Armchair Vacation: Five Films To Watch At Home This Weekend (August 24-26)

Finally cooling off a tad bit, fall appears to be approaching ever so gingerly, and frankly, it can’t get here fast enough. July being the hottest month on record here in the states, August is appearing to take a little sweat off our collective brows, and staying indoors has never looked quite so appealing. The fall film season is on its way with festivals set to start off in just a handful of days (and for sports fans, football is right around the corner), and with various classics hitting home video, even TCM being in full swing with their Summer Under The Stars, this weekend should prove to be one hell of a weekend for cinephiles. Here are five ways to make that weekend even better.

5. Jiro Dreams Of Sushi

Starting off with the most recent film on this list, the much talked about food documentary Jiro Dreams Of Sushi has hit Netflix, and it may be one of the most interesting additions in weeks. The film is an utter gem of the documentary world, garnering a rather large bit of critical support, turning itself into one of this year’s most must-see documentaries. Following the story of the world’s foremost sushi chef Jiro Ono, the film may seem odd; the man cooks for a 10-seat, $300-plus plate restaurant, but it’s as great a documentary about art as it is about a specific style of food. Giving us a breathtakingly intimate look into a true master and his relationship with his art, his family, and his world in general, Jiro Dreams Of Sushi is an absolutely fantastic documentary that will leave foodies and cinephiles enthralled until the very end, and then some.

The film is available to stream on Netflix.


4. The Pajama Game

With Wednesday came the second of two screenings of the newest restoration of Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s masterpiece, Singin’ In The Rain thanks to TCM and Fathom Events (who brought the film into hundreds of theaters for a really great presentation including a fun and intriguing interview with star Debbie Reynolds), and while that film isn’t readily available to watch on any major streaming service (the Blu-ray is an utter must-own however) one of this writer’s favorite Donen films is. Starring the ever incomparable Doris Day, The Pajama Game is an adaptation of the Broadway musical, itself an adaptation of Richard Bissell’s ‘Seven And A Half Cents,’ and is a charming and entertaining musical, including one of Day’s most blissful performances.  Including some top-tier choreography and some incredibly catchy tunes and set pieces, The Pajama Game may to many people be considered minor Donen (the man did, after all, direct films like SITR and Charade), but it’s as pleasurable a musical as any you’ll see. An underrated gem, The Pajama Game.

You can stream the film on Netflix.


3. The Saphead 

Recently released on Blu-ray by Kino, The Saphead is the rare Buster Keaton film that the icon didn’t direct himself (instead being helmed by Herbert Blache), but it’s no less a winner. The film stars Keaton in his first feature, and finds the legend at his freshest and often his most vital. Following a series of shorts that he led, this was his first feature gig, and with the source material being a beloved play, this was as high-profile a project as one could have found for his or her debut. Keaton’s films are as important and influential today as they ever have been (Kino will next be releasing a Blu-ray of The Navigator to start off their September slate, which itself is available to watch on Netflix now), and with this film being a really engaging and intriguing comedy, it’s a must see for the Keaton completist. Given the film’s age, it looks relatively fantastic here streamable on Fandor, and for fans of Keaton or physical comedy, this film proves that while Chaplin may be better known, the king of silent comedies may be the melancholic faced thespian that stars in this picture.

The Saphead is streamable on Fandor, or watch it via Youtube right below.


2. Abraham Lincoln

While director Steven Spielberg may have a big Abraham Lincoln project looming, it’s D.W. Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln that has the headlines this week. Recently announced as part of Kino’s November release slate (just four days after Spielberg’s film arrives to be exact), the film will be hitting Blu-ray for the first time, and if you can’t wait that long to see the film, it’s available to stream, on Fandor, as we speak. The film clocks in at roughly 90 minutes in length, as some of the film has been lost over the years, and who stars in the film but none other than one Walter Huston. I myself haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the film (I’m the one guy who waits for the Blu-ray), but as an admitted admirer of Griffith’s filmmaking and his directorial importance (his politics are a different entity, one that shouldn’t be taken into account when talking about his art), this is a film I can’t wait to finally check out. It’s most often compared to the Criterion-approved Young Mr. Lincoln, so if it’s half the film that John Ford wonder is, this is destined to be one of November’s most must-own Blu-rays for cinephiles. And if you can’t wait, you can watch it now, on Fandor.

Stream Abraham Lincoln here  (or you can watch it via Youtube directly below)


1.The Taking Of Pelham 1 2  3

This week has been one of loss, and remembrance. Monday saw the passing of the great action director Tony Scott, and while we are all still reeling from his death, there is no better way to remember him than by watching his films. This Sunday at 12:30pm EST, FX will be airing Scott’s remake of The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3, and while it’s far from the auteur’s best film, it’s one of his more enjoyable outings. Featuring performances from Denzel Washington and John Travolta, it’s a really fun action film, blending a great premise with Scott’s experimental and candy-coated aesthetic perfectly. In a time of loss like this, there is no better way to pay your respects than by digging through a person’s filmography, and hopefully, with the loss of Scott, his canon will be re-visited, and given the respect that it truly deserves. He was a fantastic filmmaker, and the rare director who as he aged, became more and more experimental and invigorated. And this is one of his most entertaining.

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