The Great Thirst-Watches Available on HBO Max
Magic Mike (2012)
Let’s start here. It’s a very obvious choice, but five sets of gyrating hips is quite the cinematic motif. Magic Mike is a film that’s mostly sex over substance, but who says that’s a bad thing? If you’re really invested, this film puts you right on track to watch the sequel: a film that boosts the story by tenfold and isn’t stingy with the seduction either. Stepping stones, my friends: they’ll lead you to greatness.
The Beguiled (2017)
The Beguiled may not incite thirst, but it surely floods its content. An isolated all-female school winds up with a wounded Colin Farrell on their doorstep, desperate for shelter and care. There’s only one way for this story to spin, and the ladies are parched! What would you do to get Colin Farrell in your quarters? Would you adjust your gown to show a lil collarbone? Would you get a lil violent?
The Photograph (2020)
Let’s cut to the chase. The Photograph has delectable servings of Lakeith Stanfield, Y’lan Noel, AND Kelvin Harrison Jr. on a sparkling silver platter. Issa Rae glows, as she does. Chanté Adams is stunning, you know, as she is. This film is a thirst trap of unabashed Black beauty and a tribute to Black love itself.
Le Samouraï (1967)
Le Samouraï’s Costello embodies every traditionally sexy trait. He’s mysterious, cool, suave, and distanced enough to leave you wondering whether he gives a fuck about you at all. That last one, brutal as it may be, is an honest and damning allure. For god’s sake, he even makes fedoras look sexy.
The Matrix (1999)
I mean c’mon, this is inarguable. Fit bodies tautly packaged into clinging leather and latex? Please. The Matrix is the perfect film for multi-dimensional escapism and super sexy indulgence. There are loads of flexible bods and badassery to leave you feeling stoked and satisfied. Whether it’s cherished Hollywood hunk Keanu Reeves or sultry sex bomb Carrie-Ann Moss, this film is ornamented by hotness.
— Peyton Robinson
The Great Hidden Sci-fi Gems on HBO Max
In lieu of recommending the sci-fi greats for the umpteenth time, I’m going to spice it up with some deep cut picks. Of course, you’d be foolish not to use your account to finally experience 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Aliens, Solaris, The Thing, or The Matrix, which are as wonderful as everyone claims. But, you don’t need me to know that. I’m here to recommend what isn’t on your watchlist, and HBO Max has a lot to offer in the realm of lesser-known sci-fi.
Code 46 (2003)
Debatably the deepest cut on this list despite a 21st-century release, Michael Winterbottom’s Code 46 is an amalgamation of sci-fi greatness that never got due time in the public eye. Like Gattaca or Perfect Sense, it has a story that uses the launching pad of science fiction to reinforce the utmost significance of empathy and express the wonder of human connection under dire circumstances, as if to say, “What if we didn’t have each other the way we do now?” (Which is all too relatable in 2020.) Coming off an all-time performance in Minority Report, Samantha Morton continued her short-hair sci-fi run, this time alongside Tim Robbins. At its most basic, Code 46 is a love story between the two. But it doesn’t shirk complexity, making itself as strong a cerebral exercise in the realm of bioethics as in romance or authoritarianism.
Fantastic Planet (1973)
Film nerds will recognize Fantastic Planet from its Criterion Collection release, but the average HBO Max user might unknowingly scroll past the perturbing, hand-drawn ’70s French animation that defines René Laloux’s unparalleled career without realizing what they’re missing. The film takes place on a planet governed by gargantuan aliens with beady red eyes, webbed ears, and blue skin. They have enslaved the population of comparatively tiny humans, who live in constant fear of the terrifying extraterrestrial planet swarming with imaginatively disturbing creatures. At a god-tier seventy-two-minute runtime, the story of the humans’ struggle to break free from oppression is visually stunning, narratively compelling, and socio-politically relevant.
Now listen, I’m not one to go all Dennis Quaid on someone’s ass, but when the occasion calls, it calls through a drunk, microscopic, American Hero-esque Quaid that zooms around the inside of Martin Short’s body until spit-swapped into Meg Ryan’s. Joe Dante (of Gremlins fame) basically made The Terminator-meets-Osmosis Jones. You could also think of it as 1987’s Upgrade, or a prescient drone movie, or the only movie that consists of recurring nightmares about $18,000 shampoo. In other words, Innerspace has a lot going for it, in terms of comedy, concept, cast, and sci-fi revelry. Don’t let its goofy identity deter you.
THX 1138 (1971)
Before George Lucas breached Star Wars territory in the late ’70s, he and Francis Ford Coppola set out to turn his dystopian student short film, Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, into his first directorial effort. With Coppola producing, they were able to get big names on board, including Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasance. Lucas borrows a lot from similar stories (e.g. 1984), like no sexual intimacy and numbing federally enforced drugs, but he also brings his own imagination to the table in the form of bizarre, holographic television, chrome government sentries in human shape, and stark black and white design that creates a mood of sterility, hopelessness, and constant surveillance. You can also see where he got some production design ideas for Star Wars several years later.
Alright, maybe Alien³ isn’t quite “deep cut” status, but it fits snugly into the “unfairly maligned and thus widely ignored” category, which is a downright shame. Fincher’s first film is an exceptionally bleak and bloody addition to the storied franchise, and it deserves recognition for bringing a new lens to Ripley’s narrative. Just as James Cameron gave his iteration a shiny blockbuster makeover, Fincher gives his a dark reality makeover. And rightfully so. Consider the situation: Ripley wakes up once again to find herself followed by a xenomorph. She can’t escape them. They’ve become her own personal plague. She’s lived through Alien and Aliens in what amounted to back-to-back experiences, and she makes it out with a shred of hope only to find that hope obliterated the second she wakes up from her cryo-tank, which is virtually the day after Aliens for her. On top of that, she’s stranded in a prison overflowing with brutish, thirsty, morally bankrupt men. You thought the first two were hellish? Think again.
— Luke Hicks
Related Topics: HBO Max