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.

Minisode 32: Three Kings

Dark-comedy, scathing political satire, drama about human nature, or all of the above? David O. Russell’s Three Kings is a mixture of tones with a lot to say about the Persian Gulf War wrapped in an often funny, sometimes brutal adventure story. We dig in to this November Donor Pick and see if we can find the gold within.

Contact

Join the Facebook Discussion Group

 

Dark-comedy, scathing political satire, drama about human nature, or all of the above? David O. Russell’s Three Kings is a mixture of tones with a lot to say about the Persian Gulf War wrapped in an often funny, sometimes brutal adventure story. We dig in to this November Donor Pick and see if we can find the gold within.

Contact

Join the Facebook Discussion Group

Download this Episode


Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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MOVIE REVIEW: Suburbicon

Suburbicon (2017)


Going In

Written by Joel and Ethan Coen. Directed by George Clooney. Starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac. The truth is that I didn’t even need to know the plot to become interested in this film. Despite hearing the word “mediocre” thrown around, I find it difficult to believe that this group of supremely talented artists won’t provide an entertaining time at the movies. From the look of its trailers, Suburbicon appears to be mostly dark comedy, and though I greatly prefer the Coens’ strictly dramatic work over their more comedic efforts, every time I see a white-collar Matt Damon losing his mind and taking on organized crime it makes me grin. I’m holding out hope that there is something of substance that will elevate this beyond just satire.


COMING OUT

Suburbicon is wild. The Coens’ signature dark comedic touch is all over this, and its trailers, come to find out, have been a bit of a misdirection. At first glance you’d think the city of Suburbicon was a clone of Pleasantville. It doesn’t take long for that idea to be blown out of the water, though, as we learn that Suburbicon residents are quite fond of their community demographics and not very accepting of change. The surprises come pretty quickly and the setup for the main plot is intriguing. In fact, if this movie had been more of a straight-forward thriller it could have worked well.

Unfortunately, Suburbicon has no idea what kind of film it is. There are two stories taking place at once and they do not coexist well. Cuts between the two result in an odd tonal shift and the satirical nature of main plot doesn’t mesh with what’s going on in the secondary one. If the movie is trying to say something important, it fails at making that clear. Suburbicon does feature moments of genuine humor and that slick Coen Bros. writing that we know and love so well. In particular, the brief time that Oscar Isaac is on screen stands out. His charisma plays perfectly in the role this film calls for. I also rather enjoyed the twists and turns the story takes, and I probably would have responded positively to the ending if it hadn’t been ruined for me by the trailer. Why they chose to show us something in the trailer that would tip us off to the exact ending of the film 15 minutes before it happens is extremely frustrating. Maybe the studio just counts on us all having very bad memories? Regardless, it was a major mistake that negatively affected my viewing and response to the end.

Verdict

The trailer for Suburbicon, sans extra story-line that didn’t fit in, is a tighter film than the finished product. Despite an incredible amount of star power attached to this project, it simply tries to be too many things at once and the result is a frustrating, confused mess. It’s not all bad, and sections of it show flashes of what could have been, but the finished (I use that word loosely) product is just not something worthy of being recommended.

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 how his expectations influenced his experience. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

What We Learned This Week: October 1-7

LESSON #1: THERE ARE LIKELY MORE SKELETONS IN MORE CLOSETS THAN WE WILL EVER KNOW— Last year, it was the allegations surrounding Casey Affleck.  Last week was the culmination of old indiscretions from Ain’t It Cool News and Alamo Drafthouse.  This week, it’s the unearthed disgusting behavior from mega-producer Harvey Weinstein.  I wish this story would be the last on the topic of unchecked sexual harassment, but I think any law of averages from any statistical measure will tell us this is the tip of an iceberg and not the finale.  I’ll repeat my plea from last week to remove the silence and dish out the overdue consequences.

LESSON #2: HARRY DEAN STANTON DESERVES TO WIN THE THIRD POSTHUMOUS ACTING OSCAR EVER AWARDED— You can call Lucky a capstone, a eulogy, or whatever you want, but the late Harry Dean Stanton deserved serious Oscar consideration for Best Actor even before his death.  His legend will only grow with the public seeing the film. Starkly present in both the character and the actor himself, every wrinkle hides a layer, a story to be told, or a touchstone to an unseen memory. You cannot stare deep enough into his sullen eyes without being captivated by his plight.

LESSON #3: THE MONEY PEOPLE EARN MAKING A MOVIE— Mark me down as a guy who never knew how much the folks you see listed in the end credits of a film got paid.  We hear about the big paychecks of actors and directors, but rarely the “little people.”  Check out this article from TIME magazine. File this under the “You Learn Something Every Day” department.

LESSON #4: IS THE THEATRICAL PRODUCT GETTING SLOPPY?— I recently enjoyed the perspective written up by Sonny Bunch in The Washington Post.  I found the technical details behind projection, sound, and lights to be fascinating.  The more I think about my theatrical experiences every week, the more I see what Bunch is referring to.  Calling it a “scapegoat” to attendance I think is a little too strong, but discerning fans are right to expect and want better from their premium ticket prices.

LESSON #5: GEORGE CLOONEY IS TOO YOUNG TO BE GETTING LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS— The American Film Institute announced that George Clooney will be receiving their 46th Lifetime Achievement Award next June.  Mr. Clooney is only 56-years-old.  I don’t want to turn into Don “TMasterpiece” Shanahan, but George’s career is far from full or even complete.  Let’s put the “lifetime” in lifetime achievement awards.  The guy could work at the top of his game for another quarter-century.  Come back when the guy is 76 instead of 56.  Next thing you know, Jennifer Lawrence is going to win the thing before she turns 30.  Jeez!


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  He is also one of the founders and the current directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.