Armchair Vacation: Five Films To Watch At Home This Weekend (December 7-9)

It’s December, and with that comes busy movie theaters, busy shopping malls in which these theaters are often located, obnoxious (possibly text-addicted?) teens using the theaters as a chance to escape from their families for a couple of hours, and most of all, hazardous weather. Now, while this season also means that studios are dumping their biggest projects yet-to-be-released, it may be hard to avoid heading out into the great unknown for a night at the movies.

That said, if you do, the web and various television networks have a few films that are definitely worth turning up the heater, grabbing a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate, and sitting in front of the old boob tube this weekend. Here are five films that should have you glued to your couch this very weekend.

5. The Lady In The Lake (TCM; Sunday, 10pm)

Nothing says December and the Winter season quite like an icy cold bit of first person noir. Best known as arguably the greatest first person film ever made by a filmmaker not named Gaspar Noe, The Lady In The Lake stars it’s director, Robert Montgomery, as Philip Marlowe, a private detective on the hunt for a missing woman, and is an absolute wonder. A truly thrilling filmic experiment, the film does feel a tad dated, but the novelty of the main gimmick here never wears off, making this truly unlike any bit of noir around. Featuring solid and fun performances and a story starring one of the genre’s biggest characters, this is something that could make for one hell of a weekend viewing either for the first time, or the thirtieth.

4. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Netflix)

If there is one thing that the end of the year brings, it’s the onslaught of the ‘catch up piles.’ By that I mean the piles and piles of films, either on DVD or streaming, that have been released throughout a calendar year that you’ve just so happened to miss. One of the genres of film that often times gets the biggest oversight is the non-fiction film, but thankfully, Netflix has just added a few of this year’s best documentaries. Leading the way is the Alison Klayman film, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. Now available to stream, the film focuses on the life and work of the iconic titular artist, and how his art is not only beloved, but has become the voice of protest for him and his entire generation. Also looking at his appreciation for new media, the film is a harrowing look at one of the most important voices in this world, and how it’s being used to give power to the seemingly powerless. A tad too standard in its structure and craft for a man of Weiwei’s artistry and true danger, the film is far greater a look at a subject than a cinematic documentary, but it’s one hell of a stunner. In a world where we take our democracy for granted, and even those within this government rather complain and bicker than move this nation forward, to see that people will still risk their lives for freedom is moving to no end.

3. The Cartoons Of The Fleischer Brothers (Fandor/Youtube)

As a soon-to-be father, here’s one pick that I will definitely be bookmarking for future reference. Available on Fandor and Youtube are a large collection of cartoons from the men best known as the Fleischer Brothers. Arguably best known for their brilliant Superman cartoons, WB has restored these fantastic shorts and tossed them up for viewing on Youtube, with various other shorts available on the streaming outlet and a pair of shorts, An Elephant Never Forgets and A Car-Tune Portrait available for Fandor subscribers. Not only were these three pioneers in the world of animation, but their work is still some of the most interesting and visually esoteric bits of art that we’ve see in the world of motion pictures. The Superman cartoons, in particular, were some of my earliest memories with regards to animation, so I can’t wait to share them with my child as well.

2. The Living Magoroku (Hulu)

We here at The CriterionCast really dig the director Keisuke Kinoshita. And apparently Criterion does too. Putting up multiple handfuls of films on their Hulu Plus page since launching the thing, this writer has slowly been making his way through his filmography, and for those interested there is no better place to start than his first film. The Living Magoroku was Kinoshita’s debut, and it’s fantastic. A meditation on a generation not willing to sit by and be hampered by the past generation and their superstitions, the film is beautifully crafted and both dramatically weighty and equally comedic. Make this the start of a weekend long Kinoshita marathon. I know I will.

1. Girl Walk // All Day (official website)

If you are like me and the cavalcade of people I follow on Twitter and Facebook, the next few weeks will be primarily focused on catching up on 2012 films. However, one film that will likely go unseen, but damn well shouldn’t, is this new dance film. From director/cinematographer Jacob Krupnick, Girl Walk All Day is a film featuring no dialogue, that follows three dancers over the span of a day in New York set to the latest album from beloved DJ, Girl Talk. Unlike anything you have likely ever seen, this is one of the most entertaining, joyful, and beautifully made dance film’s ever made, and it’s also one that can now be seen, in its entirety, for free, online. Head over to the film’s official website to see one of the best films you’ve likely never heard of.

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