Daily Streaming Guide: March 21st Edition

My Daily Streaming Guide rolls along today with three new movies worthy of your binge watching consideration:

Amazon Prime

From 2007, David Fincher’s Zodiac finds the filmmaker in his dark and visually stylish wheelhouse. The man behind Seven and Fight Club meticulously details the case of the Zodiac Killer in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a top-notch cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. (one year before his first appearance as Tony Stark in the MCU).

Netflix

Speaking of stylish, Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive from 2011 has it in spades. It also defies genre placement. Ryan Gosling doesn’t have much dialogue, but this is one of his finest roles as a stunt performer who moonlights in underground criminal circles. A contemplative pic with violent outbursts, Drive is a stunner.

Hulu

On the cinematic front, J.J. Abrams is best known for revitalizing the Star Trek and Star Wars series. His stand-alone 2011 effort Super 8 has a Stranger Things vibe before that landmark show existed. With a heavy Spielberg influence, it would have been right at home being released in 1985. It’s a lot of fun and there’s a humdinger of a trash crash sequence.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Top 25 Best Movies (1990-2015): Nos. 25-21

With 2015 nearly over, we can take a look at the beginning of the 1990s through today and see an entire generation of films represented. It caused your trusty movie blogger to think about what my personal favorite 25 pictures have been over that time period and that’s a daunting task. I chose to make the list anyway and, truth be told, it’s a list that could literally fluctuate from day to day.

For one thing, it certainly wouldn’t be accurate to say I’ve seen every acclaimed film from 1990-2015 (and there’s still more to come). Yet I certainly feel confident I’ve viewed enough to make a solid listing and if it changes, I’ll gladly update this.

What we have here is my personal best breakdown of my 25 pictures I keep going back to. That I just can’t quit (Brokeback Mountain didn’t make the cut, by the way). Obviously this is entirely subjective. Movies I wrote down that didn’t make the list are ones that I truly love and or admire from comedies like Dumb and Dumber, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, The Big Lebowski, There’s Something About Mary, The 40 Yr. Old Virgin, and Superbad. Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, which is way at the top of my traditional animated material from the studio. Same goes for Pixar’s Toy Story franchise. Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained. Fincher’s The Game. Genre standard bearers like Scream, The Matrix, and Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Best Picture winners Unforgiven and No Country for Old Men. American Psycho. Glengarry Glen Ross. Black Swan. Nightcrawler. Captain Phillips. American Sniper. Lost in Translation. Casino. Traffic. The Sixth Sense. The Usual Suspects. L.A. Confidential. Inception. And this is what didn’t make it.

So let’s get to what did, my friends! We’ll do this in five installments counting down from #25 to #1. Here we go:

25. Drive (2011)

Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s ultra violent art house crime pic is a triumph of mood and music with magnificent performances from Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, and Albert Brooks. More than most others, Drive stayed with me and I find myself going back to it frequently. Is it in acquired taste? Yes and definitely mine.

24. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

This is the only documentary of many I could have considered for inclusion, including Hoop Dreams, Man on Wire, and so on. Yet no documentary floored me like Capturing the Friedmans, which tells the truth is stranger than fiction tale of family members accused of child molestation. It’s riveting, heart wrenching stuff that I found myself endlessly recommending to friends.

23. Fight Club (1999)

I wasn’t crazy about David Fincher’s Fight Club when I saw it in the theater circa October 1999. Since then, I’ve come around and been able to recognize it for the timely masterpiece that it is.

22. Casino Royale (2006)

It’s my second favorite James Bond flick ever after only 1963’s From Russia with Love. It brilliantly cast Daniel Craig in the role of 007 and stands as an absolute classic in the canon of the British super spy franchise.

21. Minority Report (2002)

Many movie fans simply thought this Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise futuristic action thriller was solid. I thought it was amazing from the moment I set eyes on it and it says a lot about the current state of our world and its security. It’s Spielberg’s best work since the early 1980s in my opinion.

And there you have it! I’ll have 20-16 up very soon…

Ranking David Fincher

This weekend, director David Fincher’s latest film Gone Girl posted his largest box office debut among his ten pictures he’s made over the past two decades plus.

The 52 year old actually his start in the world of music videos and his long list of credits includes Madonna’s “Vogue” and “Express Yourself”, Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun”, Don Henley’s “The End of the Innocence”, Michael Jackson’s “Who Is It?”, George Michael’s “Freedom 90”, The Rolling Stones’ “Love is Strong”, and Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”.

Fincher would get his big break in film with a beloved sci-fi franchise, though his entry failed to meet audience expectations and his directorial career was looking shaky. Three years later, an unexpected hit would arise and since then, Fincher’s never looked back. And by doing so, he’s provided audiences with some of the greatest and often darkest entertainment in cinema for 20 years.

In honor of his 10th effort, I decided to take on the very difficult task of ranking every Fincher flick from 10-1. Let me make one thing clear… there’s not one of these films that you shouldn’t watch if you haven’t already… he’s that good.

Here we go!

10. Alien 3 (1992)

Not nearly as bad as its reputation, Alien 3 does certainly suffer in comparison to Alien and Aliens, but it gives viewers a first taste of Fincher’s distinct visual style. The shoot of Alien 3 was a notoriously difficult one and Fincher was brought in at the last minute after several others dropped out. The result is uneven, but still worthwhile.

9. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

The first of his pictures to receive Oscar attention is actually the only Fincher feature I would call slightly overrated. Stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett are solid and the visuals are undeniably remarkable, but it’s overlong and not as involving as it should be.

8. Panic Room (2002)

This might be a conventional home invasion thriller if not for Fincher’s splendid technical work, a forceful lead performance by Jodie Foster, and an unexpectedly great turn by Dwight Yoakam as a demented burglar.

7. Gone Girl (2014)

Fincher followed up Tattoo by taking on another celebrated novel and the results were quite pleasing. Like Mara in Tattoo, Rosamund Pike received an Oscar nod in this thriller that would make Hitchcock proud.

6. Zodiac (2007)

The true life police procedural focusing on the mysterious Zodiac killer is right up Fincher’s alley with a sturdy lead performance from Jake Gyllenhall and Robert Downey Jr. beginning his remarkable comeback as an alcoholic reporter. The murder scenes are disturbing in ways only its director can pull off.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Many were skeptical that Fincher could pull off adapting this beloved book, but he accomplished that and then some here. Rooney Mara earned an Oscar nod and a sequel is still rumored with Fincher participating.

4. The Game (1997)

It might be implausible when you rewatch it over and over, but it doesn’t much matter. The mind warp of a thriller starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn is one helluva ride.

3. Fight Club (1999)

Fincher’s most polarizing effort has a lot to say about its generation, materialism, and conformity. It took me a second viewing to realize this a pitch black comedy… and it’s an astonishing one with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton shining in their roles.

2. Seven (1995)

This is the picture where Fincher truly emerged after the disappointment of Alien 3… and did he ever. The last 30 minutes, I would argue, is possibly the most intense segment of a movie. Ever.

1. The Social Network (2010)

When it was announced that the wonderful David Fincher was making a movie about the founding of Facebook, cinema lovers were confused and highly suspicious that he’d gone off the rails. Turned out he made one of the most important films of our era. Lesson: don’t doubt Mr. Fincher.

And there you have it! Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on his best works and, as I said, if you haven’t seen all of these titles – you should.

Oh… and I forgot to mention he also directed a number of Paula Abdul videos, including “Straight Up”. So here’s that!