Every day, more and more films are added to the various streaming services out there, ranging from Netflix to YouTube, and are hitting the airwaves via movie-centric networks like TCM. Therefore, sifting through all of these pictures can be a tedious and often times confounding or difficult ordeal. But, that’s why we’re here. Every week, Joshua brings you five films to put at the top of your queue, add to your playlist, or grab off of VOD to make your weekend a little more eventful. Here is this week’s top five, in this week’s Armchair Vacation.
5. The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (Netflix)
While the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer has become fodder for various documentaries and other pieces of cinema, very few films have been made quite like The Jeffrey Dahmer Files. Taking a rather startling narrative approach, the film ditches the standard look at Dahmer’s life, his actual heinous acts or the court case, instead opting to look at those involved on the periphery. The film features interviews with various men and women who were involved with the case during and after the arrest, ranging from doctors to neighbors. Instead of painting a picture of a madman or a monster, the film attempts, resoundingly, to try and paint this man as someone who could have been just down the street from anyone during his time. With this oddly normal portrayal of a man, his monstrous acts become even more despicable, and ultimately even more haunting. A truly superb documentary from this year, the film hit the festival circuit and ultimately was forgotten. It’s now streaming on Netflix, so hopefully that will be changing relatively soon.
4. The Last Of The Mohicans (TCM; Saturday 6am EST)
And no, I’m not talking about Daniel Day-Lewis and Michael Mann. From director Maurice Tourneur and starring Wallace Beery and Barbara Bedford, this 1920 silent picture will be hitting TCM this weekend, and is complete must-DVR TV. The film is an adaptation of the James Fenimore Cooper novel, and one of many that have been made since the original screen adaptation in 1911. One of the more faithful adaptations of the novel, the film is quite a gorgeous silent picture, a film made just at the real onset of silent cinema. An unsung gem of a film, most people have either forgotten about this film following their first viewing, or is likelier the case simply never seen it, but that will hopefully change after this oddly scheduled early morning screening. It’s an exciting film, an early action drama before that was even a real idea, and is a film more people truly need to catch up on. And what more convincing do you need than its placement as part of TCM’s lineup.
3. Charulata (Hulu Plus)
August may be the biggest month for director Satyajit Ray in quite some time. With two Criterion Collection releases, a handful of rep screenings and new films being added to Criterion’s Hulu Plus page, people are about to be introduced to the director in a very, very big way. Arriving opposite Ray’s The Big City, Charulata will be hitting Criterion Collection DVD and Blu-ray and if you aren’t so sure about bind buying the film, it’s available to stream on their Hulu Page right now. One of a handful of Ray films looking at the role of women in a modernizing India, the film is a beautiful and melodic piece of work that may be slow to the untrained eye, but is as entrancing a drama as one is likely to see. Based on Rabindranath Tagore’s novella (a writer who Ray was an outspoken supporter of), the film is as intriguing a cultural study as it is a romance, as a marriage plays as a perfect center for this moving drama. It’s a perfect partner to the equally affecting The Big City, a film we’ll have more on next week.
2. A Face In The Crowd (Warner Instant)
One of a handful of true masterpieces from the late Elia Kazan, one of the filmmaker’s most prophetic films is currently available to stream on The Warner Archive’s instant service. Entitled A Face In The Crowd, the film was ostensibly a meditation, when originally conceived, on the McCarthy era fury that Kazan had so unjustly come to comprehend, but is now, in today’s era of 24/7 news coverage, all the more pertinent. A tale about a local nobody turned into a nationwide political commentator, the film oozes the sense of energy and partisan frenzy that the likes of Glenn Beck have become millionaires off of. With a legendary and truly career defining performance from one Andy Griffith, this film stands as possibly Kazan’s most pertinent outside of, say, a little film like On The Waterfront. A beautiful motion picture fueled by stunning black and white photography, Kazan proved to be at the very apex of his cinematic powers, and we’re all the luckier for having this masterpiece available to stream right now.
1. Gimme Shelter (Hulu Plus)
Rock documentaries come about a dime a dozen, however, when the Maysles brothers are involved, you know it is going to be something truly special. The film looks at the 1969 US tour of The Rolling Stones, which ultimately concluded with what many deem as the true end of “the ‘60s,” their free concert at Altamont. With this sense of dread and melancholy hovering over the picture itself, the beautifully shot musical numbers become all the more enthralling, holding with them this odd sense of fleeting time and impending loss of innocence. It’s a truly wondrous documentary that stands above its genre-filling brethren as one of the greatest music documentaries of all time. More than just a music documentary it’s truly a time capsule of an era seemingly long lost. It’s an absolute masterpiece of the highest order, and now available to stream on Hulu Plus.