We live in a magical time for film enthusiasts and obsessives. Where once you had to scour the ‘foreign’ and ‘cult’ shelves at video stores and make three-hour round trips to catch movies at art-house cinemas to guarantee a well-rounded cinematic diet, we now have nearly the entire film world at our fingertips through streaming […]

We
live in a magical time for film enthusiasts and obsessives. Where once you had
to scour the ‘foreign’ and ‘cult’ shelves at video stores and make three-hour
round trips to catch movies at art-house cinemas to guarantee a well-rounded
cinematic diet, we now have nearly the entire film world at our fingertips
through streaming internet services. But with these nearly infinite options
comes a heavy burden – the paradox of choice, something deeply understandable
to anyone who has found themselves standing on the brink of a panic attack in attempt to make a decision in the grocery store cereal aisle. With this in
mind, I bring you this service – at the beginning of every month I’ll be your
Sherpa as we scale these mountains of choice to find the rarefied air of
specially-curated choices to spruce up your movie-viewing calendar. So without
further ado….

DISTRICT
B13

(2004, director Pierre Morel)
Available
through
Netflix
and

Amazon Prime

Let’s
start with this French actioneer, recently remade into the Paul Walker/RZA
picture Brick Mansions. Judging by its box office receipts, we
all made the collective decision to ignore the movie’s existence, but don’t let
the remake’s failures stand as an indicator of the original’s quality. Clocking
in just north of 80 minutes, it’s a brief and furious series of escalating
action scenes filmed to capture the dynamic choreography. If you ever found
yourself wondering why chase sequences in the mid-oughts suddenly started
featuring men running up walls and over fences, look no further. Actor David
Belle (one of the film’s co-leads, who also reprises his role in Brick
Mansions
) is credited with the propagation of parkour, the
kinetic art of propelling oneself over and around obstacles.  And while
parkour sequences proliferated wildly through cinema in the intervening years,
they’ve never been able to top the brutally crisp sequences captured here by
director Morel (who also brought us the gift of Liam Neeson, destroyer of
worlds in Taken).



GHOST
DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI
(2000, director Jim Jarmusch)
Available on
Netflix

With
his latest film set to drop tomorrow, there’s no better time to reacquaint
yourself with the works of the laconic indie master Jim Jarmusch. And while
there are other worthy options available to stream (Dead Man, Mystery
Train
, etc.), Ghost Dog is a perfect coupling with his
new Only Lovers Left Alive, the last film in which he so deftly
balanced his sensibilities with that of a genre picture. While his latest
tackles the world of vampires, Jarmusch blended the samurai and gangster genres
together remarkably well in Ghost Dog, with a wonderfully
taciturn performance from Forest Whitaker anchoring the entire picture. Also
notable for being the first score composed by RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan.

MOTHER (2009, director Bong
Joon-ho)
Available
through Amazon Prime streaming service

Let
us not forget Mother’s Day coming up on the 11th, because moms are awesome.
Always cutting the crusts off our PB&J’s, letting us stay home sick from
school and attempting to prove our innocence in the case of a murdered high
school girl. Bong Joon-ho (Memories of Murder, The Host)
is one of the world’s finest filmmakers, always completely in control of his
sensibilities and able to make hair-point turns between suspense, comedy and
genuine emotion without turbulence. Mother is one of his best,
with Kim Hye-ja’s maternal desperation coming through loud and clear as Joon-ho
continues to turn the screws on his protagonist ever tighter. I can think of no
greater way to spend time with your mother this holiday.



GHIDORAH:
THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER
(1964, director Ishiro Honda)
Available
through
Hulu Plus and Netflix

An
American Godzilla remake is hitting theaters this month on the 16
th,
and it looks pretty darn great.  While
the original 1954 (’56 for the inferior U.S. cut) film is available on
streaming services in all of its sobering glory, let’s instead go with the
bonkers
Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster. The film marks a turn
for Godzilla toward the heroic for the first time in the series, and features a
translated pow-wow between Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra that is inexplicable. I’m
certain that the new remake will take on the horrific tone of the original
picture, but indications that Godzilla will be throwing down with another giant
monster suggest a little bit of the good ole’ Ghidorah DNA hiding 
among the
dour seriousness.

HOMECOMING (2005, director Joe
Dante)
Available on Hulu

The
arrival of Memorial Day brings the chance to pay tribute to those who have
given their lives during the call of duty. While there are a number of war
movies you could watch in tribute, Joe Dante’s
Masters of Horror
episode
Homecoming is one of the most disconsolate howls of anger I’ve
ever seen captured in cinematic form. Soldiers rising from their graves is the
hook of this short horror film, but to spoil the cathartic twists the plot
takes would be folly. Both profoundly pro-soldier and resolutely anti-war, the
film makes the argument that anybody willing to send brave men and women into
combat better be to sufficiently explain why they did so. A tribute to those
who have died in combat as well as a great example of socially-conscious horror 
film making.

 

 

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