You Should Be Watching: August 31 – September 5

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.


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

    — Coming September 1

Year: 1993

Director: Lasse Hallström

Genre: Romance, Drama

Cast: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, Darlene Cates, Laura Harrington, Mary Kate Schellhardt, Kevin Tighe, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Penelope Branning, Tim Green, Susan Loughran, Robert B. Hedges, Mark Jordan, Cameron Finley, Brady Coleman, Tim Simek

Johnny Depp plays Gilbert Grape, a twenty-something stuck in the small Iowa town of Endora working as a grocery clerk. Despite the presence of his two sisters, he bears the weight of the world as he alone is obligated to care for his morbidly obese mother Bonnie (Darlene Cates) and his highly autistic 17-year-old brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his first roles). The whole family lives in an old rundown house that Bonnie hasn’t left in years due to depression from her husband’s suicide. Gilbert is losing the battle of trying to cope with his life when he meets Becky (Juliette Lewis), a carefree spirit who brings him happiness and draws his attention away from the drudgery of his responsibilities. Unfortunately, Arnie is one of those responsibilities, and unsupervised, he is a true danger to himself.

Between Lasse Hallström’s direction and Peter Hedges‘ script, the perfect balance is struck between melancholy and humor. The big surprise is DiCaprio stealing the entire show with his standout Oscar-nominated supporting actor performance. Through expression, voice, and mannerisms, there is nothing to differentiate him from an actual autistic person. He is truly dependent on others, providing genuine tension when he’s left to his own devices, whether getting stuck up on the town water tower or left alone in the bath, unable to help himself.


Gone Baby Gone

Year: 2007

Director: Ben Affleck

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery

Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver, Michael Kenneth Williams, Edi Gathegi, Mark Margolis, Madeline O’Brien, Slaine, Matthew Maher, Trudi Goodman

By the mid 2000s, Ben Affleck’s acting career was in a shambles after a string of major flops. Something needed to change. So why not go behind the camera for once? Affleck joined Aaron Stockard to adapt Dennis Lehane’s source novel and found his cast, including leads Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan, who play private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, as well as big names like Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris. The result was the directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, a critically acclaimed neo-noir crime drama about the search through Boston’s criminal underground for a missing little girl named Amanda.

This is a bleak, depressing, and uncomfortable film full of unlikeable people. Even Amanda’s mother is neglectful and self-centered. But this is the world we live in. The stunning revelations and impossible moral dilemma thrust on our characters unmercifully puts the viewer’s ethical judgment and fortitude to the test. There’s also the sense that apart from the main cast, these aren’t actors; they’re real Bostonians living real life, rough and raw, for better or worse.


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

 — Expiring September 7

Year: 1954

Director: Stanley Donen

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical, Western

Cast: Howard Keel, Jeff Richards, Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Rall, Marc Platt, Jane Powell, Jacques d’Amboise, Julie Newmar, Matt Mattox, Nancy Kilgas, Betty Carr, Virginia Gibson, Ruta Lee, Norma Doggett, Ian Wolfe, Howard Petrie, Earl Barton, Dante DiPaolo, Kelly Brown, Matt Moore, Russell Simpson, Marjorie Wood, Jarma Lewis, Anna Q. Nilsson, Dick Rich

Set in the Oregon frontier of the mid-19th century, this is the story of Adam Pontipee, played by the deep-voiced Howard Keel, and his six brothers, Benjamin through Frank. They’re all uncouth backwoodsmen who rarely see women much less have any idea how to treat them or how to have any kind of manners really. Nevertheless, Adam comes to town to find a bride, and find one he does in the beautiful Milly, played by the tough but lovely Jane Powell, who also has a beautiful singing voice. Milly accepts his offer not knowing of the rest of the family that awaits her or what kind of man Adam is.

Despite moments of discomfort and awkwardness brought about by its sometimes pigheaded characters, this movie musical is a pure delight with catchy and memorable songs, creative, can’t take your eyes off it large-scale group choreography–especially during the barn-raising sequence, laughs a plenty, and a no-nonsense, take-charge heroine in Milly.

When I say Milly is a heroine, I mean she is the most important character in the story. She’s the one who takes on the role of taming this group of brothers and teaching them what respect and true masculinity looks like. Ironically, despite being the oldest, her new husband is the one most in need of maturing, despite what he himself thinks. He’s as stubborn as they come, and Milly, while quick to forgive and generous in heart, is not a doormat and is more than ready to stand up for herself and for the other girls who end up falling into her protection.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

August 31
Batman Begins (2005)
Casino (1995)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Dead Poets Society (1989)
The Descent (2005)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)
It Might Get Loud (2008)
Man on Wire (2008)
Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

September 4
PK (2014)
To The Wonder (2012)

September 13
Pete’s Dragon (2016)

September 14
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

September 15
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

September 27
The Imitation Game (2014)

AMAZON PRIME

August 31
Anthropoid (2016)
The Big Racket (1976)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Capote (2005)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Death at a Funeral (2007)
A Fistful Of Dynamite (1971)
The Flowers of War (2011)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Inferno (1980)
The Natural (1984)
Raging Bull (1980)
Red River (1948)
Stories We Tell (2012)
Training Day (2001)
Trees Lounge (1996)

FILMSTRUCK

August 31
Badlands (1973)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
The Exorcist (1973)
Gun Crazy (1950)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Kameradschaft (1931)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The Searchers (1956)
They Live by Night (1948)
Tootsie (1982)
Westfront 1918 (1930)
You Only Live Once (1937)

September 7
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
The Band Wagon (1953)
Giant (1956)
Grand Illusion (1937)
Home from the Hill (1960)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
Slacker (1990)
Some Came Running (1958)
Steamboat Round the Bend (1935)
Tea and Sympathy (1956)
The Thin Man Series (1934 – 1947)
Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954)

September 14
Advise & Consent (1962)
Easy Rider (1969)
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Fruit of Paradise (1970)
The Night of the Iguana (1964)
A Patch of Blue (1965)
Queen Christina (1933)
Seven Days in May (1964)
Splendor in the Grass (1961)
The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

September 21
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)
Mean Streets (197
Night Moves (1975)

HULU

August 31
Across the Universe (2007)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The ’Burbs (1989)
Clue (1985)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
Hellboy (2004)
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
Primal Fear (1996)
Rain Man (1988)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Trainspotting (1996)


JUST ARRIVED

FILMSTRUCK

Captains Courageous (1937)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Gunga Din (1939)
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
A Mighty Wind (2003)
North by Northwest (1959)
The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
Suspicion (1941)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Westworld (1973)

HULU

Crime + Punishment (2018)
Gangs of New York (2002)
mother! (2017)


COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

September 1
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Groundhog Day (1993)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
King Kong (2005)
Nacho Libre (2006)
Pearl Harbor (2001)
Scarface (1983)
Unforgiven (1992)

September 2
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Lilo & Stitch (2002)

September 4
Black Panther (2018)

AMAZON PRIME

September 1
Chinatown (1974)
Blow Out (1981)
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Miami Vice (2006)
Primal Fear (1996)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

HULU

August 31
The Terminator (1984)

September 1
13 Going On 30 (2004)
Adaptation. (2002)
Blow Out (1981)
City of God (2002)
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Field of Dreams (1989)
The Fly (1986)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Primal Fear (1996)
Rushmore (1998)
Signs (2002)
Searching for Sugar Man (2012)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Unbreakable (2000)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

September 2
The English Patient (1996)


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

What We Learned This Week: May 13-26

LESSON #1: ARGUE WITH A LEG TO STAND ON— Call it an occupational hazard built by years of fandom, research, and practice, but I tell myself everyday (maybe not to a Stuart Smalley level, but close) that I’ve got a pretty good head on my shoulders and a better-than-decent eye for the good, bad, great, and ugly when it comes to just about anything movie-related.  That passion gets me in plenty of debates online and across social media on any range of topics (masterpieces vs. classics, best vs. favorite, etc).  Wearing the critic badge on top of that knowledge, I get labeled arrogant and full of hubris.  To me, it’s not hubris when the stances are educated and supported with substance.  I’ve done my homework and I’ve come prepared or I wouldn’t be debating in the first place.  I can’t say the same thing for many other people on the other side of debates.  The language of this lesson is a plea that if you’re going to present an argument or stance, be able to back it up.  The substance of your stance has to be stronger than wimpy likes and dislikes.  The trolls and whiners I meet don’t have that integrity.  For example, see an actor or director’s filmography before making any declarations for or against them in any point of comparison.  Even more egregious, see the actual film you’re debating and labeling before laying judgment.  Bring more to the table than thin personal preferences and clickbait hearsay.  Bring a little more objectivity beyond the surface-level subjectivity.

LESSON #2: MAKE CHARACTERIZATIONS THAT FIT STORYLINES— As if irascible and irrational Star Wars fans had to find more things to hate, pockets of new semi-protests started up this week before the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story when Lando Calrissian actor Donald Glover and screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan declared the character to be pansexual.  There are many angles to consider here from this left-field turn.  Increased LGBTQ+ representation is always a welcome thing in these modern and more progressive times and, secondly, writers/actors are allowed their interpretation of characters they play.  However, reflect on making such a label or change purposeful and not a measure of tokenism.  Consider the fit and don’t shoehorn in LGBTQ+ characters for the sake of doing so without actually having the story to do so.  This one feels like tokenism and a hollow attempt at praise.  That said, this, whether for or against, is not a reason to protest a film or abandon a beloved character.

LESSON #3: KNOWN FATES TAKE AWAY FROM THE SUSPENSE— I have to reprint this irrefutable dilemma from my Solo: A Star Wars Story review from Every Movie Has a Lesson.  This goes for every prequel in existence.  Because the audience knows certain characters have documented futures, there is a perceptible, if not even enormous, storytelling loss in the peril department.  The edge of one’s seat becomes a little more relaxed and more than a bit farther away.  In Solo, no matter what happens to Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and the Millennium Falcon, they’re going to be fine.  In equal measure, since a large majority of the side characters present in Solo are never mentioned in the films later down the timeline, you might as well put a red shirt of Star Trek doom on each of them.  Foregone conclusions like that are not spoiler alerts.  Those are plain facts. Ignoring this conundrum is pure gullibility.  The common rewind counterargument is “well, it’s about the journey… blah, blah, blah.”  Sure, but then the impact of said journey better be damn important or move us to pieces.  As hellaciously fun as it is at times, Solo: A Star Wars Story is missing a certain level of that compelling juice.

LESSON #4: JAMES MANGOLD AND BOUNTY HUNTERS ARE A GOOD POTENTIAL FIT— In surprise news on the night of Solo‘s debut, another anthology/prequel backstory was announced by the Mouse House.  Logan, Cop Land, and Walk the Line director James Mangold has been tapped to helm a Boba Fett origin film.  While that film will have the same predicament as Lesson #3, Boba Fett is at least a character with more intriguing mystery and depth to solve than Han Solo, arguably the most iconic character of the whole franchise.  That’s exactly the kind of cult status character that deserves these kinds of standalone film attempts, and, gosh, what a hire.  Just imagine a talent like Mangold crafting a grizzled, borderline space western of a relentless pursuer stalking his prey and taking down all comers who cross his path.  Grow that legend!  Along the same lines, my fingers are crossed that Donald Glover, who steals every scene he’s in from Solo, gets his own film after the inevitable box office success.

LESSON #5: PRE-SCREENINGS CAN DO THEIR JOB IN CATCHING QUESTIONABLE CONTENT BEFORE IT PLAYS TO ALL AUDIENCES— Kudos to the parents who made a stink about some questionable scenes in the upcoming family-marketed film Show Dogs.  You can read the details here here about some testicular inspection scenes (which true to real dog shows or not) that hit a little too close to predatory sexual grooming allusions if the roles were people instead of dogs voiced by people.  The studio is doing the right thing and editing out the poor choices before the theatrical release.  This goes to show that some studios have the wherewithal to seek the right approvals before releasing something willy-nilly.  Sure, scenes like those shouldn’t have made it past the script editor, but it counts as better late than never to not just make the changes, but listen to the paying customers in the first place.
LESSON #6: SOME PULLED PLUGS ARE WHOLLY DESERVED— Speaking of paying attention and judging the landscape, Paramount Pictures dropped the seventh Transformers film from its release schedule.  The off-shoot Bumblebee film is still coming this December, but maybe this long road of Michael Bay trash is finally done.  You can only beat dead horses so long.  Can Disney borrow the same logic soon with Pirates of the Caribbean.  Just as the cited article suggests, this joy might be short-lived (but it is joy nonetheless).  The word “reboot” is being thrown around because once any studio makes several billion dollars, they’re going to want to try and make it happen again.  There are always more horses to flog on the big studio lots.

LESSON #7: THE MIGHTY FALL THE HARDEST— Lastly, I was as shocked as the next person by the CNN report of extensive and multiple inappropriate harassment allegations against Oscar-winning A-lister and overall beloved figure Morgan Freeman.  He is easily the biggest name to be burned since Kevin Spacey. As with each of these stories that have come to light over the course of the last year (and often stated in this column), no matter who it is, my first reactions are patience and sadness long before anger and judgment.  First and foremost, I, for one, refuse to label a man guilty or otherwise on rumors alone until accusations are proven or disproven.  I choose to wait.  Each person deserves their chance to defend themselves, seek the proper contrition, or both.  Until then, disappointment fills me more than anger.  I respect the works of these people too much to ever “ban” or “boycott” their careers and erase them from the proverbial record books.  I just don’t think that’s right.  They existed, their work remains, and it mattered.  It may lose some level of respect considering the circumstances, but it’s never reduced to zero for me.  My policy has always been to separate the person and the performance.  I still watch Kevin Spacey movies and I will still watch Morgan Freeman ones too, only now the impact is softened to a degree.


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  He is a proud member and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  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 FacebookTwitter, and Medium.