Armchair Vacation: 5 Films To Watch At Home This Weekend (July 27-29)

Now that the big blockbuster season appears to be on its last legs, with September nearing ever so quickly, the weather may still be scalding and brutally water-free, but the film world is in full fall film season mode, ramping up their television schedules, and adding everything they humanly can to various streaming outlets. With names like Kino Lorber boarding Hulu, Fandor growing daily, and cable networks snapping up blockbusters and airing rarely seen gems like nobody’s business, it’s as good a time as ever to be a cinephile with a penchant for house sitting. Here are five ways one can make this weekend a whole lot lighter on both the wallet, and a whole lot cooler for your body.

5. The films of Roger Jacoby (Fandor)

I know what you’re thinking. Avant garde films are a dime a dozen these days, and while Criterion has truly embraced the more challenging of the experimental world (with the likes of Hollis Frampton and of course Stan Brakhage), most experimental films account to very little more than random pretentious philosophizing and even less focused and centered aesthetics. However, when it comes to Roger Jacoby, none of that is true. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the entirety of his canon, I’ve seen a few of his shorts, including a personal favorite, L’amico Fried’s Glamorous Friends. Truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen, Jacoby originally came from a painting background, and started shooting films in New York during the ‘˜60s. Allegedly starting his career off by processing his film in the bathtub of his home, Jacoby’s films have a vital sense of life about them that is unseen from filmmakers with fewer constraints. Truly beautiful pieces of film, the pieces are often about human relationships, and the LGBT experience, as he has become an icon in that movement since his death in 1985. Four of his films (Futurist Song, L’amico, Pearl And Puppet and Dream Sphinx) are all currently available for streaming on Fandor.

4. Bullhead (Netflix)

Debuting on Netflix Instant on Friday, Bullhead has become one of the most talked about films recently, thanks to both rave reviews (including one from James which can be read HERE and yet another one that can be read HERE. What? We’re fans) and its release from beloved young distributor Drafthouse Films. The Oscar nominated foreign film has become a must-see for those with their nose to the ground when it comes to independent releases, and now it’s finally going to be available to stream on the giant of the giants, Netflix. The film stars Matthias Schoenaerts, and is helmed by Michael R. Roskam and follows the story of a cattle farmer who is ‘approached by a veterinarian to make a deal with a notorious beef trader.’ While I have yet to actually see this film, this has been one of the films that I’ve been dying to check out, and I’m ecstatic that it is hitting Netflix this week. Drafthouse Films is a distributor that is becoming a power player in the game, and having their name behind this film, along with a damn Oscar nomination makes this one of the biggest additions to any streaming outlet in quite some time.

3. The Mist (Saturday, 6:30pm EST on SYFY)

As people are still desperately trying to avoid spoilers for last week’s mammoth debut, The Dark Knight Rises, one of the best films with a controversial ending is getting a TV airing this weekend, in the form of Frank Darabont’s The Mist. Following the story of a city’s residents who are trapped in a grocery store that’s under attack from, well, something, and their subsequent unraveling, The Mist is a meditation on the human relationship to being accosted by an existential force, and it also happens to have one of the most audacious endings in years. Putting viewers safely into two different camps entirely, the ending may very well make or break the film for you, but frankly, it’s a brutally heartbreaking conclusion to a film that is far greater than it really has any right to be. An adaptation of a Stephen King story, Darabont’s direction of the film is intriguing, and the performances, led by Tom Jane, are utterly fantastic. Truly one of the best and most thought-provoking bits of sci-fi to hit the film world in years, this is a must see movie that will leave you gasping for air at the end, and talking to your family and friends for hours to follow.

2. TCM’s Essentials Jr.: Fred Astaire (Sunday starting at 8pm EST)

In the film world, various names have the tendency to get lost throughout time. With the fourth film in the Step Up franchise making its way into theaters this weekend, it’s about time that the world has the chance to re-visit some films from the true king of cinematic choreography, Fred Astaire. TCM will be airing a collection of the icon’s films during their Essentials Jr series this Sunday, including gems like The Band Wagon and Daddy Long Legs. Daddy is a personal favorite of this writer, encompassing anything and everything that makes Astaire’s films so utterly and breathtakingly enjoyable. A story of an aristocratic playboy paying off a young girl’s education pairs Astaire and Leslie Caron so absolutely perfectly, giving this film a real sense of charm and some of the most fantastic dance sequences you’ll see, all without having to jump up a dimension to make it worthwhile. Astaire’s films seem to often be forgotten in today’s landscape, and thanks to TCM, those who dare to dig into what can truly be done with dance on-screen will have the time of their lives re-visiting these two classics of the musical genre.

1.The Buster Keaton Short Films Collection (Hulu Plus)

If there has been a single bigger news story recently that hasn’t gotten quite as much hoopla as it frankly should, it’s Kino Lorber’s recent arrival to Hulu Plus. The distributor has added a handful of massive releases to their Hulu Plus page, including some of Buster Keaton’s most prized features. However, it’s the comedy icon’s shorts that has this writer chomping at the bit to power up his streaming device. Including 18 of his shorts, the collection is hugely expansive looking at a cavalcade of the legend’s most important shorts. Collecting his shorts from 1920-1923, the presentations of these pieces are some of the most definitive transfers of shorts from that era, and look as good as they ever have, or will look going forward. The addition of a really huge chunk of Buster Keaton’s canon to Hulu Plus is an absolute coup for the streaming service, both proving that they may very well be the number one force to reckon with within the world of online streaming, and also making much of the filmography of arguably the greatest comedic actor in history available to the masses. Keaton may fall behind a name like Chaplin, but pound for cinematic pound, Buster Keaton may be this world’s greatest yukster, giving the world both laughs and genuine, heart wrenching emotion. Not familiar with Keaton? Well, now is as good a chance as ever.