With much of the planet at least temporarily limited to home viewing, our film critic offers more streaming suggestions
We may run out of toilet paper, but at least we won’t run out of movies to stream.
As Americans are, indeed, staying at home, this is the movie-going experience right now. Last week’s numbers from Box Office Mojo tell the story: $5,179 (pretty much entirely from the indie film “Phoenix, Oregon” which did special digital screenings, sharing the gross with partner theaters).
The same weekend last year? More than $200 million.Get news and entertainment delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletter
One huge development in the industry happened this week, as Amazon Studios announced it would be partnering with SXSW for a virtual film festival showcasing movies that would have premiered in the canceled Austin event.
Dates and films are not yet announced, but participating films will appear for 10 days on Amazon outside of the platform’s paywall. So, yes, free to all. (HBO has also announced a slate of content that it will be making free, including shows like “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.”)
In case your queue is running light, here are my recommendations from some of the recent additions to the major streaming services.
Director Jeff Nichols’ followed up his brilliant end-of-the-world drama “Take Shelter” with a sweeter coming-of-age story about two young boys who cross paths with a fugitive (played by Matthew McConaughey) and form an unlikely pact.
“The Chumscrubber” (Hulu/Prime)
This was in the later wave and second-tier of the kind of suburban dark comedies that Gen X couldn’t get enough of for a while (think “Donnie Darko”), but it’s worth a revisit for a solid cast that includes Jamie Bell.
The movie that made Jean-Claude Van Damme a household name is both ridiculous and ridiculously violent, but it’s the kind of mindless and dated action flick you can sink into. Pair it with “Road House” on Prime if you want a double-feature.
“The Social Network” (Netflix)
David Fincher’s telling of the rise of Facebook is probably even more chilling after a decade of seeing the company’s experiment go awry in modern society. I’m also here for the Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross score, one of the best of the many on which they’ve collaborated.
Hey, speaking of Jesse Eisenberg! I generally do not recommend leaning too deep into apocalyptic movies during these unsettling times, but this seems like the perfect way to blow off some steam (and some zombie heads). After all, the lead character is called “Columbus.”
“The Straight Story” (Disney+)
Parents, rejoice! David Lynch has finally come to Disney+! This Disney-produced Lynch film tells the tale of a man (Oscar-nominated Richard Farnsworth) who goes on a cross-country journey via lawnmower to visit his estranged brother. It’s G-rated, although it will probably bore the kiddos, but it’s a sweet portrait.
“The Death of Stalin” (Netflix)
Armando Iannucci’s comedy of errors around the scramble for power after the death of the Soviet leader boasts an absolutely stacked cast. It’s also got the same vein of political slapstick humor he’s known for in projects such as HBO’s “Veep” and his previous Iraq War comedy “In the Loop.”
“Kill Bill: Volume 1”/”Kill Bill: Volume 2” (Hulu)
There are a lot of new movie marathon options, from all four “Lethal Weapon” movies on Netflix to the huge cache of Bond films that just hit Prime, but I’d recommend going back-to-back with The Bride in Quentin Tarantino’s collaboration with star Uma Thurman. Tarantino keeps teasing that he may do a third chapter before he retires, but I think it’s perfect the way it is.
“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (Netflix, April 5)
OK, another really dark (and darkly comic) option, but Yorgos Lanthimos’ tale of a strange young man’s bizarre connection with a surgeon (Colin Farrell) and his family is an offbeat fairy tale. This one comes with a strong “not for everyone” warning, though.
“Parasite” (Hulu, April 8)
Well, Hulu is not my first thought for movies, but they’ve gone aggressive in bidding to be first to stream the 2020 Best Picture winner. This one is just brilliant, so if you haven’t seen South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s mast.erpiece, now’s your chance
As noted in my recent review, this fantasy tale of two elf brothers (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) on an epic adventure fits in the “good, not great” tier of Pixar releases. But it’s notable because this was the #1 movie in theaters two weeks ago. To completely forgo a physical/digital release and go straight to streaming for a movie this big is unprecedented.