Armchair Vacation: Five Films To Watch At Home This Weekend (January 11-13)

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Sure, it’s a new year. You all may be striving to start the new year off with watching as many films as humanly possible, and with as many days off one may or may not have had off, it’s not out of the question that one may be in dire need of some new films to see for the first time. And thankfully, what with it being a new year, various streaming outlets and television networks are hell bent on starting the year off on a bloody good foot. So here, our first entry in this series for 2013, are five films to make this weekend all the more cinematically rewarding, without forcing yourself to go out into the world, and see just how bad Hollywood has made the first month of any given calendar year.

5. The Wholly Family (Pasta Garofalo’s website)

With his next film looming on the horizon, Terry Gilliam’s latest work, his award winning short film The Wholly Family has finally arrived online, and it is one hell of a doozy. Made with the help of Italian pasta company Garofalo, the film took home the best short film award at the European Film Awards, and for just cause. A beautiful short film, the work isn’t Gilliam’s strongest piece of art in his oeuvre  but as a perfect follow up to a feature like The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus (itself an underrated gem of a feature film) it is every bit a typical Gilliam dreamscape. Gorgeously and vibrantly crafted, the film is a whirlwind through Naples and is a film that proves Gilliam still has as much life in him as any filmmaker today.

4. The Story Of Film (Netflix)

From film historian and author Mark Cousins comes a series of hour long documentaries that, for most cinephiles, has become one of the most important additions to any streaming service in some time. Likely something any number of you have sat through, the 15 hour long juggernaut is as deep and insightful a look into film and its history as any available. With David Thomson’s equally reverent book, The Big Screen, now finally in bookstores everywhere, it’s a damn good time to be a film nerd, and this is one big part of that. Cousins’ voice is dry and his scripts are far from comedic, but this reverence with regards to the art of cinema is really thrilling and great to dig into. Ranging from the inception of cinema all the way to its final sequence looking into the cinematic creation of Chris Nolan’s Inception, the series is a dense and thrilling look into film, film history and its importance as something more than just entertainment to cultures around this planet. It’s really something to behold.

3. Fantomas (Fandor)

Five of the most influential film serials in the history of cinema, Louis Feuillade’s collection of five Fantomas films are now available, for everyone’s pleasure, to stream online via Fandor. Beauitfully made serials, these come to us from the same filmmaker who would go on to craft Les Vampires, and equally breathtaking and equally influential serial, proving he may very well be silent cinema’s most unsung auteur and influencer. Five films ranging in length from 55 to 90 minutes, it’s a blocky and lengthy watch, but for those who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing these films, a weekend spent laying your eyes upon the brilliance of this series is something anyone should be ready to jump at. Simply one of the greatest franchises in all of film, Fandor has proven, once again, that they may be one of the most interesting and insightful streaming options online today.

2. Jubilee (Hulu)

From unsung auteur Derek Jarman, Jubilee is the director’s only entry into The Criterion Collection, and thankfully, it’s streaming online on their Hulu Plus page. I was recently able to go through much of the director’s filmography thanks to Kino and their fantastic and definitive Blu-ray releases (all of which are must own releases), and I can say that this is one of his most intriguing pictures. Proving that the director was as punk rock as any filmmaker of his generation, this is arguably one of his most aggressive releases, and features cameos from the likes of bands ranging from The Slits to Siouxsie and the Banshees. Toss in a score from Brian Eno, and you have one of the director’s most definitive pictures. A perfect introduction to the director, the film isn’t as confrontational as something like The Last Of England or as taboo pushing as a film like Caravaggio, but it’s no less thrilling or vital. Truly a special film from a special filmmaker.

1. TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights (Sunday, Jan. 13 starting at midnight)

Technically a Monday morning special, TCM, in their imminent wisdom, has made a habit of blowing the collective minds of cinephiles around the country. However, they may have outdone themselves once again. With Criterion recently revealing that they were not only, through Janus Films, starting to tour the filmography of one Harold Lloyd, but that a release of his film Safety Last was likely on the way this year, TCM is pairing short films from him, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton for what is one of the biggest blocks of television this weekend. Starting right at midnight is the Hal Roach-directed short, Bumping Into Broadway from Lloyd, only to be followed by Keaton’s The Scarecrow and then Chaplin’s The Pilgrim. All three are really fantastic and hilarious short films, and give great insight into three filmographies that, with regards to comedy, are likely the most important and influential. The chance to see these shorts is great, but the idea of seeing them within the context of one another is really quite exciting and something I hope a lot of people take advantage of this weekend