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

happychristmas

Pick of the week: “Happy Christmas” (Netflix Instant) — Joe Swanberg’s latest feels a little less baked than “Drinking Buddies,” although it mines the same territory of white Chicagoans trying to deal with each other. In this case, it’s Swanberg himself playing a filmmaker whose alcoholic younger sister (Anna Kendrick) moves in, disrupting the lives of him and his wife (Melanie Lynskey). It’s slender but charming and authentic, with a feel for how people really talk (and don’t talk) to each other.

Palo Alto” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here: Gia Coppola, granddaughter of Francis Ford, directed this drama about a group of aimless teens and their seemingly more aimless parents. It’s adapted from a book of short stories by James Franco, who plays a lecherous soccer coach in the film,

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (Netflix Instant) — This 1986 Frank Oz comedy featuring Steve Martin and Michael Caine as con men pretending to be gentlemen on the French Riviera has aged very well, and even inspired a hit Broadway musical.

Good Will Hunting” (Netflix Instant) — A lot of people were surprised that Robin Williams’ Oscar-winning performance wasn’t on Netflix when he died, but it’s there now, along with an impossibly young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Still Mine” (Netflix Instant) — Affecting performances by James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold in this Canadian drama about an old couple who want to build a dream house, but run afoul of local government bureaucracy.

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