The best movies on Netflix right now
What’s the best movie I can watch on Netflix? We’ve all asked ourselves this question only to spend the next 15 minutes scrolling through the streaming service’s oddly specific genre menus and getting overwhelmed by the constantly shifting trend menus. Netflix’s huge catalog of movies continues to expand day by day, week by week, month by month; making the challenge of keeping up to date with best the service has to offer, let alone finding something the best of what to watch after a long day, a task that feels herculean at best and impossible at worst for someone not plugged into its inscrutable rhythms.
This week’s editor’s pick
Run time: 1h 41m
Director: Joe Dante
Cast: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher
Suburban paranoia is as time-honored of an American tradition as baseball, apple pie, and redlining. In this 1989 horror comedy, Gremlins director Joe Dante taps into a wellspring of simmering communal tension and urban superstition and strikes gold. Tom Hanks stars as Ray Peterson, an overstressed homeowner trying to enjoy his weeklong vacation, if only everyone in the cul-de-sac of Mayfield Place would just leave him the hell alone. Unfortunately for him, the mysterious goings-on of his reclusive new neighbors have drawn the overimaginative ire of fellow suburbanites Art (Rick Ducommun) and Mark (Bruce Dern), who enlist Ray in a harebrained scheme to uncover what they’re absolutely certain is a murderous home-grown conspiracy.
Dana Olsen, the screenwriter for The ’Burbs, aptly summed up the film as “Ozzie and Harriet meet Charles Manson.” It’s a gleefully dark movie about a bunch of adults running around like grown-ass children, whipping themselves up into a frenzy with ever more outlandish theories while transforming into the very mirror image of their own tall tales. The script is fantastic, with memorable one-liners like “I’m gonna go do something productive; I’m gonna go watch television” delivered with an acerbic sense of wit by a cast of terrific actors who are all in on the joke. If you’re a fan of Joe Dante’s other films, like Small Soldiers, Innerspace, or, of course, Gremlins, you owe it to yourself to make the time to watch this bona fide cult classic. —Toussaint Egan
The best movies on Netflix
Run time: 1h 45m
Director: Mati Diop
Cast: Ibrahima Traoré, Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow
It’s hard to talk too much about Atlantics without giving away what makes the experience of watching it so special. It’s a beautiful, haunting love story with a tangibly beating heart, touching on romance as well as grief, class, labor, and the lingering effects of oppression. Shot gorgeously by director Mati Diop and cinematographer Claire Mathon, it was the first movie directed by a Black woman to be featured in competition in Cannes (it won the Grand Prix award, losing out on the Palme d’Or to Parasite), and is one of the most remarkable feature film debuts for a director in recent memory. —PV
Genre: Biographical drama
Run time: 2h 50m
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale
Coming off of the massive creative undertaking of his 2002 dream project Gangs of New York, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio teamed up once again for a 2004 biopic chronicling the meteoric rise and subsequent fall of Howard Hughes, the charismatic aviation tycoon behind Trans World Airlines (TWA) who pivoted to filmmaking with 1930’s Hell’s Angels and 1932’s Scarface.
Scorsese’s film is a monument to the excess and latent corruption of the Roaring ’20s, encapsulated through the story of a man whose glamorous playboy lifestyle and incorrigible ego were dwarfed only by the subsequent tragedies of his later life, irreparably scarred by a horrific plane crash and wracked by the mental strain of a lifelong private battle with undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The Aviator, much like its namesake’s own career, is a dazzling spectacle of dizzying heights and precipitous lows rendered beautifully by Robert Richardson’s extravagant cinematography and the deft editing of longtime Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker. At nearly three hours, the film’s runtime may appear daunting at first, but The Aviator makes expert use of every minute, bobbing and weaving gracefully from one scene and set piece to the next before landing on a final note whose intimacy, desperation, and unwavering perseverance in the face of adversity is at once disquietingly tragic and profoundly moving. —TE
The Baahubali movies
Genre: Epic fantasy
Run time: 2h 39m (Baahubali: The Beginning); 2h 47m (Baahubali 2: The Conclusion)
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty
In Western terms, this Tollywood production from the future director of RRR, the most expensive Indian film at the time of its release, is like a biblical epic by way of Marvel Studios, with a little Hamlet and Step Up thrown in for good measure. The Beginning chronicles the life of Shivudu, an adventurer with superhuman strength who escapes his provincial life by scaling a skyscraper-sized waterfall, aids and romances a rebel warrior named Avanthika, then teams up with her to rescue a kidnapped queen from an evil emperor. Exploding with hyper-choreographed fight sequences and CG spectacle (not to mention a handful of musical numbers with equal bravura), The Beginning is 159 minutes of mythical excess, going big like only Indian film can and resting on the muscular shoulders of its hero, the single-name actor Prabhas. If you fall hard for it, get pumped — this is only part one. The twist leads into Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, another two-and-a-half-hour epic currently streaming on Netflix. —Matt Patches
Genre: Crime thriller
Run time: 2h 13m
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tang Wei, Viola Davis
A sleek and sexy thriller that makes hacking look extremely cool, Michael Mann’s unfairly maligned Blackhat stands tall as a high mark in digital filmmaking. It is peak Mann — if you’re not a fan of the Heat director’s work, your mileage may vary. In the film, Chen Dawai (Wang Leehom), a captain in the PLA’s cyber warfare unit, is tasked with getting to the bottom of a computer attack that melts down a nuclear power plant in Hong Kong. While liaising with the FBI investigation, Chen insists on the aid of his old friend Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth, who has never been hotter or cooler), an imprisoned genius hacker. When Hathaway and Chen’s sister (Tang Wei), a networking engineer also helping with the case, fall for each other, it adds an extra wrinkle to an already high stakes situation. Viola Davis and Holt McCallany feature as FBI agents who aren’t super happy to have to rely on a notorious criminal.
With sharp digital cinematography and unforgettable set pieces, Blackhat explores our changing global relationship to technology. Mann makes tangible the microscopic computer systems that run the world: an extreme close-up of internal wires leading to a motherboard like a vast interconnected highway; a computer fan that sounds like a jet engine. Events that in other films would be shown as a boring stroke of keys are instead depicted as hypnotic processes happening under the surface of the visible world. —PV
The Debt Collector movies
Genre: Action comedy
Run time: 1h 35m (The Debt Collector); 1h 37m (Debt Collectors aka The Debt Collector 2)
Director: Jesse V. Johnson
Cast: Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Vladimir Kulich
A buddy comedy by way of direct-to-video action specialist Jesse V. Johnson, The Debt Collector is the first of a series of two very good movies starring Scott Adkins (Avengement) and Louis Mandylor (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as a wise-cracking duo collecting debts for the mob. Adkins plays French, a down-on-his-luck martial arts instructor who turns to debt collecting to pay his own debts off. Mandylor plays a boy named Sue, the veteran debt collector French is paired up with for his first day of work.
As the two get deeper into their work, they discover a scheme that puts a young child at risk, and consider risking it all themselves to help. Adkins and Mandylor have terrific chemistry in the lead roles, bringing this out of the echelon of “solid DTV movies” and into the realm of “great hangout flicks.” Also, Tony Todd (Candyman) plays a mobster named Barbosa. And the sequel rules, too. —PV
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
Genre: Romantic comedy
Run time: 1h 55m
Directors: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-fai
Cast: Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Gao Yuanyuan
Johnnie To is one of our great modern directors, equally adept in hard-boiled triad crime dramas and light-hearted romantic comedies alike. 2011’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart falls in the latter category, and is one of the many high marks of the Hong Kong director’s legendary career. Fresh off the end of a long-term relationship, Chi-yan (Gao Yuanyuan) is an analyst for an investment bank who finds herself in the middle of a love triangle. On one side, there’s Sean (Louis Koo), a CEO who works across the street from Chi-yan and yearns for her through the tall corporate glass windows that separate them. On the other, there’s Kevin (the always-dreamy Daniel Wu), an alcoholic former architect who helps Chi-yan move on and is inspired by her to start creating again. What follows is a sincere, funny, and truly charming romantic time. —PV
Genre: Revenge thriller
Run time: 2h 14m
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: Sudeepa, Nani, Samantha
Eega is a delightful slapstick romantic comedy from the director of RRR, about a fly and his human girlfriend conspiring to ruin a man’s life and then murder him for vengeance. If that doesn’t sound up your alley, I’m not sure what will.
S.S. Rajamouli has wowed audiences worldwide with his bombastic, exciting historical epic RRR, Polygon’s #1 movie of 2022 (and recent winner for a Golden Globe for best original song for the incredible “Naatu Naatu”).
In this very post, we’ve encouraged readers to watch his previous two historical epics, the Baahubali series (also available on Netflix). But one of his earlier entries, made a decade ago, was recently added to Netflix, and it is one of the most fun movies you could ever possibly watch.
Eega tells the story of a man who is murdered by a wealthy businessman. After being reincarnated as a fly, he makes it his mission to exact vengeance on the man who killed him. As a fly.
With groundbreaking visual effects that pushes digital filmmaking forward, Rajamouli injects a delightful energy and lighter tone into the genre of “dark revenge thriller,” with thrilling set pieces (stakes include “our hero gets stuck on a tennis ball being used in a cricket match” and “our hero causes a traffic jam by buzzing in the ears of a crossing guard”) and plenty of visual gags inspired by slapstick and screwball comedies alike. It’s all balanced by a compelling romance that sells you on the movie’s emotional stakes in the first half hour, culminating in an experience unlike any other. Rajamouli is just special. —PV
Ghosts of Sugar Land
Genre: Documentary short
Run time: 21m
Director: Bassam Tariq
Director Bassam Tariq recently got replaced on Marvel’s upcoming Blade movie, and it’s as good a reason as any to catch up with his masterful 2019 short. Best known for the hip-hop drama Mogul Mowgli starring Riz Ahmed, Tariq’s previous movie is an enthralling documentary well worth the 21-minute running time.
Ghosts of Sugar Land is about a young group of friends in the suburbs of Texas, and what happens when one of them becomes radicalized by ISIS. A compelling portrait of an America we don’t often get to see depicted on screen, Tariq offers no easy answers, instead leaning on the shock and despair of the friends left behind, and on the dangers of isolation and loneliness in a country that often seems on the brink of collapse. A winner of multiple festival awards, including the 2019 Sundance Short Film Jury Award, Ghosts of Sugar Land is not to be missed. —PV
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Did you enjoy Knives Out, but could use a little less puke in your murder-mystery movie? Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is the solution. I have a vomit phobia, so maybe this is a niche idea (there are dozens of us!), but sometimes movies with less vomit are better. In their own way.
Where Knives Out took precise aim at the entitlement of the rich, Glass Onion is more of a shotgun blast at influencers, billionaires, and tech bros who fail upward. But the performances help keep Glass Onion’s twists and turns tight and exciting. It’s easy to get swept up in the showmanship of it all, particularly Daniel Craig fully embracing the character of Benoit Blanc (and the air of Southern naivete that he adopts early on), as well as Janelle Monáe killing it in a particularly nuanced role. It might not be the knockout that Knives Out was, but it has its charms — and 99% fewer spew scenes, with only one! —Kallie Plagge
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Run time: 1h 56m
Director: Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
Cast: Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann
It only feels like serendipity that Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio would premiere a little over a year after the release of Mad God, Phil Tippett’s experimental animated horror fantasy film. Both are labors of love dedicated to the painstaking craft of stop-motion animation, dreamt of by their respective creators for a significant portion of their lives and careers. Both are uncompromising, beautiful works featuring fantastical characters entrenched in harrowing situations, each confronted with the sum total ugliness that either of their respective worlds has to offer. But where Mad God is a precipitous descent into an endless nightmare realm of horrors, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a testament to the enduring power of love in the face of barbarism and tyranny.
Reimagining Carlo Collodi’s iconic 1883 children’s book as story set in 1930s Italy amid the rise of fascism, Pinocchio is a film that walks a tightrope balancing act between lighthearted whimsy and affecting tragedy above a chasm of unremitting darkness. It’s bold, funny, shocking, and an unquestionably original take on a well-known story that treats the capacity of children to discern right from wrong with the same respect that one would treat an adult’s. As my colleague Oli Welsh put it in his review, “It’s an unruly, wild, and tender film that sometimes gets lost but, by the end, finds its way to a very moving state of grace.” —Toussaint Egan
Genre: Sports comedy
Run time: 1h 58m
Director: Jeremiah Zagar
Cast: Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, Ben Foster
One of Netflix’s better originals in recent memory is this passion project from the famously basketball-obsessed Adam Sandler, where he plays a down-on-his-luck scout who needs to find the perfect prospect. With an all-star ensemble cast filled with movie stars (Sandler is joined by Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, and Robert Duvall) and NBA players alike (Juancho Hernangómez co-leads with Sandler, while Anthony Edwards, Boban Marjanović, and others give memorable supporting turns), Hustle is an inspiring and thrilling basketball movie made by people who love the game. —PV
The Ip Man movies
Genre: Martial arts drama
Run time: 1h 46m (Ip Man); 1h 48m (Ip Man 2); 1h 45m (Ip Man 3); 1h 45m (Ip Man 4: The Finale)
Director: Wilson Yip
Cast: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Lynn Hung
All five movies in the Ip Man series — the four main entries (all on Netflix) and the spinoff Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (not on Netflix, but on Peacock and Tubi, among others) — are terrific martial arts dramas. They’re a great starting place for anyone looking to get into the genre, and also a terrific comfort watch for enthusiasts of martial arts movies.
Donnie Yen completely immerses himself as the stoic Ip Man, the Wing Chun grandmaster who taught Bruce Lee (played by Danny Chan Kwok-kwan in the series), among others. Yen brings a pensiveness to the role to go with his incredible martial arts prowess. All four movies are directed by frequent Yen collaborator Wilson Yip and go from one all-time great action choreographer to another: The first two movies had action by Sammo Hung, and the next two by Yuen Woo-ping. Those are quite possibly the two greatest to ever do it, and if that’s not enough to get you to tune in, I don’t know what is. —PV
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids
Genre: Concert movie
Run time: 1h 30m
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Justin Timberlake
In 1984, director Jonathan Demme made one of the finest concert films of all-time with the Talking Heads in the raucously triumphant Stop Making Sense. A little more than three decades later, Demme’s final feature film was another joyous concert movie.
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids depicts the final show of a long tour for Timberlake and his excellent backing band at the gigantic MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. In typical Demme fashion, the staging and framing of the energetic pop numbers is electric, but he also takes time to show just how much work goes into setting up and breaking down such a large production.
Demme and Timberlake’s collaboration spurred from a mutual respect — Timberlake, like anyone else with good taste, is a massive fan of Stop Making Sense, and Demme reached out after watching The Social Network. The movie is dedicated to Prince, who died shortly before the movie’s release. —PV
Genre: Sports drama
Run time: 3h 43m
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley
Ashutosh Gowariker’s timeless sports movie classic stars Aamir Khan as Bhuvan, a confident young man from a village that is dealing with both British oppression and a long-standing drought. When the wicked Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne, who is deliriously good in this) challenges the village to a game of cricket (which they do not know how to play) as a bet, with their owed taxes (which they cannot afford to pay) on the line, Bhuvan takes it upon himself to form a team and learn the game. What follows is a soaring sports drama with humor, heart, and a show-stopping match finale. Lagaan was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards. —PV
Leave No Trace
Run time: 1h 49m
Director: Debra Granik
Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Jeff Kober
One of the best films of the 2010s, Debra Granik’s meditation on the modern world through two people isolated from it is an extraordinary follow-up for the Winter’s Bone director. From our write-up of the best movies new to streaming in July:
An Iraq War veteran (Ben Foster) lives with PTSD and his 13-year-old daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) in the lush green woods outside of Portland, Oregon. Isolated from the rest of society, they work together to live a life with nature. But when the young girl is seen by a jogger in the woods, she is detained by social services and her father is arrested. A touching story about finding your own place in the world and the comforts and limitations of family, Debra Granik’s 2018 drama is a modern masterpiece.
Genre: Wall Street thriller
Run time: 1h 49m
Director: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto
J.C. Chandor’s 2011 film Margin Call takes place over the span of 24 hours, following the employees of a prestigious Wall Street investment bank as they struggle to understand and respond to what will eventually be known as the global financial crisis of 2008. While perhaps not as approachable or didactic as Adam McKay’s The Big Short, Chandor’s film nonetheless manages to transform financial esotericism into riveting drama through the strength of its casts’ performances.
Paul Bettany is terrific here, as are Zachary Quinto and Demi Moore, but the standout performance by far is Jeremy Irons, who delivers a remarkable scene during the film’s climax that’s as charismatic as it is disquietingly chilling. —TE
The Metamorphosis of Birds
Run time: 1h 41m
Director: Catarina Vasconcelos
Cast: Manuel Rosa, Ana Vasconcelos, Henrique Vasconcelos
Catarina Vasconcelos’ 2020 feature debut is a difficult one to sum up in a trailer, let alone in words, and therein ultimately lies its appeal. Essentially an avant-garde documentary drama, The Metamorphosis of Birds chronicles the director’s own family history: the meeting and love affair between her grandparents, the childhood of their children growing up in the absence of their mariner father, and the fatal tragedy that rends their lives asunder and haunts them to this day like a lingering ghost.
Every shot and sequence of Vasconcelos’ experimental 16mm opus is beatific in its Magritte-like strangeness. It’s a series of images and sounds accompanied by the narration of letters and conversations between the members of the family that coalesce into a cinematic tableau of uncanny beauty and heart-wrenching tenderness. True to the spirit of its title, The Metamorphosis of Birds is a truly transformative work of emotional storytelling, one which beckons the audience to stare deeply into the intimate, unspoken corners of another family’s decades-long process of turning pain into wisdom and thereby gleaning a deeper insight into their own lives. Turn off your phone, find the largest screen possible, and give yourself over to this film. You’ll be thankful you did. —Toussaint Egan
The Nice Guys
Run time: 1h 56m
Director: Shane Black
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice
Shane Black’s other neo-noir, Los Angeles-set action comedy is a worthy spiritual successor to 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and an uproariously hilarious movie in its own right. The story centers on Holland March (Gosling), an alcoholic single father and licensed PI, and Jackson Healy (Crowe), a muscle-for-hire freelancer. The two end up as an odd couple of idiot-genius sleuths whose respective investigations involving a missing girl converge to unveil a much larger and more sinister conspiracy involving Detroit automotive companies, government collusion, and organized crime.
Crowe and Gosling’s on-screen chemistry as two incorrigible, stubborn assholes with secret hearts of gold is terrific, as is Angourie Rice’s performance as March’s whip-smart daughter Holly. The Nice Guys may not surpass the pure comic genius of Black’s aforementioned classic starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, but it confidently ranks as one of the director’s better films in recent memory. —TE
The Night Comes for Us
Genre: Martial arts thriller
Run time: 2h 1m
Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Cast: Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle
The Night Comes for Us just fucking whips, OK? Why waste time on subtlety and preamble; the film certainly doesn’t! Indonesian action thrillers have been enjoying a renaissance period ever since Gareth Evans’ 2011 film The Raid kicked the door down and mollywhopped everything else in sight. Timo Tjahjanto’s 2018 film certainly follows in the footsteps of Evans’ own, with The Raid star Joe Taslim starring here as Ito, a gangland enforcer who betrays his Triad crime family by sparing the life of a child and attempting to flee the country.
Fellow The Raid star Iko Uwais shows up here as Arian, Ito’s childhood friend and fellow enforcer, who is tasked with hunting down Ito and recovering the girl. The action comes fast and frenzied here, with kinetic choreography and dazzling handheld cinematography that makes every punch, fall, and stab count. If you need to get your adrenaline pumping, throw this one on. —TE
Run time: 1h 35m
Director: Paul King
Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters
2014’s Paddington is as whimsical and earnest as it is inventive and surprising. Ben Whishaw stars as the Peruvian bear cub who stows aboard a lifeboat to London in search of a new home. Granted safe haven by the kindly Brown family, Paddington sets out in search for the explorer who long ago visited his homeland and befriended his family while eluding the many perils and pitfalls of the big city.
Nicole Kidman and Peter Calpadi deliver devilishly charming performances as the film’s antagonists, while Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville are equally noteworthy as the vivacious Mrs. Brown and her stuffy risk-averse husband. Complete with sharp writing, intriguing set pieces, and loads of creative physical comedy, Paddington is an absolute delight. —TE
The Paper Tigers
Genre: Martial arts comedy
Run time: 1h 48m
Director: Bao Tran (Tran Quoc Bao)
Cast: Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, Mykel Shannon Jenkins
Tran Quoc Bao’s kung fu action comedy stars Alain Uy, Ron Yuan (Mulan), and Mykel Shannon Jenkins as the eponymous Paper Tigers: three former martial arts prodigies who, after a lifetime of strenuous training and hard fighting, have grown into beleaguered middle-aged nobodies. But when their master is murdered, the three swear an oath to avenge his memory and bring his killer to justice. If that sounds serious, please know this falls into the Apatowian camp of Dumb Man comedy. —TE
Genre: Historical drama
Run time: 2h 10m
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps
Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2017 historical drama Phantom Thread follows the story of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), an irascible haute couture dressmaker in 1950s London whose carefully cultivated lifestyle is upset by his ongoing love affair with his muse Alma (Vicky Krieps), a strong-willed woman with ambitions and desires of her own. His final film role to date, Day-Lewis is unsurprisingly masterful in his portrayal of Woodcock as an artist whose capricious infatuations and fastidious inflexibility prove unbearable to all except Alma, who discovers a … let’s say unconventional way of leveling the power dynamic in their relationship. Top that with exquisite score by Jonny Greenwood and beautiful costume designs by Mark Bridges and you’ve got what is undoubtedly one of Anderson’s finest films to date. —TE
Genre: Historical epic
Run time: 3h 7m
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn
One of our favorite movies of the year, RRR is an epic bromance for the ages filled to the brim with jaw-dropping action sequences, unforgettable music numbers, and two guys just being dudes. If you can, you should consider watching it in the original Telugu language version on Zee5. If you can’t, the Hindi dub on Netflix is still well worth your time. —PV
Run time: 2h 16m
Director: Jo Sung-hee
Cast: Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu
Space Sweepers: Set in the year 2092, Jo Sung-hee’s Space Sweepers follows the crew of freelance garbagemen in space who discover a strange child-like robot named Dorothy containing a nuclear device. Hoping to ransom Dorothy in exchange for enough money to escape their poverty-stricken lives, their plan quickly escalates into a chase to stay one step ahead of the military force of a corrupt corporation. Though it’s far from the most original of sci-fi premises, Space Sweepers is still a visually impressive film with great action and a likable cast of dysfunctional characters with great chemistry. —TE
Tucker: The Man and His Dream
Run time: 1h 50m
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Martin Landau
Even in a career studded with such culture-defining works as the Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1988 biographical comedy-drama about the extraordinary (albeit exaggerated) story of Preston Tucker stands out as one of the director’s most fascinating films. Tucker: The Man and His Dream stars Jeff Bridges as the eponymous military contractor turned entrepreneur who, in the late ’40s, attempted to produce and sell his own proprietary “car of tomorrow” known as the Tucker Torpedo. His ambitions, however, draw the ire of both the government and the so-called Big Three manufacturers, the latter of whom conspire to undermine and ultimately destroy Tucker’s dream of establishing his own company.
Produced in the wake of the commercial and critical failure of Coppola’s 1982 romance-drama One From the Heart, Tucker: The Man and His Dream can be seen as both a work of nostalgic recalibration and a once-removed allegory vindicating Coppola’s own short-lived attempt to create a distribution company to compete against corporate-owned studios. Even set apart from this context, Coppola’s film is an exceptionally entertaining one, brimming with terrific supporting performances by Martin Landau, Elias Koteas, and the late great Mako, bold creative cinematography by frequent collaborator Vittorio Storaro, and resplendent halcyon gold lighting.
Another noteworthy aspect of Tucker is the way in which it is framed as a documentary commissioned on behalf of Tucker himself in order to sell stocks of his company, a clever way of lampshading the film’s divergences from actual history and Coppola’s own embellishments of artistic license. It’s a fun, free-wheeling “nonmusical musical” drama about the perils of earnest ambition crashing against the jagged rocks of orthodoxy and capitalism, and a movie that more than deserves your time and attention. —Toussaint Egan
Run time: 1h 23m
Director: Levan Gabriadze
Cast: Shelley Hennig, Moses Storm, Renee Olstead
Unfriended is a horror movie with a gimmick. The whole thing takes place on a laptop screen, as the action unfolds over a Skype call between a group of friends. When an unknown (and unseen) participant mysteriously joins the call, friends start to die one by one in a terrifying and captivating series of events. The immersion of Unfriended through the device of the computer screen is masterful, and I highly recommend watching it on a laptop if you can for maximum effect. —PV