Satire, serial killers, swords, and Shannyn Sossamon.
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 (for now). 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 Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell… I’m here to recommend some good movies to watch this month on Hulu.
Pick of the Month: In the Loop (2009)
These are rough, troubling, and disappointing times we’re living in, and while it’s no cure, laughter is most definitely a medicine for the blues. To that end, Armando Iannucci’s In the Loop – a feature film riff on his series, The Thick of It – is like an epic dose of comical vitamin C. Incredibly sharp writing and absolutely stellar performances (including a terrific James Gandolfini) bring rapid-fire wit and satirical commentary to the world of British politics, and it’s every bit as delightfully acidic as his efforts with Veep. Watch it, laugh, and remember that no matter how bad things are in the real world they could always be better.
Don’t Look Now (1973)
Grief takes many forms, and while Nicolas Roeg’s dramatic thriller is best remembered for its end reveal the power of the movie comes from the fracturing marriage at its core. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie portray parents of a deceased child who are struggling to move forward but wholly unable to do so, and their performances show people in immense pain. Their suffering rears its head throughout from an intimately raw sex scene to the much-discussed final reveal.
48 HRS (1982)
Buddy-cop comedies are a mainstay of the Hollywood mill and have been for years, but while the likes of Lethal Weapon and Turner & Hooch are often revered as the best of the best and the ones to jump start the genre Walter Hill’s early ’80s gem remains a classic. Eddie Murphy delivers the laughs, Nick Nolte brings the attitude, and Hill delivers the ass-kicking action. The sequel, also available on Hulu, feels neutered and lightweight by comparison, but Hill’s original is a hard-hitting joy.
Flesh + Blood (1985)
As a teenage boy in the late ’80s one of the great pleasures in life was late-night programming on HBO and Cinemax. A lot of the films were garbage – sexy, sexy garbage – but one of my favorites was Paul Verhoeven’s sweaty, grimy, swords & sandals romp with the always great Rutger Hauer and equally fantastic Jennifer Jason Leigh. It’s a messy romp, and I continue to love it.
Too many action/thrillers complicate things with convoluted stories and elaborate effects, so it’s always great to see a film that celebrates simplicity by delivering an exciting and lean ride. It helps to have Kurt Russell facing off against J.T. Walsh too of course, and both actors bring their A-game here. Check out this week’s members only column for a longer look at the film’s greatness.
The Minus Man (1999)
This little-seen late-’90s thriller takes the quiet route with its tale of a serial killer – played by an intriguingly against-type Owen Wilson – who targets those he believes would be better off dead. There are thoughts here on both madness and sadness, and combined with an appealing cast (including Brian Cox, Dennis Haysbert, Sheryl Crow, Dwight Yoakam, and others) it all makes for mildly suspenseful and engaging film.
40 Days and 40 Nights (2002)
Look, I know I just featured another Shannyn Sossamon film (Rules of Attraction) as June’s pick of the month, but there’s no rule saying I can’t suggest another of her films. So here I am, suggesting this slight but fun romantic-comedy about a young man (Josh Hartnett) struggling to stay celibate in the face of Miss Sossamon. Good luck sir, good luck.
Julia’s Eyes (2010)
This Spanish import is the type of smart, suspenseful thriller that Hollywood likes to remake, but they somehow missed out with this one. Their loss is your gain though as it’s a terrific little mystery that finds real suspense amid some beautiful cinematography and strong acting. It does some fresh things with the “blind woman as victim” premise too.
Leave it to the Irish to create a horror film with monsters whose only weakness is alcohol thereby making it a necessity for our heroes to get as drunk as humanly possible if they want to survive. The result is a fun horror/comedy that’s maybe a bit too reliant on CG but still a highly entertaining creature feature.
Part love story, part road movie, all serial killer comedy, Ben Wheatley’s lightest film features plenty of murder and mayhem alongside its tale of young-ish love and the price of getting what you want. It’s a blackly comic romp through rural England that you can’t help but enjoy.
Like Someone in Love (2012)
I typically stick with films I’ve seen for these suggestions, but director Abbas Kiarostami’s death this past week has a lot of people checking out his too-short filmography. This was his final film, but while critical reception seems mixed on it it’s worth a watch for those curious about a filmmaker beloved by so many.
Related Topics: Hulu