Armchair Vacation: Five Films To Watch At Home This Weekend (August 9-11)

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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. Woman (Hulu Plus)

There are directors that The Criterion Collection seems to have an affinity for (Louis Malles, for example) and then there are filmmakers like Keisuke Kinoshita. A director of roughly fifty feature films, The Criterion Collection appears to have the rights to just about 90% of that canon, and all of which seem to be currently available on their Hulu Plus page (42 films, to be exact). With masterpieces like The Ballad Of Narayama currently available on the company’s Hulu page, one film has recently made waves as being a rather different step for the filmmaker. Entitled Woman, the film follows a criminal who tries to convince his lover to stay with him following yet another heist. A decidedly cinematic affair, Kinoshita’s film features everything from an action packed final act to various canted angle shots, in what is a remarkably playful picture that couldn’t be further from a picture like Narayama if it were designed as such. Beautifully shot and brazenly brisk, this just-over-an-hour-long feature film from Kinoshita isn’t nearly as experimental as a film like Narayama or as interested in generational disputes like much of Kinoshita’s work even ranging back to early pictures like The Army, it’s an interesting crime melodrama that is an interesting curio for those interested in an unsung master of cinema.

4. Arbitrage (Netflix)

From director Nicholas Jarecki comes one of 2012’s most intriguing forgotten gems. Following the story of billionaire Robert Miller, the film finds Miller attempting to overcome a nasty turn of events. With his financial empire ready to crumble under the very ground on which it stands, the man attempts to save not only his company, but his very well being, by any means necessary. Starring Richard Gere, the film has become seemingly overlooked due to its release in the ever so full fall season a year ago, but thanks to Netflix, the film is once again in the spotlight. Beautifully simplistic in its direction, this character study finds star Gere at the very top of his game, churning out a performance that rivals anything he’s given recently outside of, say, I’m Not There. Toss in a killer supporting cast with tip top turns from the likes of Brit Marling, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth and especially Nate Parker, the film really stands as a film from 2012 that deserves much, much more attention.

3. Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (TCM; Saturday, 9am)

Who says it is too early to start delving into the world of horror cinema? While this film has seemingly become lost amongst the various adaptations of the legendary Robert Louis Stevenson novella (I myself am partial to the Rouben Mamoulian adaptation a decade prior), Victor Fleming’s fantastic thriller is one to definitely revisit. The film is hitting TCM this weekend, and is very much a must watch bit of event programming. Arriving just two years following Fleming’s masterpiece, Gone With The Wind, the film features solid turns from A-listers like star Spencer Tracy, and supporting performers like Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner (who TCM is actually honoring throughout Saturday). Toss in some visceral black and white photography and some really great direction (and an Oscar nominated score from one Franz Waxman), and you have a horror film that may not be remembered as a masterpiece, but makes for as entertaining a watch as one could possibly imagine.

2.The Holy Man (Hulu Plus)

August is a huge month for fans of Indian auteur Satyajit Ray, and an even bigger one for those who are just being introduced to his work. With Criterion pushing out Blu-rays of both The Big City and Charulata, the company has also been routinely adding various pictures from the filmmaker to their Hulu Plus page. One such film happens to be the decidedly quaint The Holy Man. Far funnier than many of the Ray pictures this writer has had the pleasure of seeing, it’s also much smaller and less ambitious, which may sound like a slight, but is far from it. A warm and inviting meditation on a nation on the verge of modernization, The Holy Man is a roughly hour long feature that proves Ray to be as much a master of narrative as he was of aesthetic. Featuring entertaining performances and a script that is as witty and truly funny as anything I’ve seen from Ray, The Holy Man is admittedly “minor” Ray, but is as perfect an introduction point to the auteurs canon as anything he ever made.

1. Gun Crazy (Warner Archive Instant)

With the weather about to start cooling down (hopefully), and fall nearing, it’s about time cinephiles dig back into the genre known as film noir. And as The Warner Archive continues to add new and exciting pictures to their ever growing canon, one of the best film noirs is now available to stream, in HD. From director Joseph H. Lewis comes Gun Crazy, a classic B-picture which has garnered such respect that it is now considered one of the greatest American noir pictures ever made. With two fantastic lead performances from the likes of John Dall and Peggy Cummins, the film is brooding and unrelenting, and features a handful of definitive noir sequences, particularly one of the greatest heist set pieces ever committed to celluloid. Featuring a masterful script from none other than Dalton Trumbo, the film is a masterpiece of noir, and one of the definitive entrants into a genre that has seemingly become fodder for not much more than pastiche. This picture proves it’s a truly legendary genre.

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