"Jayne Mansfield's Car" (2013)
What It's About: Set across a few days in 1969, the film tells the story of an Alabama family who learn that their bloodline spills over to England, with a funeral bringing the two sides of the clan together tumultuously.
Why You Should Stream It: Perhaps making a nice movie to serve as a double bill with this week's "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," the latest effort from writer/director Billy Bob Thornton serves up an ensemble mix of drama and comedy that's becoming rarer and rarer these days. He stars in the flick along with a sprawling cast that includes John Hurt, Frances O'Connor, Ray Stevenson, Kevin Bacon and Robert Patrick, with everyone giving—as we noted in our review from Berlin—"unshowily enjoyable" performances. It's nice opportunity to see a bunch of character actors of this calibre soak up in a Southern story that rolls like a Sunday afternoon breeze.
Where It's Available: iTunes
Criterion Hulu Plus Pick
We like Criterion a lot, but what we love is finding hard to find, not-readily-available-on-DVD movies. And so the Criterion hub on Hulu Plus is pretty awesome. Their archive has approximately 225 movies that will eventually come out on the Criterion Collection on DVD, but currently, it's just a rather incredible, early sneak peek treasure trove of what's to come. Each week we single out a film that we think you should see.
"The Housemaid" (1960), "Touki Bouki" (1973), and other selections from Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation
What They're About: The World Cinema Foundation, established by Martin Scorsese in 2007, preserves and restores films from around the world, principally from countries which lack the necessary financial and technical resources to do so themselves. This week, Hulu Plus is showcasing eight titles that were recently restored by the non-profit organization, and have never before been available in the United States. In Korean director Kim Ki-young's "The Housemaid," a husband's not-so-covert affair with his domestic servant gives rise to a household teeming with bitterness, conspiracy, and vengeance. Meanwhile, a young couple goes to great lengths to escape the alienation and monotony of their lives in Dakar, hoping to begin anew in Paris in the Senegalese film "Touki Bouki" (Wolof for "Journey of the Hyenas"), directed by Djibril Diop. Also included in this slate are "Law of the Border," "Dry Summer," "Trances," "A River Called Titas," "Revenge," and "Redes."
Why You Should Stream Them: Refurbished by the WCF in 2008, the first in Kim's trilogy of so-called "Housemaid films" is a sexy, taut, well-acted thriller that is as distressing as it is pleasurable, much like the indecent relationship at its center. Bringing forth a deeply personal narrative, "The Housemaid" prods at the obsessive, rebellious, and selfish tendencies of human nature, to great and lasting effect. "Touki Bouki" (also restored in 2008) demonstrates influences of the French New Wave, its dissonant scoring, chaotic cinematography, and fast-paced editing atypical of African filmmaking. The picture won the International Critics Award at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, and has since received accolades in various film journals, but never managed to gain much traction with the larger public; that it's now more widely available is surely a coup for African film and cinephiles alike. Although we centered on our favorite picks from the compilation, Scorsese—a notorious cinema buff—rarely hands out a bad recommendation, and we'd suggest you give them all a shot. You can also check out the director's introduction to these films in the video below.
Where They're Available: Hulu Plus (and free for nonsubscribers through August 24)
"Free Angela and All Political Prisoners"
"No One Lives"
"No Place on Earth"
"Star Trek Into Darkness"
"This is Martin Bonner"
"This is Spinal Tap"