Welcome back to another month of "I Streamed a Stream." Once
again, I’ll be leading you through the endless choices made available to you
through streaming services, with some specially-curated selections that have
either historical importance or some connection (be it ever tenuous) to events
occurring throughout the month. So
without further ado.
NIGHT (2011, director Frederic Jardin)
Dads. They’re the
best right? Always there to impart life lessons like ‘don’t attempt to pull off
drug heists if you’re a down-on-your-luck French police officer’ or ‘if a
nightclub owner/drug kingpin kidnaps your son, stop at nothing to get him back.’
Foreign films have been lapping us for quite some time in the genre filmmaking
department, and this brutal and compact action thriller is no exception. Set
almost entirely within the confines of a labyrinthine dance club (built
specifically for this film), this is one of the best action pictures of the
last decade. Lead actor Tomer Sisley is charismatic and sympathetic even as you
think the worst of his character, and director Frederic Jardin keeps tightening
his noose around his characters’ situation to create what may just be the best
single-location white-knuckler since Die Hard. And since that movie is essentially perfect,
know this comparison is no faint praise. With Father’s Day on the way, what better
way to celebrate than with a relentless action picture that doubles as a
treatise on patriarchal love and responsibility?
BOYS (1995, director Michael Bay)
The end of this month sees the release of the latest movie
in Michael Bay’s Transformers series (or as I like to think of it, a monument to
mediocre excess). There’s no better time to stroll down memory lane, back to a
time where his kinetic style hadn’t become self-parody, with his first feature
Boys. Will Smith wasn’t yet WILL SMITH here, so this buddy cop action
picture actually comes across as rather quaint when compared to the wanton
amorality of its sequel Bad Boys 2 (a movie I will defend to
the last as a glorious exemplar of beautiful 21st century American
excess) or the casual racism and sexism that plague the Transformers series. Not
only is Tea Leoni in this movie (how many films can say that anymore?), but the
camera also doesn’t objectify her on the level of a Transformers 2, which saw
fit to lovingly introduce Megan Fox’s posterior before it introduced her
character. It’s a fine reminder that Michael Bay is capable of making stylish
entertainment that doesn’t overwhelm one with belabored humor attempts (the chemistry between Martin Lawrence and Will Smith
is unforced and genuine).
HOST (2006, director Bong Joon-Ho)
through Netflix and Amazon Prime
Last month, I pitched you on Bong Joon-Ho’s fantastic film Mother.
This month, with his first American language film Snowpiercer set to begin
its limited release, I deeply encourage you to check out his masterful family
dramedy/monster movie hybrid The Host. A brilliant combination
(imagine all of the good things about Little Miss Sunshine spliced with
the DNA of Jaws) that balances the character work and creature spectacle
with equal aplomb. Seriously, there are next-level sequences in this film that
shift from heartfelt melodrama to dark comedy to awe-inspiring spectacle within
mere moments of each other. And much like Sleepless Night, this is another
picture surrounding a father (and immediate family) deadset on getting their
young child back – this time from the tentacles of a mutated amphibious
creature. If you haven’t yet acquainted yourself with Joon-Ho or this, his
masterpiece, there’s no better time to do so.
director Michael Dowse)
through Netflix and Amazon Prime.
This first week of June sees the resumption of hockey’s
highest honor, the Stanley Cup playoffs, with the New York Rangers and Los
Angeles Kings battling for Sir Stanley’s (the sixteenth Earl of Derby) Cup. In
tribute to this sport (of which I know so little), I offer a recent release
that absolutely waylaid me through its combination of a revelatory lead
performance alongside uproarious comedy, the 2011 hockey picture Goon.
Seann William Scott has never been better than he is here as dim-witted but
genuinely kind bar bouncer Doug Glatt, who by pure happenstance finds himself
learning the basics of hockey after his special gift for absolutely pummeling
the hell out of people is discovered. He’s then deployed as an enforcer, which
is basically synonymous with the film’s title as a person used as hired muscle
to help intimidate opponents and protect the less violently-inclined teammates
that surround him. The film builds wonderfully toward a climactic confrontation
with fellow enforcer Ross “The Boss” Rhea (an equally wonderful Liev Schreiber)
who stands in the way of Glatt’s team securing a playoff spot. The film never
downplays the brutality of what is happening when two men drop their gloves to
knock each other silly. This plays out in stark contrast to the sweet romance that develops between Glatt and Eva (not to be a broken record but the really great Alison Pill), a hockey fan with a penchant for hooking up
with players. This is a severely underrated picture, filled with lovely
17th, 1994 (2010, director Brett Morgen)
Available through Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Later this month sees the 20th
anniversary of one of television’s most indelible images – a white Ford Bronco
containing O.J. Simpson leading Los Angeles police down freeways and through
residential areas in pursuit while the entire nation watched with rapt attention.
This exists as something of a turning point/harbinger in terms of where our
news coverage has turned in the intervening years, and what Peter Morgen does
so effectively with this documentary entirely comprised of archival footage
almost entirely set during that infamous day, is let that footage speak without
the benefit/crutch of talking heads to contextualize what we’re witnessing.
It’s a bold move not often employed by documentaries, but it pays off in spades
here, fully immersing you in an infamous day (a day that also saw the Stanley
Cup parade, a deciding game 5 of the NBA Finals, as well as Arnold Palmer’s
last day as a regular golfer on the pro circuit). Thoroughly compelling and
intellectually challenging, this is documentary film making at its finest.