It’s not just summer blockbuster season in the reopened multiplexes; The streamers are also growing, with mega-productions such as “The Tomorrow War” and “Fear Street” dominating advertising spaces and websites. But if that’s not your thing, don’t worry – we have a handful of American Indies, foreign films, and thoughtful documentaries to fill your summer nights.
“Big Bad Wolves” (2014)
Stream it on Amazon.
The Netflix movie “Gunpowder Milkshake” isn’t just interesting because of its star cast; It is also the first feature film in seven years from director Navot Papushado, whose previous frame was this gruesome thriller, co-written and directed with Aharon Keshales. When a child is horribly kidnapped and murdered, the victim’s father and a rogue police officer separately plot to kidnap the prime suspect and torture him for information. All three men end up in a remote hut, where Papushado and Keshales ingeniously use and twist our preconceived notions of good, bad and bad. Wildly unpredictable and darkly funny, but not for the faint of heart.
Every year it seems to be more certain that “Jackie Brown” is the best film of Quentin Tarantino’s career – but with all the rest and the growing goodwill, the audience has still not discovered this airy crime comedy that a “Jackie” – Prequel. Based on Elmore Leonard’s 1978 novel “The Switch”, “Life of Crime” introduces the characters of Ordell Robbie, Louis Gara and Melanie Ralston (played here by Yasiin Bey, John Hawkes and Isla Fisher) while they are engaged in a plot involve kidnapping a wealthy celebrity (Jennifer Aniston). Daniel Schechter directs with a dexterous, light touch, and his script captures the casual humor and erratic narrative rhythms of Leonard’s novels well.
‘Night of Kings’ (2020)
Stream it on Hulu.
“Is this your first time here?” Blackbeard asks the new inmate Roman, who nods; “Here” is the infamous La Maca prison in Ivory Coast, and the early scenes of Philippe Lacôte’s electrifying drama reveal many disturbing details of life in it. But realism soon gives way to ritual when Blackbeard – the Dangôro, or prisoner king – anoints the young Roman to tell stories to the prison population during that night’s Red Moon. Roman (played by Koné Bakary with an appropriate mix of fear and intensity) is afraid of this makeshift condition and its tenacious crowd, but he works his way through that fear and as he gains his confidence his voice becomes more powerful and his stories come too a lively, often majestic life.
Director Lynn Shelton’s last feature film was this shuffling, easy-going, slightly melancholy, and thoroughly entertaining ensemble comedy that is as charming as any film about a Confederate sword can be. This sword was just bequeathed to Cynthia (Jillian Bell) by her grandfather, who insisted it was proof that the Confederation had won the war; Marc Maron co-stars as a pawn shop owner who discovers that the sword, nonsensical backstory or not, is worth quite a bit of money, and what follows is a rather nervous road trip to a potential seller. As was her custom, Shelton fills the film with telling and poignant character moments, and Marron does his best acting yet.
‘Frances Ferguson’ (2019)
Stream it on Amazon.
Austin-based filmmaker Bob Byington has refined a specific and unmistakable style over the past ten years – his films are short, funny, self-confident, uncompromisingly peculiar and always ironic. His latest is the story of a small-town teacher (Kaley Wheless) who gets caught up in a sex scandal, motivated less by lust than by boredom and marital misery (the disgust she and her husband encounter is one of the best in the movie) . Though she was also part of the story, she’s a find, but her dry lines go well with Byington’s sardonic wit. And the narrator, Nick Offerman, almost steals the picture with searching voice-overs like, “Every story has a villain. A rapeseed callion. A … villain? Maybe I need a thesaurus to continue. “
“They Came Together” (2014)
Stream it on Hulu and Amazon.
It has been 21 years since the resounding success of Scary Movie brought back the parody film – which had stalled since the glory days of Mel Brooks and the Sugar-Abrahams-Sugar “Airplane” team – and accelerated its graduation when the film film various sequels, spin-offs and alumni projects practically buried the form in funny, laughless exercises in pop culture shout-outs. The only oasis in the dumb desert is David Wain’s noisily hilarious dispatch of sparkling romantic comedies starring Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd in a “You’ve Got Mail” riff as competing candy merchants in New York City that feel (now all together ). ) “Like another character” in their story.
Stream it on HBO Max.
Few film actors have enjoyed such a loving farewell as Harry Dean Stanton, the inimitable and productive character actor (with over 200 credits in his name) whose penultimate film role was also one of his few leading roles. He plays the title character, a 90-year-old cracker and curmudgeon who knows that his end is near, but does not end quietly. Director John Carroll Lynch is a well-respected character actor himself – he played Frances McDormand’s husband in “Fargo” and the prime suspect in “Zodiac” – and treats his lead actor with affection and respect, and surrounds him with a handful of friends and co-workers, including David Lynch, Tom Skerritt and Ed Begley Jr.
While director Claire Denis and actress Juliette Binoche are two of the most intriguing forces in French cinema, they had never worked together before this characterful drama. However, it is an ideal collaboration that highlights their unique gifts and non-prisoner attitude in their work. Binoche is in top shape as a Parisian artist seeking happiness but not beyond the usual cinematic solution of a male partner – although there are many partners and the different ways in which they fail provide both rich comic situations and wise emotions resonance .
‘Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest’ (2011)
Stream it on Amazon.
Actor Michael Rapaport – best known for his quick-talking twists and turns in films like “True Romance” and “Bamboozled” – proved himself an accomplished documentary filmmaker with this loving but sincere tribute to the groundbreaking rap group A Tribe Called Quest of the 1990s . Much of the picture is an atmospheric music story, of the trends and sounds of their original era, which the filmmaker lovingly captures. But it gets into more difficult waters when it comes to documenting their reunion for the “Rock the Bells” tours, capturing long-simmering resentments and ugly conflicts and something like a “Let It Be” for hip-hop heads become.
According to Mark Harriss new (and excellent) biography “Mike Nichols: A Life”, the revered stage and film director spent a lot of rehearsal time in his later years telling stories from the good old days. You can get a foretaste in this documentary, which shows his last interviews (conducted in summer 2014) on the stage of the John Golden Theater, where he and Elaine May performed their Broadway show. The film focuses on his early years – it ends with winning an Oscar for “The Graduate” – the film offers a brief but informative snapshot of his directorial approach and philosophy. But it’s most valuable as a personality portrait; he’s astute and endlessly funny, his weird timing and personal anecdotes honed and refined over years of storytelling.