Armchair Vacation: 5 Films To Watch At Home This Weekend [July 20-22]

So guys and gals, it’s finally here. Reviving an entire brand cinematically, Christopher Nolan’s final film in his historic and culturally significant Batman film trilogy is just a matter of hours away, and this means a few thing. First, an era is truly coming to an end. Nolan will now have a world-changing film trilogy under his belt, giving him the pull to not only do whatever the hell he wants in this world, but the knowledge that naturally the entire world will follow in his footsteps. Second, the theaters will be packed to nearly Avengers level capacity. The Dark Knight Rises is a cultural touchstone, and now, it may very well become one of the year’s highest grossing features. So while you may be hell-bent on seeing the film multiple times, it may very well be impossible to see it once in some markets, here are a few options for those who may or may not have some issues seeing a certain caped crusader’s return to the big screen. And what better way to start off this week’s list of streaming or televised viewing experiences than looking at some of the films from the auteur behind this beloved franchise?

5. Films of Chris Nolan

(Following ‘“ Netflix)
(Memento ‘“ Netflix)
(Insomnia ‘“ Netflix)
(Batman Begins ‘“ FX)
(The Dark Knight ‘“ TNT)

Save for two of his films, The Prestige and Inception (this writer’s least favorite films of Nolan’s), those looking to dig themselves deep into the canon of one Christopher Nolan have a perfect opportunity this weekend. Both of the director’s solid Batman films (with Begins not only being my own personal favorite, but one of the best comic book films ever made) are airing regularly throughout the weekend on TNT and FX respectively, and Nolan’s three first features (including the pending Criterion release Following) are also available at your finger tips on Netflix. One of the most influential filmographies of any filmmaker this generation, Nolan has become this generation’s auteur, and easily one of the most challenging blockbuster filmmakers around. These are must-watch films, so if you haven’t seen these yet, now is as good a time as ever.

4. TCM’s Friday Night Vampire Double Feature

It may only be July, but now may be as good a time as ever to get your vampire on, and thanks to TCM, you’ll have two great features to help you do just that. First up, Kathryn Bigelow gets some respect here as at 2am EST (technically on Saturday morning, but it’s listed under Friday’s list of films), the Hurt Locker helmer’s Near Dark gets some time in the spotlight. Paired up with Roman Polanski’s fantastic Fearless Vampire Killers (3:45am EST), and you’ve got a double feature that is nearly impossible to beat. I actually genuinely dig both films, particularly Fearless, a film that I only recently had the pleasure of watching. Both are really interesting look at vampire lore, and should do wonders for those looking for some scares, and some laughs as well.

3. Attenberg (Netflix)

I had the pleasure of checking out a screener of this wonderfully bizarre drama during this year’s Portland International Film Festival (read my review HERE), and I must say, it’s a wonder to behold. Similar in tone, experimentation, and mood to its cousin Dogtooth, Attenberg is a film that is definitely not for everyone, but it is also one that should be given a chance by everyone. It features fantastic performances, a score that will not be easily forgotten, and is overall an intriguing mediation on what its like to grow up in as esoteric a time as we live in today, all wrapped up in a cartoonish, Bunuel-esque proto-comedy unlike anything else it can call a contemporary. Simply put, this may not make your weekend brighter, but it will definitely make it one far more full of discussion than previously considered.

2. A Trip To The Moon / The Extraordinary Voyage

Sure, it’s nearly impossible to not recommend this 110 year old masterpiece. However, as last week TCM decided to air a two-hour block of films from iconic director Georges Melies (who has been as popular as ever given this film’s recent re-release, updated score by Air, and focus in a certain film from Martin Scorsese), this film is as vital and influential as ever. When taken in Melies’ entire canon, one may have films that are more beloved by him or her (this writer particularly loves Kingdom Of The Fairies), but very few films have the right to say that they single-handedly invented a genre. The forefather of cinematic sci-fi, Moon is simply one of the greatest films ever crafted, and is just one example of how one is truly able to say that Melies may have been a magician prior to his film career, but the true magic hit the world when he got behind the camera. His films are so utterly full of life, often times coming off as if the actors, and Melies in his direction, drank gallons upon gallons of coffee, pairing so perfectly with his film’s inherent sense of child-like wonder. These are films for the entire family, so please; introduce your family to this absolute masterpiece. Toss in the top-notch documentary looking at the history of the project, both of which are available to stream on Fandor. 

1.TCM’s The Essentials, Jr.: Steve McQueen

Okay, so let me get this off my chest. I’ve said this once before, but it may not have hit you hard enough, The Essentials and The Essentials Jr. is truly the greatest example of why TCM may be the single most important player in the future of film education. As news outlets like the LA Times routinely state, lazily I might add, that this upcoming generation has no place for classic cinema, TCM has been single handily taking on this topic head on, with both of these series. This weekend the junior side of the equation will be focusing on actor Steve McQueen, with airings of both The Great Escape and The Blob. Yes, these are two fantastic films, one of which is a Criterion approved release, but this recommendation is much bigger than for just these two films. This is a call to arms. If there is one thing that you do this weekend, make sure to sit down, with your loved ones (preferably those of a younger age) and introduce them to these classics, and prove to the world that while big budgets and special effects may be the thing of this generation, these films will forever have a place among the greatest of all time, and will forever have a place in the hearts and minds of those looking to cinema for the purest form of escape and stimulation.

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