Mummies, Murphys, Murders, and a Marathon Man.
I’m here to tell you that there’s a cinematic streaming goldmine available on Hulu that includes recent hits, older classics, domestic releases, and foreign imports. It’s even home to hundreds of Criterion titles (for now). Sure there’s plenty of filler and seemingly thousands of titles I’ve never heard of before, but I’m here to recommend some good movies to watch this August on Hulu.
Pick of the Month: Tales from the Darkside – The Movie (1990)
Director John Harrison’s horror anthology doesn’t quite get the love it deserves, especially for a film featuring adaptations of stories by Stephen King, Michael McDowell, and Arthur Conan Doyle involving cats, gargoyles, and mummies. There are only three tales here, but all of them – as well as the Debbie Harry-starring wraparound – are solid segments. Add in some fun practical effects and a young Christian Slater, and you have an anthology film worth rediscovering.
Marathon Man (1976)
“Is it safe?” asks a Nazi dentist, and the entire world cringed. The ’70s offered up plenty of solid conspiracy thriller-type films (Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View), but only one managed to add a phrase into the pop culture lexicon. Happily the film is more than just a popular quote though as Dustin Hoffman’s grad student finds himself stuck in a twisted tale involving covert government agents, murder, and diamond smuggling.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Director Martin Brest had a good run between 1979 and 1992 with four terrific movies – Going in Style, Midnight Run, Scent of a Woman, and this comedy classic. (He then stumbled a bit with Meet Joe Black and Gigli and subsequently disappeared from the face of the planet.) It remains one of Eddie Murphy’s best and funniest features, and it’s always worth a re-watch.
Forget the neutered reboot from a year ago, Paul Verhoeven’s late ’80s action/sci-fi gem remains a modern classic both for its genre credentials and its blackly-comic take-down of corporate America. Ridiculously violent, brutally funny, and filled glorious special effects this is tremendous entertainment from beginning to end.
Brad Pitt plays a serial killer two years before he would hunt one in Seven, and while David Fincher’s film is far, far superior to this one there are still some minor thrills to be found here. He’s paired up against David Duchovny with both Michelle Forbes and Juliette Lewis along for the ride.
An alien comes to earth, takes the form of a saucy female (Natasha Henstridge), and begins killing human men with sex. There are worse ways to go, but a motley crew of scientists and mercenaries including Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, and Forest Whitaker still decide she has to be stopped and set out to capture or kill her. It’s a rare action/sci-fi flick that earns its R-rating and entertains in the process.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Everyone knows how this one ends, but dammit it’s still a fun, thrilling watch to see it all unfold. Writer Christopher McQuarrie is still going strong with directorial efforts like Jack Reacher and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, but this was the film that got him noticed. His script, Bryan Singer’s direction, and a terrific cast take viewers on a twisty tale of cops, criminals, and deceptions.
Chasing Amy (1997)
Ah, Kevin Smith. He’s currently in something of a Canadian tailspin, but for a while there he could be counted on to deliver simple, humorous comedies highlighting his sharp ear for dialogue and banter. His third feature film caught some flack for its plot involving turning a lesbian straight, but that questionable hiccup aside it’s a funny film that actually finds some heart and romance amid the antics.
The Limey (1999)
Terrence Stamp plays a recently released ex-con who comes to America in search of those responsible for his daughter’s death, and what he finds is guilt over being a terrible father. Don’t worry, he finds some revenge too. Steven Soderbergh does something unique with the film’s flashbacks and uses scenes from Stamp’s 1967 film, Poor Cow, instead of casting a different actor. It adds a veil of reality to the film, and that in turn helps give drama and value to the father’s journey.
American Ultra (2015)
I’ll be damned if I can figure out how Max Landis keeps selling scripts, but more power to the guy I guess. The majority of his work – Me Him Her, Mr. Right, Victor Frankenstein – just lacks a certain… quality. This little action/comedy is no exception in the script department, but unlike those other films it succeeds anyway thanks to two great leads in Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart and director Nima Nourizadeh. They have terrific chemistry (Adventureland reunion!) and the action is presented with an energetic, fun style. *available 8/11*
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
If you haven’t seen the latest entry in Tom Cruise’s increasingly fantastic franchise then here’s your chance to get up to speed. I’m still more partial to JJ Abrams’ third installment, but Brad Bird’s fourth and Christopher McQuarrie’s fifth are absolute aces too. The action is epic, the dialogue is hilarious, and Rebecca Ferguson is a kickass co-star alongside Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. *available 8/11*