Movies to See Right Now

Humphrey Bogart and Martha Vickers in THE BIG SLEEP

I haven’t yet seen The Florida Project, and other than that, your best bets are on video this week. I really can’t recommend Mark Felt – The Man Who Brought Down the White House.

If you’re following special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe of the Russian election hack and collusion by the Trump campaign, you’ll be interested in Get Me Roger Stone, which can be streamed on Netflix Instant. The recently indicted Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort is a character in this documentary.

My Halloween Stream of the Week is the indie ghost story The House on Pine Street. I saw The House on Pine Street at Cinequest, and now it can be streamed from Amazon Instant, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.

I also wrote about the documentary 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene, the podcast Inside Psycho and the classic Psycho itself.

On November 4, Turner Classic Movies presents Humphrey Bogart as Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled LA detective Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep. Bogart’s performance is iconic, and The Big Sleep is famous for its impenetrably tangled plot. It’s also one of the most overtly sexual noirs, and Lauren Bacall at her sultriest is only the beginning. The achingly beautiful Martha Vickers plays a druggie who throws herself at anything in pants. And Dorothy Malone invites Bogie to share a back-of-the-bookstore quickie.

Dorothy Malone and Humphrey Bogart in THE BIG SLEEP
Dorothy Malone and Humphrey Bogart in THE BIG SLEEP

Movies to See Right Now

THE WOMEN'S BALCONY
THE WOMEN’S BALCONY

In theaters this week:

  • The delightfully smart and character-driven Israeli comedy The Women’s Balcony with a community of traditional women in revolt.  The longer you’ve been married, the funnier you’ll find The Women’s Balcony.
  • The David and Goliath documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, the riveting story of an American family business bullied into a nightmarish fight for survival.
  • Paris Can Wait, a female fantasy with glorious French cuisine to tantalize all genders.
  • You can still find Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer in theaters, perhaps Richard Gere’s best movie performance ever, and strongly recommended.
  • The bittersweet dramedy The Hero has one thing going for it – the wonderfully appealing Sam Elliott.

Here’s my contribution to the argument about the Best 25 Movies of the 21st Century.

School is out for the summer, and my DVD/Streams of the Week are the two surfing documentaries Step Into Liquid and Riding Giants.  Both are available on DVD from Netflix and to stream from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.

Here’s an interesting nugget from Turner Classic Movies on June 17. Three different actors play Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled LA detective Philip Marlowe: Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep, James Garner in Marlowe and Robert Montgomery in Lady in the Lake.

The most famous – and my favorite – of these is The Big Sleep, with its iconic performance by Bogart and its impenetrably tangled plot. It’s also one of the most overtly sexual noirs, and Lauren Bacall at her sultriest is only the beginning. The achingly beautiful Martha Vickers plays a druggie who throws herself at anything in pants. And Dorothy Malone invites Bogie to share a back-of-the-bookstore quickie.

Lady in the Lake is more cinematically inventive.  Shot entirely from the point of view of the protagonist detective (Montgomery), we never see him except when reflected in mirrors. Even without this interesting gadget, it’s a good movie. Audrey Totter plays one of her iconic noir Bad Girls.

Marlowe is less distinguished a film, but James Garner is always watchable.

Dorothy Malone and Humphrey Bogart in THE BIG SLEEP
Dorothy Malone and Humphrey Bogart in THE BIG SLEEP

Movies to See Right Now

LOVING Credit: Ben Rothstein/Focus Features
LOVING Credit: Ben Rothstein/Focus Features

Top recommendations:

  • Manchester by the Sea: MUST SEE. Don’t miss Casey Affleck’s career-topping performance in the emotionally authentic drama .
  • Elle: MUST SEE (but increasingly hard to find in theaters). A perverse wowzer with the year’s top performance by Isabelle Huppert. Manchester by the Sea is #2 and Elle is #4 on my Best Movies of 2016.
  • Lion:  an emotionally affecting crowd pleaser.
  • Loving: The love story that spawned a historic Supreme Court decision.
  • Mascots: the latest mockumentary from Christopher Guest (Best in Show) and it’s very funny. Mascots is streaming on Netflix Instant.

Also in theaters or on video:

      • Despite a delicious performance by one of my faves, Michael Shannon, I’m not recommending Nocturnal Animals.
      • Arrival with Amy Adams, is real thinking person’s sci-fi. Every viewer will be transfixed by the first 80% of Arrival. How you feel about the finale depends on whether you buy into the disconnected-from-linear-time aspect or you just get confused, like I did.
      • The remarkably sensitive and realistic indie drama Moonlight is at once a coming of age tale, an exploration of addicted parenting and a story of gay awakening. It’s almost universally praised, but I thought that the last act petered out.

My DVD/Stream of the Week picks are, for the rest of 2016, this year’s best films that are already available on video: Hell or High Water, Eye in the Sky, Chevalier, Weiner, Take Me to the River and Green Room.

On December 21, Turner Classic Movies is presenting kind of a Hall of Fame for film noir: Out of the Past, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity and The Big Sleep. Those are all justifiably famous and undisputed members of the noir canon, but TCM is also showing a lesser noir, Born to Kill, with a bloodcurdling villain played by Lawrence Tierney (who was pretty bloodcurdling in real life, too).

Another fun noir shows up on TCM on December 19: Phantom Lady, with Elisha Cook, Jr.’s orgasmic drumming scene – how did they get THAT by the censors?

Elisha Cook, Jr. and a nice of gams in PHANTOM LADY
Elisha Cook, Jr. and some nice gams in PHANTOM LADY

Movies to See Right Now

Olivia Cooke and Thomas Mann in ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL
Olivia Cooke and Thomas Mann in ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL

Right now, you can see four of my Best Movies of 2015 – So Far:

The Melissa McCarthy spy spoof Spy is a very funny diversion. Far from the Madding Crowd, is a satisfying choice for those looking for a costume bodice ripper.  I also liked the two-in-one Swedish comedy The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, a rich mixture of absurdity and broad physical humor.

My DVD/Stream of the Week is one of my Overlooked Noir, My Kind of Woman, where down-on-his-luck Robert Mitchum grabs a deal that he knows is just too good. His Kind of Woman is available on DVD from Netflix and streaming from Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play and Flixster.

Don’t forget that Turner Classic Movies is filling each June and July Friday with film noir in its Summer of Darkness series, hosted by Film Noir Foundation president Eddie Muller – the Czar of Noir. The series schedule includes several favorites of my Overlooked Noir.

Last week, I told you that TONIGHT Turner Classic Movies brings us an unusually rich menu of classic film noir: Cornered, Crack-up, Gilda, The Big Sleep, The Killers, Nocturne and Crossfire.

Later this week on June 25, TCM brings us the 1973 cult sci-fi classic Soylent Green, which was utterly under appreciated until the past decade or so. Set in a dystopian future (like those so popular in today’s sci-fi), humans have pretty much destroyed the environment and most are impoverished, even homeless. The dietary staple is a green pellet provided by a mega-corporation. Charlton Heston is surprisingly effective as a jaded and solitary cop, whose investigation leads him to a horrifying discovery. The cast is very good, including Edward G. Robinson in his final performance. Soylent Green was directed by the versatile Richard Fleischer, 21 years after his noir masterpiece The Narrow Margin.

Charlton Heston in SOYLENT GREEN
Charlton Heston in SOYLENT GREEN

Movies to See Right Now

John Cusack and Elizabeth Banks in LOVE & MERCY
John Cusack and Elizabeth Banks in LOVE & MERCY

Right now, you can see three of my Best Movies of 2015 – So Far:

The Melissa McCarthy spy spoof Spy is a very funny diversion.  Far from the Madding Crowd, is a satisfying choice for those looking for a costume bodice ripper.

My DVD of the Week is Frederick Wiseman’s 2010 brilliant and mesmerizing 2010 documentary Boxing Gym.   One of the few boxing movies that will appeal to most women, Boxing Gym is available on DVD from Netflix.

Don’t forget that Turner Classic Movies is filling each June and July Friday with film noir in its Summer of Darkness series, hosted by Film Noir Foundation president Eddie Muller – the Czar of Noir. The series schedule includes several favorites of my Overlooked Noir.

Speaking of which, I’m telling you NOW so you can set your DVRs. On June 19, TCM brings us an unusually rich menu of classic film noir: Cornered, Crack-up, Gilda, The Big Sleep, The Killers, Nocturne and Crossfire. The most famous – and my favorite – of these is The Big Sleep, with its iconic performance by Humphrey Bogart as the hard-boiled detective Philip Marlow and its impenetrably tangled plot. It’s also one of the most overtly sexual noirs, and Lauren Bacall at her sultriest is only the beginning. The achingly beautiful Martha Vickers plays a druggie who throws herself at anything in pants. And Dorothy Malone invites Bogie to share a back-of-the-bookstore quickie.

For something different, try out the early psychological thriller Crack-up, with Pat O-Brien as an art expert who is framed for a crime. As he tries to prove his own innocence, O’Brien is handicapped by a gap in his memory and repeated hallucinations of being in a head-on train collision.

Pat O'Brien in CRACK-UP
Pat O’Brien in CRACK-UP

Movies to See Right Now

FORCE MAJEURE
FORCE MAJEURE

Another weekend with something for every discerning cinephile:

  • I liked the droll Swedish dramedy Force Majeure, which won an award at Cannes and is Sweden’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.
  • The brilliant comedy about personal identity, Dear White People.
  • The cinematically important and very funny Birdman; and
  • The best Hollywood movie of 2014, the thriller Gone Girl, with a career-topping performance by Rosamund Pike.
  • J.K. Simmons is brilliant in the intense indie drama Whiplash, a study of motivation and abuse, ambition and obsession.
  • Bill Murray’s funny and not too sentimental St. Vincent.
  • I liked the meditatively paced nature documentary Pelican Dreams.
  • If you’re in the mood for a brutal, brutal World War II tank movie, there’s Fury.

My DVD/Stream of the Week is the John le Carré espionage thriller A Most Wanted Man, with its final, heartbreaking performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman.  A Most Wanted Man is available on DVD from Netflix and Redbox and streaming from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Video.

Tonight Turner Classic Movies is airing Steven Spielberg’s brilliant debut feature Duel, a suspense thriller that is as entertaining now as in 1971.  And on Sunday, TCM presents the film noir classic The Big Sleep, with Bogart and Bacall; The Wife and I just watched this again together a couple of weeks ago and were delighted.

THE BIG SLEEP
THE BIG SLEEP

Movies to See Right Now

FADING GIGOLO
FADING GIGOLO

We’re sliding into the blockbuster doldrums of summer, but the best movie of the year is opening more widely next week (teaser). Right now, I heartily recommend Fading Gigolo, a wonderfully sweet romantic comedy written, directed and starring John Tuturro. In the documentary Finding Vivian Maier, we go on journey to discover why one of the great 20th Century photographers kept her own work a secret. Like all Wes Anderson movies, The Grand Budapest Hotel is wry and imaginative, but it’s not one of his most engaging.

My DVD/Stream of the Week is the gripping thriller Source Code.  It’s on my list of Best Movies of 2011.  Source Code is available on DVD from Netflix and streaming from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu and Xbox Video.

Take a hard-bitten Raymond Chandler mystery novel, have William Faulkner touch up the screenplay, get Howard Hawkes to direct, cast Bogie and Bacall and, well, you get a 1946 masterpiece of film noir: The Big Sleep, coming up May 20 on Turner Classic Movies. The deliciously convoluted plot is part of the fun. I love the scene where Bogart’s Philip Chandler chats up Dorothy Malone’s bookstore clerk – and she closes the shop early for an off-screen quickie.

If you’re in the mood for a guilty pleasure, on May 17 TCM is showing 4 for Texas, a Rat Pack Western (!) from 1963. It’s not good, but you can enjoy Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin along with some great character actors: Jack Elam, Mike Mazurki, Victor Buono, Charles Bronson and Richard Jaeckel. Plus a cameo by the Three Stooges!

Dorothy Malone and Humphrey Bogart in THE BIG SLEEP
Dorothy Malone and Humphrey Bogart in THE BIG SLEEP

Movies to See Right Now

DEAD MAN'S BURDEN on VOD

We’re in June, which means an emphasis on “tent pole” movies – the big blockbusters aimed at attracting mobs of kids and teens.  The bottom line: there are just a few intelligent movies for adults in theaters now, but more available on Video On Demand and on broadcast TV. Here are my recommendations for this week:

  • Shadow Dancer, about a young single mom in the IRA, is showing in some theaters now, but can be hard to find. It is also available streaming from Amazon, iTunes and Vudu.
  • Much Ado About Nothing takes the homework out of Shakespeare and puts the screwball comedy back in.
  • The East is an absorbing and thought-provoking eco-terrorism thriller.
  • Before Midnight, the year’s best romance, continuing the story of Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine from Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.
  • The documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks is Alex Gibney’s inside look at an improbable scandal. It’s also available streaming from Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play and other VOD outlets.
  • I like the unsentimental Western Dead Man’s Burden, available on DVD from Netflix and streaming from Amazon, Vudu and other VOD outlets.
  • The insightful HBO documentary Love, Marilyn uses Marilyn Monroe’s recently discovered letters and journals to give us a candid yet sympathetic inside look at Marilyn.
  • Hey Bartender, the entertaining documentary about the trend toward Craft Bartending, is hard to find in theaters, but easy to find on VOD (Amazon, Vudu, iTunes).

Also out right now:

  • Fast & Furious 6 has exciting chases, a silly story, a smoldering Michelle Rodriguez and a hard ass Gina Carano.
  • There’s cleverness in the psychological thriller Berberian Sound Studio, but just not enough thrills for a thriller.
  • Also out on VOD, Nancy, Please is a dark comedy about neurotic obsession among the over-educated.  Not that funny.

You can read descriptions and view trailers of upcoming films at Movies I’m Looking Forward To.

My DVD/Stream of the Week is the Oscar-nominated Chilean historical drama No, with Gael Garcia Bernal.  No is available on DVD from Netflix and streaming from Vudu.

Turner Classic Movies wraps up its June film noir festival tonight with Czar of Noir Eddie Muller presenting films from the novels of Cornell Woolrich (The Leopard Man, Deadline at Dawn) and Raymond Chandler (Murder My Sweet, The Big Sleep, Lady in the Lake, Strangers on a Train).

 

TCM’s June feast of noir

Humphrey Bogart in THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)

It’s more than a film fest, it’s a feast of film noir.

This June, Turner Classic Movies’ Friday Night Spotlight will focus on Noir Writers.  The guest programmer and host will be San Francisco’s Eddie Muller, founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation.  The Foundation preserves movies from the traditional noir period that would otherwise be lost.  It also sponsors Noir City, an annual festival of film noir in San Francisco, which often plays newly restored films and movies not available on DVD.  (My favorite part is Noir City’s Thursday evening Bad Girl Night featuring its most memorable femmes fatale.)

Muller (the Czar of Noir) has selected films from the work of noir novelists.  Friday night, he kicks off with films from the novels of Dashiell Hammett: the 1931 and more famous 1941 versions of The Maltese Falcon, plus the 1936 version (Satan Met a Lady) and After the Thin Man and The Glass Key.  (Muller informs us that Hammett pronounced his first name da-SHEEL.)

On June 14, Muller continues with the work of David Goodis, The Burglar, The Burglars, The Unfaithful, Shoot the Piano Player and Nightfall.  (You may have seen Goodis’ Dark Passage with Bogie and Bacall.)

On June 21, we’ll see films from the novels of Jonathan Latimer (Nocturne, They Won’t Believe Me) and James M. Cain (Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice).

TCM and the Czar of Noir wrap up on June 28 with movies from the novels of Cornell Woolrich (The Leopard Man, Deadline at Dawn) and Raymond Chandler (Murder My Sweet, The Big Sleep, Lady in the Lake, Strangers on a Train).

These two movies aren’t part of the Friday night series, but on June 11, TCM features two of the nastiest noirs:  Detour and The Hitchhiker.

Set your DVR and settle in for dramatic shadows, sarcastic banter and guys in fedoras making big mistakes for love, lust and avarice.

Anne Bancroft and Aldo Ray in NIGHTFALL

Updated Movies to See Right Now

Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network

Make sure that you see The Social Network.   The birth story of Facebook is a riveting tale of college sophomores that are brilliant, ambitious, immature, self-absorbed and disloyal – and about to become zillionaires.  It’s a triumph for actor Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland, Zombieland and Solitary Man), director David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The West Wing, Charlie Wilson’s War).  It’s already on my list of Best Movies of 2010 – So Far.

I’m still pushing the hardhitting documentary The Tillman Story. Without strongly recommending it, I can say that The Town is a satisfying Hollywood thriller.  You can skip Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger.

For trailers and other choices, see Movies to See Right Now.

My DVD of the Week, like The Social Network, is a classic send up of contemporary business history:  Barbarians at the Gate.     For my recent DVD choices (including trailers), see DVDs of the Week.

I’m featuring Hail! The Conquering Hero on TV this week.  Other Movies on TV include  Strangers on a Train, The Big Sleep and The Best Years of Our Lives, all coming up on TCM.  Baseball fans might still be able to find Ken Burns’ The Tenth Inning on PBS.