The Best Streaming Movies to Watch Right Now: ‘The American Friend,’ ‘The Empty Man,’ A Quiet Place Part II,’ ‘Barb and Star,’ and More

(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.) The American Friend Now Streaming on The Criterion Channel Release Date: 1997 Genre: Neo-Noir Director: Wim Wenders Cast: Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz, Lisa Kreuzer, Gérard Blain Wim Wenders‘ deliberately paced blend of neo-noir and tone […] The post The Best Streaming Movies to Watch Right Now: ‘The American Friend,’ ‘The Empty Man,’ A Quiet Place Part II,’ ‘Barb and Star,’ and More appeared first on /Film.

The Best Streaming Movies to Watch Right Now: ‘The American Friend,’ ‘The Empty Man,’ A Quiet Place Part II,’ ‘Barb and Star,’ and More

(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.)

The American Friend
Now Streaming on The Criterion Channel

Release Date: 1997

Genre: Neo-Noir

Director: Wim Wenders

Cast: Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz, Lisa Kreuzer, Gérard Blain

Wim Wenders‘ deliberately paced blend of neo-noir and tone poem, The American Friend is an adaptation of Ripley’s Game by Patricia Highsmith. But this isn’t like the other Ripley adaptations. Wenders is less interested in the plotting and mystery than he is in the curious, unquantifiable relationship between two very different people. One is a frame maker, played by Bruno Ganz. The other is an art seller, and con artist, played by Dennis Hopper. By chance, or perhaps fate, these two cross paths, and an odd friendship begins to form. Ganz’s character is made to believe he has a short time to live (the logistics of this set-up are a bit hard to believe, but just go with it), and thus gets talked into committing murder to score a big payday to leave behind to his family after he’s gone. But the deeper he gets drawn into situations, the more Hopper’s character is drawn to help him out. Robby Müller‘s cinematographer is like something from a wonderful dream.

For fans of: The Talented Mr. RipleyParis, Texas, tossin’ bodies off trains.

The Empty Man
Now Streaming on HBO Max

Release Date: 2020

Genre: It’s Kind of a Cosmic Gumbo

Director: David Prior

Cast: James Badge Dale, Marin Ireland, Stephen Root, Ron Canada, Robert Aramayo, Joel Courtney, Sasha Frolova

In this day and age, when Hollywood doesn’t want to touch anything unless it’s some sort of franchise-starter based on familiar IP, it’s pretty damn impressive that The Empty Man exists at all. To be fair, this is based on a comic series – but I doubt most people are aware of it. Instead, director David Prior uses this excuse to craft a big, weird, bloated oddity that deserves credit for being different. The Empty Man isn’t a complete success, but I’d rather have an interesting film with flaws than the boring crapola we keep getting from the Hollywood machine. The plot involves a mystery involving a missing person, sort of. But story is secondary here. The Empty Man is a vibe; a mood; a cosmic gumbo, if you will. Opening with an extremely lengthy prologue that absolutely rules and then transforming into something entirely different, The Empty Man is bound to turn off people who just want to sit down and watch something generic. But if you’re on a quest for something outside the norm, you should check this one out.

For fans of: CandymanIn the Mouth of Madness, huge fuckin’ skeletons.

A Quiet Place Part II
Now Streaming on Paramount+

Release Date: 2021

Genre: Sci-fi Thriller

Director: John Krasinski

Cast: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou

A Quiet Place was a nice surprise; a simple, effective horror-thriller that got people talking. Now, here’s A Quiet Place Part II. Is it as good as the original? More or less, although I think it’s about time to leave the Abbott family behind and let them get some much needed rest. After a prologue, this sequel picks up almost immediately where the last movie left off, and has the surviving Abbotts looking for help. They find it in a neighbor played by welcomed addition Cillian Murphy. But those damn sound-sensitive aliens are still out there. Murphy is great here, and so is Millicent Simmonds. Director John Krasinski has clearly been studying some Spielberg for shot composition ideas.

For fans of: A Quiet Place28 Days Later, feet.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
Now Streaming on Hulu

Release Date: 2021

Genre: Comedy

Director: Josh Greenbaum

Cast: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr.

An unapologetically silly extravaganza, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar follows two lifelong friends (Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) who head to Florida for a vacation. There they get mixed up in a plot involving a supervillain (also played by Wiig) who wants to kill everyone with bees. It’s very stupid, and that’s all part of the charm. The humor here is not going to be for everyone, and indeed, I’ve seen plenty of people who just downright do not care for this. But if you’re on the film’s wavelength, you’re going to have a lot of fun.

For fans of: MacGruberPopstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, culottes.

Near Dark
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 1987

Genre: Horror Western

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Cast: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Tim Thomerson

Kathryn Bigelow‘s vampire western Near Dark is slick, bloody, and will make you miss Bill Paxton all over again. The story follows a cowboy (played by Adrian Pasdar, who is admittedly very bland here) who falls for a beautiful stranger, played by Jenny Wright. As it turns out, she’s a vampire, and now the cowboy is becoming a vampire, too. Which means he now has to run around with a family of vampires, played by Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, and Jenette Goldstein. Vampire movies don’t come much cooler than this.

For fans of: The HungerThe Lost Boys, Bill Paxton covered in blood.

Son
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 2021

Genre: Horror

Director: Ivan Kavanagh

Cast: Emile Hirsch, Andi Matichak, Luke David Blumm

Son is somewhat predictable, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. Halloween‘s Andi Matichak is a mom who escaped from a cult a few years ago while pregnant. Now, the baby has grown up into a young boy named David (Luke David Blumm), and mom and son get along nicely. Everything seems great! Of course, it isn’t. And a home invasion suddenly triggers something in David – something terrifying. Matichak is convinced the cult is coming back for her, and she turns to a cop (Emile Hirsch) for help while also keeping some secrets of her own. Director Ivan Kavanagh, who helmed the excellent The Canal, knows just how to make all of this surprisingly scary, and even if you think you know where Son is going, it’s guaranteed to still catch you off guard.

For fans of: The CanalThe Omen, cool monster designs.

In the Cut
Now Streaming on Hulu

Release Date: 2003

Genre: Erotic Thriller

Director: Jane Campion

Cast: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Meg Ryan stepped out of her America’s Sweetheart phase for Jane Campion‘s In the Cut, and the general moviegoing public shrugged their shoulders. Which is a damn shame, because In the Cut is fantastic – a strange, sexy thriller with a dreamy look. Ryan is a teacher who begins dating a rough-around-the-edges cop, played by Mark Ruffalo. Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer on the loose targeting women, and Ryan begins to suspect her new cop boyfriend might be the culprit. A box office bomb when it opened in 2003, In the Cut has slowly built up a following over the years, and rightfully so.

For fans of: Basic InstinctDressed to Kill, hot stuff.

Punisher: War Zone
Now Streaming on HBO Max

Release Date: 2008

Genre: Action

Director: Lexi Alexander

Cast: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Julie Benz, Colin Salmon, Doug Hutchison, Dash Mihok, Wayne Knight

I don’t know why Hollywood has such trouble figuring out The Punisher, a very simple character. But no one has quite gotten the character right on the big screen. Lexi Alexander comes close with the gloriously violent Punisher: War Zone, which has Ray Stevenson as the heavily armed vigilante. The Punisher faces off against a ghoulish killer named Jigsaw, played by an extremely over-the-top Dominic West. Not everything here works, but the hyper-stylized violence helps elevate the film to new heights.

For fans of: Exploding parkour dudes.

In Dreams
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 1999

Genre: Thriller

Director: Neil Jordan

Cast: Annette Bening, Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea, Robert Downey Jr., Paul Guilfoyle

Neil Jordan‘s strange thriller In Dreams is mostly forgotten, but it’s worth a revisit. While the film is a bit bloated and kind of all over the place, Jordan conjures up some lovely, haunting imagery here – like a town submerged completely underwater, and a fairy tale obsession with blood-red apples. Annette Bening is an artist who has a psychic connection with a serial killer, played by Robert Downey Jr. before his big comeback.

For fans of: In the Company of WolvesInterview With the Vampire, Robert Downey Jr. in a wig.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Now Streaming on Hulu

Release Date: 2013

Genre: Action-Horror

Director: Tommy Wirkola

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Thomas Mann, Pihla Viitala, Derek Mears

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters seemed like a punchline before it even hit theaters. And to be fair, it has a very dumb title, and it has a very miscast Jeremy Renner. And yet…this film is a lot of fun. It never takes itself too seriously and features some truly memorable creature designs as storybook characters Hansel (Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) grow up to murder evil witches. I’m genuinely surprised this hasn’t become a trashy cult classic by now.

For fans of: Jeremy Renner saying “Hansel.”

The post The Best Streaming Movies to Watch Right Now: ‘The American Friend,’ ‘The Empty Man,’ A Quiet Place Part II,’ ‘Barb and Star,’ and More appeared first on /Film.

Source : Slash Film More   

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‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ Embarks on a Dull Spice Recovery Mission in the Filler Episode “Infested”

Filler can be a word that’s flung around carelessly. It can be misapplied to episodes in a series that aren’t meant to propel the narrative forward, but simply breathe in the character dynamics. Sometimes filler isn’t literally filler, but a method to load emotional investment and simmer the stakes. Filler can be viewed as technique […] The post ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ Embarks on a Dull Spice Recovery Mission in the Filler Episode “Infested” appeared first on /Film.

‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ Embarks on a Dull Spice Recovery Mission in the Filler Episode “Infested”

Filler can be a word that’s flung around carelessly. It can be misapplied to episodes in a series that aren’t meant to propel the narrative forward, but simply breathe in the character dynamics. Sometimes filler isn’t literally filler, but a method to load emotional investment and simmer the stakes. Filler can be viewed as technique rather than flaw. However, while not gratingly bad, “Infested” (directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Amanda Rose Muñoz) wears the worst elements of filler. It’s a slog that misses out on a chance to illuminate much or at least provide a worthwhile sit-through. Unlike other Star Wars: The Bad Batch chapters like “Common Ground” that made promises but failed to keep them, “Infested” doesn’t even make any promises. And the low bar does not nudge.

The Bad Batch (Dee Bradley Baker) and Omega (Michelle Ang) land back on Ord Mantell after an unspecified post-Ryloth mission and return to Cid’s (Rhea Perlman) parlor only to find it swarmed with unrecognizable armored gang lackeys and a new crime boss, Roland (Tom Taylorson), sitting at her desk. Cid has been usurped. The clone siblings nearly ditch Ord Mantell. But at Omega’s urging, they decide to help Cid. While Omega begging to help Cid is in character since their chemistry was set up, the older Batchers helping Cid, more on Omega’s pleading than the threat of Cid giving up the Batch’s secret location, is less characteristically plausible.

Cid hatches a scheme to sneak into a hidden underground mine to steal Roland’s crates of spice meant to be shipped off to another crime group, the Pyke Syndicate (Liam O’ Brien) introduced in Clone Wars, from her stolen office. That way, an angry Pyke Syndicate could eliminate Roland if they don’t get their spice payment. In the first time that Cid accompanies them on the mission, the Batchers carry out her order, having to hover-cart above a nest of dangerous insects. Things go south.

Pair voice performers like Perlman and Baker and they’re the kind of actors ripe for priceless banter just as Perlman and Ang had a well-toned dynamic. But the script doesn’t treat them to one-liners and banter, with Cid scolding the Batchers. The direction also barely makes a move to do anything strategic with a sneaking scenario across a cobwebbed hive pit that requires utmost quiet.

The previous Ryloth arc, with the first part miraculously fleshing out the Batchers by relegating (yet not reducing) them as side characters in someone else’s war story, remains a tough act to follow. It also left viewers with a queasily exciting cliffhanger — Crosshair being sent after his brothers — that’s at odds with the stagnancy of “Infested,” where Crosshair or the turning point regarding the clones’ brain chips are never mentioned.

Filler Up

If “Infested” is the negative variety of filler, then I make a case that the Peyton Reed-directed The Mandalorian episode “Chapter 10: The Passenger” aligns with the best potential of filler with its own rewatch value. It is a Mandalorian episode with negative reputation among fans and critics as being “filler.” But its focus on a side quest was an asset, not a disadvantage. “The Passenger” checked several boxes even if its elements were not ever to resurface in the larger narrative: humor, the Star Wars universe being allowed to breathe, a sense of human oversight and consequence, and submersion into mood. “The Passenger” also had more story license in its series to stand on its own without halting a momentum. Also, if “Infested” is intended as a calm-before-the-storm breather episode (precluding a long-awaited re-confrontation with Crosshair?), it is far from the emotional bravado of “The Mystery on Chopper Base” in Star Wars Rebels.

It’s far from pointless. The most it does is make Omega’s purity of spirit show — but not shine like it did in previous appearances and the Ryloth arc. There’s a reaction shot of Wrecker, who holds the most fraternal connection to Omega, hearing Cid’s words about getting Omega out of a hostage situation and he quietly realizes that she’s sincere. But the episode doesn’t approach a dynamic between Wrecker and Cid once they’re in the insect pit together.

Nothing has to be a turning point. Nothing has to be relevant in a grander scheme. The Bad Batch could very well re-invoke those elements that could save or doom the main characters: The Pykes being a deadly villainous gang and the namedrop of another gang leader (Isa Durand), the morally ambiguous Cid showing some honor for Omega and the Batchers, Omega extending compassion even to seedy characters, and a new underground set-piece that could be a Chekhov’s Gun strategy just waiting to happen. But the entertainment rule is that you have to savor the moments and build anticipation, keep things self-contained.

The only amusing moment is Omega’s sincere interaction with Roland while held hostage by the Pykes. The criminal’s “ugh, you make [being a criminal] sound so undignified” is the only noteworthy line. Alas, if only everything else matched up.

The post ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ Embarks on a Dull Spice Recovery Mission in the Filler Episode “Infested” appeared first on /Film.

Source : Slash Film More   

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