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 Christmas Clause… I’m here to recommend some good movies to watch this month on Hulu.
Pick of the Month: Memories of Murder (2003)
A serial killer is stalking women in rural South Korea, and the police seem powerless to stop him. A lack of resources, political upheaval, and conflicts between the local cops and a big-city detective strain the investigation, but as more weeks pass more women fall victim. Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Mother) hasn’t made a bad movie yet, and this dark, gorgeous, and incredibly suspenseful gem remains his best. Nightmarish sequences butt up against blackly comic beats, and sudden bursts of violence exist alongside moment of real bonding. It’s a loose exploration of a real unsolved case from South Korea, but even without the weight of truth behind it the film earns comparisons to David Fincher’s Zodiac.
Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) is more than a cop with the perfect name – he’s a cop with standards. When some mob thugs murder a witness in his custody they put targets on their own back as Bullitt is a man who doesn’t know how or when to quit. Peter Yates’ (Breaking Away, The Friends of Eddie Coyle) late ’60s action flick is best remembered for its epic and truly thrilling car chase through the streets of San Francisco, but it’s also a solid corruption thriller and a rare opportunity to see McQueen in matching pajamas.
Slug-like parasites slither into a fancy high-rise apartment building and infect the residents with a desire for nasty sex. Why yes, this is a David Cronenberg joint, why do you ask? Like a hybrid of body horror and undead shamblings, the film finds terror in the idea of a mindless mob acting in unison towards the goal of your orgiastic demise. Cronenberg makes sure to lace the sexual and biological carnage with social commentary, but even taken as a pure horror movie it works beautifully some truly frightening and unnerving scenes.
Blow Out (1981)
A sound technician (John Travolta) out gathering ambient noises accidentally records a murder, and soon he’s caught up in a conspiracy intent on silencing any witnesses. I was recently brought to task for excluding this title in my three favorite Brian De Palma films (Obsession, The Untouchables, Casualties of War), but had I listed five favorites then this would have made the cut. It’s a sharp little thriller that sees the director at his most technical, and both Travolta and Nancy Allen give solid performances.
Three boys (Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, Jason Presson) collaborate on building a spaceship and then set it aside to go play video games. I’m kidding. Of course they climb inside and launch themselves into space. This mid ’80s Joe Dante adventure doesn’t get the love of many of his other titles (Gremlins, Innerspace), but it’s a fun and odd little movie well-deserving of a watch. Friendship, young love, bullies, inept cops, and aliens who might be just as curious as the rest of us all collide in a fun, pro-science tale.
The Descent (2005)
A handful of female friends get together for a spelunking trip, but bad decisions, bad luck, and carnivorous underground cave-dwellers get in the way of their fun. Neil Marshall’s subterranean chiller remains one of the best horror movies of the 2000’s for several reasons – smart script, strong female characters, fantastic creature/production design, legit scares, and one hell of an ending. (If you’re so inclined, the sequel is also here on Hulu, but we don’t recommend it.)
A city woman arrives on a remote island where she used to spend her summers, and she finds her childhood friend has grown into an adult victim of abuse and violence. This dark Korean thriller finds horror in the cruelty we inflict upon each other not just through our actions but through our inaction as well. It features a blade-wielding killer, but as bloody and violent as the kills get – and they are bloody and violent – it’s that emotional depth that weighs heaviest and hurts the most.
The Attack (2012)
An Arab surgeon who lives and practices in Israel is notified that his wife has died in a terrorist bombing – but she wasn’t a victim, she was the bomber. He refuses to accept the possibility at first, but soon he’s forced to dig into her life to discover the secrets he now knows to be true. This is a rare film on the eternal conflict in the Middle East that examines both sides with an equally critical eye, but beyond the politics and religion is the far more personal and affecting story of two people.
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
A teenager (Adèle Exarchopoulos) learns about sex, love, and heartbreak over a few years’ time as she moves from boys to the love of a blue-haired woman (Léa Seydoux). Sure, Abdellatif Kechiche’s film is mostly remembered for its fairly explicit sex scenes, but they’re actually the weakest (and sometimes unintentionally comic) elements in an otherwise beautifully-shot romantic drama. It’s raw and honest in ways very few films are these days, and the two lead performances are both brave and intensely affecting.
The Voices (2014)
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a nice guy looking for love. Also, he’s a serial killer who thinks his animals are talking to him. I’m not nearly as enamored with this dark comedy as others seem to be – the tone doesn’t quite work for me – but it’s still worth a watch for fans of murder, pets, and Reynolds’ darker impulses
Wild Card (2015)
Nick Wild (Jason Statham) is a Las Vegas bodyguard whose penchant for gambling and kicking ass gets him in trouble with some high-level mobsters. William Goldman’s script was previously made as 1986’s Heat, with Burt Reynolds in the lead role, but Statham brings a certain something to this new version – and that something is stellar action. Some of his best fight scenes can be found here, and when combined with a great supporting cast and some fun banter the result is a highly underrated Statham flick.
Related Topics: Hulu