Armchair Vacation: Five Films To Watch At Home This Weekend (April 26-28)


While spring may be in full swing based on your calendar, depending on where you live, that may seem like the biggest lie imaginable. With temperatures barely breaking the 50s in the Midwest, this don’t appear to be heating up outside. However, the same can’t be said for inside theaters. Michael Bay’s new film, Pain And Gain, arrives in theaters this weekend, seeming to mark the real start of the 2013 summer movie season, and with Iron Man 3 already out in theaters across the pond, it’s about that time of the year.

So what can one do to break free of the cabin fever one can suffer from a winter/spring like the one we’ve had? How about five truly great feature-length films? Here are five films you should be seeing this weekend, that you can watch from the comfort of your very own home.

5. Sisters Of The Gion (Hulu)

With director Kenji Mizoguchi now seeing yet another film enter The Criterion Collection proper with his great Life Of Oharu, the director has also been the focus of one of the deepest Eclipse box sets that that now apparently rarely seen series has to offer. With the entirety of this “Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women” box set found on Hulu Plus, there is a great deal of Mizoguchi films offered on the outlet, but there is one film, from this set, that stands out. The beautifully shot and brooding drama entitled Sisters Of The Gion, is available to watch right now, and you should run to do so. The film follows the story of two sisters working as geishas in the Gion district, and is a breathtaking look at the role of women in pre-war Japan. Seen by many critics to possibly be Japan’s greatest pre-war film, this is as great a drama as you’ll find, and gives one a startlingly visceral look at all of the social and cultural aspects of Japanese life that aid in the stunting of cultural growth for women. It’s truly a great motion picture.

4. Little Fugitive (Fandor)

I had the pleasure of reviewing this film, at length, and while that should be enough words written about this great film, I find myself unable to stop thinking about this truly small independent picture. As mentioned previously, the film is a beautiful look at a child’s coming of age that would play as an inspiration for a little movement you may have heard of known as the French New Wave, the film is now available to stream on Fandor, and in HD no less. The film itself is absolutely fantastic, a true example of the ability of a film to have a real, palpable beating heart, but the transfer is really quite great. Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray is a really underrated release in a wave of great early-2013 home video releases, and if you need some proving before you buy (the release is stacked, so the film isn’t the only reason to purchase), get on Fandor, and preview this unsung gem of the American Independent scene.

3. TCM Horror Saturday (Saturday 1:45pm EST-8pm EST)

What’s better than a day of classic, campy, genre films? This Saturday, TCM is airing four superb B-movie classics (six if you count The Manitou and The Devil Within Her which air early Sunday morning), and it is a lineup not to be missed. The quartet includes Tarantula, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Five Million Years To Earth and The Monster That Challenged The World. Now, while these films may not in fact be the greatest that the horror genre has to offer, what the films are are some of the most brazenly campy motion pictures you’ll ever see. I’m particularly partial to a film like The Monster That Challenged The World, one of the many great and intensely fun monster movies. A hilarious, fun and enthralling foursome of pictures, this is exactly what the doctor ordered for those of use really looking for something a little more entertaining to watch with the windows open, (adult) beverages in hand and good movies on the screen.

2.  Bully (Netflix)

Very few documentaries have sparked as much discussion over the last few years as the long talked about non-fiction film, Bully. The picture follows the story of a handful of families who have found their younger members the victims bullying. A startling look at one of today’s most pertinent issues with regards to the experiences that our children are having today, the documentary is currently available on Netflix, after a lengthy run in theaters, and is really a must watch for anyone interested in this issue. Beautifully shot and absolutely heartwrenching, it’s going to be a tough film to watch, but it’s also an important one.

1. Top Of The Lake (Netflix)

I’ll keep this particular entry short, as a full review is coming, but earlier this month, Netflix added the new series from director Jane Campion, and it’s a masterwork. Very much inspired by the rise of modern Danish noir, the once BBC miniseries is a moving and effective bit of modern crime cinema. That’s truly what this is. It may be a shortened TV series, but only because theaters don’t like to air six hour feature films. It’s as great a piece of pure cinema as we’ve seen this year, and it proves once again that Jane Campion is one of today’s greatest filmmakers. The performances here are fantastic and particularly Elizabeth Moss proves that she’s a force to truly be reckoned with. All in all, and again a full review will arrive within the next two weeks, it’s the definition of great TV. Beautiful, brooding and well acted, Campion’s show/film is the most must-watch thing currently streaming.

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