There are so many titles available on streaming services that sometimes you just give up after scrolling endlessly through options. So here at Me Like Movies, we go through what’s available on the Big Three (Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime) to watch each month. Here are our picks for August 2017!
The Founder: Following the true story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who franchised the now-ubiquitous McDonald’s chain of restaurants, The Founder features an incredible performance by Michael Keaton as Kroc, who starts off the film as a sympathetic and ambitious man but is quickly transformed due to greed. A must-see for those interested in how capitalism can be both a positive and negative force on people’s lives and those who want to see how the biggest fast food chain in the world got its nebulous start.
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence: Roy Andersson may not be a household name in much of the English-speaking world but he has been working on a fascinating comedic tragedy trilogy that examines the existential and metaphysical reality of being a human being. A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence is the conclusion of this trilogy, which had started from Songs from the Second Floor in 2000 and continued with You, The Living in 2007. This film seems to take place in some sort of purgatory, where everyone looks dead and seem disaffected by every strange thing that occurs. Shot in static long takes, with each segment performed like a miniature play, A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence is one of the most unique films to have come out so far this decade.
Nightcrawler: Ambition, when mixed with amorality, is a dangerous and disturbing force. Nightcrawler details this notion to horrifying effect as freelance media journalist Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal, in an affecting performance) prowls the streets of Los Angeles at night looking for violent, tragic events to capture with his camera to sell to a local news station. Finding success, he quickly begins to cross the boundary from observer to active participant to create the events for the footage he desires. Written and directed with style by Roy Gilroy, for fans of the thriller genre and those who question the relationship between journalism and consumer demand, and the type of person this sort of field would attract, Nightcrawler is one of the best in recent memory.
The Prestige: Christopher Nolan is one of the best directors working today, and The Prestige is one of his best non-Batman films. Detailing the awful long-standing rivalry between two magicians who started as partners until tragedy made them mortal enemies, The Prestige is filled with the characteristic twist, turns, and tricks that make Nolan’s films so much fun to watch. Bonus points for David Bowie’s outstanding performance as the enigmatic Nikola Tesla and the sci-fi elements that are woven throughout this terse thriller/drama.
Barton Fink: For a writer, there’s nothing worse than suffering from writer’s block. And if your career is writing, it can be a disaster. This is what playwright Barton Fink (John Turturro) finds out when he’s plucked from New York City to write a feature film in 1941 Hollywood. From there, the film ramps up to a delirious climax that any further details would spoil it. One of the Coen Brothers earliest efforts to mix dark humor with their off-the-wall zaniness and playing off of popular perceptions of the glamour of Hollywood, the Coens instead depict the more salacious and unflattering aspects of living and working in show business. A dark, funny, and nearly unclassifiable film that seems to mean several things at once, Barton Fink is another masterpiece from two of America’s most unique filmmakers.
High-Rise: J.G Ballard’s often transgressive writing found him a cult following in the 1970s but were seen as nearly impossible to adapt to the screen. But since 1996’s Crash broke through potential restrictions in depicting Ballard’s work in cinema, more adaptations have followed. 2015’s High-Rise is one of the author’s more cerebral works: set in a luxury tower block in the 1970’s that allows its wealthy residents to live without ever having to leave their house, tensions arise within the tower between upper and lower class denizens until falling into chaos. More relevant than ever now with the advent of the internet actually allowing anyone not to ever leave their homes, High-Rise is a high-concept film with some brains and bite behind it.
Dead Calm:A husband and wife on a sailing expedition soon find themselves terrorized by a stranger who they rescue from a damaged boat. With the wife taken hostage and the husband left stranded on the damaged boat, Dead Calm ratchets up the tension with each scene as a battle for survival is waged. Adapted from the best-selling novel and initially attempted to be adapted to screen by Orson Welles, 1989’s Dead Calm features fantastic performances from the three-hander cast of Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman, and Billy Zane. For thriller fans, this is one of the best.
The Addiction: The vampire myth has been told thousands of times over since its beginnings as an Eastern European folk tale centuries ago, but The Addiction brings it to the academic realm as a graduate student (Lily Taylor) is bitten by a vampire in the streets of NYC and soon begins to enter the dark realm of vampirism. Philosophical and artful, The Addiction is for arthouse fans who can appreciate a new take on an old story.
Needful Things: A mysterious man opens up shop in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine, and sells disparate items to the town’s citizens that seem to suit their needs in specific and often cruel ways. One of the better Stephen King film adaptations, Needful Things is an atmospheric take on the novel with an outstanding performance by Max von Sydow as the mysterious Leland Gaunt.
Timecrimes: Time travel is one of the most popular sci-fi subgenres for writers and filmmakers to develop their stories in, since the logistics and increasingly complex narratives that a time travel plot engenders can lead to innovative and interesting films and stories. One of the more reliable aspects of a time travel plot in film is that–unlike most sci-fi flicks–it doesn’t demand a large budget to tell an effective story. Such is the case with 2007’s Timecrimes: made for just $2.6 million, this movie tells the story of a man, Hector, living in the countryside with his wife who finds himself in an increasingly disastrous situation due to accidental time travel. The story–essentially a time loop–unfolds several times over while Hector tries to right the various problems different versions of himself continue to make within the loop. It’s an effective sci-fi movie that relies more on clever writing and sequencing of events than big-budget special effects. Part sci-fi, part thriller, and part horror, Timecrimes is a time travel movie that afterwards will have you going over it again and again.
Contact: A SETI scientist finds evidence of extraterrestrial life and fights to convince fellow scientists, members of congress, and the public of its veracity. When she receives detailed plans of how to built a transport machine that will bring one person into contact with another life form, she goes on a journey that defies sense and expectation. This adaptation from Carl Sagan’s novel stars Jodie Foster in one of her better performances and often philosophically questions the relationship between faith and science. For the thoughtful sci-fi fan, Contact is well worth their time.
Where The Red Fern Grows: Few coming-of-age novels have been as beloved as Where The Red Fern Grows, which Details the relationship an adolescent from the Ozarks has with his two coon dogs, Little Ann and Old Dan, At turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, the 1974 film adaptation hits the same sweet spot of sentimentality that the book masterfully imparted and remains a classic for young and old viewers alike.
The Believer: A Jewish Neo-Nazi seems like a paradox–and as The Believer shows, it’s a paradox that tears its protagonist apart. Starring Ryan Gosling in an early role, this film is a compelling, intelligent look at the contradictions a young man feels between his beliefs and his faith and works as an odd companion piece of sorts to American History X. One of the best films of 2001, The Believer is still a film well worth any cinephile’s time.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: 40th Anniversary: This classic horror film, the first entry into the slasher genre, is available in a remastered edition on Amazon Prime. Still shocking today, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre retains its insane power and visceral impact even over 40 years since its original release.