You Should Be Watching: July 5-11

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.

This week on an all-Prime edition, I’m recommending a top-notch pairing of the Safdie brothers and Robert Pattinson, an intense Paul Greengrass docudrama that isn’t United 93, and Werner Herzog’s atypical film about Vietnam War POWs.

Also, Amazon Prime is knocking it out of the park with the quantity and quality of films that have arrived on the service this past week, everything from Buster Keaton’s The General to David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Martin Scorsese’s acclaimedTaxi Driver, written by Paul Schrader, has come to FilmStruck. And it’s your last full week to catch Sweet Smell of Success on FilmStruck and the previously featured Changeling on Netflix. This coming week, you can look forward to seeing Gone Baby Gone show up on Netflix and Snowden on Prime.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Good Time

Year: 2017

Director: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Drama

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Taliah Webster, Buddy Duress, Barkhad Abdi, Necro Peter Verby, Gladys Mathon, Saida Mansoor, Eric Paykert, Rose Gregorio, Rachel Black, Cliff Moylan, Hirakish Ranasaki, Maynard Nicholl, Craig muMs Grant, George Lee Miles, Lucas Elliot Eberl, Edgar Morais, Souleymane Sy Savane, Shaun Rey, Marcos A. Gonzalez

 

With Good Time, The Safdie brothers have cooked up a tense and energetic cautionary tale showcasing the selfish nature and disastrous and inescapable consequences of crime, especially on loved ones. Oneohtrix Point Never provides the brilliant 80s-styled synth score that perfectly drives tension and sets the mood.

Despite any significant makeup or disguise other than the incredibly lifelike mask he uses as a bank robber, Robert Pattinson is practically unrecognizable as lowlife Connie Nikas in this Murphy’s law crime thriller. And it’s not only his appearance that makes him a chameleon. He displays a tremendous range of emotion as his desperation grows and his life spirals out of control. In addition to Connie making things increasingly worse for himself, the real tragedy of this film is how he sucks his mentally ill brother, Nick, played to great effect by co-director Ben Safdie, into his ill-advised bank robbery and the aftermath thereof. Connie and Nick’s relationship is the heart of the film and colors every decision Connie makes.


Bloody Sunday

Year: 2002

Director: Paul Greengrass

Genre: Action, Drama, Adventure, History, War

Cast: James Nesbitt, Allan Gildea, Gerard Crossan, Mary Moulds, Carmel McCallion, Tim Pigott-Smith, Nicholas Farrell, Christopher Villiers, James Hewitt, Declan Duddy, Edel Frazer, Joanne Lindsay, Mike Edwards, Gerry Hammond, Jason Stammers, Ken Williams, Bryan Watts, Simon Mann, Rhidian Bridge, Johnny O’Donnell, David Clayton Rogers, Sean O’Kane, Thomas McEleney, Deirdre Irvine, Gerry Newton, David Pearse, Gerard McSorley

 

Far less well known than his 9/11 fly-on-the-wall docudrama United 93, Paul Greengrass‘ Bloody Sunday was his four years earlier but no less impactful foray into similarly-styled film making. This emotionally-charged film dramatizes the 1972 Northern Ireland massacre immortalized in the U2 song Sunday Bloody Sunday. Fittingly, that song plays over the final credits to its completion, long after the screen has faded to black. This incident is not well known on this side of the Atlantic, which means great skill was needed to create this kind of film that eschews exposition or character introductions or backstories and have it impact the viewer and make any sense. By the shocking, powerful third act, Greengrass has done just that, largely thanks to James Nesbitt’s anchoring of the film with his intense and heartbreaking portrayal of veteran civil rights campaigner Ivan Cooper, who has gone from waking up, expecting to participate in another quiet, peaceful protest to finding himself in the midst of blood and bullets.


Rescue Dawn

 

Year: 2006

Director: Werner Herzog

Genre: War, Drama, Adventure, Biography, Drama

Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Marshall Bell, Toby Huss, Pat Healy, François Chau, James Oliver, GQ, Saichia Wongwiroj, Brad Carr, Teerawat Mulvilai, Jeremy Davies, Kriangsak Ming-olo, Somkuan ‘Kuan’ Siroon, Mr. Yuttana Muenwaja, Chorn Solyda, Galen Yuen, Apichart Chusakul, Lek Chaiyan Chunsuttiwat, Zach Grenier, Evan Jones

 

Featuring nearly as much whispering and fly-on-the-wall footage as any Terrence Malick film, everyone gets to bring their own special brand of crazy to this atypical Vietnam war movie directed by Werner Herzog. By the time the cocky pilot Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale) crashes, gets captured and tortured, and is brought to the POW camp, the POWs he’s put with have already been there for so long, they’ve become shells of themselves, caricatures that are a bit one dimensional and weird, to put it lightly. Among the performances, Steve Zahn does crazy well, and it’s fascinating to see Bale go from cocky self-assurance to utter desperation over the course of the film.

While their experience is certainly not a pleasant one and quiet must be maintained at all times, other than being locked into stocks at night and all but starved, the prisoners have little interaction with their guards. Despite character names such as Little Hitler, this is no WWII death camp. Other more significant dangers lie outside the camp.

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

July 9
Closet Monster (2015)

July 11
Mountains May Depart (2015)

July 15
Changeling (2008)

 

FILMSTRUCK

July 6
Husbands and Wives (1992)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

July 8
Together (2000)

July 13
Losing Ground (1982)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

July 20
Blow-Up (1966)
Rififi (1955)
Thieves’ Highway (1949)

July 27
All the President’s Men (1976)
Ball of Fire (1941)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
His Girl Friday (1940)
The Killing Fields (1984)
Rio Bravo (1959)

July 28
Night and the City (1950)

July 31
Taxi Driver (1976)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Blue Valentine (2010)
The Boondock Saints (1999)
Certain Women (2016)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Happy Gilmore (1996)
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Jurassic Park (1993) — Parts II and III also available
Menace II Society (1993)
Real Genius (1985)
Troy (2004)

 

AMAZON PRIME

20,000 Days on Earth (2014)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
The Act of Killing (2012)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
All Is Lost (2013)
Angel Heart (1987)
American Psycho (2000)
Assassination (2015)
Bad Boy Bubby (1993)
Barfly (1987)
The Bear (1988)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Fearless (2006)
The General (1926)
The Graduate (1967)
Gran Torino (2008)
Indie Game: The Movie (2012)
The Insult (2017)
The Invisible War (2012)
The Last Waltz (1978)
The Monster Squad (1987)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Patriot Games (1992)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
Rescue Dawn (2006)
Shoeshine (1946)
Six Shooter (2004)
Sneakers (1992)
State of Grace (1990)
The Strange Little Cat (2013)
Tangerines (2013)
A Trip to the Moon (1902)
V for Vendetta (2006)
Waste Land (2010)
Way Down East (1920)
Witness (1985)
Woody Allen: A Documentary (2011)
Zodiac (2007)

 

FILMSTRUCK

La Terra Trema (1948)
Mafioso (1962)
The Public Enemy (1931)
The Roaring Twenties (1939)
Taxi Driver (1976)

 

HULU

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
All Is Lost (2013)
American Psycho (2000)
Assassination (2015)
Angel Heart (1987)
Barfly (1987)
Before Midnight (2013)
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Braveheart (1995)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Clue (1985)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Election (1999)
Happy Accidents (2000)
Hustle & Flow (2005)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Midnight in Paris (2011)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Prestige (2006)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
The Rainmaker (1997)
Six Shooter (2004)
Sleepers (1996)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Witness (1985)
Borg vs McEnroe (2018)

 


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

July 7
Scream 4 (2011)

July 12
Gone Baby Gone (2007)

 

AMAZON PRIME

July 8
Snowden (2016)

 

HULU

July 10
Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017)

 


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

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 31 – June 6

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.

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

 

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


A Simple Plan

    

Year: 1998

Director: Sam Raimi

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Drama

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

 

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

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


 

The African Queen

Year: 1951

Director: John Huston

Genre: Adventure, Romance, War, Drama

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

 

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

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


 

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

  

Year: 2014

Director: Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz

Genre: Drama

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

 

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

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

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

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

June 24
Captain America: Civil War (2016)

June 29
On Golden Pond (1981)

 

AMAZON PRIME

May 31
From the Rocky Collection:

Rocky (1976)
Rocky II (1979)

From the James Bond Collection:

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

June 7
Remember (2015)

June 9
Rosewater (2014)

 

FILMSTRUCK

May 31
High Noon (1952)

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

June 8
Christopher Guest:

Best in Show (2000)
Waiting for Guffman (1996)

Elia Kazan:

On the Waterfront (1954)
A Face in the Crowd (1957)

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

June 22
An American in Paris (1951)
The Piano (1993)

 

HULU

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


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

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

 

FILMSTRUCK

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

 

HULU

I, Tonya (2017)
Rain Man (1988)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

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

June 2
The King’s Speech (2010)

June 5
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

 

AMAZON PRIME

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

June 3
Lady Bird (2017)
Stargate (1994)

 

HULU

June 1
Apollo 13 (1995)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Bull Durham (1988)
The ’Burbs (1989)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
Hellboy (2004)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Margin Call (2011)
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
The Running Man (1987)
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Trainspotting (1996)

June 2
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

June 3
Stargate (1994)

 


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

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.

Minisode 041: Grave of the Fireflies/Mary and the Witch’s Flower

In this special minisode, we kick-off Patrick’s “Summer of Anime” movie challenge by confronting the late Isao Takahata’s masterpiece, Grave of the Fireflies. But to lighten things up, we also have a short and entirely spoiler-free review of the first feature film from Studio Ponoc, Mary and the Witch’s Flower. 

Mary and the Witch’s Flower Spoiler-Free Review – 0:03:53

Grave of the Fireflies Review – 0:15:27


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August 2018 – “Choose Your Director Month”

In January 2017, Feelin’ Film had its inaugural Director Month, covering the films of our favorite director – Christopher Nolan. Going through a single director’s films over the course of several weeks in a row provided a unique perspective on how his work had evolved, and was one of the most enjoyable things we’d done. So, in January 2018, we chose to make Director Month an annual occurrence and covered the films of Stanley Kubrick. This, too, was a wonderful experience for us and left us anxious to do it again.

Looking forward at the new release schedule, we have identified August 2018 as a great time to slip in another Director Month. But this time, we want YOU, our listeners, to choose whose filmography we dive into. Below you will find a list of directors and the corresponding films we would discuss. This is your chance to tell us what you want to hear us talk about on the podcast, and you can vote by clicking on the link below to join our Facebook Discussion Group and selecting your preferred choices in the poll.

Vote Here

Tony Scott

THE LAST BOY SCOUT
MAN ON FIRE
CRIMSON TIDE
DAYS OF THUNDER


Michael Mann

HEAT
COLLATERAL
THIEF
MIAMI VICE


Michael Bay

PAIN AND GAIN
TRANSFORMERS
PEARL HARBOR
THE ROCK


Jeff Nichols

MUD
SHOTGUN STORIES
TAKE SHELTER
LOVING


David Fincher

SE7EN
ZODIAC
FIGHT CLUB
GONE GIRL


Coen Brothers

FARGO
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
THE BIG LEBOWSKI


Clint Eastwood

UNFORGIVEN
MYSTIC RIVER
AMERICAN SNIPER
MILLION DOLLAR BABY


James Cameron

THE ABYSS
TITANIC
ALIENS
TRUE LIES


Martin Scorsese

GOODFELLAS
HUGO
THE DEPARTED
TAXI DRIVER


Wes Anderson

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
MOONRISE KINGDOM
ISLE OF DOGS
FANTASTIC MR. FOX


Kathryn Bigelow

ZERO DARK THIRTY
THE HURT LOCKER
POINT BREAK
NEAR DARK

The Evolution of Eastwood: THE BEGUILED

THE BEGUILED (1971)

“You must understand that it was the wine that turned loose the devils in me.” – Corporal John “McBee” McBurney

For nine films (and years of network television) Clint Eastwood had been “a man with a gun”, whether that was in a war film, a western, or a police drama. At this point in his career, he was genuinely concerned about being overly typecast and he made two calculated choices to try to perform against type. The first choice was this Civil War drama, The Beguiled, and his second choice was to finally direct his first feature film.

The Beguiled is a unique entry in both the catalogue of Clint Eastwood and of Don Siegel, its director. At this point, the pair of them had collaborated twice already and had become good friends as well as a veritable mutual admiration society. The opportunity to try their collaborative magic at something quite different appealed to them both. Eastwood himself was a major force behind the project’s inception, having read and become captivate by the original source novel, A Painted Devil by Thomas P. Cullinan. The script went through a few different iterations (including one with a straight-forward “happily-ever-after” ending) before ultimately landing with the results for the final film.

The premise revolves around a badly wounded union soldier (Eastwood) during the Civil War who is discovered and taken in by a group of young ladies at a boarding school. The headmistress is rigid and occasionally oppressive, but the soldier’s presence sends the entire group of young women into distrustful disarray, inciting desirous intentions and deceit, eventually erupting in violence and disturbing behavior as the soldier rejects and accepts certain advances (while making one or two of his own at the same time). The tension and threats escalate to an irreversible degree and the soldier soon realizes that he must find a way to escape or he will be trapped there forever, if not dead.

One of the earliest shots in the film, immediately following the soldier’s being taken into the school, is of a raven tied by a sequence of thread to an upstairs bannister. We discover that this bird had a wounded leg and is being held there while it heals, but we occasionally witness the bird’s frantic attempts to break free of the restraints and fly away. This steadily increasing dread and ever-deepening threat extend throughout the film, and the result is both disturbing and compelling.

It is often a very uncomfortable film in its extremist depictions of relational desire. There are moments involving sensual advances by teenagers and even an incestuous thread (albeit by flash-back). The soldier, too, presents an unsettling attitude towards desire and entitlement, although his perspective is frequently portrayed within a survivalist context (i.e. he’s doing what he ordinarily might not do because of the pressure of his circumstances). This all makes it challenging to openly endorse or recommend the film, but the performances (particularly by Eastwood and Geraldine Page – who plays the school’s headmistress) are exceptionally complex and often captivating.

But the most prominent element of the film is its exploration of the discomfort of gender roles in positions of power. Siegel is quoted as having stated that the film contained in its central theme “the desire of all women to castrate men.” This makes for several outright emasculating qualities to the narrative, which is about as drastic of a departure for Eastwood as you could imagine, even more so than when he sang in Paint Your Wagon. The film disturbingly treats women within certain stereotypes and does no favors for any conversation about equity of value within relationships or society. But the film-craft at work through the production and performances are enough to maintain a highly compelling viewing experience.

The film is also frequently frightening. The narrative plot may be a period drama, but stylistically and tonally, this is a horror film, and nearly everyone is – at one time or another – a monster. It is a strong opportunity for Eastwood as a performer to play a variety of emotions, including ranges of terror and vulnerability that he had literally never shown before. And without tipping too heavily into spoiler-territory, I’ll vaguely mention that there are at least a couple of devastating predicaments in this film that his character doesn’t escape without irreversible consequences.

But the film was not terribly well-received by audiences (although critics praised it rather highly). Eastwood would eventually blame mishandled marketing on the part of Universal Studios and a sensibility from his fans that did not like to see him so vulnerable. Time has been much kinder to it in general (and renewed interest was sparked when Sofia Coppola remade it in 2017). But The Beguiled is a bleak, unsettling, southern-gothic thriller and it is very, very effective. With the disclaimer that there are some highly uncomfortable thematic elements and a few disturbing moments, it still comes with a pretty strong recommendation.


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

The Evolution of Eastwood: KELLY’S HEROES

KELLY’S HEROES (1970)

“Sergeant, this bank’s not gonna fall into the hands of the American army. It’s gonna fall into our hands.” – Kelly

When Eastwood originally signed on to lead Kelly’s Heroes, he did so because it was supposed to be helmed by Don Siegel who, following Two Mules for Sister Sara, Eastwood considered his personal friend and favorite director. However, Siegel was bogged down with post-production on that film and unable to fit the production schedule. Meanwhile, Eastwood was unable to back out of his contractual obligation.

Directorial duties then fell to Brian G. Hutton, who had previously helmed Where Eagles Dare. In a few ways, Kelly’s Heroes is quite similar to that film. it features a troop of soldiers on a mission behind enemy lines, but unlike the weighty and twist-filled Where Eagles Dare, this mission is of a more personal nature and the tone is much more light-hearted and direct.

The 34th Infantry Division are disgruntled, frustrated, and overwrought. Their captain is glaringly selfish and whenever he decides to lead his men at all, he frequently positions them either in the way of harm or of boredom. When Private Kelly (Clint Eastwood) learns from a captured German officer about a bank filled with millions of dollars in gold bars, he resolves to travel behind enemy lines to break in and steal the loot. Enlisting the aid of his fellow disgruntled officers, along with a ragtag group of misfits from other divisions, the group cross into enemy territory and begin a series of adventures in misdirection in an effort to obtain the gold.

Eastwood carries top-billing this time, but he’s a bit dwarfed by the rest of the impressive cast. The cast includes the brutish and intimidating Telly Savalas, the apoplectic and hilariously obnoxious Don Rickles, and – in one of his most delightfully eccentric performances – the hippie-zen-warrior “Oddball” played by Donald Sutherland. The cast also includes Carol O’Connor as a naïve commander and Gavin Macleod as a perpetually furious army mechanic. Eastwood anchors the chaos with a steady and assured performance that is by no means a step backwards, but is hard to find impressive amidst such a colorful and entertaining collection of co-stars.

The film deftly balances some genuinely exciting action sequences with a constant thread of sardonic humor. But it is the most cynical film in Eastwood’s filmography thus far, often criticizing without any subtlety the hazards and pointlessness of wartime conditions. Not only is the mission at the plot’s base a mission of profit and desertion, but along the way, the “heroes” of the title enlist the help of nearly every disillusioned soldier, including at least one Nazi. The cynicism becomes perhaps most apparent when the soldiers – essentially on a bandit’s mission – are mistaken for bold and devoted patriots who are making an advance against the enemy (prompting the joke of the film’s title).

There is an utterly chilling moment when, following a particularly significant victory, a Nazi solider who has joined their treasure hunt instinctively gives the Nazi salute, momentarily stunning Private Kelly into remembering who they were before this mission. Once this shocking instinct is realized, the same Nazi alters his posture into a military salute, letting his mouth drift into a self-righteous smirk. It’s a provocative moment of glaring indictment against the whole enterprise that is unsettling and unforgettable.

But despite these alarmingly biting elements, this film manages to be highly entertaining and paced like a bullet, displaying once again Hutton’s talent for handling wartime mission narratives. It is often laugh-out-loud funny and occasionally poignant. It also contains possibly intentional echoes of Eastwood’s collaborations with Sergio Leone, most noticeable in a climactic scene where he, Savalas, and Sutherland face off against a Tiger Tank in a fashion unmistakably reminiscent of a western showdown. With strong characters, a simple and direct narrative, a steady pace, and a sharp tone, Kelly’s Heroes is an easily recommendable war film, whether you enter it with or without affection for that type of film.


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

Episode 95.1: Full Metal Jacket Diary with Matthew Modine & Adam Rackoff

After recording Episode 95: Full Metal Jacket, we found ourselves eagerly seeking out even more information about the film. This led to the discovery of Full Metal Jacket Diary, a collection of star Matthew Modine’s journal entries and pictures that had been not only printed in book form and recorded as an audiobook, but developed into a one-of-a-kind immersive iPad app experience. We found Modine’s stories of his time on the set and insight into the mind of Stanley Kubrick to be fascinating.

In this special episode, we sit down with both Matthew Modine and short film producer/iPad app developer Adam Rackoff for conversations about the book, the app, and Matthew’s experiences filming Full Metal Jacket.

** Get Full Metal Jacket Diary Here **

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The Evolution of Eastwood: TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA

TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA (1970)

“Everybody’s got a right to be a sucker once.” – Hogan

The script for Two Mules for Sister Sara was shown to and discussed with Eastwood by Elizabeth Taylor while he was filming Where Eagles Dare with her husband Richard Burton. The original plan was for her to star in it, but when the time came, she was busy on another project. The role went to Shirley MacLaine (a more established star than Eastwood at the time), and it was the last time in Eastwood’s career that he would get second billing for a major role in a feature film.

Partnering up once again with director Don Siegel, who had helmed Coogan’s Bluff previously, and bringing on composer Ennio Morricone to score the film provides some familiar touchpoints for Eastwood in this film while still allowing him to flex a bit of range in his characterizations. He plays a drifting bounty hunter named Hogan (who strongly resembles his “man with no name” with the hat and cigarillo but minus the poncho) who rescues a nun (Sister Sara of the title) from a group of lecherous bandits and finds that his current mission to capture a French-occupied fort coincides with hers to rescue a group of prostitutes from the same place.

Despite much grumbling and numerous frustrations (not to mention her nunnery vows), Hogan finds himself drawn into romance with Sister Sara which deepens even further after he is badly wounded by a group of Indians along their quest and nursed back to health by her. Her impetuous boldness and his stubborn attitude provide much of the flavor and enjoyable drama in the film, and the broader setting of their mission raises the stakes to a very effective and engrossing level.

Eastwood is more talkative and expressive in this film than in any of his previous works thus far, frequently casting out sarcastic arguments and displaying exaggerated reactions to the absurdity of his character’s predicament. It is no small degree of fun to see him flex his characterization this way, and MacLaine’s fiery, assured portrayal as Sister Sara is an excellent counter to him. The story itself isn’t the strongest, but its functionality as a vehicle for its stars is well-suited and Siegel handles the pacing and tone extremely well. There is even a soft third-act twist that makes for a fitting resolution to both the narrative and the characters (I call it a “soft” twist because it is a twist of character rather than of plot).

I enjoyed Two Mules for Sister Sara quite a bit. It finds Eastwood playing to some of his strengths without feeling too familiar and finds him stretching his talents without drifting too far upstream from his core appeal (like what happened with the poorly crafted Paint Your Wagon). There are rumors that things on set were tense with MacLaine, not necessarily between her and Eastwood but between her and Siegel, and the film certainly feels as if her character is the more crucial one driving the overall production forward. This is not to say that she overshadows Eastwood, but it is telling that not only did Eastwood never take secondary billing again, he also wouldn’t work with a female co-star of his same celebrity status again until Bridges of Madison County.

But for fans of Eastwood westerns, this is a must-see. I’d even say it’s a must-see for fans of westerns in general. And even for the broader general audience, it’s an enjoyable comedy-action-western that’s likely to bring several smiles to your face and an ultimately satisfied feeling when the credits roll.


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