The Best Films to Watch Without Ever Leaving Your Bed This Week

Every Monday morning, I find myself whispering the old Beckett adage “I can’t go on, I’ll go on,” to myself as I settle down into work. No matter how thrilling the day’s prospects may be, it’s that midweek slump that always seems to rear its ugly head in the worst way. But never fear, the hours are sure to breeze on by and soon it will be the weekend—one that happens to be rife with fantastic films both premiering and screening around the city, thanks to new premieres and various wonderful retrospectives.

But in the meantime, what better way to spend an evening than curled up under the sheets enjoying the best of cinema—new modern masterpieces to enduring classics—from the comfort of your bed? And with myriad options to choose from on Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes, the nightly decision of what to show in your private bedroom screening can prove a challenge. So to make your time easier, I’ve rounded up your favorite films available to stream—peruse our list, get cozy, and enjoy.

 

Goodbye First Love (Netflix)

Goodbye First Love” is fascinating. I’ve withheld a lot of information from you. I wonder exactly what Hansen-Løve means by it. It seems to me that a great deal more anger and contempt would be appropriate toward Sullivan — if not from Camille, then from the film. At the same time, Camille herself is a suitable case for study. Love is one thing. Even first love. But her love is so extreme and durable, it qualifies as a psychiatric condition. If Sullivan were afraid of her intensity, we might understand the trip to Peru. But the suspicion remains that he never fully comprehends its depth. We think of first love as sweet and valuable, a blessed if hazardous condition. This film, deeper than it seems, dares to suggest that beyond a certain point, it can represent a tragedy.” 

Less Than Zero (Netflix)

George Carlin was once asked how cocaine made you feel, and he answered: “It makes you feel like having some more cocaine.” That inescapable fact is at the bottom of “Less than Zero,” a movie that knows cocaine inside out and paints a portrait of drug addiction that is all the more harrowing because it takes place in the Beverly Hills fast lane, in a world of wealth, sex, glamor and helpless self-destruction.”

 

 

Double Suicide (Hulu)

However, Shinoda has succeeded in revealing an entirely new level of meaning through his mise en scène. The film begins with the kurago (the men dressed entirely in black who traditionally handle the puppets) assembling the bunraku puppets in preparation for the performance ofDouble Suicide while someone gives final instructions over the phone. The film moves into the ostensibly real world of drama, live actors taking over for the puppets, though still manipulated by the kurago. Shinoda has said that the kurago realize one of Chikamatsu’s basic principles: the need to realize the “thin line between truth and falsehood.” “They . . . represent the eye of the camera, . . . the desire of the audience to force their way deeper into the story, the minds of the characters, and possibly even . . . the mind of Chikamatsu himself.”    At times they manipulate the characters, drawing them nearer their inevitable fate, shown briefly at the beginning of the film, when Jihei crosses a bridge, under which the camera reveals his body lying next to that of Koharu. This emphasis on the artificiality of the drama serves the purpose of distancing the audience in a Brechtian fashion. The audience cannot identify with the individual characters, and is therefore forced to observe, much the same way as the kurago. This second use of the kurago brings about the film’s deeply disturbing effect. As the tragedy mounts, Shinoda constantly makes us aware of the kurago’s anguish—his continual close-ups of the masked faces reveal their awareness of their own helplessness. Their enforced silence mirrors that of the audience, and signifies a mounting despair.”

 

Paris is Burning (Netflix)

Beatings, violence and rejection are daily realities for men who want to pass as women, and so there is a certain courage exhibited by their choice. There is also a social commentary. Some of the reviews of “Paris is Burning” have called the movie depressing – because the dancers are pretending to be the kinds of people who would not accept them in real life (“After all,” one person says, “how many gay black males are there in the business executive ranks?”). I was not depressed. What I saw was a successful attempt by the outsiders to dramatize how success and status in the world often depend on props you can buy, or steal, almost anywhere – assuming you have the style to know how to use them.”

 

 

Tabloid (Netflix)

Even in his first film, “Gates of Heaven” (1978), Morris was looking but not judging. Every audience I’ve seen that film with has been divided about whether he loves its subjects or is mocking them. Impossible to say. And Joyce McKinney? She is so likable and sounds so plausible, and yet what was the deal with the red wig and the mime troupe? She sounds wounded in explaining her early nude photos are Photoshopped. But they sure do look like her — and how did they get printed in real magazines before the invention of Photoshop, and why would anyone back then have wanted to substitute her face on somebody else’s body?   What is amazing is that Morris gets McKinney to talk at all. And not only her, but others who were involved, all staring directly into the Interrotron and all sounding uncannily as if they’re speaking the truth. I’ve seen “Tabloid” twice. It is a spellbinding enigma, and one of the damnedest films Morris has ever made.”

 

The Model Couple (Hulu)

Though Klein keeps things psychoslapstick in this self-contained world of spaceship gadgetry and monitored orgasms, his depiction of a government usurping personal privacy and freedoms—as well as of a constant-surveillance reality-TV scenario—is soberingly prescient. As with Klein’s prior fictional outings, the film remains remarkably fresh; Klein’s social satire carries a timeless sting. He has continued to make films in the years since, but Klein has left behind the frenzied world of the imaginary, focusing instead on the fantastically real in unconventional documentaries on the May ’68 revolution, Little Richard, and Handel’s Messiah—just some aspects of a whirlwind multimedia career. Klein’s fiction films nevertheless stand apart, heightening reality in order to harness its frightening, absurd truths.”

Days of Heaven (Netflix)

Malick is a true poet of the ephemeral: the epiphanies that structure his films, beginning withDays of Heaven, are ones that flare up suddenly and die away just as quickly, with the uttering of a single line (like “She loved the farmer”), the flight of a bird or the launching of a plane, the flickering of a candle or the passing of a wind over the grass. Nothing is ever insisted upon or lingered on in his films; that is why they reveal subtly different arrangements of event, mood, and meaning each time we see them. Because everything is in motion, everything is whisked away quickly, and the elements of any one cellular moment are very soon redistributed and metamorphosed into other moments. Just look at and listen to the last minutes of Days of Heaven, with their split-second swing between end-of-the-line melancholic emptiness and wide-open possibility, for a sublime illustration of this ephemerality, which is miraculously caught and formalized in the language of cinema.”

 

 

Certified Copy (Netflix)

The first effect of this startling coup de cinéma is to take us out of the fiction by reminding us that it is a fiction. Once this happens, we are less able to relate to the two characters as people we might encounter in life than as artifices created by an artist whose motives can only be called opaque. I once described Kiarostami’s work as “a cinema of questions,” and the central twist inCertified Copy leaves us with many to ask. Which half of the film is “true”? Are these characters playacting in one or the other? Or could it be that the halves are competing falsehoods, or equally true in parallel universes? And how does this connect to all the talk about copies and originals, art and marriage?   In discussing the influence of poetry on his work, Kiarostami has often spoken of leaving gaps or elisions in his stories in order to invite or oblige the viewer to consciously participate in the creation of meaning. Certified Copy certainly qualifies as a variation on this technique; ultimately, we must determine what “happens” (or doesn’t) in the film, which means that our intentions regarding the characters (do we want them to be strangers or spouses, flirtatious or alienated?) are at least as important as Kiarostami’s. As for what he intends, both cinematically and personally, some of that may be discerned by pondering the two films that Certified Copyarguably has the most significant relationship to: Roberto Rossellini’s Voyage to Italy (1953) and Kiarostami’s own The Report (1977).”

 

My Dinner with Andre (Hulu)

My Dinner with André was shot over two weeks, on a set designed to resemble the Cafe des Artistes, a favorite New York restaurant since 1917 for an upscale bohemia. The coverage that Malle devised is extremely simple: mostly medium close-ups, reverse angles, and some pans between the two characters. Occasional cutaways to other diners, the waiter, and a strategically placed mirror on the wall next to the table add a bit of visual variety, but what matters is the conversation, which begins as a monologue and then takes a sudden turn into a sputtering, not entirely coherent, but heartfelt intellectual argument. André’s seductiveness as a storyteller has to do with the unstable mix of emotions bubbling beneath his smooth, urbane delivery. He’s not only eager to share his adventures with Wally (and, by extension, with us), he is desperate for an understanding ear. His desire to reach out to someone who could possibly make sense of what he has put himself through and reassure him that he’s not as mad as a hatter wins our sympathies. The more Wally resists him, the more we’re drawn to André’s side.”

 

Les enfants terribles (Hulu)

Cocteau’s was a sensational book, not merely “daring” but one that tapped the antagonism between French institutions—school, family, police, military—and the generation not quite adult but already more clearheaded about what they wanted, and especially what they didn’t want, than their parents had ever been. In book and film, we’re presented with the superannuated, spiritually mildewed figures of the school prefect, the family doctor, the family lawyer, the spectral French professional class, unchanged since the time of Balzac, that does things a certain way because things have always been done that way. Les enfants terribles deals with these figures in a manner suggesting that what all such people actually do is keep the wheels of social boredom in stabilizing slow motion and the joy of living in a state of rot.”

 

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (Hulu)

The story was scandalous in a way that might have appealed to Warhol. Godard saw it as an opportunity to explore a subject always on his mind—prostitution, and not only the actuality of it but as a metaphor encompassing all exchanges involving labor, money, and power in capitalism. He had already made the affectingly restrained Vivre sa vie (1962), in which a young aspiring actress (Anna Karina) is seduced into selling her body because she can’t figure out how else to survive. (Of course, she does not survive for long.) And one would be hard-pressed to think of the Godard film that does not at some point make metaphoric use of prostitution. (Movies as varied as Chantal Akerman’s 1975 Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles and Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 The Girlfriend Experience have for better and worse been influenced by this idée fixe.)”

Lovers on the Bridge (Netflix)

Leos Carax’s “The Lovers on the Bridge” arrives trailing clouds of faded glory. It was already one of the most infamous productions in French history when it premiered at Cannes in 1992, where some were stunned by its greatness and more were simply stunned. Its American release was delayed, according to Carax, because its distributor vindictively jacked up the film’s asking price. Now it has arrived at last, a film both glorious and goofy, inspiring affection and exasperation in nearly equal measure.”

 

The Short Films of David Lynch (Hulu)

You hear the term Lynchian and you know what you’re in for—a “deconstruction of this weird irony of the banal” filled with “expressions of certain anxious, obsessive, fetishistic, oedipally arrested, borderlinish parts of the director’s psyche.” But even in his earliest films, most created while he was a student at AFI, Lynch’s films felt a part of the world we associate with him now. Heavily influenced by the work of Francis Bacon, he focused on paintings and art forms outside of film until realizing that if he could put these ideas and creations in motion, just how much more powerful they could be.”

 

Tokyo Drifter (Hulu)

One of the ironies about Suzuki is that he and other Japanese B directors have been neglected in the West for years, in part because of the critical favor lavished on specific Japanese auteurs, including Ozu and Mizoguchi. One of Japan’s leading critics, Tadao Sato, however, makes a strong case for Suzuki as an auteur in his own right. Dubbing him a gesakusha, “a humorist whose roots date back to the popular comical literature of the Edo period,” Sato locates radical logic in the director’s wild style. Like others of his wartime generation, Suzuki took refuge from Japan’s militarism in a doctrine of mutability. “For Seijun Suzuki, who had lived amid annihilation, it was necessary to view oneself objectively, even to the point where mutability appeared pathetic and humorous at the same time.” Adds Sato, “It was even necessary to discover a certain masochistic pleasure in the abnormal experience that shook one’s core,” which is why his best films resemble a “masochistic cartoon.” High praise indeed.”

 

The Double Life of Veronique (Hulu)

So in The Double Life of Véronique, perhaps, we are not dealing with the “mystery” of the communication between two Véroniques but with one and the same Véronique who travels back and forth in time. In these terms, the key scene in the film is the near encounter of the two Véroniques in the large square in Kraków, where a Solidarity demonstration is taking place. This episode is rendered in a vertiginous circular shot reminiscent of the famous 360-degree shot from Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Afterward, when the French Véronique is introduced, we can understand Polish Weronika’s perplexity as arising from an obscure awareness that she was about to have an impossible encounter with her double (later, we see a photo of her taken at that moment by Véronique). The camera’s circular movement, then, can be read as signaling the danger of the “end of the world,” like the standard scene from science-fiction films about alternative realities, in which the passage from one to another universe takes the shape of a terrifying primordial vortex threatening to swallow all consistent reality. The camera’s movement thus signals that we are on the verge of the vortex in which different realities mix, that this vortex is already exerting its influence: if we take one step further—that is to say, if the two Véroniques were actually to confront and recognize each other—reality would disintegrate, because such an encounter, of a person with her double, with herself in another time-space dimension, is precluded by the very fundamental structure of the universe.”

 

 

Night on Earth (Hulu)

The male characters in Jarmusch’s films tend to be laconic, withdrawn, sorrowful mumblers (Bill Murray in Broken Flowers, Tom Waits in Down by Law, Forest Whitaker in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai), with an occasional live-wire motormouth charging in to dominate the action. No live wire is more alive, no motormouth is in higher gear than Giancarlo Esposito in the second part of Night on Earth. His performance is so energetic, so tightly sprung, one feels that his entire body might explode at any second. After a languid montage of introductory shots, detailing a number of inanimate objects around the city (a glowing pay phone, a graffiti-covered truck), there he is, standing in the middle of Times Square on a freezing winter night, an oddly dressed black man wearing a grotesque fur hat with dangling earflaps, desperately trying to flag down a cab. It’s a widely known fact of New York life that black men, even black men dressed in suits and ties, have great difficulty getting taxis to stop for them. Esposito shouts at each passing cab, frantically waves his arms, implores each one to stop, but his efforts appear to be doomed. Then, a miracle. A cab pulls up, but when Esposito announces that he wants to go to Brooklyn, the driver steps on the gas and speeds off. This is another widely known fact of New York life, and as a longtime resident of Brooklyn, I can vouch for its accuracy. Taxi drivers are reluctant to take passengers from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Growing more and more agitated, Esposito pulls a wad of money from his pocket and holds it up in the air, proving that his intentions are honest: he can pay; all he wants is to go home. After another cab ignores him, he calls out in frustration: “What, am I invisible, man?” Note the subtlety of the line. The word racism has not been mentioned, but how not to think of Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man, the classic exploration of what it means to be a black man in America? Whether Jarmusch is making a conscious or unconscious reference to the book is unimportant. The words are delivered in a natural, even humorous, way—and yet they sting.”

 

The Spirit of the Beehive (Hulu)

The Spirit of the Beehive was controversial from the start. Although it won the main prize at San Sebastián on its release, the jury’s enthusiasm was not shared by all the public. Some of the audience, restless at the film’s slow pace, even booed. Yet The Spirit of the Beehive is a classic example of one strand of Spanish filmmaking at that time. Like many repressive regimes, Francoism attempted to use cinema to change its negative image abroad and to create the impression that freedom of expression was permitted. By producing some internationally successful “quality” films, the regime also hoped to raise the status of Spanish cinema generally, which was at that time dominated by crude, mainstream comedies. By the early seventies, these policies had led to the production and export of many experimental and even discreetly oppositional films, although, of course, no overtly leftist movies could be made. The gaping holes in the plot of The Spirit of the Beehive and the mysterious motivations of its characters are typical of this “Francoist aesthetic,” a term used to describe artistically ambitious movies of the time that made use of fantasy and allegory. These characteristics, which remain so magical to modern audiences, were used in the period as a form of indirect critique.”

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