You Should Be Watching: July 26 – Aug 1

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’s highlights include the lesser known but no less significant collaboration between Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, and Paul Schrader. Also, Paul King’s introduction to the world of a long beloved storybook bear. And finally, a Colombian filmmaker takes us on a dark and strange journey into the Amazon jungles of last century.

Say goodbye to Finding Dory, Jackie Brown, and 13 Assassins on Netflix, Gran Torino and The Hurt Locker on Amazon Prime, Taxi Driver and All Quiet on the Western Front on FilmStruck, and Braveheart on Hulu, all leaving very soon along with many others.

Say hello to the new August titles, such as Batman Begins and Her on Netflix, The Hurt Locker and High Noon on Amazon Prime, and Leaving Las Vegas, Lost in Translation, and Shaun of the Dead on Hulu.

 

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Raging Bull

Year: 1980

Director: Martin Scorsese

Genre: Drama, Biography, Sport

Cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, Mario Gallo, John Turturro, Joseph Bono, Frank Adonis, Charles Scorsese, Rita Bennett, Bernie Allen, Gene LeBell

A knockout, tour-de-force of filmmaking at all levels–acting, camera work, direction, script, sound design–and an unflinching biography of Jake LaMotta, a  talented boxer who had greatness in his grasp, but whose self-destructive, uncontrollable bouts of lust, jealousy, and rage sent him into a downward spiral.

Michael Chapman’s groundbreaking black and white cinematography grabs your attention from the opening titles. And Scorsese wears the neorealist influences on his sleeve, particularly that of the master Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti and his film Rocco and his Brothers. But his choices are often surprising as occasionally he will offset the intense visuals with dreamlike surrealism, complete with operatic score. The film received 8 well-deserved Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and took home two–Film Editing and Best Actor for Robert De Niro’s transformative performance. Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin provided the intricate script. The dialogue between Jake and his brother Joey (Joe Pesci) is as densely and carefully choreographed as the many fights, in and out of the ring.


 

Paddington

Year: 2014

Director: Paul King

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Animation

Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Samuel Joslin, Madeleine Harris, Julie Walters, Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Madeleine Worrall, Tim Downie, Matt King, Simon Farnaby, Kayvan Novak, Matt Lucas

 

Whether or not you’ve seen one of this year’s best films that happens to feature that lovable bear with an affinity for marmalade, let me remind you that the original is quite the treat as well. Paddington is an energetic, surprisingly funny, and heartwarming reintroduction to a beloved character and the Brown family, who takes him in to their home. Director and co-writer Paul King sets the perfect balance between absurdity and clever humor, creating a storybook world that’s just a little more fantastical than our own where no one bats an eye at a talking bear even though they’ve never seen one.

The Brown family is easy to like, each member delightfully unique in their personalities and quirks, even and maybe especially the straight-laced father Henry played by Hugh Bonneville. Alternatively, the mother Mary (Sally Hawkins) is immediately taken in by Paddington, despite his proneness to accidentally creating messes. It’s also fun to see the variety of familiar faces such as Peter Capaldi as the nosy upstairs neighbor who wants the status quo upheld and Nicole Kidman as the dastardly villain. The music is also engaging, full of energy and remarkably diverse.


 

Embrace of the Serpent

  

Year: 2015

Director: Ciro Guerra

Genre: Adventure, Drama

Cast: Nilbio Torres, Antonio Bolivar, Brionne Davis, Jan Bijvoet, Luigi Sciamanna, Nicolás Cancino, Yauenkü Miguee

 

The plot of this striking film from Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra was inspired by the travel diaries of two South American explorers. In this story, they are two scientists separated by decades but with similar goals of finding the mysterious yakruna, a rare and sacred healing plant. The first scientist, a German named Theo von Martius (Jan Bijvoet), comes seeking a cure for his diseased body. The second, an American named Evan (Brionne Davis), intends to complete the journey Theo started.

Each end up securing the services of the same guide, the shaman Karamakate for their search into the deepest, darkest jungles of the Amazon. This bit of casting is particularly strong as the younger played by Nilbio Torres and the older by Antonio Bolívar seem like they could be the same person, though for better and worse, time has had a noticeable effect on both body and personality of the older.

The unique, remote environment and diversity in peoples rarely seen make this important viewing, but it does become quite the strange, dark, psychedelic road movie. It offers an impactful message about how society is drastically changed and long-standing culture is so quickly lost by the infiltration of outside influences, especially when that influence takes an authoritative even god-like role.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

July 29
Assassination (2015)

July 31
Max Manus: Man of War (2008)
Finding Dory (2016)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

August 4
13 Assassins (2010)

August 15
The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

 

AMAZON PRIME

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)

August 1
The Club (2015)

 

FILMSTRUCK

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)
The Mission (1986)
Network (1976)

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

August 10
Altered States (1980)
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
Dogtooth (2009)
Falling Down (1993)
Magnolia (1999)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Them! (1954)

August 12
The Last House on the Left (1972)

August 17
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)
The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)
Escape from New York (1981)
The Falls (1980)
Hairspray (1988)
A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)

August 20
Frances Ha (2012)

 

HULU

July 31
Braveheart (1995)
Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Traffic (2000)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Amy (2015)
Bolt (2008)
An Education (2009)
The End of the Tour (2015)
Ex Machina (2014)
A Most Violent Year (2014)
Slow West (2015)
Tusk (2014)

 

AMAZON PRIME

Capote (2005)
How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017)
Raging Bull (1980)

 

FILMSTRUCK

High Sierra (1941)
The Time Machine (1960)

 

HULU

Angel Heart (1987)
Black Cop (2017)
Embrace of the Serpent (2015)

 


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

July 29
Her (2013)

August 1
The Aviator (2004)
Batman Begins (2005)
Clerks (1994)
Constantine (2005)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Informant! (2009)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Steel Magnolias (1989)

 

AMAZON PRIME

August 1
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Cold War (2018)
The Elephant Man (1980)
Freedom Writers (2007)
Frequency (2000)
High Noon (1952)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Joe (2013)
The Soloist (2009)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Watchmen (2009)

 

HULU

August 1
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Cold War (2018)
The Elephant Man (1980)
High Noon (1952)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
The Hurricane (1999)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Joe (2013)
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Lost in Translation (2003)
The Nasty Girl (1990)
Point Break (1991)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The Usual Suspects (1995)

 


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.

Episode 112: Paddington 2

Grab a marmalade sandwich and get ready to smile as we discuss the surprise hit of 2018, a beary special, family-friendly film called Paddington 2. We also chat some about the adorable bear’s first adventure before getting into all of the reasons this sequel has charmed viewers old and young, critical and casual alike.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:21
(Aaron – Paddington, Adrift, Upgrade)
(Patrick – Paddington)

Paddington 2 Review – 0:16:39

The Connecting Point – 0:57:29


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MOVIE REVIEW: Paddington 2

PADDINGTON 2 (2018)


GOING IN

In 2014, a movie based on a children’s book about a talking bear who is discovered in Peru and moves to modern-day London, became an overwhelmingly positive critical success. I’d never have bet on this happening. But it did, and so much so that the British live-action/CGI hit has spawned a sequel. Paddington was recognized for being a warm-hearted family-friendly adventure full of charm, wit, and with a playful sense of humor. It was also filled with gags that made it just plain fun, and my family is excited to see where the immigrant bear’s story goes from here.

1 Hour and 43 Minutes Later.


COMING OUT

Rarely does a film so exceed my expectations that I’m left with a feeling of awe, but my face literally almost broke into pieces from the immensity of my smile as I sat watching one of the most perfect post-credit scenes I’ve ever witnessed follow-up a film so adorable that I wanted to hug it, then see it again immediately. The word awesome may be overused and have a wide range of application, but when expanded to its full definition of something that is “extremely impressive; inspiring great admiration”, it applies perfectly to Paddington 2.

Now with the origin story out of the way, director Paul King is able to show us what Paddington’s every day life in London is like with the Brown family. It still requires some suspension of disbelief to see humans interacting with a talking bear as if it’s routine, but it doesn’t take long to start feeling the joy that Paddington is bringing into the lives of everyone he interacts with and accept him for who he is, and not how he looks. Watching the Brown’s operate as a family is particularly sweet, and each member has their own personal issue of identity that they are dealing with in some manner. Each of these is introduced briefly and King’s ability to pay off each individual family member’s struggle while maintaining a balance of character focus throughout the film is a triumph. As for Paddington, he simply wants to find the best present possible for Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, and due to a bad case of wrong place/wrong time he ends up in the most unlikely of places… prison. The rest of the plot takes everyone on whimsical adventures, complete with treasure hunting, plenty of detective work, and hijinks on a train. The film has plenty to say about being yourself, having manners, and looking for the good in others, but it is never distracting and rather genuinely uplifting.

Along Paddington’s journey, one of the characters he meets is former star actor turned dog food salesman Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). Phoenix wants what Paddington wants and serves as the villain of the film, and boy oh boy is Grant having the time of his life in this role. It’s impossible not to smile and laugh constantly because Grant’s performance evokes these involuntary reactions at every turn. While he doesn’t have the kind of Oscar-worthy moment that is thought of when awards are handed out for best acting work, his consistent greatness in playing this character perfectly should not be overlooked. Also hitting a home run with his performance as Knuckles McGinty, a prison cook, is Brendan Gleeson. McGinty and Paddington enter into a unique sort of friendship that is as much gut-busting fun as it is soft and caring. Paddington is the kind of bear who always looks on the bright side, after all, bringing people together and making the best of whatever situation he is in, and McGinty and the other prisoners find it as hard to resist his unrelenting kindness as audiences do his charm.

All of this is well and good, but what truly raises Paddington 2 to greatness is that it’s not just a wonderful family-friendly story full of laughter and smiles, but also a technical marvel. The blending of live-action and CGI work is really special, never once being noticeable or feeling out of place. The cinematography is always fantastic and often striking with vivid color. Many times I was reminded of Wes Anderson’s work, particularly in The Grand Budapest Hotel, by the way in which a variation of angles were used to frame characters and scenes in interesting ways (usually centered). That color, though, bursting off the screen as if it was alive, added so much to the overall joy of the experience and was a treat for the eyes.

VERDICT

Shocking as it may be to read this early in the year, Paddington 2 is a truly wonderful film that will stand as one of 2018’s best. As the sequel to a great film, this one is even better. More heart-warming, more hilarious, and with outstanding performances by Grant and Gleeson that set it apart from other animated and similar genre pictures. In a world that often gives plenty of reason to frown, Paddington will replace that with pure delight. Take the whole family to see it once, twice, or more. Spending time with this marmalade-loving bear will start your year at the movies off right.

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.