Armchair Vacation: 5 Films To Watch On Your TV This Weekend [June 22-24]

There may not be a more scatterbrained opening weekend at the theaters this year. The big releases are the pair of Pixar’s Brave and the oddity Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, as well as the indie romantic-end-of-the-world-comedy Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World and in wider release films like Dustin Lance Black’s Virginia continues its run. However, while there may seem to be something for everyone, for those of you looking at the small screen for your weekend entertainment, here are five choices to send you off into the wild this weekend.

5. Woody Allen: A Documentary (Available Friday on Netflix Instant)

Directed by Robert Weide, Woody Allen: A Documentary is an interesting little beast. Looking at the life, times and work of one Woody Allen, in what is at this point, the definitive biography of the artist. Looking at all aspects of his life, from his writing work to his iconic filmography, the film is quite dense, clocking in at roughly three hours in length, but it is an absolute must watch for cinephiles and Woody Allen nuts alike. Featuring interviews with Allen himself, as well as the handful of people he has touched throughout his life and his work. Basically playing as a cinematic equivalent of Allen’s conversations with Stig Bjorkman in his ‘Woody Allen On Woody Allen’ book, this is really just an absolute gem of a film and a must-see documentary.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTfziJrbbOg&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0]

4. Domain (Available now on Hulu Plus)

Directed by Patric Chiha, this is one film that we’ve talked about previously here on the old CriterionCast, and while I’m not a monstrous fan of the film, particularly due to its relatively overlong runtime of 110 minutes, this is easily one of the most interesting romance films in quite some time. The film features a pair of fantastic performances, and is a moving little film about two people falling for one another after coming to terms with their mutual alienation. It’s a tad scatterbrained, but it’s also gorgeously shot, utterly enthralling (for the most part anyways) and led by the two leads, it’s a real gem that has seemingly been forgotten since its release at the start of this year.

You can read my review of the film HERE.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgZLWwKj5Ow&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0]

3. The Black Scorpion (Airs on TCM Saturday at 7:30am EST)

What better to wake up to on Saturday morning than a cup of coffee, your weekend newspaper, and some terrorist-like giant scorpions? That’s right, The Black Scorpion follows the story of a group of giant scorpions that wreak havoc on the Mexican countryside, and while the film itself isn’t great, there is one thing going for it. Asides from being a proto-remake of the classic and really underrated THEM! the film features some rather fantastic animation from Willis O’Brien, a member of the King Kong team. Now, I haven’t seen this in a couple of years, but I remember it being a perfect one to watch with some friends, so if you’re waking up from a rough night, you couldn’t do much better as a hangover remedy than this film.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfKakOgshxw&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0]

2. Apocalypto (Airs Saturday on IFC at 10pm EST)

Mel Gibson. When that name is uttered, a varied amount of things pop to mind, but the very last thing is, sadly, filmmaker. However, with Apocalypto, Gibson’s brazen action film epic, he proves that he may be a mad man, but he’s also one of the most interesting filmmakers currently living. A gorgeously brutal and brutally gorgeous feature film, the piece tells the story of a man who flees after being chosen as a sacrifice, and the team of Gibson and screenwriter and Cambridge scholar Farhad Safinia prove that this is truly one of the most fantastic unsung gems of the past 10 years.   A film seemingly forgotten by the masses, this is a perfect film to revisit and prove once again that Gibson may be this generation’s greatest actor-turned-director.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_LIzqF0J2M&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0]

1.The Circus (Airing on TCM on Sunday at 8pm EST and currently available on Hulu Plus)

One of Chaplin’s greatest films (arguably a notch below the quartet of Modern Times, The Great Dictator, The Gold Rush and City Lights), the film has been on Criterion’s Hulu Plus page for months now, but thanks to TCM, the film will be given a new context. Showing as part of the network’s Essentials, Jr. series, the film will be paired with other ‘clown related’ films including The Big Circus and The Circus Clown, as well as some more adult fare including their Silent Sunday film, Laugh, Clown, Laugh and of course La Strada. Laugh could have easily fit here, as could any of these masterpieces, but if there is one film that I firmly believe could get children into truly classic film, it’s Chaplin, and it’s The Circus. Keep the kids up for a while. You won’t regret it.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEIzkT1eFgc&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0]