Comic-Con is in full swing, and while there is a certain caped crusader coming our way next weekend, save for a new entrant into the Ice Age franchise, the theaters aren’t getting much new this weekend. So hey, what better time to sit down, pour a mojito or whatever summer cocktail you and yours like to gurgle during this season, and watch a cavalcade of cinematic wonders. Here are your top five options for some at home viewing.
5. A Quartet From Sam Fuller
Considered by many to be one of the most interesting filmmakers of his generation, Sam Fuller has become a filmmaker revered by many, but also seemingly looked over by non-cinephiles. Well, in their immanent wisdom, the network known as TCM will be spending the night of Friday The 13th focusing their spotlight on a quartet of films from the bombastic auteur. Including a back to back showing of Criterion staples Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss, they will also air I Shot Jesse James and Park Row, the former being part of Fuller’s Eclipse box set. Personally, as a fan of the former three films, the most interesting airing here is Park Row, a film that I frankly haven’t seen, but have heard magical things about. Only available (or at least the easiest way to get it) through MGM’s Limited Edition Collection, the film has been rather tough to get a hold of, and this is an absolutely perfect way, in the context of three other Fuller films, to see a really interesting little film. The films air in a four film block, from 8pm EST to 2:30am EST.
4. The Green Hornet (TCM; Saturday 12pm EST-1:15pm EST)
No, not the Michel Gondry film. Instead, TCM will be airing a block of three episodes of the movie serial, which itself is based on the Green Hornet radio show. With Comic-Con in full swing, it is interesting to see that TCM, knowingly or unknowingly, has gone the serialized fiction route, giving the world a chance to see the first films based on a character that is still seen on the big screen and in the pages of comics today. I haven’t had the chance to see these shorts, and with three of them, all with names like The Time Bomb and Pillar of Flame, you can definitely tell what type of experience you are in for. Spanning a total of 75 minutes, these will be just the right type of breezy watch to pair with your Saturday afternoon lunch. I know I will.
3. Eraserhead (Hulu Plus)
This one could have been seen a mile away. A little while ago, Criterion slyly added David Lynch’s beloved masterpiece, Eraserhead to their Hulu Plus page. Now, we here at the CriterionCast took notice, and have since been doing loops trying to figure out just what the home entertainment giants have in store for this seminal film. However, details aside, people need to be reminded that this may very well be Lynch’s best, and most distilled, effort. Featuring stunning cinematography, the film features Lynch’s patented sense of surrealism, and also some of his most vibrant and lively filmmaking to date. A director whose output has been rather sluggish over the past decade or so, this remains one of his most distinct features, and thankfully, will soon (hopefully) be given the Criterion Blu-ray treatment. But can’t wait? You can see it now, on Hulu Plus.
2. Life During Wartime (Netflix)
Now, while his new film, Dark Horse, currently makes its theatrical rounds, Todd Solondz’s prior effort, Wartime, has just been dumped onto Netflix, for the world to enjoy. A well crafted feature from the ever challenging Solondz, the film may not be one of this writer’s favorite films, it does hold some of the most interesting portions of Solondz’s psyche, all rolled into one feature. Despite an oddly uninteresting narrative, the film features top-tier performances from everyone raging from Allison Janney to Ally Sheedy, while also being one of Solondz’s most visually inspired works in years. A vastly superior film to his follow-up, Horse, Wartime is definitely a flawed film, but is also one of the most polarizing Criterion releases in years. A purely love or hate film, you would be hard pressed to find anything quite like this anywhere else this hot summer weekend.
1.The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (IFC; Friday 6am EST and 12:15pm EST as well as Sunday 6am EST and 1:15pm EST)
Yes. I know, not the peppiest film to watch on a summer afternoon, but there may not be a single better film airing this weekend. Helmed by Julia Schnabel, the film stars Mathieu Amalric, who plays Jean-Dominic Bauby, a man who is paralyzed to the point where he is forced to dictate a book by the blinking of his eyes. A beautifully horrifying and truly oppressive film, Schnabel’s direction is revelatory and career-defining, and Amalric’s performance is one of the greatest of the decade past. A film that most certainly has seemed to have been lost in the shuffle, overshadowed by the likes of films like No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood, it’s more than worth a re-visit, or introducing yourself to for the very first time. A film unlike anything else out there, it may not brighten your day, but it will definitely change you, as deeply as humanly possible.