Disclaimer: All of the below seriously, not-so-randomly, listed movies were, at the time of writing, available to view either on Netflix Watch Instantly or Amazon Instant Video. Several of the latter were even free with a Prime membership. But Hulu dropped the ball in every single case. What are we even paying for, Hulu?
Taking the Lord’s Day in Vain Sunday: Monty Python’s the Life of Brian
and The Last Temptation of Christ
Whether you’re Christian or not, during this time of year it’s good to keep Jesus and His sacrifice in your thoughts. Of course, it’s also good to remember that there were literally dozens of prophets operating at the same time period, Jesus was human, and being entertained comes first. That’s where Python and Scorcese come in. Watch for the drunken fightin’ ‘round the ancient world, stay for Graham Chapman’s penis.
If you’ve got the time: Jesus Camp and Red State - Of course, it’s also good to remember that some people do let their religion dictate every aspect of their lives, and those people ought to be understood instead of feared. Because of its reality, Jesus Camp remains one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen, but at least Kevin Smith’s first “horror” movie offers a level of fictional cold comfort to help you sleep.
Sounds like Somebody Has a Case of the Mondays Monday: Fight Club
and Office Space
After reading a new cult canon pieceon the AV Club, it became obvious how Chuck Palahniuk and Mike Judge basically started at the same idea and then went in completely opposite directions. Start with David Fincher’s more serious and intense take on corporate-ennui-turned-criminal-revolution and then come down with Judge’s laid back re-telling of the plot of Superman III.
If you’ve got the time: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Joe vs. the Volcano - You’ve probably already seen Bueller, but have you ever watched it while considering the fan theory that Ferris is really just a figment of Cameron’s imagination just like Tyler Durden? Do yourself the favor, and then follow it up with cult classic Joe, the fantastical, artistic Office Space that refuses to follow the standard Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan rom-com route.
This Christmas Includes Adult Situations and May Not Be Suitable for Some Audiences Tuesday: Bad Santa
and A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas
Normally, I would recommend the extended cut of Bad(der) Santa, but the full depths of Billy Bob Thornton’s crass vileness as a criminally-inclined Mall Claus, sadly, isn’t available for streaming. Not to worry, the theatrical cut is still decidedly atypical for the genre. Harold and Kumar do bring the jolly to their high holiday, but the absurdity and NPH-ness of the series is full tilt. Marathon is best if consumed with spiked eggnog and “medicinal” brownies.
If you’ve got the time: Die Hard and Lethal Weapon - For a totally different take on “adult situations,” e.g., explosions and violence and violent explosions. Due to Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism, racism, and misogyny, one can be excused for not watching the latter, though it’s fun to speculate exactly when the actor knew the camera was rolling and when it wasn’t during his unhinged performance. But Die Hard? You gotta watch Die Hard at some point before December 26th. It’s the best Christmas movie of all time.
The Hump Day You Never Knew You Always Wanted Wednesday: Boogie Nights
Just like Monday’s offerings, it’s almost as though P.T. Anderson and Trey Parker/Matt Stone started at the same idea of an innocent young man getting seduced into the dirty world of the porn industry, and then told it using their totally different and totally unique voices. Afterward, you can discuss with your viewing party the whether the decades in which the movies are set makes each one equally realistic. Assuming all of your clothes are still on.
If you’ve got the time: Risky Business and The Girl Next Door - Emile Hirsch is Tom Cruise, Elisha Cuthbert is Rebecca De Mornay, and Timothy Olyphant is Joe Pantoliano. Rather than being two divergent takes on the same material, these are practically the same teen sex comedy made for two different generations attending multiplexes at two different times. No matter, both are awesome no matter how old you are. Never mind the R ratings.
Thor’s Day Thursday: Valhalla Rising
and Adventures in Babysitting
Nicholas Winding Refn didn’t just start his burgeoning career by showing us sides of Tom Hardy and Ryan Gosling we’d never seen before, he also turned Mads Mikkelsen into a Nordic badass not even James Bond would fuck with. Between poetic bouts of bloodletting, Rising is about Vikings embarking on a voyage to the New World as a matter of survival rather than opportunity or discovery. In that regard, it’s exactly like Babysitting, whose dual incarnations of Thor as a
annoying starry-eyed little girl and Vincent D’onofrio before he discovered pizza are still cinema’s best. No offense, Hemsworth.
If you’ve got the time: Beowulf and How to Train Your Dragon - Rombert Zemeckis’ and Neil Gaiman’s CGI adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon epic isn’t nearly the nightmare affair of The Polar Express and it’s probably the most faithful ever brought to screen, so it deserves a little of your respect. Dragon is just a damn good time and a nice antidote to the self-seriousness of everything in Beowulf (save for Angelina Jolie).
Friday Night Bites: Near Dark
and The Lost Boys
Yes, yes, vampires are overly popular now and with Twilight finally over we, as a species, just want to move on. But akin to keeping your spiritual side awake, it’s good to remember that vampires can still be relevant and were not always emo and sparkling or too-dour historical fictions. Sometimes they’re denim-laden rednecks and sometimes they’re leather-bound hair metal enthusiasts, either way vampires can be a lot more fun to be hang out with than we’ve recently been led to believe.
If you’ve got the time: Back-to-Back Fright Nights - Speaking of which, both Colin Farrell’s and Chris Sarandon’s Jerry Dandridge fit that bill. Even if one wasn’t a remake of the other, they’re another pair of movies that belong together despite their generational divide. Plus, who doesn’t themselves some David Tennant, or Roddy McDowall?
Unsettling Celestial Bodies in Sci-Fi Saturday: Sunshine
What’s great about both of these movies is how grounded in something close to actual science they feel, while dealing with problems with which we can probably never cope. What makes them work together in a marathon are the dichotomy of visuals and tones they each offer, from the slow burning madness of Danny Boyle to the cold, deliberate intensity of Duncan Jones. Sunshine is a great ensemble (containing but not limited to Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, and Rose Byrne) with no weak spots. Moon is Sam Rockwell by himself, with himself, and against himself in the performance of his career, and my favorite movies of 2009.
If you’ve got the time: 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010 (The Year We Make Contact) - One is obviously a classic of the genre, not to mention one of the best films ever made, and the other was directed by Stanley Kubrick. Hi-oh! But, seriously, 2001 doesn’t need my praise, so just know that if you haven’t seen it recently in HD you should really give it another watch. For it’s part, 2010 is much better than it has any right to be — much of that owing to strong performances byHelen Mirren and Roy Scheider — and is a decent conclusion to Arthur C. Clarke’s saga on the big screen. It may pale in comparison to its predecessor, but then most things do.
Your suggestions are welcome in the comments. After all, there are (theoretically) 15 more days to fill in the rest of the month.
Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He was really, really glad that most of his first choices were available for streaming somewhere without too much searching.