We’re very quickly charging into what is the most family-intensive season of the year. Thanksgiving’s cattle drive draws together crazy aunts, grumpy uncles and too-cool-for-school cousins from all over the globe to sit at a table while packing carbo bombs into their mouths and relentlessly talking over one another. Maybe you are blessed enough to have a family that is loving, supportive, and totally in sync with your needs; for the rest of us, here are five dysfunctional family movies available on Netflix streaming that should make you feel a lot better about your own brood.
We might as well start this list with one of the more exhaustively dispiriting offerings: John Wells’s adaption of the TracyLetts play is loud, brutal, and only occasionally relenting (mostly in a tacked-on “happy” ending for co-star JuliaRoberts that literally makes no sense in context of what came before it), but it also features a stellar cast, including Roberts, ChrisCooper, Margo Martindale, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, and MerylStreep — each pitted against one another in an emotional sort of Hunger Games. Just do yourself a favor and kill the picture immediately right after the last shot of Streep up on the stairs looking bewildered in order to preserve the vibe of abject misery.
Traveling to film festivals throughout the year, I’ve seen some of the best and most intriguing films of 2015 in theaters all over North America. Now it’s Philadelphia’s turn to get a crack at ‘em. Running from October 22nd to November 1st, the Philadelphia Film Festival has culled an exciting and varied line-up for its 2015 edition. My list is by no means comprehensive (there are some 100-plus features playing at the fest, many of which could well be tremendous) but it does represent a batch of films you absolutely should be adding to your screening calendar. Here, 10 films not to miss, in alphabetical order:
Having just returned from the Toronto International Film Festival, I can confidently report there will be some pretty good stuff coming to screens over the next couple of months, but for the impatient, there are still some quality offerings available right in your own living room. Here are some of my picks for the best and most interesting flicks on Netflix streaming this month.
Boogie Nights (1997)
If I may, here’s what I wrote about Paul Thomas Anderson’s breakout film when it was first released in 1997: “Boogie Nights lovingly recreates the look and mood of that most innocently tacky and self-fulfilling decade and spins a lush Scorsese-like tale of loss and redemption, chronicling the (ahem) rise and fall and rise again of a talented porn actor. Much time and attention has been paid to the look of the film, from the outfits which were meticulously recreated and found in vintage clothiers, to the music, to the actual mood and tempo of the times. Behind it all is the twenty-six year-old wunderkind writer/director Anderson, in only his second feature. It is a tour de force from this immensely talented artist, standing far apart from his contemporaries in scope and almost astonishing in its dramatic credibility. This film establishes it’s young creator as a new cinematic force to be reckoned with.” If you ignore the last sentence ending in a preposition, it seems just about right on.
Mayor Nutter has suggested treating this weekend—when the Pope and an estimated 1 to 2 million of his most devoted followers (and almost just as many Port a Potties) descend onto Philly—like a winter storm. That means one thing: Start using the words “hunker” and “down” in the same sentence and cozy up on the couch with a few good flicks. To help you decide what to watch, I present you five of my favorite new entries to hit Netflix instant streaming this month.
Gore Vidal (facing) and William Buckley in Best of Enemies.
Best of Enemies is a documentary celebrating the fabulous enmity and erudite verbal brawling between liberal author Gore Vidal, and his arch-nemesis, conservative scholar and writer William F. Buckley Jr., on a series of ABC news specials during the 1968 political conventions. Co-directors Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom) came across the unedited footage back in 2012 and knew instantly they wanted to make a movie out of it.
To be fair, there were back-to-school sales as early as June (which, if I were a kid, I would be enormously offended by), but now we’re truly coming into the homestretch. Summer’s winding down folks, time to flip up the dark glasses and peer into the frigid grayness to come off in the far distance. I mean, not to bum you out or anything, but you have a month left of low-key, relaxed-office, quasi-vacation time left before the grind begins anew and with depressing vigor. Maybe it’s a good time to stock up on some fine visual entertainment before the onslaught, hey? Here are some of our picks for the best and most interesting offerings from Netflix streaming this month.
Rebecca Ferguson and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation.
Rebecca Ferguson, the lovely 31-year-old Swiss ingénue who stars alongside Tom Cruise in the latest Mission: Impossible film, Rogue Nation, doesn’t scare easily. On her first full day on set, in location in Vienna, she had to jump off a large building while being wrapped around Mr. Cruise, facing her fear of heights, and her fear of accidentally crushing the ribcage of the most famous movie star in the world. The espionage thriller finds her jetting around on a high-octane motorcycle in Morocco, holding her breath underwater for minutes at a time in order to save Cruise’s character from an underwater centrifugal chamber, and beating the living hell out of a bunch of turned-agent thugs all over the world. In Philly to promote the film, she happily plopped down on a couch in a posh suite at the Ritz Carlton, and held forth on the responsibility she felt toward the franchise, doing her own stunt work while suffering from vertigo, and what it was like to work with the aforementioned Mr. Cruise.
This is officially the dead zone for most sports fans. Unless, you know, you are seriously in to golf or the WNBA, you find yourself with all sorts of extra time sitting in front of a TV and not knowing what to do with yourself. Might we suggest some streaming-film entertainment on the world’s most comprehensive cinematic streaming site? Splendid, let’s get to it, then. Here are some of our picks for the best and most interesting offerings from Netflix streaming in July.
An Honest Liar (2014)
The Amazing Randi (James Randi) is a magician of some professional renown, a title he is happy to embrace, now entering into old age. He has used slight-of-hand and misdirection to produce fantastic illusions throughout his career. Where he directs his ire is toward members of the guild who suggest what they are doing is actual conjuring, be it seances with the dead or bending spoons with their minds. To them, Randi is their worst nightmare: A professional skeptic with the trained eye and the skills to debunk the nonsense they’re pitching to a gullible public. A fascinating doc.
As our biggest pre-summer TV series have begun to wind down (au revoir, Mad Men; see you soon, Game of Thrones), our attention can now be consumed by some new narratives. Here are some of our picks for the best and most interesting new offerings from Netflix streaming this month.
I’m hardly what you would call a John Wayne devotee, but William Wellman’s high-altitude thriller is sharp, and well-constructed. Wayne plays a burned-out co-pilot of a trans-Pacific flight who suddenly has to take over the plane and land it safely when his pilot loses it. If the plot sounds vaguely familiar, you have to imagine it was one of the many inspirations for the ZAZ boys when they made the ribald Airplane! a couple decades later.
Chris Pratt in Jurassic World, hitting theaters June 12th.
Sure, technically the 2015 Summer Blockbuster season started May 1st, but we figured we’d wait for the dust to clear somewhat before choosing the films being released over the next three months we’re actually interested to see. As always, there’s an enormous amount of glop to wade through, but if you can make your way through the swampland of crappy action movies, burnt buddy pictures, and relentlessly puerile comedies, there could be some real glories standing there on the slightly higher ground.