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.
- A Brief History Of Time (Hulu)
A long-rumored addition to The Criterion Collection, this breathtaking Errol Morris-directed look into the life and work of one Stephen Hawking is now not only available in a glorious dual format release, but has joined the ranks of Criterion’s ever growing Hulu Plus lineup. Along with a handful of other films (two more of which are highlighted with the next two slots on this list), this gorgeous documentary (inspired by Hawking’s book of the same name) is a must-watch documentary. One of Morris’ most entrancing works aesthetically, the film features interviews with family and friends and is punctuated by an evocative score by none other than Philip Glass. Previously unavailable on DVD in the US, this is a massive addition to the Hulu collection, giving a mass audience the chance to not only learn about one of the most important thinkers of his generation, but also a hell of an introduction for those who may not be familiar with the work of its director, Errol Morris.
- The Brood (Hulu)
The second of three new additions to Criterion’s Hulu Plus lineup, this one jumps from the world of documentary cinema to the universe of body horror pictures helmed by the legendary and entirely singular David Cronenberg. One of the director’s earlier works, The Brood is one of Cronenberg’s most intriguing works, and one of his most raw. A look into the investigation by one man of the therapy that his recently institutionalized wife is going through, this film (written and directed by the Canadian auteur) is a brutally in your face meditation on divorce and the ever present demons that comes from it, and is as seemingly vital and personal a work as Cronenberg has ever given us. With a raw energy that hasn’t been seen in much of his recent work, this is an aggressive and unrelenting horror picture that will leave any given viewer as provoked intellectually as they are assaulted aesthetically. A real tour-de-force this masterpiece.
- Watership Down (Hulu)
What appears to be the second animated film to join the ranks of The Criterion Collection (an actual release has yet to be announced but until further notice this appears to be the next direction Criterion’s animated lineup goes) Watership Down is now available to stream on the Collection’s Hulu Plus page. Originally revealed thanks to their iTunes store, Martin Rosen’s adaptation of Richard Adams’ classic novel follows a group of rabbits who leave their home to form their own utopian society. A beautiful and in many ways bleak adaptation of this legendary literary benchmark, Rosen’s film is one of the most enthralling pieces of animation ever made. A brazen and decidedly dark take on this tale, the film may be a bit tough for very young viewers, but is absolutely worth watching for both adults and some children. Gorgeously crafted, unrelenting and never looking down upon its youthful target demographic, Rosen’s film is exactly the type of engaging piece of animation that makes the greatest works within the genre. Unsung and hard to see, this is one addition to Hulu Plus that should not be glanced over.
- Swim Little Fish Swim (VOD)
Over a year since I had the pleasure of seeing the film at SXSW, the underrated comedy Swim Little Fish Swim has finally arrived on VOD for mass consumption. And it’s one hell of a film. A powerful piece of filmmaking, directors Ruben Amar and Lola Bessis have crafted a touching and deeply affecting look at two people who love one another immensely, but have a barrier between them, impossible to break. Featuring gorgeous photography, solid performances and an absolutely killer soundtrack that will leave viewers sprinting to iTunes following their viewing of the film, this may have been overlooked for quite some time, but for fans of sweet independent romances, this is right up your alley.
- She Done Him Wrong (TCM; Friday, 11:30pm EST)
Continuing their series of Pre-Code cinema programming on Friday’s this month, TCm is airing one of the very best, and most entertaining, bits of Pre-Code film ever made. This Lowell Sherman-helmed comedy features Mae West in her first lead performance as a local saloon singer who gains the stern and watchful eye of mission captain Cummings, played by an ever game Cary Grant. Clocking in at just slightly over an hour in length, this comedy is arguably West’s greatest on screen achievement, and her energetic and almost punk-rock-like performance is as breathless as the comedy world had ever seen at that time. Perfectly opposed to Grant, both had an energy on screen that really played beautifully opposite one another. While Grant’s performance is not nearly as layered or charismatic as his greatest works, it’s a real joy to see him step up opposite a maneater like West, who is as sultry and magnetic as a person could ever dream of being whilst on screen. Definitely set your DVRs for this gem.