Instant Gratification: “20th Century Women” and four other good movies new to Netflix and Amazon Prime

20th_century_women-screen1

20th Century Women” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Mike Mills’ film is semi-autobiographical, but his ’70s teenage stand-in really fades into the background as his film looks at several strong, influential women in his orbit, including Annette Bening as his prickly, baffled mother and Greta Gerwig as one of her older, worldly tenants. Not for nothing, the film also serves as a potent reminder of the impact that Planned Parenthood has had on countless’ women’s lives over the decades.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Instant Gratification: “I Am Not Your Negro” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime

baldwin

I Am Not Your Negro” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Author James Baldwin’s words on race in America come to fiery life in this documentary, which artfully puts ’60s civil rights struggles hand in hand with Black Lives Matter protests to show how a society in which one man is allowed to subjugate another has a moral sickness that infects both oppressed and oppressor.

Continue reading

Instant Gratification: “Boyhood” and four other good movies new to Amazon Prime and Netflix

boyhood_hires_1

Boyhood” (Netflix) — My full review is here. Richard Linklater’s wonderful cinematic experiment was shot over a 12-year period, charting a boy’s growth into adulthood and his parents’ growth from crazy kids in love to sadder, wiser middle-aged adults. Linklater uses time as his canvas, focusing on the little moments between the so-called big ones, to show how we change over the years without even realizing it’s happening to us.

The Lobster” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Greek writer-director Yorges Lathimos’ first English-language film has a premise that might seem like an SNL skit, in which single people are forced by a dystopian society to gather at a hotel for bizarre speed-dating rituals, and if they don’t find a soulmate, they get turned into an animal. But the film is both ridiculous and deadly serious in using its surreal premise to examine modern love, and what people will give up of themselves to get it.

Continue reading

Instant Gratification: “Sing Street” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix

singstreet

Pick of the Week: “Sing Street”My full review is here. John Carney (“Once”) delivers a delightful ode to candy-coated ’80s pop in this tale of a shy teenage boy at a brutal Dublin public school who finds his voice with the help of some friends, a beguiling older girl, and a folder full of great song lyrics. If you don’t have “Drive It Like You Stole It” in your head for the next week, I worry for you.

Continue reading

Instant Gratification: “The Witness” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix

witness

Pick of the Week: “The Witness: My full review is here. The best documentary I’ve seen this year is this haunting and healing film about the notorious Kitty Genovese murder, in which a woman was reportedly killed on the streets of New York in 1964, her screams heard but unanswered by her neighbors. Decades later, Genovese’s brother Bill goes searching for the real answers, and finds that the original reports got a lot wrong. By grappling with the truth of her death, Bill is finally able to reclaim her life — the scene of him watching as an actress recreates the moments of his sister’s death on the exact spot where it happened is one of the most powerful things I’ve seen in a movie theater this year.

Continue reading

Instant Gratification: “Zootopia” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix

zootopia

Pick of the week: “Zootopia” (Netflix)My full review is here. This candy-coated Disney animated film doesn’t sugarcoat the complexities of race relations, as a bunny rookie cop (Ginnifer Goodwin) comes to the big city and learn that all the animals there don’t live in quite the harmonious mosaic that she thought. It’s relentlessly clever, funny and resonant — when a villain who has been pitting one group of animals against another exclaims “Fear always works!,” one can’t help but think of a certain 2016 presidential campaign or two. (Okay, just one.)

Continue reading

Instant Gratification: “The Finest Hours” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix and Amazon

finesthours

Pick of the Week:The Finest Hours” (Netflix) — My full review is here. Before Chris Pine and Ben Foster starred in the excellent Texas crime thriller “Hell or High Water,” they were co-stars in this old-fashioned rescue drama, based on a true-life event in which a Coast Guard crew battled an epic storm to save the crew of a sinking ship. Casey Affleck may be the film’s MVP as the ship’s quietly heroic engineer.

Continue reading