This new recurring feature of the site (labeled under “Streaming Picks”) is going to be an ongoing feature on Me Like Movies where I look over what’s new on streaming sites (the “Big Three” at least–Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime) and then pick my top recommendations for what to watch. This is not going to be as in-depth as most of the articles on here but I’m hoping to steer people in the right direction to watching (or rewatching) some of the better movies that appear each month on these streaming services. This list is for new additions to these services starting June 2017.
Full Metal Jacket: Stanley Kubrick was no stranger to the war picture: one of his earliest films, Paths of Glory, remains one of the finest anti-war pictures ever made. But by Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick had fully refined his hypnotically objective style and precise pacing, which is used to great effect in this film.
Full Metal Jacket is split in two: the first half concerns U.S. Marines as they go through basic training, where one recruit eventually snaps, and the second half takes place in Vietnam, where these same recruits have become callous soldiers. Even if you only watch the masterful first half, Full Metal Jacket is an incredible look at how soldiers are broken down and built back up to become efficient killing machines.
My Left Foot: The life of Christy Brown is an extraordinary one: born into poverty and crippled by cerebral palsy, Brown could only control his left foot, which he eventually used to write and paint. Becoming a celebrated artist, Brown still faces adversity as his physical ailment locks him away from living the normal life he desperately desires. Daniel Day-Lewis’s transformative performance as Brown earned him his first Oscar for Best Actor and launched his career into the stratosphere. An affecting portrait of a man who triumphed over his physical limitations to find great success in life, My Left Foot is a great film about succeeding over adversities in all their forms.
Young Frankenstein: “That’s Fronken-shteen!” Maybe Mel Brooks’ best comedy, Young Frankenstein is Brooks’s riff on the Frankenstein story. Starring Gene Wilder as the titular Frankenstein, who brings his monster to life and demonstrates that it can learn how to do a performance of “Puttin’ On The Ritz.” A gag-a-minute comedy with outstanding comedic performances by Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, and Madeline Kahn, and a visually striking black-and-white homage to classic monster movies from the ‘30s, if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s time to walk this way and watch Young Frankenstein.
Last Action Hero: One of the most misunderstood movies in Ahnold’s repertoire, Last Action Hero is a snarky pomo sendup of action movies and movie logic in general. Thumbing its nose at the tried-and-true tropes of the action genre, including casting Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Good Guy, Last Action Hero deserves a reassessment by film fans, particularly those that decades ago thoroughly panned the film for its “silly” plot. Now in the 21st century, perhaps this surprisingly ahead of its time genre parody (much like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) will find a new audience who will appreciate the winks and nudges at the cliches that seem to crop up in every action movie.
Apocalypse Now: Coppola’s masterpiece meditation on the Vietnam War, as well as possibly the best adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now has long revered as the definitive ‘Nam movie. Capturing the outright insanity that war inspires in its soldiers who are thousands of miles from home and fighting a battle they have long lost sight of, this film follows the memories of one Captain Benjamin L. Willard, barely out of adolescence himself, as he’s sent down-stream by his superiors to capture, and most likely eliminate, Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, who has gone native, killed his men, and become a cult-like leader to the indigenous population.
Capturing the brutal nature of war and how it quickly devolves into farce due to its unstructured, unregulated, and completely unpredictable nature, Apocalypse Now remains a masterpiece that any film fan, novice or expert, should watch–even if to finally get the references countless films and TV shows have made to it over the years.
Blue Velvet: Outside of Eraserhead, which is too weird for most audiences to stomach, or The Elephant Man, which was adapted from a stage play, Blue Velvet was the first true masterpiece created by David Lynch. It’s also a good place to start with Lynch’s work if you’re unfamiliar with it.
Concerning college student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) who’s home after his father suffers a stroke, he gets drawn into a mystery after finding a severed ear in a field involving a lounge singer (Isabella Rosallini) and a psychopathic criminal (Dennis Hopper), all while nursing a potential romance with an innocent high schooler (Laura Dern). Mixing psychological horror with film noir, if you find Blue Velvet intriguing, there’s plenty more where that came from when it comes to Lynch. If not, well, at least you tried.
Lost In America: Albert Brooks has been making some of the most low-key funny movies of the past 30+ years–he’s like if Woody Allen wasn’t an unrepentant creep. Perhaps his best-known film, Lost in America, follows the continual misadventures of a married yuppie couple who decide to take their nest egg and hit the road, only to find themselves in trouble when the wife gambles their life savings away. Brooks does a comedy slow burn better than anybody, and Lost in America is a fantastic take on why the ideal of the open road in America isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Peggy Sue Got Married: Peggy Sue finds herself middle-aged, on the verge of divorce from her high school sweetheart, and cynical about how her life has turned out by the time her 25th high school reunion rolls around. At the reunion she faints and wakes up to find herself back as a senior in high school in 1960. Determined to do things right this time and now with the confidence and knowledge of 25 years after high school to draw upon, Peggy Sue starts to live a completely different life–but she’s still drawn to the man that would eventually be her husband and father to her daughter.
A kind of Back to the Future from Lorraine’s perspective, Peggy Sue Got Married is a solid comedy and strange sort of time travel movie. Nominated for three Academy Awards that year, including Best Actress, this is an easy-to-watch comedy from the mid-80s looking back at the early ’60s.
Starman: After coming across the Voyager 2 golden phonograph record in space, an alien accepts the invitation and comes to Earth. His ship is promptly shot down, however, and he crash-lands in Wisconsin, where he makes his way to recent widow Jenny’s (Karen Allen) home and clones a body from a lock of her husband’s hair. She’s shocked but sympathetic as he explains he must rendezvous with a starship at Barringer’s crater in Arizona in three days or he will die. They begin to journey together and the Starman (played by Jeff Bridges) reveals that he has miraculous powers along the way.
Surprisingly, this tender film was directed by John Carpenter. A sci-fi film that provides a gentle outsider to our planet struggling to understand it while the woman he’s with is similarly astonished by him, Starman is a surprising love story and one that garnered Jeff Bridges an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (and to date is the only John Carpenter film nominated for an Oscar).
Mr. Mom: Before he was seen as one of America’s great actors, Michael Keaton was a standup-turned-comedy actor who starred in a string of comedy flicks in the early 1980s, usually as a snarky every guy. In Mr. Mom, however, the tables are turned as Jack Butler (Keaton) suddenly loses his engineering job. His wife (Teri Garr), however, finds work before he does so Jack becomes the titular Mr. Mom. While he initially gets depressed and is totally lost in the world of domesticity, Jack eventually figure out how to be a “mom,” all while his wife is starting to make her way in the corporate world and garnering the unwanted affections of her boss (Martin Mull).
A fun, breezy comedy that’s emblematic of the type of comedies from the 1980s, Mr. Mom is a great example of how funny Keaton could be when left to be his casually charming self on film.
2 Days in the Valley: A criss-crossing crime film that follows the relatively wacky misadventures of cops, criminals, and artists that stumble across each other over two days in the valley, this film was one of those “Pulp Fiction was great! Let’s see if we can do that!” movies that flooded movie houses in the mid-90s. But this one actually works pretty well: featuring Charlize Theron before she was a big star, Teri Hatcher when she was still trying to be one, and Danny Aiello in a solid lead role, 2 Days in the Valley is a totally 90’s crime movie that works.
Magnolia: P.T. Anderson is one of the greatest directors of his generation, and Magnolia–only his third feature film–is an impressive piece of evidence as to why. After Boogie Nights and before There Will Be Blood, Anderson directed this massive, sprawling mosaic that stitched together a dozen storylines across one long, fateful day in Los Angeles. Settle in: it’s 3 hours long, but it’s also one of his best films (and all the more impressive is that he made it before he was even 30).
The Grateful Dead Movie: In conjunction with the long, strange documentary Long Strange Trip that covers The Grateful Dead’s career, The Grateful Dead Movie is made available for the curious. And it’s a curious film: instead of being a straight documentary or concert film, TGDM instead acts like a wandering eye around the Grateful Dead’s five-night run at Winterland in San Francisco in 1974 just before they took a 2-year break.
There’s a lot in this film to look at: the gigantic “Wall of Sound” system they constructed makes its last appearance in the concert footage, the wild variety of hippies and weirdos dedicated to seeing the band live that were part of the first wave of Deadheads, strangely edited behind-the-scenes looks at the massive machine behind the tour, and of course some fine performances of The Grateful Dead at the end of one of their best configurations (although you can sense a fair amount of tension between some members, particularly the soon-to-be never invited back vocalist Donna Godchaux and Phil Lesh).
David Lynch: The Art of Life (June 29th): Although not arriving until the end of the month, the new documentary David Lynch: The Art of Life is a fantastic documentary of one of cinema’s most original visionaries. Coming out just in time to capitalize on what may be Lynch’s last work, Twin Peaks: The Return, DL: TAoL is a rare look at the guarded director’s early life, spanning from the beginning of his life to starting production on his first feature film Eraserhead. For any fan of this groundbreaking director, David Lynch: The Art of Life is a can’t miss opportunity to get to know the elusive master a little better.