Instant Gratification: “Blue Ruin” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime

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Pick of the week: “Blue Ruin (Netflix) — My full review is here. This fantastic thriller reminded me of the Coen Brothers’ first film, “Blood Simple” in its mix of gritty thrills, spiritual weight and a dash of surreal humor. A homeless man tries to exact revenge for the murder of his parents years later and finds himself spectacularly unsuited for the job, eventually drawn into an escalating cycle of vengeance he can’t extract himself from. Plus it has Eve Plumb with a machine gun.

The Spectacular Now (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Before “The Fault in Our Stars,” Shailene Woodley collaborate with screenwriters Michael H. Weber and Scott Neutstadter on this wonderful romantic drama on a teen girl who falls for a good-hearted good-time boy (Miles Teller) with a drinking problem. Directed by James Ponsoldt (“Smashed”) it’s sweet and relentlessly honest about the strength and fragility of young relationships.

The Unknown Known” (Netflix) — Those who complain about Errol Morris not “getting” former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld likely don’t “get” Morris. His documentary (a follow-up to a similar film on Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara) isn’t an investigative piece, but a portrait of a man who seems to have built an elaborate hall of rhetorical mirrors to protect himself from the consequences of his own actions. It’s fascinating, and maddening.

So Much So Fast” (Netflix) — Why are we dumping ice buckets on our heads? To understand the real effects of ALS, you should watch this heartbreaking 2004 documentary about two brothers, both Type-A athletes, and what happens over a five-year period as one of them gets the disease. It’s a film as much about the impact of the disease on surrounding family as it is on the deteriorating effects on its victims.

Where the Red Fern Grows” (Netflix) — Just in case “Old Yeller” didn’t make you cry hard enough, enjoy this 1974 adaptation of a beloved novel about a boy and his bond with two hunting dogs he raises during the Depression. Had me bawling when I was a kid.

so much so fast

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