Election, Nightcrawler, Hellraiser: Quarantine Streaming – Lockdown remains kind of in full force (I mean, it was never really in full force, but I don’t want to go all political on you) and although theirs is talk of opening schools (I promise I’m not getting political) and going back to work if you can and not if you can’t (because that’s easy to understand… still not getting political, folks), most of us will still be staying at home, not going out much, and in need of something to watch… and that’s good. Stay home. Don’t listen to the rambling nonsense that comes out of No 10 (sorry, I went political).
So, once again, I’ve decided to brave the depths of online streaming to see what I might be able to find for you guys. I don’t know if this does anyone any good, but I certainly enjoy taking a look through the various streaming services offering us quality content (and also Disney+) to see what’s on offer.
Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin.
ELECTION (1999) – BBC iPlayer
Alexander Payne’s hilarious comedy/satire featuring Matthew Broderick in what is, in my opinion at least, his best role post-Ferris Bueller, as everyone’s favorite teacher, and a scene-stealing turn from Reese Witherspoon as a know-it-all busy body is a genuinely smart, funny, and absolutely savage takedown of politics. To say too much would be to spoil the fun, but the basic plot sees Witherspoon’s Tracy Flick running unopposed as Class President in her high school election. However, motivated by his own personal disliking of Flick, civics teacher Jim McAllistar decides to convince a popular school footballer to run against her. What follows is a dirty game of manipulation, blackmail, adultery and bee stings as the entire situation spirals further and further out of control. I would consider Election a must-see.
ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011) – All4
The John Carpenter influences are strong in Joe Cornish’s 2011 comedy/horror about a group of council estate teenagers who must battle a deadly alien species. You’ll recognize plenty of the cast, from a young John Boyega, to Nick Frost as a drug dealer, and Jodie Whittaker as a young woman caught up in the chaos. What makes the film work is its masterful balance of witty humor and moments of absolute terror. It also doesn’t shy away from the gore. There’s a definite 80s vibe to proceedings, with the core group almost becoming a sort of modern-day, British version of The Goonies, and it’s a genuine travesty that this didn’t get more love when it was first released. Attack the Block is a lot of fun and you should definitely check it out.
NIGHTCRAWLER (2014) – Netflix
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this moody crime thriller from writer/director Dan Gilroy. It tells the story of Lou Bloom, a petty thief who, when he discovers he can make money selling photographs and footage of crime scenes to local television news, begins to work his way up the ranks of the profession through less than ethical means. Proving once again that Gyllenhaal deserves way more recognition as one of our generation’s finest performers, here he is absolutely spellbinding as the villainess protagonist. His portrayal is the real highlight of the film, which also sees Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, and Bill Paxton all on top form. The film skirts close to satire and manages to capture a real sense of uneasiness in its atmosphere, slowly revealing Bloom’s ambitions as how far he is willing to go to meet them.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS (2001, 2002, 2003) – Amazon Prime
Because when the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy is available for recommendation you recommend it. Peter Jackson’s groundbreaking, trendsetting, world changing adaptation of J R R Tolkien’s epic fantasy is a brilliant now as it was when it was first unleashed upon the world. The cast are all incredible, many of them utterly iconic in their roles, while visuals, locations, practical and digital effects, and overall impressiveness of the films is almost unparalleled. The decision to shoot all three movies back to back means that there is a genuine fluidity through each part of the trilogy, and while Amazon does have only the theatrical cuts, that doesn’t mean they’re not worth your time. All three films are pure cinematic magic, and I recommend setting aside an entire day, getting some snacks in, and sitting down to watch this massive marvel and incredible achievement in filmmaking all in one go.
10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (1999) – Disney+
This late 90s teen rom com might not seem like all that, but there are some tricks up its silly, somewhat childish sleeves. Whether it be the smart updating of Taming of the Shrew, or the somewhat impressive before-they-were-famous cast list (which includes the likes of Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon Levitt), there’s a funny sort of subversive nature to Gil Junger’s directorial debut. It may not be the greatest of teen rom coms, but it’s a smart, witty take on old material that’s elevated by some solid performances from its young cast, and a killer soundtrack that really enhances the experience.
HELLRAISER (1987) – Shudder
A film that absolutely petrified me as a kid, but became something of an obsession, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser is a gloopy, atmospheric, creepy oddity of a movie that revels in its unusualness. Most famous for introducing Doug Bradley’s iconic villain Pinhead to the world, Hellraiser has far more going for it than a single horror icon. It features some absolutely spellbinding and impressive practical effects work (including a sequence which sees a body slowly pieced back together from nothing layer by layer), and a genuinely uncomfortable and creepy atmosphere. It’s also a smart movie, with big ideas and intriguing concepts right at its center. Barker is never content to simply allow the film to fall back on cliched genre tropes, and although he doesn’t always stick the landing, he aims high and, for the most part, the film delivers on his aspirations. Watch with the lights off, guys. – Election, Nightcrawler, Hellraiser: Quarantine Streaming
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