As Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al. add more content, it can be difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. Every month, I compile a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.
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What else can I say about Blade Runner that hasn’t already been said? Without a doubt one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, its sense of atmosphere and gritty vision of the future has influenced countless films since its release in 1982. The “Final Cut” was released in 2007 with additional footage (including a complete version of the unicorn dream scene), and is considered by Ridley Scott to be the definitive version of the film.
It’s the hottest day of the year in Brooklyn’s Bedford – Stuyvesant neighborhood, and tensions are running high amongst its racially diverse inhabitants. Do the Right Thing explores these racial tensions through the various characters, and all centered on the neighborhood’s Italian-owned pizza shop. The film was a massive critical and commercial success. Both Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel called it 1989’s best film, and it’s since been called one of the greatest films of all time for its vivid and controversial depiction of race relations.
Directed by Jim Henson (and based on a screenplay by Monty Python’s Terry Jones), Labyrinth’s dark fantasy may seem like a far cry from the titles we usually associate with Henson. David Bowie’s at his glammiest as the king of the goblins, who steals a young baby boy at the behest of his older sister (Jennifer Connelly), who must then brave the goblin’s labyrinth — and romantic advances — in order to save her brother.
It’s the greatest alien invasion movie based on a series of trading cards ever made, and it boasts a heckuva cast: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Martin Short, Natalie Portman, and Tom Jones, to name a few. True story: when I was in college, I missed school for about a week due to illness. During that time, all I could do was lie on the couch, and the only thing I remember watching was Mars Attacks!, so my memories of the movie might be a bit addled.
Sure, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is pretty cool and all. But does it feature a hero who’s really good at shoveling? When it was originally released in 1999, Mystery Men was something of a box office bomb, which is a shame. Its sendup of superhero tropes, as a team of misfit and wannabe superheroes try to take on their city’s arch-supervillain, is hilariously over-the-top. And it doesn’t hurt that the film boasts a truly awesome cast that includes the likes of Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Greg Kinnear, Geoffrey Rush, and Janeane Garofalo.
Dewey Finn wants to be a rock n’ roll star more than anything. But when his band dumps him, he’s desperate for another gig — even a gig as a substitute teacher. But when he discovers that his students are musical prodigies, Finn’s dreams of rock stardom may yet still be realized. Jack Black may get top billing as the rock-obsessed Finn — and make no mistake, School of Rock might be the Jack Black-est role he’s ever had — but it’s his younger co-stars who end up stealing the show as they discover the power of rock n’ roll.
Considered by some to be the first true summer blockbuster when it was released in 1975, Jaws was an absolutely massive box office success — and it put director Steven Spielberg’s name on the map. With its classic “shark” theme, shocking violence, and implacable antagonist, Jaws cast a spell over audiences. Supposedly, the film caused one unfortunate viewer to have a mental breakdown after seeing it and its stressful effects on audiences have been studied by researchers.
Here’s everything arriving on Netflix in September 2021.
Martin Blank (John Cusack) just wants to attend his high school reunion. But that’s easier said than done given that his old girlfriend (Minnie Driver) will be there. That, and he’s a highly skilled assassin with some dangerous people breathing down his neck. Grosse Pointe Blank is one of Cusack’s finest movies, thanks to Cusack’s inimitable charisma, a healthy dose of dark humor, and an excellent supporting cast that includes Alan Arkin, Joan Cusack, Jeremy Piven, and Dan Aykroyd as a rival assassin.
Peter Gibbons seems to have it made with his cushy job. But the office environment is stifling and his overbearing boss, Bill Lumbergh, drives him nuts. After a hypnosis session goes wrong, Peter finds himself seeing life in a new way — which includes openly rebelling against his office drone lifestyle. Though a box office failure, the film has achieved a cult status over the years. Anyone who has ever sat through a boring meeting, had to come in on the weekends, or dealt with malfunctioning office equipment can relate to Office Space’s humorous absurdities.
In this madcap comedy from the Coen Brothers, H.I. and Edwina McDunnough are desperate to start a family. But when their efforts prove fruitless, they concoct a scheme to steal a baby — with hilarious and unpredictable results. Raising Arizona was only the Coens’ second film, but it’s considered to be one of the funniest movies of all time, thanks to a blend of surrealism, slapstick, and an ensemble cast that includes Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman.
The headlines are swarming with conspiracy theories these days thanks to the pandemic, so it seems only fitting to revisit the show that made conspiracy theories part of the popular zeitgeist. Essentially an extended episode of the celebrated TV series, The X-Files movie finds FBI agents Mulder and Scully once again investigating extraterrestrial threats and clashing with a global cabal.
In this adaptation of the best-selling comic book series, Yorick Brown is the last man on earth after a disease wipes out every other mammal with a Y chromosome. Now he’s on the run amidst the ensuing chaos, as a male-less society tries to rebuild and various factions want to alternatively save and kill him. But expect the post-apocalyptic series to be more than an action-filled thriller; the producers have talked about exploring society’s various disparities beyond just gender.
Here’s everything arriving on Hulu in September 2021.
Amazon Prime Video
“Houston, we have a problem.” Ron Howard went to great lengths to ensure that his retelling of the Apollo 13 mission — an attempted moon landing that had to be aborted due to an accident — was as historically and technically accurate as possible. To that end, he worked with NASA to train the cast, which includes Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton, to work in weightless environments.
Originally released in 1998, Can’t Hardly Wait is an attempt to recapture some of the wit and charm of those classic John Hughes ’80s comedies. Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) has a huge crush on the most popular girl at school, Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt). When Amanda’s jock boyfriend dumps her, Preston sees this as a chance to profess his love — but things don’t quite go the way he plans. Can’t Hardly Wait also stars Lauren Ambrose and Seth Green, as well as cameos by Jenna Elfman, Jerry O’Connell, and Melissa Joan Hart.
One of the greatest action movies of all time, period. Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, a sardonic detective from New York who’s visiting his estranged wife in Los Angeles for a Christmas party at her office. And then, wouldn’t you know it, a bunch of terrorists break up the party and hold everyone hostage. It’s up to McClane to take on the terrorists — who are led by Alan Rickman at his most suave — armed with little more than some one-liners. Suffice to say, the terrorists don’t stand a chance. Will be available on IMDb TV.
Based on a best-selling James Ellroy novel, L.A. Confidential is a neo-noir drama about a couple of LAPD officers who find themselves in over their heads when investigating the sordid underbelly of Hollywood. The film, which stars Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, and Danny DeVito — to name a few — was a massive success upon its release in 1997. L.A. Confidential received numerous awards, including Oscars for “Best Supporting Actress” and “Best Adapted Screenplay.” Will be available on IMDb TV.
Directed by David Fincher, The Social Network chronicles the origins of Facebook and the controversies that surrounded it during its early days. Jesse Eisenberg plays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who develops Facebook while a student at Harvard, and in the process, begins burning bridges with friends and co-workers. (Not surprisingly, the Aaron Sorkin-scripted film has been criticized for historical inaccuracies, while Zuckerberg and others have contested their depictions in the film.)
In this spiritual sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi, Desperado follows a nameless musician who travels throughout Mexico seeking vengeance on drug dealers with the help of a guitar case full of guns. Loaded with style and panache, as well as Antonio Banderas’ charismatic lead role, Desperado’s not without controversy: it originally received an NC-17 rating for violence while actress Salma Hayek found the film’s sex scene deeply uncomfortable to film.
Here’s everything arriving on Amazon Prime Video in September 2021.
Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland is a classic case of a movie that holds so much promise, and yet never really quite delivers on said promise. It has all the trappings of a sci-fi classic, with a young woman discovering a secret world originally designed as a utopia where science can run unimpeded. Tomorrowland isn’t nearly as successful as it feels like it should be given its optimistic spirit and the talent involved — the cast includes George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and Britt Robertson — but I still find it fascinating because of how much promise it holds.
Star Wars has been deeply influenced by Japanese cinema over the years, so it only makes sense for Disney+ to release an anime anthology set in that galaxy far, far away. Some of the individuals involved include Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell), Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann), and Masahiko Otsuka (FLCL) — to name a few.
Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in September 2021.
I didn’t really know what to expect the first time I watched Evil Dead 2, but I don’t think I was expecting it to be as over-the-top funny as it is. The legendary Bruce Campbell — in his most iconic role — is Ash Williams, who just wanted a romantic weekend with his girlfriend in a remote cabin, only to find himself facing off against unimaginable evil with nothing but a shotgun, a chainsaw, and a perfect blend of gore and slapstick comedy.
Directed by Richard Donner and produced by Steven Spielberg, The Goonies is about as good as a classic kids adventure film can get. When a group of social misfits on the verge of being kicked out of their homes discover a pirate treasure map, they see it as the perfect solution to their problems — if they can survive the elaborate booby traps and vicious criminals on their tail.
The entire Harry Potter film franchise — all eight films — is coming to HBO Max this month. Join young Mr. Potter and his friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger as they experience the magic of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while trying to prevent the machinations of that most evil of wizards, Lord Voldemort.
George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is an absolute juggernaut of a film, from its mind-blowing visuals of an apocalyptic wasteland to some of the most insane and over-the-top action sequences in recent history. Indeed, you’ll often find yourself wondering how no one died during the making of this film. Even more surprising, though, are the quiet and even hauntingly beautiful moments that Miller intersperses amongst the action and chaos.
Why not watch one of the greatest Westerns of all time? The final installment in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is marked by brilliant directing and gorgeous cinematography, as well as Ennio Morricone’s legendary theme.
Here’s everything arriving on HBO Max in September 2021.