Every day, more and more films are added to the various streaming services out there, ranging from Netflix to YouTube, and are hitting the airwaves via movie-centric networks like TCM. Therefore, sifting through all of these pictures can be a tedious and often times confounding or difficult ordeal. But, that’s why we’re here. Every week, Joshua brings you five films to put at the top of your queue, add to your playlist, or grab off of VOD to make your weekend a little more eventful. Here is this week’s top five, in this week’s Armchair Vacation.
5. I’m Almost Not Crazy (YouTube)
Recently announced as a supplement on Criterion’s forthcoming Dual Format release of John Cassavetes’ masterful Love Streams, one can currently watch this hour long making of documentary thanks to some resourceful users on YouTube. The picture comes to us thanks to writer Michael Ventura, and is a beautifully entrancing look at the making of one of Cassavetes’ great masterpieces. The quality here is admittedly a bit low, but for those who really can’t wait to dig into what is one of Criterion’s great pending releases from one of the best slates they’ve given us in ages (three cheers for a Blu-ray of Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down), for those who think August is just too damn far away, here’s your chance to get a behind the scenes look at one of the most exhilarating works from one of cinema’s great provocateurs.
4. His Royal Slyness (Hulu)
It’s a great day when Criterion decides to shine some light on their Hulu Plus page, and an even greater one when they do so by adding one of Harold Lloyd’s many great short films. Clocking in at just 22 minutes, the film follows the story of an American abroad in the land known as Thermosa, where he happens to fall victim to a mistaken identityy. Being seen by the locals as a prince, things become hectic when the real prince returns and is looking for the throne. One of Lloyd’s many great and expressive pieces of physical comedy, the film is currently available on Criterion’s Blu-ray of Safety Last, but for those who just want to toss on a beautifully choreographed and wonderfully framed bit of knock down, drag out physical comedy, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better outlet than this breath-stealing bit of filmmaking.
3. The Awful Dr. Orlof (Fandor)
Steeped in the type of atmosphere one would find in films ranging from Hammer pictures to classic Universal monster films, the film (director Jess Franco’s fourth film) is a rather superb example of just how intriguing a director Franco truly was. Far better known for the surreal erotic thrillers that a film like Nightmares Come At Night proves Franco a master at, this is a brooding thriller that is fueled by a Gothic atmosphere bred by everything from the set and costume design to the stunning cinematography from Godofredo Pacheco. Franco’s film is admittedly rudimentary and you can ostensibly sense Franco finding his stylistic legs as he went throughout the production, but his use of light and the black and white photography to craft a genuinely tense picture is rather enthralling. There is a haze to the film that really fits the mood and atmosphere, and while this is very much a tone piece riffing on your run-of-the-mill horror premise, Franco’s film is an exciting ode to classic Gothic aesthetics. It’s an example of watching an artist grow with every brushstroke.
2. Milius (Netflix)
Documentaries about filmmakers aren’t a rare commodity. They come seemingly every week, and they can be either cumbersome or bewilderingly enthralling. However, few, if any, have ever been as anarchically energetic as this look at legendary filmmaker John Milius. Credited to directors Joey Figueroa and Zak Knutson, the film looks at the life, times and works of writer/director John Milius, and gets a murder’s row of talking heads to discuss just how much of an impact this rarely talked about icon truly had on his generation of cinema. With names like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas discussing the work of Milius, the film is not only for fans of the beloved genre legend, but is such moving and powerful character study that it is a deeply powerful look at a man who has seen his legacy seemingly lost to time. As important a figure in American cinema as his generation had seen, the filmmaker had been left in the dust by an unwelcoming Hollywood, but now he’s the subject of this massive love letter of a documentary that is strangely as emotionally moving as it is intellectually stimulating.
1. The Big Chill (Netflix)
One of the more controversial upcoming Criterion releases, Lawrence Kasdan’s 1983 masterpiece is currently available to stream on Netflix in anticipation of the upcoming Criterion Dual Format release, and it’s an absolute must-watch. With a killer cast including names like Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline and Mary Kay Place, the film is one of the ‘80s greatest films, and the epitome of a great black comedy. With enough heart to fill a million people, this unforgettable meditation of a generation in mourning, the film looks at a group of 30-somethings, kids of the ‘60s, as they come to terms with the fact that they dropped the ball, losing the passion and sociological fire that made that generation one of this nation’s greatest and most important. Moving and genuinely funny, this features one of film’s greatest curated soundtracks, and is as brilliant a comedy as we’ve seen since.