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I Streamed a Stream: June Edition
Tom’s back with another month of finely-curated selections from the vast sea of available online material.

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.

 

SLEEPLESS NIGHT (2011, director Frederic Jardin) 
Available through Netflix.

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?

 

BAD BOYS (1995, director Michael Bay)
Available through Netflix.

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 film Bad 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).

THE HOST (2006, director Bong Joon-Ho)
Available 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.

 

GOON (2011, director Michael Dowse)
Available 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 performances.

JUNE 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.





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