Now that it’s June and the weather (in some places) is getting warmer, being outside is becoming more attractive and people are getting that summer craze going on. With so much else on the agenda, who wants to sit indoors and spend an hours scrolling through Amazon Prime looking for something to watch? What we’ve done is picked 10 solid choices from the streaming service so you don’t have to. Crack open a beer (or whatever your preference is) and check out one of the following movies if you need a break from the outdoors and sun.
Pick of the Month:
You’ve likely seen Mad Max: Fury Road or at least heard about it. If you haven’t, please stop reading and go watch it. Now.
Oh hey you’re back! That was amazing, right? Well now let me tell you about the movie that started it all – George Miller’s original Australian dystopian flick Mad Max starring one young, handsome, bad ass Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky. This movie is truly one of kind. It’s visceral, intense, gritty, and entertaining. Miller, just as he did in last year’s Fury Road, presents a wholly unique, grim, believable future filled with biker gangs, cops, seediness, endless roads, wastelands, and awesome stunts and crashes. And it’s beautiful. Like Tom Hardy in Fury Road, Gibson’s original Max is fairly quiet as well (although not as quiet as Hardy’s) but despite his minimal chattiness, he makes for a great hero and that leather jacket and sawed-off shotgun of his are now iconic. When I was a kid, all my friends wanted to to be Han Solo. I wanted to be Max. (Actually, it was usually a two-way tie between Max and Indiana Jones).
Upon its release in 1967, master filmmaker Sergio Leone’s classic, sweeping, spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly wasn’t enormously well-received but obviously, things have changed. It’s now regarded as not only one of the greatest Westerns of all time, but also one of the greatest films and it’s a must-watch for any fan of Westerns, epic storytelling, or film in general.
Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, and a young Clint Eastwood star, it’s visually stylistic and wonderfully shot, has an iconic score by Ennio Morricone, and there is plenty of crackling gun play and savage violence. All of this, plus the film’s grand scope, make The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly a masterpiece. It’s everything you could want in a bad ass, shoot-em-up, lawless Western. Also, if you do enjoy it, be sure to check out Leone’s prior two films A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. These two may not be of the same caliber, both they are still wonderful and the trio of films make up his renown Dollars Trilogy.
Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca isn’t a sci-fi masterpiece, but it’s damn good sci-fi nonetheless. In the not-so-distant future, genetic engineering is widely used in order to create and conceive more advanced humans. The rich and successful of society are able to ensure their children are born with exceptional genes and traits, while the less fortunate of society go through life without that privilege. Obviously, this also means there is vast discrimination between those enhanced humans with better genes and those without. Ethan Hawke plays Vincent Freeman, a man without those better genes, who so badly wants to travel to space – a privilege only reserved for that better class of citizen. Thus, he schemes and plots on how to achieve that goal.
What’s great about Gattaca is despite a plot hole or two, the story and sci-fi is still very sharp and it’s definitely a thinking person’s film. There are almost no big action sequences here – it’s much more character driven than that, and it also raises some big questions that have never been more relevant today. What are the repercussions of widespread genetic engineering? What is the cost? And could it potentially make society worse in terms of discrimination?
What a polarizing, crazy, squeamish, at-times repugnant mess of a movie. But it’s a great mess. And a mess worth watching. Hard Candy stars Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson. Page plays a 14-year old girl and Wilson plays a man in his 30’s who may or may not be a pedophile. They both meet at a coffee shop for the first time after chatting online, then they take their little meet back to Wilson’s house. At this point, it’s already a very weird situation and the whole thing keeps the viewer asking that question of “is he or isn’t he”. But once things get back to Wilson’s house, the shit takes a wild and suspenseful turn all the way up until the end credits. Sure, some of it is just bizarre and ridiculous, and director David Slade’s unique visual style may be jarring and erratic for some, but it still makes for a tension-filled, squeamish, thought-provoking experience with no clear hero or villain.
Despite the Terminator franchise getting progressively shittier, James Cameron’s original The Terminator is still one helluva awesome movie and what a great action/sci-fi movie is supposed to be. Sure, its low-budget aesthetic may not hold up today, but it still bests so many action and sci-fi movies of even today and the now-classic is truly genre-defining. And how could we forget that this is the movie that put Arnold Schwarzeneggar on the map? His role as the downright frightening and deadly cyborg from the future is now a part of Hollywood history and is totally awesome.
I know Cameron gets a lot of flak some times for the direction he took his career in, but he still is one of the best action and science-fiction directors out there and The Terminator serves as a reminder of that.
So while this movie may be about environmental activism on the surface, it’s more about the decisions we make in life (that we truly believe are sound) and the potentially harmful after-effects down the road. Night Moves is a quiet, subdued film elevated by solid performances from Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard, Eisenberg especially. Both a thriller and character-driven drama, director Kelly Reichardt has constructed a really great, compelling film worth a watch for the questions it raises and the performances. Also, this one flew under the radar the year of its release so now is a great time to watch it for free with Prime.
One of the best movies about teen angst and sexuality, Paul Brickman’s Risky Business is probably the finest and most serious take on the teen sex comedy genre of the 1980’s. It’s the teen sex comedy with a brain, examining some themes inherent to growing up such as the loss of innocence, and desire in terms of sexuality. It’s smart, sexy, funny, and glossed over in that signature 80’s style with a fine soundtrack to boot.
This is also the movie that gave us that classic scene of a young Tom Cruise dancing around in his underwear and socks as high-school-er Joel Goodson, the role that would be a career-maker for Cruise and begin his trajectory into super-stardom.
Ghost World is another film that covers teen angst, but this one is much more painful, bittersweet, and grown up than Risky Business. Also, Ghost World is less about sex and growing up and more about alienation and trying to connect. To be frank, it’s really just about being a bored loser but it presents this in such a touching, intelligent, comedic way that it’s a stand out in terms of the hip, weird, teen comedies of then and now. Ghost World follows Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson as two social outcast teens during the summer after their high school graduation and is an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name by Daniel Clowes. While it follows two bored girls who speak in monotone the entire time and you can clearly understand why they can’t seem to connect to the outside world, you can’t help but love them in the end.
I’m Not There is Todd Hayne’s abstract portrayal of the life and times of music (and more) legend Bob Dylan, with a slew of different performers playing the folk singer/songwriter like Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, and Heath Ledger. Each one portrays Dylan in a different part of his life, or rather a different persona of his at different times in his life. For some, it may be seen as too confusing, too “so what?” and too deliberate in being nonlinear for the sake of mimicking Dylan’s own life and behavior.
For others though, it may be the most accurate portrayal and peek inside the man’s head, his aura, and his interaction with the world. I’m split between the two, and regardless of how you may feel as well, Haynes still deserves credit for attempting something like this. It’s an impressive feat and impressive film with some great performances to boot.
While The Big Lebowski may not be the Coen brother’s greatest film, it’s definitely their funniest and one of their strangest. The movie is chock full of colorful characters, crazy circumstances and situations, and memorable one-liners that have all almost become immortalized in pop-culture and film. The Coen’s irreverent style shows through, and the dialogue is snappy, witty, and often laugh-out-loud funny. Not to mention, John Goodman, Jeff Bridges, and Steve Buscemi make for a hilarious trio of bowling buddies and their performances are great. It’s hard to describe The Big Lebowski because within it, there is so much going on – so much ridiculousness, so much hilarity, so much uniqueness. It’s a very funny, entertaining, twisted tale and definitely worth a watch.