Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Streaming on Netflix and Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is Sergio Leone’s flawed, but still amazing, final film. Once Upon a Time in America is a wide-ranging epic about a prohibition-era Jewish gangster in New York City. I will spare you all the gory details about what went wrong in the cutting and release (you can read all about it over here). I saw this in whatever the hell version was on DVD around 2005 and loved it. Yes, this film is slow. However it tops Goodfellas in the level of violence and scope. To keep it simple, if you are a fan gangster movies and TV series, you need to see this. The amazing cast is reason enough. Just go in knowing it’s a long slow ride with some seriously bloody sections. Maybe even break it up into two or more viewings for maximum enjoyment (that’s my plan for a re-watch soon).

The domestic Blu-ray is currently Out of Print.

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Hot Fuzz (2007)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a spoof of action films, that is also better than most action films. I liked Shaun of the Dead, but enjoyed this (and The World’s End) much more. Those three films make up the Edgar Wright / Simon Pegg “Cornetto Trilogy”, and I think Hot Fuzz is my personal favorite. What is not to love about a relentless pace with legitimately funny lines sprinkled throughout. As usual with these guys, there are lots of subtle references throughout the film. The best is the desk sergeant reading a copy of Iain Banks’ excellent novel Complicity. Edgar Wright’s recent Last Night in Soho wasn’t bad, but I like his action work best. I’m very much looking forward to his upcoming version of The Running Man. Oh and if you somehow missed the Wright / Pegg / Frost series Spaced, get on it. That remains one of the very best English comedy series ever made.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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Benedetta (2021)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

If you would’ve told me back in my cult VHS tape trading days that Paul Verhoeven was going to make a Nunspoitation film in 2021, I would never have believed you. The first movie I saw in the genre was Joe D’Amato’s Images in a Convent. Benedetta is definitely better than that film, but it’s not nearly as good as Flavia the Heretic. My suggestion is to keep your expectations low, and indulge in your go-to psychoactive substance while you watch. Under those conditions, you will likely enjoy this sleazy big budget ride. Well, perhaps enjoy isn’t the right word. Let’s say you might agree with me that Verhoeven is still a crazy bastard, and still making admirably challenging films.

Coming soon on Blu-ray from IFC Films.

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Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time (2021)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a very good documentary on one of the 20th Century’s most important and iconoclastic writers. It also deals with the struggle that Robert B. Weide (Curb Your Enthusiasm) had in making the film over the course of decades. He co-directed this with Don Argott, the man that brought us Last Days Here and Art of the Steal (all of his films are worth seeing). There was a ton of stories and footage to fit in here, so the movie feels a tiny bit long. However it’s all very well edited together, and absolutely worth your time. If you’re a fan of Vonnegut’s work, you will be delighted. I have been for many years, and I learned a lot.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Riders of Justice (2020)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

This is a surprisingly good, big-budget, action comedy from Denmark. I actually laughed out loud a few times, AND things got pretty gory on occasion. The violence is more extreme than I would have expected from a Scandinavian blockbuster. I love Mads Mikkelsen, but he’s not always in good films. Luckily this turned out to be a perfect choice for him, and a very entertaining movie too.

Blu-ray available on Magnolia.

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In the Earth (2021)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

This is a divisive film. From what I can gather, fans may have found this a little too experimental, and critics a little too much like Ben Wheatley’s previous A Field in England. That said, if you want a straight-forward, fast paced horror film, or a totally new Wheatley masterpiece, skip this one. I loved this movie. I will admit that I am a bit biased to what’s on offer here. You already know I’m a fan of the director, as I’ve recommended almost every film he ever made. More than that, I am a sucker for dark psychedelic visuals, and a fan of experimental music (which is prominent in the second half of the film). Ben Wheatley does it again, but not for everyone.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Memories of Murder (2003)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

Here’s a dark, beautiful, high quality murder thriller directed by Bong Joon Ho. I have avoided recommending it so far as I thought all the excitement over Parasite would have lead you to watch it already. What? You haven’t seen Memories of Murder yet? Well get on it. 

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion Collection.

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Last Days Here (2011)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

The singer from the metal band Pentagram struggles with addiction to get back on stage. I have mostly avoided music documentaries because they can have a very limited appeal. This one rises to a level that can be appreciated by almost anyone who isn’t totally square. Last Days Here is a great movie, and the same crew have made several other high quality documentaries including a personal favorite, The Art of the Steal. One note, the video is on the blurry side, but that is well worth ignoring to experience this story.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Sightseers (2012)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

ANOTHER Ben Wheatley movie?!?? Yes, this is a great one though. A couple go on holiday and wackiness ensues. By wackiness I mean murder. It’s a dark comedy that is truly funny, and one of Wheatley’s very best films. The female lead just happens to be Alice Lowe who played Madeleine Wool in Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place (she’s been in a ton of other great stuff too). You might also recognize her boyfriend Chris, played by Steve Oram, from The World’s End, Kill List, and The Mighty Boosh. I can’t recommend this film strongly enough. It gets an Anomalous Cinema 10 out of 10.

Available on Import Blu-ray from Studio Canal.

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Bloody Sunday (2002)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

On January 30, 1972 British troops opened fire on a civil rights protest in Ireland. This is a well-made dramatization of the events. From what I have read, it is historically accurate, minus a few minor errors. Bloody Sunday is just as grim and violent as you would imagine, but important viewing for everyone.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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