Here we are in that glorious sweet spot of the year — finally beyond all that damned ice and snow and right before the execrable heat and humidity of deep summer. The sensible thing to do would be to go outside! Over and over! Soak up all of Philly’s splendid spring before things turn damp and dire. But, failing that, there’s always the option of holing up in your living room and watching movies. Here are our picks for the best new movies on Netflix streaming for the month of June.
Breakdown: A neurotic comedian falls in love with a stylish woman, and endures the consequences.
What's the Rumpus? Yes, like all Woody Allen movies these days, one must put his personal baggage off to the side if you wish to enjoy one of his films. But this 1977 Oscar winner remains one of his most sparkling and enduring efforts. Funny, poignant, and strewn with seminal moments (Annie's brother — played by a young Christopher Walken — has a particularly hilarious cameo). It recalls happier times in the House of Allen.
Breakdown: An older woman and her dog team up with an elderly song-and-dance team to locate her grandson, who was kidnapped as he was competing in the Tour de France.
What's the Rumpus? Sylvain Chomet's hallucinatory animated spectacle is like watching a twisted Disney movie while strung out on a powerful psychedelic. And I mean that in the best way possible. Witty and charming — and uniquely visionary — it found an enthusiastic audience in children, film critics, and discerning visual aficionados alike.
Breakdown: A supremely gifted secret agent is forced to hunt down a sadistic arms dealer who kidnaps his wife and tortures him in the process.
What's the Rumpus? Any doubts of the late, roly-poly Philip Seymour Hoffman's insane range (he was the acting equivalent of diva who can sing in eight octaves) were well put to rest here. He plays a villain so smugly evil and terrifyingly under control that we truly fear for Ethan Hunt's life, even though we should know better. J.J. Abrams, a TV wunderkind, was perhaps the perfect choice to revitalize this franchise after the vastly disappointing original sequel, made by action stalwart John Woo.
Breakdown: The fight for the preservation and display of Philly's Barnes Foundation, a $25 billion art empire, is documented.
What's the Rumpus? In a story well-known to a Philly audience, the often bitter back-and-forth between the Barnes' purists — who wanted the collection to remain in its cramped original location in Merion, as Barnes himself so decreed before his death, and those city officials who insisted the priceless collection be moved to a suitable facility in the city is incredibly engrossing. Don Argott's documentary meticulously lays out the battle lines between the art activists and the power-player politicians who simply couldn't let a dead man's last wishes stand in the way of a reputable revenue stream.
Breakdown: A middle-aged former composer arrives at a school for troubled boys in late-'40s France and starts a chorus singing group for the students as a way of encouraging discipline.
What's the Rumpus? Nothing wrong with a bit of sweeping, emotional uplift now and again, especially if it's as well-presented and non-saccharine as this French drama from director Christophe Barratier. It was compared favorably to other such melodramatic musical fables as Mr. Holland's Opus, but, thankfully, it does not share that film's penchant for weepy indulgence. Instead, it earns its heartening inspiration with well-rendered characters and a certain kind of emotional honesty.