OnStream: July 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. [Insert Classics Here] (7/1 on Amazon Prime, Netflix)

Looking at the slate, it is a lean month for newer releases, so let’s start off with an assortment of classics that will be available. One of Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic movies shows up on Amazon Prime, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Other great options on Amazon include Bull Durham, Clear and Present Danger, Cold Mountain, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, The Hunt for Red October, Kingpin, Manhattan, Rosemary’s Baby, and a whole lot of Star Trek movies.  Steven Spielberg’s E.T. is sure to stir up some emotional childhood feelings on Netflix if you’re interested. Other Netflix options include Best in Show, Delicatessen, Emma, Matchstick Men, Punch-Drunk Love, and Titanic.

2. The Salesman (7/6 on Amazon Prime)

This Oscar-winning Iranian film was listed as being available last month, apparently that didn’t happen, or it popped up and then went away for a bit, similar to what happened to The Handmaiden back in March and April. Maybe this time they’re telling the truth. I’m still interested in seeing it.

3. The Assignment (7/6 on Amazon Prime)

Typically, I like to list highlights, but this is a unique lowlight of a movie that could be offensively bad or quietly veer into the “so bad it’s good” category. Michelle Rodriguez plays an assassin who wakes up to find out that he has undergone a gender reassignment surgery and goes after the doctor who performed the sex change. The doctor, sadly, is Sigourney Weaver. The premise sounds like it reeks of the desperation of trying to make a topically relevant action movie that severely strains believability, but apparently the script is as old as 1978. There’s about a million ways this movie could go wrong. I’m equal parts fascinated and appalled that this movie exists and wonder how it got greenlighted by a studio.

4. The Void (7/6 on Netflix)

The Void is a sci-fi horror movie that looks creepy as hell. A group of people are surrounded in a hospital by a group of mysterious hooded figures. It played for about a week here in Portland, ME back in April, and I didn’t get a chance to catch it then. I had heard good things, but my schedule just didn’t line up with being able to see it. Currently, it’s boasting a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes with comps to low-budget 80s horror films. Sounds like it could be a candidate to become a cult classic down the line.

5. Our Kind of Traitor (7/8 on Amazon Prime)

After the critical success of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy there has been a renewed interest in adapting the spy stories of John le Carre. Our Kind of Traitor came out in 2016 and received little attention, but it is a quality spy thriller about an unassuming British couple on vacation that gets roped into the defection plans of a Russian oligarch afraid for his life. Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris play the couple while Stellan Skarsgard is the affable Russian mobster. Damian Lewis has a supporting role as an MI6 operative.

6. Lion (7/9 on Netflix)

Looking back at the Oscars for 2016, Lion was the also-ran nominee for most of the major categories. It’s a shame, because in a slightly weaker year it could have easily been a strong Oscar contender. Lion is the story about Saroo, who was orphaned in India as a child and adopted by a family in Australia. As an adult, he uses Google Earth to go searching for his birth mother and his brother. The first half of the film is really harrowing, focusing on how Saroo got lost and barely survived on the streets of Mumbai, but ends in a quite poignant and slightly bittersweet place.

7. To the Bone (7/14 on Netflix)

Another month, another Netflix original film. This time it’s a dramedy about an anorexic young woman (Lily Collins) and the unorthodox doctor (Keanu Reeves) who challenges her face her eating disorder and change her life before it’s too late. The film is written and directed by Marti Noxon, a long-time Hollywood writer and producer on several TV shows including Mad Men, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Glee, and Grey’s Anatomy.

8. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (7/18 on Netflix)

The first of the planned Star Wars anthology stories, Rogue One was a pretty successful expansion of the Star Wars universe that didn’t compromise the integrity of the original trilogy. It’s not original, as it pretty blatantly draws inspiration from classics like The Dirty Dozen, The Guns of Navarone, and a few other movies about covert missions in wartime, but it is effective.

9. Miss Sloane (7/19 on Amazon Prime)

Miss Sloane is a movie from last fall that got lost in the shuffle a bit during the end-of-year/Awards Season rush.  Directed by John Madden and starring Jessica Chastain, it seems like it was positioned for Awards Season, but missed its wave. This film is a dramatic thriller where Chastain plays a powerful D.C. lobbyist who gets on the wrong side of a powerful opponent that may be too much for her, even though she has a win-at-all-cost attitude. Chastain is an actress who is so consistently great, I will see her in just about anything she chooses to do.

10. Chef (7/28 on Amazon Prime)

Chef is a fun film written by, directed by, and starring Jon Favreau from 2014. It’s about an unhappy chef of a prestigious restaurant in L.A. who abruptly loses everything, buys a food truck, and begins to rediscover his love of food and family as he travels cross country serving food. It’s a pretty great road trip movie and features some tasty looking food too. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but it’s the kind of movie that’s like good comfort food.