Halloween has come and gone and it is understandable if you’re so miserable and depressed that you don’t want to leave the house. Maybe you got a taste for not leaving the house with your annual Halloween Netflix marathon (that’s not just me, right?). If so, skip being a chump and leaving the house to go see a movie, and just stay there on the couch and stream these alternatives instead! Your atrophied legs may not thank you, but your wallet just might. And because you’re probably already making plans for the new James Bond film, Spectre, let’s just ignore that one.
Our Brand is Crisis (October 30)
South American politics has been a mine of activity throughout history. In this entry into the genre, Sandra Bullock visits Bolivia to help free the people from a tyrannical leader and defend her career against Billy Bob Thornton in the process. And they’re claiming the film is a comedy? Skip this tripe and visit some of the better films about political unrest in the region. Perhaps the most directly similar to Our Brand is Crisis is the extraordinary Oscar-nominated No (2012). With a light touch and a distinctly-retro visual style – it is filmed as if you are watching it on television right out of 1988 – No follows the 1988 Chilean elections to oust dictator Augusto Pinochet and the marketing team hired to lead the vote. Think if Mad Men had continued into the 1980s and opened an office in South America. It’s excellent.
No is available to rent on iTunes and Vudu.
Spotlight (November 6)
This drama is chock-full of serious star-power; seriously, it features Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber, Billy Crudup, and Mad Men’s John Slattery. This story about how The Boston Globe uncovered a child abuse scandal within the Catholic Church has already been called one of the films to watch out for at the Oscars early next year. What you probably already know is that this subject can be a tough one to stomach, and maybe not one you care to leave the house for. So instead, watch the superb documentary Deliver Us from Evil (2006) or Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012), both of which shine a light on this tragedy. The latter is especially unique in that it gives voices to the victims of deaf victims, while the former shows the starting, brutal lack of caring by those charged with offenses. Powerful, gripping stuff.
Deliver Us from Evil is available to rent on iTunes, Vudu and Sony, and to stream on HBO and Cinemax.
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God is available to stream on HBO.
Love the Coopers (November 13)
Despite what Hollywood keeps telling us, most holiday family get-togethers don’t usually lead to some big, cathartic family bonding moment. They just don’t. They’re probably rarely all that eventful, but the movies seem to think they’re a source of endless entertainment. I usually just want a nap by the end of it. If you would prefer something with a bit more edge and bite than this familiar-looking Christmas comedy, then go with The Ref (1994). It showcases the shenanigans of a Christmas Eve burglary that goes wrong for the burglar (Denis Leary), in which he ends up in lock-down with a bickering husband and wife — Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis at their scathing, caustic best — whose deteriorating marriage is only amplified by their family’s impending arrival. Extremely funny stuff and a warped Christmas classic.
The Ref is available to stream on Netflix and to rent on iTunes, Vudu and Sony.
Secret in Their Eyes (November 20)
Once more, Hollywood has seen fit to remake a foreign language film for those among us who can’t read subtitles and watch a movie at the same time. Sucks to be them, I guess. At least this new version of the Argentinian original about the discovery of a police detective’s child and the generation-spanning chase for the killer has Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts to look at — and that ain’t half bad. If you’re in the mood for something crime-related, though, why not discover A Most Violent Year (2014). Not many people went to see this excellent film set in the grimy days of ’80s-era New York City, but you should see it now.
A Most Violent Year is available to rent on iTunes, Vudu and Sony.
Creed (November 27)
For some reason, boxing is the sport above all others that filmmakers love to make movies about. Why, I’m not sure, but I suspect it has something to do with boxing being an easy and less morally-questionable way of having men beat up on each other for two hours. And even that’s a dubious excuse at best. Yet another boxing drama comes our way, though, and this one stars Michael B. Jordan (who amazingly survived that disastrous Fantastic Four remake) and Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa once more. Look, you’ve probably already seen the classics like Raging Bull (1980), Rocky (1976), The Fighter (2010) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), but how about Fat City (1972) or Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)? Different beasts, but solid films that deserve a bit more credit than what they get. Avoid Against the Ropes unless you want a laugh of the worst kind.
Fat City is available for rent on iTunes and Vudu.
Requiem for a Heavyweight is available to rent on iTunes, Vudu and Sony.