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. Noisey’s Chiraq
An odd choice to start off this week’s list, this is one for the music nerds and hip-hop “heads.” For those who may not know, not only is Chicago infamous as a home for gang violence that is on the rise seemingly every year, but it’s also home to one of the most lively and seemingly vital underground scene in all of rap music, both of which is leading the way for this new eight-part documentary series from the website Noisey. Known as “Drill Music,” the scene has been much maligned by the mainstream press, but its anger and raw energy has seen it become something of a modern day “punk” scene for youth culture. Simplistic lyrics highlighting a world of violence and gang culture, the percussion heavy production has become one of the most influential bits of hip hop the genre has seen, and this documentary throws the viewer into the world of inner city Chicago, its music, its politics and its violence. Releasing every Wednesday, the series is two episodes in highlighting things from the maestro of the scene producer Young Chop to the second episode, looking more so at the gang world that has taken over Chicago. This is seriously one of the most important bits of investigative music journalism this year will give us. Saying it’s must watch doesn’t do this justice.
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4. Assault On Precinct 13 (Netflix)
From director John Carpenter, this legendary cult classic is not only now on Blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory, but Netflix now has it available to stream. One of the director’s most anarchic pictures, this tale of a collection of inmates taking over a jail the night before it was set to shut down, this Western-influenced gem of a thriller is a quick and thrilling action film that marks an early entry in Carpenter’s canon. An early low-budget film from the beloved genre auteur, it has some really fun performances and as always, the action here is fast paced and absolutely percussive. As entertaining a film as you could imagine watching this weekend, this is one that needs to be owned on Blu-ray ASAP, but until then, stream it via Netflix as quick as you can possibly click your browser or use your remote.
3. The Square (Netflix)
Focusing its eyes on the Egyptian Revolution, The Square is an Oscar nominated documentary at this year’s Academy Awards, and one of the most emotionally rapturous documentaries one saw last year. With a street level view of a revolution that has become a global phenomenon over the last nearly three years, and is one of the most informative and immersive documentaries from a year that saw great documentary after great documentary arrive in theaters. A meditation on people taking control of their lives through an uprising that truly cannot be stopped, director Jehane Noujaim gives stories to the faces that we’ve only seen put on our TV screens briefly during a world news broadcast, throwing the viewer directly into a world that is beyond foreign to all of us here stateside. Painting a portrait of a nation on the brink, this documentary is quite possibly the most important documentary to come out of what is arguably one of the best years the genre has ever seen.
2. Short Term 12 (VOD)
Now that 2013 is behind us, it’s about time we all dig into a handful of films that seemingly fell to the wayside during last year, and top of that list is director Destin Daniel Cretton’s newest film, the indie darling Short Term 12. Featuring a star making turn from Brie Larson as a foster care facility worker who deals in teenage, “at-risk” children, while herself trying to balance a life on her own, a burgeoning relationship and a rather torrid past. A beautifully intimate drama that blends true human emotion with some really well toned comedy, the film features some fantastic performances from the ever entrancing Larson and the up and coming John Gallagher Jr., and is an insightful meditation on the uncertainty of youth and those who spend their entire lives trying to bring the lives of others back above water.
1. And The Oscar Goes To… (TCM; Saturday, 8pm EST)
While The Oscars themselves are often fodder for prodding and silly complaining online by various people who give them far too much credence despite saying they give them none, there is one thing that this season gives us that is beyond worth it all. Starting on February 1, TCM’s yearly 31 Days Of Oscar starts, with a documentary from director Robert Epstein that makes its debut on the channel Saturday night. An original documentary, the film will be tracking the history of the Academy Awards, through the eyes of those directly connected to it, and while it’s not been seen yet, Epstein is one of today’s best documentarians, and this is no doubt one of the weekend’s must see feature films. With names like Tom Hanks and Helen Mirren interviewed here, this is one that can’t be missed. DVR it, watch it live, whatever you have to do to see this movie.