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 Story Of Film (Netflix)
You’ve likely watched this at least once, likely tossed it on a few times in the background as you sweep or do laundry, and have likely been introduced to entire continents worth of cinema thanks to this, and its creator Mark Cousins. However, it has become as pertinent as ever, hence why we are mentioning it a second time here in this weekly piece. TCM has teamed with Cousins and are not only screening episodes of this series (currently streamable on Netflix) every Monday and Tuesday for the forseeable future but are teaming with Cousins, who is behind the lineup of the network those days starting at 8pm. The full lineup is available here, with definitive highlights being the incredibly hard to find I Am Cuba, the soon-to-be-released-by-Criterion Limite and even Kiarostami’s impossible-to-see Where is the Friend’s Home? If you need more convincing, re-visit this series, check out the lineup, and tell me TCM isn’t the most must-have network on television. More on this series as it continues, with week two starting this Monday.
4. Electrick Children (Netflix)
With festivals like Venice and TIFF now in full swing, you’re about to hear a lot about films you may not see for a very long time, if ever. The best thing about attending festivals like this, or SXSW even, is one’s ability to walk into a screening, not knowing a damn thing, and not only be introduced to a new cinematic voice, but introduced to a film that effects you deeply, out of absolutely nowhere. One of those films, for this writer at least, in the last few years of attending SXSW, was the absolutely superb and criminally underseen gem, Rebecca Thomas’ Electrick Children. A beautiful and energetic indie drama, this film tells the story of a young teen who leaves her Mormon family for Las Vegas after becoming impregnated by a rock song. That’s right. This film sounds twee and indie precious but it is instead a wonderfully performed and stunningly crafted drama from a filmmaker who is as assured in her aesthetic as any around. This is simply the best film you’ll see all week, and without a doubt the best film you’ve likely not heard of, that will instantly become one you’ll be screaming about to all your family and friends. Just see it.
3. My Home Is Copacabana (Hulu Plus)
One of the lesser talked about additions to Criterion’s Hulu Plus page during this year’s now-concluded 101 Days Of Summer series, this is easily one of the more intriguing. From legendary Swedish documentarian Arne Sucksdorff, this neo-realist drama follows a group of youngsters in the slums of Rio de Janiero, and is one of Sucksdorff’s most beloved pictures. Arguably his best known non-documentary, the film not only holds Sucksdorff’s vibrant cinematic eye but his documentarian eye as the film very much follows in the lineage of the verite style of filmmaking. Easily comparable to a film like The Little Fugitive, the film takes on the lives of troubled youths who spend as much time having fun with friends as they do begging for money on the streets, but with the most hopeful and loving eye possible. These kids scrape and fight for everything they have (even if it means picking pockets or ostensibly stealing kites from fellow kids), and yet they do it with as much energy and hope as one could ever imagine having. The film never drowns itself in the slums it sets itself in, instead finding itself floating around the beautiful Brazilian landscapes, particularly the stunning beaches. It’s truly a gorgeous feature that has seemingly been lost amongst the cavalcade of masterpieces added recently to Hulu Plus, and it’s one that hopefully will now get some much needed spotlight.
2. The Films Of Georges Melies (Fandor)
Fandor currently has 101 films from Georges Melies, streaming, for subscribers. Alert the media, as this is something that is absolutely bewildering, brilliant and far too good for our awful civilization. With a handful of films just added this week to the service, there appear to be many more to come, so with a massive collection of his silent shorts, both black and white and hand tinted, this service is now one of the most intriguing around. Ranging from classics like A Trip To The Moon to such wondrous bits of cinematic experimentation like Gulliver’s Travels Among The Lilliputians and the Giants all the way to historical pieces like The Coronation Of Edward VII, this is an all inclusive look at one of the greatest and most influential careers in all of cinema history. If you only know Georges Melies via Hugo, then you best be flocking to Fandor and starting your free trial.
1. The Kid Brother (Hulu Plus)
Talk about a perfect way to end a series. Criterion just ended their 101 Days Of Summer series on their Hulu Plus page, and while it brought us such masterpieces like Redes and The Housemaid, and even other Harold Lloyd films like his brilliant Safety Last, one of the best additions is a Harold Lloyd film that ended the series on Labor Day. Entitled The Kid Brother, the film follows the story of a son not only trying to win his father’s respect, but also, as per most Lloyd pictures, trying to win the heart of a beautiful woman. The film itself is chock full of breathtaking and breathless action set pieces and comedic gags, but also has an added level of a truly deep character arc. The idea of this character trying to get in his father’s good gracious is as universal a theme as finding true love, yet it’s a type of narrative Lloyd never really gave us. One of his more impactful and moving films, this is definitely one of his most interesting.