariella Lo Giudice, Beatrice Palme, Franco Catalano, Giuseppe Tornatore, Giorgio Libassi, Mimmo Mignemi

 

If you love movies, if you love the cinema, if seeing the magical images flicker through the darkness on the screen in front of you fills you with the greatest of joys, <i>Cinema Paradiso</i> is for you. The film opens by introducing us to famous fictional film director Salvatore Di Vita receiving the news that Alfredo has died. Who is Alfredo, and what was his relationship with Salvatore? Flashing back to Salvatore at age 6, shortly after World War II, that story begins. Even at that young age, Salvatore, played with the utmost of precociousness by Salvatore Cascio, develops an intense love for the movies by practically living at his village’s local theater, the Cinema Paradiso, where we first meet Alfredo. But as the seasons of Salvatore’s young life go on, we learn he is no stranger to tragedy and must learn how to overcome. All the while, he continues to explore the world of film and develop the skills and experience that would turn him into the the master filmmaker he ultimately becomes. Over the course of the story, we experience various seasons of his young life and ultimately discover the positive and lasting impact one can have on a child’s life simply by taking the time to invest in him.


 

The Secret of N.I.M.H.

  

Year: 1982

Director: Don Bluth

Genre: Animation, Drama, Family, Fantasy

Cast: Derek Jacobi, Elizabeth Hartman, Arthur Malet, Dom DeLuise, Hermione Baddeley, Shannen Doherty, Wil Wheaton, Jodi Hicks, Ian Fried, John Carradine, Peter Strauss, Paul Shenar

 

Don Bluth, the animation director perhaps most famous for the prehistoric classic <i>The Land Before Time</i> came out of the gate swinging with his directorial debut <i>The Secret of N.I.M.H.</i>, a brisk adaptation of the novel <i>Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H.</i>. Creatively combining science and dark fantasy with surprisingly mature themes such as the imminence of death and the ethics of animal experimentation, Bluth created a magical, vibrant, world rich in mythology and full of stunning hand-drawn animation that rivals most Disney features and will appeal to young and old alike. It’s inspiring to see the lone mother and widow Mrs. Brisby, voiced by Elizabeth Hartman, doing everything within her power to care for her children and save her sick son. While there is a tone of mystery and wonder throughout, unlike in many animated films, the audience is not spoon-fed information. Viewers are expected to pay attention, and they will be rewarded for doing so. Just for fun, listen for a very young Shannen Doherty and Wil Wheaton as Mrs. Brisby’s firstborn daughter Teresa and son Martin.

EXPIRING: Last day to watch is 5/31


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

May 27
Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)
Middle of Nowhere (2012)

May 29
The Jungle Book (2016)

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

 

AMAZON PRIME

May 30
1984 (1984)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Breakdown (1997)
Chaplin (1992)
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Manhattan (1979)
Regarding Henry (1991)
The Secret of N.I.M.H. (1982)

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)

 

FILMSTRUCK

May 25
Brighton Rock (1948)
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)

 

HULU

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


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Cargo — NETFLIX FILM (2017)
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Small Town Crime (2017)
The Survivor’s Guide to Prison (2018)

 

AMAZON PRIME

Beatriz at Dinner (2017)
The Black Stallion (1979)
Death at a Funeral (2007)

 

FILMSTRUCK

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

 

HULU

Beatriz at Dinner (2017)
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

May 29
Coco (2017)

May 31
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017)

 

HULU

May 31
I, Tonya (2017)
Rain Man (1988)

 


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.

You Should Be Watching: May 3-9

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. Alright? Let’s get started.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Chaplin

      

Year: 1992

Director: Richard Attenborough

Genre:  Biography, Comedy, Drama

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Geraldine Chaplin, Paul Rhys, John Thaw, Moira Kelly, Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd, Marisa Tomei, Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Kline, Matthew Cottle, Maria Pitillo, Milla Jovovich, Kevin Dunn, Deborah Moore, Diane Lane, Nancy Travis, James Woods, David Duchovny, Michael Cade, P.H. Moriarty, Howard Lew Lewis, John Standing 

 

Long before Robert Downey Jr. put on the mantle of the iconic Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), he wowed audiences with his Oscar-nominated, BAFTA-winning performance as the king of silent film comedy–Charlie Chaplin. It’s fascinating to watch him become the character synonymous with Chaplin, that is The Tramp. But many people don’t even realize that mustachioed fellow with the cane and the funny gait did not represent Chaplin’s normal self. Charles Chaplin was a real person behind the mustache and wig. He was a complicated man who led a complicated life, and he was far from perfect. But like any man, he had hopes and dreams, and he wanted to make the world laugh, and laugh they did. It’s a special experience to see Downey Jr. bring this man to life, giving us viewers a window into the life of such an important figure in the history of film. Hopefully, afterwards, you’ll have the push needed to go explore the real Charlie Chaplin’s work.


 

The Negotiator

Year: 1998

Director: F. Gary Gray

Genre: Action, Crime, Adventure, Mystery, Drama, Thriller

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse, Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, J.T. Walsh, Siobhan Fallon, Paul Giamatti, Regina Taylor, Bruce Beatty, Michael Cudlitz, Carlos Gómez, Tim Kelleher, Dean Norris, Nestor Serrano, Doug Spinuzza, Leonard L. Thomas, Stephen Lee, Lily Nicksay, Lauri Johnson, Sabi Dorr, Gene Wolande, Rhonda Dotson, John Lordan, Jack Shearer, Donna Ponterotto, Michael Shamus Wiles, Mik Scriba, Joey Perillo

 

While we’re on the subject of earlier work by actors who are part of the MCU, let’s move on to this tense but highly entertaining 90s crime thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson playing classic Samuel L. Jackson. His character is Danny Roman, a hostage negotiator turned desperate hostage taker after he’s accused of murder and corruption. Yep, Kevin Spacey stars too. If that’s a problem for you, I’m sorry, but I’m recommending art here. Performances not people. Spacey is brilliant as fellow negotiator Chris Sabian, as he so often is in roles that give him the opportunity to play out a mental chess match with the other guy. It’s an edge-of-your-seat guessing game throughout as to what’s actually going on and who’s going to get the upper hand. If you like fast-paced 90s thrillers, you can’t go wrong seeing these two go head to head. The Negotiator is a blast.


 

In The Mood For Love

  

 

Year: 2000

Director: Wong Kar-Wai

Genre: Romance, Drama

Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Maggie Cheung, Rebecca Pan, Kelly Lai Chen, Siu Ping-Lam, Mama Hung, Joe Cheung, Koo Kam-Wah, Chan Man-Lei, Pauline Suen, Roy Cheung

 

Now let’s take a hard right and head into foreign film territory. There are so many ways that a story about adultery can go badly. Adultery is often trivialized or overly sexualized. Wong Kar-Wai avoids every single potential pitfall by emphasizing emotion and longing rather than lust. With artistic values that are quite simply off-the-charts and while avoiding salaciousness, he presents an all too real story about the pain of isolation from those we love and the subtle seeds from which affairs grow, the temporary happiness they promise, and how they affect the unseen future. The emotion of the story is enhanced even more by the backdrop of incredible shots full of creative camera angles, straight lines, bold color, so much elegance and an amazing musical landscape that accompanies the visuals highlighted by the oh so beautiful recurring Yumeji’s Theme, a dark violin-led waltz.


 

Lawrence of Arabia

Year: 1962

Director: David Lean

Genre:  Adventure, Biography, Drama

Cast: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif, Claude Rains, Anthony Quayle, José Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy, Donald Wolfit, Zia Mohyeddin, I.S. Johar, Gamil Ratib, Michel Ray, John Dimech, Howard Marion-Crawford, Jack Gwillim, Hugh Miller, Robert Rietty, John Barry, Bruce Beeby, John Bennett, Steve Birtles, David Lean, Robert Bolt, Daniel Moynihan, Peter Burton, James Hayter, Barry Warren

 

Finally, we come to David Lean’s time-tested historical epic, our second biopic and winner of seven Academy Awards, this one based on the life and writings of British officer T. E. Lawrence, who came to care for a country not his own. As a result, he sought to assist the Arabs in World War I in their battle against the Turks, using the skills, strategy, and leadership qualities he’d gained through his military experience. This is a film filled with fascinating characters and detail and exciting large-scale action. David Lean’s filmmaking in conjunction with Freddie Young’s cinematography is exquisite, always enchanting. Never has a desert landscape looked more gorgeous and combined with Peter O’Toole’s arresting performance as the titular and ever-present Lawrence, the nearly four-hour runtime is not only earned, it breezes by, so don’t let it keep you from experiencing this masterpiece.

 

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

May 4
Bernie (2011)

May 8
Sing Street (2016)

May 11
Fruitvale Station (2013)
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

May 29
The Jungle Book (2016)

 

AMAZON PRIME

None announced

 

FILMSTRUCK

May 11
Forbidden Planet (1956)

Werner Herzog:

Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
Fitzcarraldo (1982)
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

May 16
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

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)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Amélie (2001)
Beautiful Girls (1996)
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Red Dragon (2002)
Scream 2 (1997)
Shrek (2001)

 

AMAZON PRIME

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Bull Durham (1988)
The Crow (1994)
Eight Men Out (1988)
The Elephant Man (1980)
Frailty (2001)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Insomnia (2002)
Manhunter (1986)
Thief (1981)
Wonder Boys (2000)

From the James Bond Collection:

Dr. No (1962)
From Russia With Love (1963)
Goldfinger (1964)

From the Rocky Collection:

Rocky (1976)
Rocky II (1979)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
High Noon (1952)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

May 4
Anon — Netflix Original (2018)

May 5
Faces Places (2017)

 

AMAZON PRIME

May 4
Last Flag Flying — Amazon Original (2017)

May 5
Warrior (2011)

 


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.