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.
- The WWE Network
Okay, so this and the next pick aren’t necessarily films, but they are easily two of the most interesting things to stream at this very moment. First up, one of the biggest and most important streaming services yet, the WWE Network. The highly talked about and seemingly niche streaming service has launched, and while the selections here aren’t as expansive as they will be as time goes, it’s easily one of the biggest bangs for the littlest of bucks around. For 10$ a month one can revisit various pay-per-view events in their entirety ranging from WWE, WCW and even ECW, while going forward every subscriber will get to see every pay per view, for nothing more than the price of a subscription. Available on various smart TVs, video game devices and even AppleTV, this could forever change the way not only pay per views are run, but sports entities sell their product. As a massive wrestling fan this is a no brainer, but if you’re a person who just likes good dramatic narratives, I’d give this a run. Hell, you get your first week free.
The second gem to hit the web this week is actually an extensive interview with the director and star of one of this year’s most anticipated pictures. NY Times writer David Carr sits down with Anderson and Fiennes for 90-minutes to chat about the pair’s new collaboration, the Berlinale darling The Grand Budapest Hotel, and it’s an absolute joy to sit through. With the pair talking openly about Anderson’s directing style, how he runs his sets and how this structured style of narrative that Anderson has set up for his new picture is unlike many of his previous films, this is an intriguing discussion of two artists at the height of their powers. Carr is a perfect moderator here and is himself a really intriguing voice to hear. Oh, and there’s a bit about a certain franchise Anderson has an interesting take on that makes me pine for a day where it would be financially viable to see that vision arrive on the big screen.
3. Wajma: An Afghan Love Story (Netflix)
A superb picture now fresh off a run at this year’s Portland International Film Festival, this Afghan gem is now available to stream on Netflix, and should be seen by anyone and everyone with access to the service. The film follows two lovers as they are torn apart by a society that has no interest in allowing them to ever truly be together, and while it may not be a film saying much “new” with regards to modern relationships in the Middle East, the performances here are worthy of the nearly 90 minute run time. Director Barmak Akram is a filmmaker so assured in his own aesthetic that it becomes a truly beautiful and utterly unflappable piece of drama, one that takes a premise and narrative structure that Middle Eastern cinema has mined countless times, only to see it turn into something entirely vital and full of emotional impact. Without passing judgment on any character on screen, the film is a neo-realist gem of a film, an unforgettable dramatic yarn that needs to be seen as it is a truly entrancing romantic drama.
2. You Were Like A Wild Chrysanthemum (Hulu Plus)
And now your monthly recommendation of a Keisuke Kinoshita picture. From 1955 comes this wondrously and romantically titled motion picture from brilliant master filmmaker Kinoshita, a tale of a young man and his forbidden love affair with a young woman during their teenage years. Seen as a flashback while the boy, now an elderly man played by the legendary Ozu regular Chishu Ryu, makes a return trip home, the film is one of Kinoshita’s most emotionally resonant films, and one of his prettiest. The flashback sequences are deeply moving and the black and white photography here is rich, and while the vignette style of frame used is a bit silly and can be a tad scoffed at, it really gives these moments a beautiful and dream like sense of style. Superb performances abound here, and clocking in at right around 90 minutes, it is a rich and moving look at forbidden love in an era where romances were decided upon by outside parties instead of the two people to be wed. A deep sense of melancholic nostalgia is found here, and that sense of emotion is palpable and unwavering. A real classic.
1. Blue Is The Warmest Color (Netflix)
One of this writer’s favorite films of last year, the superb Blue Is The Warmest Color has finally arrived on Netflix, as well as Criterion DVD and Blu-ray. Beautifully entrancing and bewilderingly emotional, this astounding and deep look into love in every single one of its many stages is not only a film greater than the controversy you’ve likely read non-stop about, but it’s as powerful a look at romance as we’ve seen in a handful of years. Wonderfully profound and brimming with honesty and truth about relationships, the film uses an intimate aesthetic and two star making performances to paint a picture so beautifully crafted that it needs to be seen to be believed. The aesthetic here is beautifully intimate and emotionally resonant, and while it’s a heavy and lengthy watch, it is one of the most rewarding and unforgettable pieces of romantic cinema in years. A real stunner, this picture.