The Amazon Prime Weekend Watchlist
The VVitch (2015) – This film is not for the faint of heart. It’s a slow, creeping horror film about a Puritan family cast out of their village and forced to live on the outskirts of the woods. The film is the directorial debut of Robert Eggers (who also wrote the screenplay) and features period-authentic dialect and dialogue taken from historical records and documents of the period. I don’t want to say too much about the plot (although the title and the focus on Puritans should give you a hint) but if you want to be seriously skeeved-out for an hour-and-a-half, this is well-worth checking out.
Bruiser (2000) – With the relatively recent passing of George A. Romero, I’ve been trying to watch some of the films of his I’ve missed (which is pretty easy, given that Night of the Living Dead is the only film of his I’ve seen). Pickings are slim on Amazon Prime, but they do have Bruiser, which is the last film he did that wasn’t a part of the Dead series. The movie centers on a man whose wife, boss, and friends walk all over him, until he wakes one morning with a blank mask for a face. Vengeful killings ensue. It’s not a film classic, by any means, but the themes of masculinity, consumerism, and identity are far more interesting than you would expect from a low-budget, early 2000's horror film. It also features an insanely over-the-top and highly-entertaining performance by Peter Stormare (American Gods) as Miles Styles, publisher of Bruiser magazine.
Sound City (2013) – Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) directed this documentary in which he brings together several decades of rock royalty to bid farewell to the small recording studio where many of them got their start. Featuring interviews and performances (Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters essentially wrote a song with each musician and recorded it the same day) by Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney, Rick Springfield, Josh Homme, and Trent Reznor (along with many others). The story of the studio itself isn’t super-engaging, but the film leans more on the emotional connection many of the artists feel for it. Not a film that will change anyone’s life, but kind of perfect to put on in the background while you’re getting some work done.
High Noon (1952) - Not only one of the greatest Westerns of all time, but one of the greatest films period. Gary Cooper's performance as the betrayed and alienated lawman Will Kane is arguably one of the finest moments of his career, and the film's overall cynicism about society makes it one of the most interesting and complex films in the Western genre, even 65 years later.
Angel and the Badman (1947) - Starring an early career John Wayne and Gail Russell, Angel and the Badman is probably more properly described as a melodrama with a Western setting than a traditional Western. Although the plot is relatively predictable, the most interesting aspect of this film is watching the chemistry build between Wayne and Russell, and watch Wayne's struggle between a life of crime and a life of peace. Although I wasn't able to find a trailer for the film, this clip gives a pretty good idea of the tone of the film.
McLintock! (1963) - On a lighter note, the late career John Wayne film McLintock! was always a favorite of mine growing up (although as an adult I see how problematic the gender representations are in the film; at least part of the blame can be attributed to Shakespeare, though, since this is a loose adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew). My favorite aspect of this film is Maureen O'Hara's performance as Katherine McLintock, Wayne's tough, take-no-shit wife. And problematic or not, the final "chase" scene between Wayne and O'Hara still makes me laugh like crazy.
New in Theaters This Week...
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