That’s right. Hulu.
I’m here to tell you that there’s a cinematic streaming goldmine available on Hulu that includes recent hits, older classics, domestic releases, and foreign imports. It’s even home to hundreds of Criterion titles. Sure there’s plenty of filler and seemingly thousands of titles I’ve never heard of before, but I’m not here to talk about possible gems like The Ouija Resurrection: Ouija Experiment 2… I’m here to recommend some good movies to watch this month on Hulu.
Pick of the Month: Blood Simple (1984)
Not that you need an excuse, but since Joel and Ethan Coen’s 17th feature film, Hail, Caesar!, opens this Friday it’s as good a time as any to revisit the brothers’ feature debut. It’s a terrific Texas noir featuring a quartet of characters whose motivations and allegiances aren’t always crystal clear. They’re brought to life through strong performances too from actors ‐ John Getz, Dan Hedaya, Frances McDormand, M. Emmet Walsh ‐ typically relegated to smaller, less dangerous roles. Toss in some exciting camera work, hand abuse, and an excessive amount of sweat, and you have a film that still stands as one of the Coens’ best.
Lady Snowblood (1973)
Toshiya Fujita’s gorgeous film is a stylish and bloody revenge thriller that holds up well more than forty years later. He’s crafted a beautiful exploitation film that isn’t shy about squirting the red stuff alongside historical and social commentary, and it’s easy to see how certain future filmmakers could be inspired to create and empower their own dark and capable female heroes.
Look at this picture! William Girdler’s mid-’70s animal attack flick is a classic, but I won’t pretend it’s due to a high degree of realism or masterful film-making. Instead I’ll simply remind you that it’s a fun, gory, ridiculous Jaws ripoff that delivered scenes like this one and yet still got a PG rating. Madness. I love it!
Escape from New York (1981)
John Carpenter’s known best as a master of horror, but his resume is filled with genre efforts outside of the terrifying. This action gem comes with a side of sci-fi, and it remains a fun and thrilling ride through a dark future. Kurt Russell shed his smooth-skinned Disney image once and for all here as a tough as nails rebel who gives no shits about anyone or anything. All that plus another fantastic Carpenter score? Classic.
Summer School (1987)
Summer School may not have been Carl Reiner’s last film as director, but it was his last worthwhile one. It’s a goofy romp to be sure, but I’m partial to it as being the rare ’80s comedy to grace the pages of Fangoria magazine. The film’s love for makeup maestro Rick Baker spoke to my own horror obsession at the time, and it made this hit n miss comedy memorable for more than the laughs.
Teenage suicide, don’t do it. Decades later, this is still a blistering and biting satire with a lot to say about cliques, the media, and the perception of “cool.” Christian Slater and Winona Ryder have rarely been better, and any film you’re still quoting nearly three decades is one worth watching again and again.
She’s Having a Baby (1988)
This is admittedly a lesser John Hughes film, but it still manages some laughs and heart in its exploration of one man’s battle between love and doubt. It’s the final scene though that makes it all worthwhile as everything comes to a head in a dramatic montage set to the vocal stylings of Kate Bush.
The Firm (1993)
Hollywood in the ’90s was very good to author John Grisham as no fewer than seven of his novels hit the big screen with name talent both behind and in front of the camera. The Firm was the first to be adapted, and it remains one of the best thanks to a fantastic story and an equally strong cast. Tom Cruise is at his most intense ‐ and of course he has to run at some point ‐ and he’s complemented by veterans like Gene Hackman, Hal Holbrook, Ed Harris, Wilford Brimley, and others. It’s just a fun, immensely entertaining thriller, and sometimes that’s more than enough.
Looking for the best Little Red Riding Hood adaptation you’ve ever seen? Or never seen? Reese Witherspoon and Kiefer Sutherland are both terrific here with the former being spunkier than ever and the latter channeling his most vile creation to date. It’s dark and blackly comic and feels very much like an R-rated fairy tale set in modern times.
Sleep Tight (2011)
One of the co-directors of the original [Rec] goes solo on this non-supernatural thriller, and the result is a terrifically dark and twisted gem about obsession and delusion. It eases you into its world and slowly reveals some deliciously terrible deeds. Go into it blind and just enjoy the creepy descent into hell.
All Is Lost (2013)
Not a lot of people saw this survival drama back in 2013, but that didn’t stop me from putting in on our Best of the Year list. Robert Redford stars ‐ along with zero co-stars ‐ as a man whose fate is uncertain in the face of both his own emotional state and the unpredictability of nature. It moves effortlessly between the thrilling and the contemplative, and it makes for a great double feature with the equally excellent The Grey.
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