Friends, welcome to the first installment of RUNNING ON STREAM. Ok, full disclosure, this is not the first installment. Not at all. This column started over at Cinapse.co, the awesome site I first started writing for. If Cinepunx didn’t take up so much of my time, I would still be writing for them, especially cause when I wrote for them regularly I got SO MANY FREE MOVIES! Life is crazy though, and I have not had time to do much. This column though was one I wanted from the beginning to bring over to Cinepunx. It is not deep, it is not my best writing, and I am not sure that I am the best curator in the world. I do, however, enjoy it. So Running on Stream is a constant curation, a rotating recommendation pile, in which I suggest some things you might wanna watch. I try to not only switch up the films in genre and style, but also the platforms. This week I am focused on Netflix and Shudder, but expect picks from Fandor, Vudu, Amazon, and Brown Sugar. I also hope Film Struck as well, though I currently do not have it. Anyway, one of our hopes for Cinepunx is for the site to operate as a kind of cultural mix tape, that is a resource of awesome suggestions of things for you to check out. Granted, my picks may not be that awesome, but they will always be there, and hopefully they will help you find something interesting to watch! So please share this, comment with suggestions of genres or services to focus on, and feel free to critique the picks as well. Thanks!!
Moonrise Kingdom– Wes Anderson is a surprisingly polarizing director considering how little visceral or offensive content is in his films. However, his movies are such a a distillation of twee, nostalgia, and peak caucasity I am not that surprised he raises folks ire so much. Of course, much like Nutella, not all cultural products of peak caucasity are anathema, and, in fact, Anderson’s films strike such a balance between melancholy and whimsy, I often find them both touching and amusing as hell. Moonrise Kingdom was, for me, a perfect combination of some of the weirdest aspects of his aesthetic with some of his strongest visual work. Not quite the achievement of the Grand Budapest Hotel, but still work seeing for sure.
Sing Street– This was my biggest in-theater surprise of 2016. I expected a coming of age tale made slightly quirky by its setting in Ireland, but Sing Street is so much more than that; tinged with politics and social struggle, but centered around the strange alchemy around artistic creation. These teens are so damn cute, the music they make is almost DISTURBINGLY good and catchy, plus there is something nostalgic here without falling over into sentimentality. It is kind of a triumphant film, but it never takes itself too seriously.
Nightcrawler– This grimy, exploitation-style drama went under some folks radars, and others were simply not interested in Gylenhall as a gross emaciated coyote of a man. Now there is a lot of action and a lot of moral ambiguity here, as well as some stellar writing. However I was enamored most of what a strange and beautiful LA this shows. Come for the depravity and cruelty, stay for the amazing camera work.
Two Days, One Night – This is a movie about a young woman who loses her job, and can only keep it if everyone she works with takes a pay cut, so she spends the day asking folks to forgo their bonus so she might live. It is as painful and awkward as one might assume, but also human and real. More then all of that, though, the film manages to work as a severe critique of capitalism without ever getting ideological at all. It is a real and personal story, but a reminder of how corrupt our system can be.
Fist of Legend – Jet Li is simply one of the greatest. Ok, maybe you don’t like films in which the majority of the point is ass-kicking. Maybe that is not for you. However, if it is, you know Jet Li, at least when not in an American films, is the man. Fist of Legend combines intense violence with a classic martial arts vibe. Look, you know what it is: lots of awesome fighting, and some crazy over the top intensity. Watch it.
Inferno– I’m still amazed how many folks have seen Suspiria and no other Dario Argento film. Fam, you need to get your shit together and watch more Argento films. Probably a good idea to delve into some more obscure stuff like The Animal Trilogy, but I really love Inferno and, honestly, I just want more of you to watch it. Some of you know and love it, but, if not, you should definitely check it out. Less perfect than Suspiria but still really awesome.
Dead Ringers – Cronenberg + Jeremy Irons + the 80s = the perfect alchemy of stylish horror. Twin brothers live as surrogates of each other, twin gynecologists actually, until they find themselves out of balance. There is so much Cronenberg STUFF here, let alone of the greatest performances from Jeremy Irons ever. This is sexy in a very non sexy way, slick as shit, and just entertaining as hell.
Manitou – Do you like it when a movie has no IDEA what it is doing? How about when a film takes itself so seriously even when it is bordering on pure caricature? Yes, horror that is actually terrifying is the height of the art. Of course it is. Sometimes, though, I just love a ridiculous and silly film that is completely unaware of itself and thinks it is scaring the pants off of you.
The Exorcist III – It is so messy, so clearly a struggle, an unfinished argument in fact, where one movie that makes sense is smooshed into one that should never have existed. Yet it is also so great. There is a lot here that is goofy, and maybe even dumb, but there are so many effective and terrifying moments. Add to that great performances from George C. Scott and Brad Dourif, and The Exorcist III is a must see for any horror fan.
Night Train to Terror – A horror anthology where the wrap around story involves a train on which God and Satan are hanging out, awful things are happening, and there are unexplained music numbers…. This is silly, but also kinda brutal at times. Definitely more of a ‘laugh at,’ then a ‘laugh with,’ but still one hell of a ride (!!!)