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. Not Fade Away (Netflix)
Coming from Sopranos creator David Chase, his debut feature film is one of the more auspicious directorial debuts in quite some time. Set in the 1960s with a soundtrack of music inspired by names ranging from Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix, this tale of three friends starting their own band in New Jersey is a relatively standard coming of age tale featuring some extraordinary aspects. With yet another breathtaking performance from James Gandolfini and a soundtrack that is able to make the film swing in a way most modern coming of age tales truly can’t, the film may feature a narrative we’ve all seen before, but with a passion for music and a handful of great performances so percussive that it turns this into a film that has to be seen to be believed.
4. Cutie And The Boxer (Netflix)
Speaking of films that need to be seen to be believed, Zachary Heinzerling’s new documentary is not only one of the best documentaries currently streaming on Netflix but one of 2013’s best non-fiction pictures. Telling the story the artist couple Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, two Japanese immigrants who took over the New York art scene when they arrived decades ago, only to get lost in the every shifting NYC art scene, the film is eve more so about their four decade long marriage and what it has become. A beautifully made look into love and creativity, and the intersection of both in a relationship, the film is an unsentimental meditation on marriage that may be glossy in its aesthetic, but as vital and unforgettable as any look at the subject we’ve seen in ages. Love is an absolute roar, and these two aren’t afraid to stare down each other’s growls, with no intentions on looking back.
3. You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet (Fandor)
From famed auteur Alain Resnais, comes the director’s alleged final film, an adaptation of two masterpieces from playwright Jean Anouilh. With names like Mathieu Amalric, Michel Piccoli and Sabine Azema, this film is one of the year’s greatest pictures, and also one of the most inspired works from a director routinely blurring the lines between cinema and performance. With beautiful photography from Eric Gautier, the film is inspired heavily by the work of French filmmakers of the 1930s and ‘40s, and performances that are unjustly being ignored this awards season, Resnais’ film is yet another classic bit of cinematic experimentation from one of film’s greatest artists.
2. Our Children (VOD)
From director Joachim Lafosse, this stayed drama is one of the most underrated foreign language films of 2013. As slow a burn as one could possibly experience, the opening frames will hook those interested in the inherent drama, but may lose some due to the quiet, ultimately muted, aesthetic. However, those willing to turn themselves over to the naturalistic melodrama and absolute terror that follows (the film is ostensibly a familial horror film in the body of a neo-realist psychodrama), will never let go. It’s a film that asks increasingly difficult questions about things like love and family, and never allows the viewer to find real definitive answers. The film’s final moments will leave some viewers turned off due to its abruptness, but it is truly a thrilling and utterly devastating conclusion that makes this an unforgettable drama.
1. The Shop Around The Corner (TCM; Sunday, 8pm EST)
There are great Christmas films, and then there is this Ernst Lubitsch masterpiece. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan this story of a man and a woman falling in love unknowingly to both parties is a funny, beautifully made and ultimately deeply rewarding holiday picture that doesn’t turn into pure cartoonish sentiment like most, and yet is perfect holiday viewing for the entire family. Following two co-workers who can’t stand each other but fall in love as pen pals anonymously, this features two great lead performances from Stewart and Sullivan, and is a percussively written comedy from writer Samson Raphaelson. Lubtisch adds a great deal of style to this picture, one that is still as seemingly fresh and entertaining as it has ever been. A holiday masterpiece, this film is.