Movies to See Right Now

Gil Birmingham in WIND RIVER

With the contemporary Western thriller Wind River, screenwriter Taylor Sheridan has delivered another masterpiece, this time in his first effort as director. It’s got mystery, explosive action, wild scenery and some great acting, especially by Jeremy Renner and Gil Birmingham.

Other movies that are among the best of the year are the historical thriller Dunkirk and the delightful romantic comedy The Big Sick.

The best of the rest:

  • Baby Driver is just an action movie, but the walking, running and driving are brilliantly timed to the beat of music.
  • I enjoyed Charlize Theron’s rock ’em, sock ’em, espionage thriller Atomic Blonde.
  • The Trip to Spain, another gourmet romp from Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan is funny for the first 90 minutes or so – just leave when the characters part company in Malaga.

Given that Netflix will release Top of the Lake: China Girl in September, my DVD/Stream of the Week is the original Top of the Lake from 2013. It’s the perfect choice to binge watch on Labor Day weekend.

Turner Classic Movies spotlights the director Werner Herzog on September 7 with Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, Stroszek, Aguirre the Wrath of God and Cobra Libre and the Les Blank documentaries Burden of Dreams (about the making of Fitzcarraldo) and Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe.

On September 4, TCM brings us an evening of boxing films, including Requiem for a Heavyweight, The Harder They Fall, Somebody Up There Likes Me and The Golden Boy.  I am recommending the 1972 Fat City from the great director John Huston. Huston shot the film in Stockton, and Fat City is a time capsule for the Central Valley in the early 70s. Stacy Keach plays a boxer on the slide, his skills unraveled by his alcoholism. He inspires a kid (a very young Jeff Bridges), who becomes a boxer on the rise.

Keach and Susan Tyrrell give dead-on performances as pathetic sad sack barflies. Tyrrell was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. In this wonderful 2000 profile in LA Weekly, Tyrrell said, “The last thing my mother said to me was, ‘SuSu, your life is a celebration of everything that is cheap and tawdry.’ I’ve always liked that, and I’ve always tried to live up to it.”

Susan Tyrrell in FAT CITY

Movies to See Right Now

Richard Jenkins and margo Martindale in THE HOLLARS
Richard Jenkins and margo Martindale in THE HOLLARS

Don’t miss The Hollars, an unabashed crowd pleaser with a great cast, especially the irreplaceable Margot Martindale.

And you can still find the best movie of the year so far – the character-driven crime drama Hell or High Water.  It’s atmospheric, gripping, and packed with superb performances. Hell or High Water is a screenwriting masterpiece by Taylor Sheridan. Must See.

Here are other attractive movie choices:

    • Really liked the New Zealand teen-geezer adventure dramedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople (now also available to stream on Vudu).
    • Another odd tale from Down Under is the uneven but entertaining period tale of revenge, The Dressmaker.

DVD/Stream of the Week: Seeing the great character actor Richard Jenkins again in The Hollars reminded me that everyone should see his starring turn in the indie drama The Visitor. Touching on the themes of immigration to the US and the “otherness” of people from the Middle East, it’s especially topical today.  The Visitor is available on DVD from Netflix and streaming from Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play ad Xbox Video.

Some promising fare from Turner Classic Movies this week:

    • Today: Bat 21: In a sadly overlooked Vietnam War action story, Gene Hackman plays an officer trapped behind enemy lines. In this ticking clock thriller, only helicopter pilot (Danny Glover) can rescue him in time.
    • October 2: Leave Her to Heaven: Poor Cornell Wilde falls for the exquisitely gorgeous Gene Tierney, but she is MESSED UP. When I see Leave Her to Heaven, I think of my best friend Steve’s advice – “Never [date] anyone crazier than you are”. MUCH, MUCH more cautionary than Fatal Attraction.
    • October 3: Fat City with Stacy Keach’s and Susan Tyrell’s courageous exploration of alcoholism. Fat City’s Stockton, California, locale is a 1970s time capsule, plus there’s a young Jeff Bridges.

      Gene Tierney in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN
      Gene Tierney in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN

Susan Tyrrell: celebrating the cheap and tawdry

Susan Tyrrell in FAT CITY

Last week I recommended Turner Classic Movies’ broadcast of the under appreciated Fat City (1972) .  It’s the story of boxer on the slide who inspires a kid to become a boxer on the rise.  Stacy Keach and Susan Tyrrell give dead-on performances as pathetic sad sack barflies. Tyrrell was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.  Sadly, Susan Tyrell died on Saturday.

In this wonderful 2000 profile in LA Weekly, Tyrell said,  “The last thing my mother said to me was, ‘SuSu, your life is a celebration of everything that is cheap and tawdry.’ I’ve always liked that, and I’ve always tried to live up to it.”

Coming up on TV: Fat City

Stacy Keach and Jeff Bridges in FAT CITY

Turner Classic Movies is broadcasting the under appreciated Fat City (1972) on June 18.  Stacy Keach plays a boxer on the slide, his skills unraveled by his alcoholism. He inspires a kid (a very young Jeff Bridges), who becomes a boxer on the rise.  Keach and Susan Tyrrell give dead-on performances as pathetic sad sack barflies.  Tyrrell was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

The great director John Huston shot the film in Stockton, and Fat City is a time capsule for the Central Valley in the early 70s.

Fat City has made two of my lists: Best Boxing Movies and Best Drug Movies.

Susan Tyrrell in FAT CITY