OnStream: June 2017

Ken Jones

  • OnScreen Chief Film Critic

Every month, Netflix and Amazon announce a list of movies they are adding to their streaming service.  While I mostly focus my attention on movies currently in theaters, this is alternative programming for people who can’t get to the movie theater on a regular basis.  Here are 10 recommendations from the new streaming titles available in the month of June.

1. The Salesman (6/1 on Amazon Prime)

Asghar Farhadi’s film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards.  It gained notoriety in the news because Farhadi did not attend the ceremony because of the travel ban imposed by the Trump White House at the time.  Now that it is available for streaming, it is a chance to separate the picture from the news that surrounded it.  Farhadi is one of Iran’s most acclaimed directors, having also won Best Foreign Film for A Separation.  Living in Maine, I don’t often get a chance to see many foreign language films in theaters so I’m looking forward to catching up on this one.

2. Blow Out (6/1 on Amazon Prime)

While I primarily would like to focus on newer movies in this list, I also want to throw in an older movie or two as well.  This month has no shortage of classics, including Apocalypse Now, the film I’m going to make time for is another one I have not seen, but have heard positive things about over the years, Brian De Palma’s 1981 film Blow Out.  It stars John Travolta as a Hollywood sound man who records evidence that a car accident was actually a murder.  It is supposedly highly influenced by Michaelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup (1966) and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974), both excellent films.

3. Spring (6/1 on Netflix)

Spring is a weird mashup of genres that I stumbled across back at the end of 2015.  It’s Before Sunrise for the sci-fi crowd.  An American, traveling around Europe to avoid some hometown troubles, strikes up a romance with woman who turns out to have a very dark, mysterious secret.  There are horror elements, but it’s mostly romance, centered on these two characters opening up to one another. 

4. War on Everyone (6/3 on Netflix)

This month is heavy on movies I have not seen, but have heard positive things about or have been looking forward to.  War on Everyone is one I have been eagerly awaiting since the beginning of 2016.  It made my Most Anticipated of 2016 List when I crafted that at the beginning of 2016.  Sadly, it never saw a theatrical release; rather, going the VOD route.  It’s a dark comedy about two corrupt cops from writer/director John Michael McDonagh, who made 2011’s The Guard and 2014’s Calvary, which made my Top 5 of 2014.

5. 20th Century Women (6/5 on Amazon Prime)

This film from writer/director Mike Mills appeared on a number of year-end lists at the end of 2016.  It also garnered awards buzz, earning a Golden Globe nomination for Annette Bening and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.  The film is set in 1979 and focuses on a teenager being raised by his mother and two other women in Southern California.  Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, and Billy Crudup co-star with Bening.

6. Stanford Prison Experiment (6/17 on Netflix)

This 2015 movie is based on a famous, real-life psychology experiment gone wrong.  24 male students are selected for a mock prison simulation, 12 guards and 12 inmates.  It’s a loaded cast of young talented actors that includes Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Keir Gilchrist, and Michael Angarano.

7. Star Trek Beyond (6/17 on Amazon Prime)

Star Trek Beyond is the third entry in the Star Trek reboot started by J.J. Abrams back in 2009.  This time, acclaimed action director Justin Lin assumed the helm of the franchise.  It’s much more action-heavy than most Star Trek entries are but it’s a pretty solid action movie.  The regular cast returns, with Idris Elba (the villain) and Sofia Boutella added to the mix.

8. Moana (6/20 on Netflix)

Moana was one of the most beloved and enjoyable movies of 2016.  Along with being a critical darling, it became a huge financial winner for Disney.  A lot more parents will be hearing its catchy songs in their homes after June 20th.  If this serves as a warning for you or helps to build anticipation for June 20th, what else can I say except, “You’re Welcome?”  Moana came in at #12 on my Best of 2016 list.

9. Paterson (6/22 on Amazon Prime)

Jim Jarmusch is one of the idiosyncratic directors that make movies that have to be 100% viewed on their terms.  If you’re not on its specific wavelength then you will not appreciate or enjoy the film in any way.  At least that has been my experience, as I’ve enjoyed some of his filmography and been perplexed by other parts of it.  I suspect that this slice of everyday life starring Adam Driver as a bus driver who is a poet could be more accessible than, say, The Limits of Control for instance.  Even if it is not, I am intrigued.

10. Okja (6/28 on Netflix)

Speaking of intrigue, few directors are as intriguing as Bong Joon Ho and the concoctions he comes up with that are his films.  The Host, Mother, and Snowpiercer are very distinct movies.  Okja is an original film for Netflix about a genetically engineered animal, a young girl that befriends it, and the multi-national corporation that takes it away, and the competing interests of the activists groups trying to help the little girl get it back. The film stars Seo-Hyun Ahn as the young girl, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, and Jake Gyllenhaal, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, and Giancarlo Esposito.