What It's About
Promoting his new book, a struggling horror writer (Val Kilmer) arrives in a small town and quickly becomes ensnared in the suspicious death of a young girl. The author searches for answers as he tries to heal the wounds of his own past, and discovers a local history far eerier than anything he could engineer. Then, a series of vivid dreams featuring visits from a ghost (Elle Fanning) and Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin) spark his detective brain and imagination alike, and he begins writing a new novel. That's when the spheres of reality and non-reality start to collide. Director Francis Ford Coppola has attributed the story's roots to an aborted dream of his own, and the deeply personal turn the picture takes is a clear effort to see that vision through to its end.
Why You Should Stream It: Perhaps most importantly, this marks the first time the film is available to American audiences. And with a small screen release date that matches up with daughter Sofia's big screen premiere of "The Bling Ring," it's hard not to acknowledge the cinematic talent in this family. While our review of "Twixt" out of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival wasn't necessarily glowing, it did admit the movie's humorousness and concluded, "the film is ostensibly a mystery about some murders in the town but really seems to be about Coppola having fun playing inside his subconscious." Well, that sounds quite intriguing. Bizarre and low budget it may be, but for crying out loud: it's still Francis Ford Coppola.
Where It's Available Amazon Instant, Cable On Demand, iTunes, VUDU
"Funny Games" (1997)
What It's About: A family vacation turns harrowing (but not in the usual, bored stiff kind of way) in this psychological thriller from Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke. A couple and their young son arrive at a secluded lake house, but plans for a little R&R are swiftly waylaid when the two men staying next door take them hostage. Physical and mental torture ensues as the captors force the family into a series of sadistic games.
Why You Should Stream It: Distinct from many of today's similarly premised slaughter-fests, "Funny Games" maintains suspense without ever resorting to excessive goriness, the controlled use of violence making the horrors and the thrills that much more successful. With a meta-narrative that blends fiction and reality while constantly defying classical Hollywood technique, this is a piece of cinema that interrogates the filmmaking process and serves up just as many questions as answers. In true Haneke fashion, the film forces the audience to confront something unsettling within itself: we are asked to examine the pleasure we glean from watching appalling behavior onscreen and the anticipation we feel at the shocking moments still to come. And hey, if nothing else, the director liked it so much he made a shot-for-shot English-language remake in 2007 starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth.
Where It's Available Amazon Instant, iTunes, Netflix