Weekend Streaming Recommendations: Kill Bill, Assault on Precinct 13, The American, & More
Welcome to WTI’s Weekend Streaming Recommendations where I recommend 4-5 films that under-watched, under-appreciated, or just plain old personal favorites. My goal is to take the hassle out of deciding which film to stream on the plethora of streaming sites that populate the internet. To make your streaming life easier, I include which platform each film is available on along with a link to the trailer. Now sit back, relax, and click on play!
Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2
Quentin Tarantino waited 6 years after Jackie Brown to release this epic 4 hour revenge film Kill Bill. The film is about a female gun-for-hire (Uma Thurman) who runs out on a assembly of globe-trotting assassins run by her mysterious boss Bill (viciously played David Carradine), after getting knocked up by her fiancé. Bill orders her death by the others in the group and they commence the attack on her wedding day. The Bride survives the shooting and sets out on a bloody path of vengeance after all her loved ones, including her unborn child, are murdered. Tarantino’s film (split in two volumes) has all of his trademarks that film fanatics will love. References to older films of the genre, witty dialogue (including a monologue delivered by Carradine near the end that is probably the best thing Tarantino has ever written), extreme violence, a soundtrack filled with all kinds of extraordinary pop songs; even an entire backstory sequence completely done in Anime. Thurman and Carradine both deliver career best performances while the likes of Michael Madsen, Lucy Lui, Daryl Hannah and Vivica A. Fox give solid supporting roles to back them up. Tarantino has made better films (Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds) but Kill Bill is easily his most entertaining. – Watch the trailer
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
John Carpenter is world renowned for his horror classic Halloween and his (many) other contributions to genre filmmaking. But many overlook this early action cult classic he made before all those other hits. In inner city Los Angeles, rival gangs have decided to unite against the police and somewhere in the city a young girl is murdered while getting a treat from an ice cream truck. The girl’s father kills a couple of the gang members and he flees to a police house which is a day away from closing for good. The gangs close in on the building (Precinct 13) and the police must hold off the mob until reinforcements arrive. The film is great at building a sense of dread throughout and Carpenter, of course, brings his excellent musical score along with his great panache for action. This is a must for genre fans. – Watch the trailer
George Clooney is one of biggest movie star on the planet, so it doesn’t surprise me that a lot of movie goers overlooked Anton Corbijn’s slow burning, icy cold European spy thriller. An American assassin (Clooney) hides out in a small hill side Italian town while he begins his last assignment. It is after all, a far cry from the universally watched Ocean’s series; but this is one of Clooney’s very best films. As hiding out in the stunning Italian countryside, he begins a quiet friendship with a priest and also takes solace with a local prostitute. Clooney is of course great as an aging hit man whose level of trust is tested at every turn. Stunning cinematography, supplied by Martin Ruhe, along with Corbijn’s music video background, make The American a gorgeous film to look at. The film moves at a snail’s pace and will require some patience, but those who stick with it will be rewarded with a film that pays off immensely by the time the credits roll. The American is a severely underrated thriller. – Watch the trailer
When I planned my trip to TIFF three years ago, I had a list of about 40 films I wanted to see. Americano was very close to making it to my final list of 17 or so films that I would eventually see. I instead chose to see Melancholia; a decision I do not regret. But I was still dying to see Mathieu Demy’s film about a young Frenchman, Martin, who returns to his childhood home (in Los Angeles oddly enough) after his mom dies. She left a specific note in her will for a mysterious younger woman that Martin has never met. Now he must seek her out to deliver the message. Demy pulls triple duty as writer/director/star and succeeds at all three. He is excellent at capturing lost moments of Martin’s childhood and then reintroducing them at key moments in the film to add a little more weight. By the time the film hits its third act, we are in a dirty and rustic Mexican town where Martin meets up with Lola (Salma Hayek looking as vivacious as ever), the mysterious woman in question. Her entrance is a highlight of the film as Moderat’s magical track “A New Error” carries an unbroken tracking shot through a seedy strip club while Lola reveals herself to a crowd of lonely souls. Americano is at times sublime and magical and at others, sometimes in the same moment, melancholy and heartbreaking. While many films are made in Los Angeles, very few are able to capture how beautiful the city truly is like Demy’s film does. – Watch the trailer