watching tv

Do you hate leaving the house to go to the movies? I don’t blame you given how expensive it now it, how many ads and repetitive movie trailers there, and especially how terrible audiences can be. Luckily we live in an age where we can all be like Sandra Bullock in The Net (1994) and never actually leave the house. So to save you the hassle of getting up off the couch and going to the cinema, Weekly Gravy is looking at this month’s new releases and finding you Netflix Instant recommendations that are just as good (or even better). And they’re just a click away.

Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)

Rather than seeing the latest in Marvel’s seemingly never-ending onslaught of comic adaptations – this is the fourth such film this year after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past – why not check out either Battlestar Galactica (2003-2007) and/or Farscape (1999-2003)? They’re both far better than anything I’ve seen on Star Trek, and all four seasons of each are available to watch right now. It’s a lot of TV, but you’ll soon be geeking out.

Get On Up (August 1)

Biopics are a dime a dozen. Always have been. Nothing fascinates Hollywood more than making movies about famous people who all had troubled beginnings, rose to big fame and then had tragic downfalls (and hopefully rousing comebacks). Hell, Chadwick Boseman, the star of this movie about famously flamboyant funk musician James Brown, starred in 42 (2013), about celebrated baseball star Jackie Robinson, barely 12 months ago.

So instead of watching Get On Up, maybe watch this year’s Academy Award winner 20 Feet from Stardom (2013) instead. It’s about the unsung back-up performers, featuring plenty of big names, and lots of great music. If you want something further off the beaten path, then try The Sapphires (2012). This Australian musical about an all-aboriginal girl group who visit the troops in Vietnam singing soul and funk classics is based on a true story, but not entirely the same story you’ve seen time and time before (remember Ray?)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8)

We’re better than this, aren’t we? Michael Bay’s amped-up reboot of the absurd TMNT franchise looks hideous and oh-so-serious, which given it is from the director of Battle: Los Angeles (2011), Wrath of the Titans (2012), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) is hardly surprising. Still, if you’re in the mood for Asian-accented action why not actually just watch a movie from Asia? Johnny To’s Drug War (2012) is more concerned with guns than old-fashioned swords, but it features some of the best action sequences in recent years and car chases that will actually get you revved up.

Into the Storm (August 8)

The term “disaster porn” was coined in part to describe films that don’t seem to care one bit about characters or genuine story, but rather exist simply to allow audiences 90 minutes of carnage candy. Watching cities brought to rubble and entire towns wiped off the map within the blink of a CGI eye. It’s not quite the exciting one with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, but if you’re in the mood for tornadoes, then Twister (1989) is a truly bizarre comedy that used the line, “Not since The Wizard of Oz has Kansas been this windy!” in its marketing. Because why not? Elsewhere there is Tornado Intercept (2005), a 52-minute IMAX documentary that takes viewers directly inside the eye of a storm.

The Expendables 3 (August 15)

The reason I am recommending Abel Ferrara’s King of New York (1990) instead of The Expendables 3 is not because they are alike, but rather because they are very different and you deserve better. King of New York, starring Christopher Walken, Laurence Fishburne, Wesley Snipes and featuring Steve Buscemi in a small role, is actually very good whereas we can assume The Expendables 3 is more of the same, but now with added bigot Mel Gibson just for fun. Why not go out on a limb on something a bit wilder and crazier (and very R-rated) than more of Sylvester Stallone’s PG-13 cartoon explosions?

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22)

I know Robert Rodriguez’ original Sin City (2005) was massively popular, but I wasn’t a fan. And let’s be honest, there aren’t many sequels made 9 years after the original that are any good. Forget this new film, which looks like same ol’ same ol’, and use this opportunity to catch up on Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). With its gothic design, mind-boggling costumes and sets, and some of the gosh-darn craziest vampire action you’ll ever see. Better yet is Double Indemnity (1944), the sort of film-noir that Rodriguez borrowed heavily from, but with an actual dame to kill for (the devilish Barbara Stanwyck) who’s actually a character unlike the barely-covered flesh parade that is Sin City.