Crossing the Streams is our series of guides looking at all the offerings hitting the big streaming services each month. This time we’re checking out what’s new to streaming on Amazon Prime in January 2022.
Amazon Prime Pick of the Month for January 2022
It’s not getting a lot of attention, but once you’ve seen all of the end-of-year must-sees, maybe take some time to visit The Tender Bar (premieres January 7th). The talent is undeniable — it’s based on J.R. Moehringer’s bestselling memoir, adapted by William Monahan, directed by George Clooney, and starring Ben Affleck — and it’s a sweet little drama about a boy who’s essentially raised by his bartending uncle and the customers at the bar. It won’t blow you away, but it’s a solid tale about human connection in unlikely places. Affleck does great work here, and he’s joined by Tye Sheridan, Lily Rabe, Max Martini, Christopher Lloyd, and more.
A Tony Scott Double Feature!
Tony Scott’s filmography is too damn short, and while not every title is a banger you can be damn sure that every title is an entertaining and engaging watch. Deja Vu (2006) is a big, messy slice of action/sci-fi with a nonsense plot and plenty of explosions, and it is awesome. Denzel Washington stars as an ATF agent investigating a terrorist attack who’s made privy to some high-tech, experimental surveillance gear — buckle in because this one will fill your ears with gobbledygook while it fills your eyes with wonder. Massive set-pieces,, huge explosions, and a super intense Washington guarantee a great time, and you can’t go wrong with a supporting cast that includes Val Kilmer and Paula Patton either.
Look, The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) can’t touch the 1974 adaptation of John Godey’s novel, but there’s no denying the appeal of seeing Denzel Washington match wits with an unhinged John Travolta with a script written by Brian Helgeland. The story’s the same, but Scott ups the action beats and visual intensity through his love of rapid edits and such. Add in James Gandolfini, Luis Guzman, John Turturro, and Aunjanue Ellis and you have a good time at the movies.
An Auteur-Friendly Franchise!
Most movie franchises feel a part of the same both because of the content and the in-house style — the MCU is a good case example of this — but some avoid that aspect in impressive ways. Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible (1996) kicks off the franchise with what looks now like a quaint little action/thriller. I’m not the biggest fan, but there are some solid moments and set pieces here as Tom Cruise steps in and makes the lead character of Ethan Hunt his own with help by Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, the great Henry Czerny, Jean Reno, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Ving Rhames.
While De Palma’s unique touches are minor in that first film, John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II (2000) couldn’t have been made by anyone else. Doves, big ridiculous action beats, style, and kinetic splendor to spare — this is a John Woo film, through and through. Cruise returns with flowing locks, bumps chests with Dougray Scott at 100 mph, gets naughty with Thandie Newton, and drives lots of vehicles very, very fast. It’s a nonsense film, a big piece of bombast pie that delivers some dumb fun even as it pales beside the franchise as a whole.
J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible III (2006) — still my favorite of the entire franchise and I don’t give a hoot who knows it — takes that outward-facing energy and turns it inward for the most emotionally grounded and affecting entry. Tom Cruise finds the heart beating beneath Ethan Hunt’s superspy chest and lets it get just a little bit crushed. A terrific opening sequence that kills off an Abrams-stable player, a fantastic bridge set-piece, a series-best villain in Philip Seymour Hoffman, the arrival of Michelle Monaghan and Billy Crudup… this is great stuff, people!
The last director to land a solo entry is Brad Bird — he of the severely under-appreciated Tomorrowland — and he delivers a winner with Mission: Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol (2011). Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner join forces with Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt to take down a Russian baddie, and the result is some truly stunning work. The sequence in and out of the Burj Khalifa still wows as Cruise climbs outside the building — the world’s tallest — showcasing incredible stunt work and commitment along the way. The remaining films in the franchise are all directed by one man, Christopher McQuarrie, and they’re excellent, but this four-film run shows a real rarity in allowing a big-budget franchise to showcase different styles from big-name directors.
Movies You Might Have Missed
Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Enemy At The Gates (2001) is a big film that relishes the quiet, intimate moments. Part of that comes in the character work and performances by Jude Law, Ed Harris, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins, and others, but a big part of it comes in the premise too. It’s set during World War II and follows an ongoing “battle” between two enemy snipers. It’s not a single sitting and is instead spread across skirmishes, but a sniper works in relative solitude (spotters notwithstanding) making for an introspective approach to war.
Kasi Lemmons’ Eve’s Bayou (1997) — a film she both writes and directs — is a deliciously moody tale of family dysfunction and melodrama, and it is fantastic. Samuel L. Jackson plays the big bad patriarch of a family ruled by secrets, lies, and something… extra, but it’s the film’s female characters and performers who shine brightest through the pain and drama. Lynn Whitfield, Meagan Good, and a young Jurnee Smollett are caught up in man-made troubles, but they don’t plan on remaining that way for long.
Films about “serious” issues can sometimes get lost in the message, but Luis Mandoki’s When A Man Loves A Woman (1994) tackles the heavy toll of alcoholism in genuinely affecting fashion. Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia star as a young married couple in love, but the honeymoon phase hits trouble when her addiction rears its ugly head. The film explores the rifts it causes, but the focus is on the ability of love — as in a person who feels so strongly for you that they refuse to lose you to something outside your control — to help people move through difficult times. It’s not pretty, and the film doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of it all even if it finds beauty in the chemistry and performances of its leads. It’s a tearjerker, folks, but it’s also January 2022 so I know damn well you’re ready to cry.
The Complete Amazon Prime List for January 2022
|1/1||127 Hours (2010)|
|Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)|
|Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)|
|Alien Vs. Predator – Requiem (2007)|
|Alien Vs. Predator – Requiem (Uncut) (2008)|
|Beasts Of The Southern Wild (2012)|
|Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (2011)|
|Bringing Down The House (2003)|
|Crazy Heart (2009)|
|Deja Vu (2006)|
|The Descendants (2011)|
|Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999)|
|Enemy At The Gates (2001)|
|Eve’s Bayou (1997)|
|Facing Ali (2009)|
|The Family Stone (2005)|
|Fat Albert (2004)|
|Good Hair (2009)|
|The Great Debaters (2013)|
|I Think I Love My Wife (2007)|
|John Tucker Must Die (2006)|
|Judge Dredd (1995)|
|Kevin Hart Let Me Explain (2013)|
|Like Mike (2002)|
|Mad Money (2008)|
|Made Of Honor (2008)|
|The Missing (2003)|
|Mission: Impossible (1996)|
|Mission: Impossible II (2000)|
|Mission: Impossible III (2006)|
|Mission: Impossible IV Ghost Protocol (2011)|
|More Than A Game (2009)|
|Mr. 3000 (2004)|
|My Week With Marilyn (2011)|
|Mystery Team (2009)|
|Napoleon Dynamite (2004)|
|Poetic Justice (1993)|
|The Preacher’s Wife (1996)|
|The Prestige (2006)|
|Red Tails (2012)|
|Runaway Bride (1999)|
|The Sapphires (2013)|
|Saving Private Ryan (1998)|
|Secrets In The Water (2020)|
|Shallow Hal (2001)|
|Sister Act (1992)|
|Something’s Gotta Give (2003)|
|Super Troopers (2002)|
|The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)|
|The Village (2004)|
|When A Man Loves A Woman (1994)|
|Words And Pictures (2014)|
|1/5||Deadly Detention (2017)|
|The Student (2017)|
|1/7||The Tender Bar (2021)||Amazon Original Movie|
|1/12||The Intouchables (2012)|
|A Sort Of Homecoming (2016)|
|1/13||The Master (2012)|
|1/14||Do, Re & Mi||Amazon Original Series|
|Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (2021)||Amazon Original Movie|
|1/21||As We See It – Season 1||Amazon Original Series|
|1/18||Needle In A Timestack (2021)|