By Emma Bernstein | The Playlist July 19, 2013 at 2:25PM
Hello stream-fans! Another week, another round of suggestions on how to spend that well-earned leisure time in front of your computer. This weekend sees two blockbuster releases in "Red 2" and "R.I.P.D.," both of which you might want to skip, and another collaboration from the "Drive" team of Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling, which we'd warrant you go see. Yet, in honor of it all—good, bad, and ugly—we've got our correlated streaming suggestions. Between a sports-noir mix featuring a young Jeff Bridges, comedic horror with John Malkovich, a simultaneous theatrical/VOD release, and (sort of) baby Gosling, you should have plenty to watch. There's also an oldie musical from Francis Ford Coppola and Fred Astaire and an early look at a classical Hollywood comedy from the Criterion Collection before its release on DVD. So let's get right down to it.
"Fat City" (1972)
What It's About: Lapsed boxer Billy Tully (Stacy Keach) finds his interest in the sport rekindled after an encounter with up-and-comer Ernie Munger (Jeff Bridges). However, lingering anger over a failed career, difficult relationships with women, and mild alcoholism threaten to impede Tully's comeback. Munger faces roadblocks of his own, but the two aspiring athletes continue to strive for "Fat City," or the good life. Susan Tyrrell costars as Tully's mercurial girlfriend.
Why You Should Stream It: Following a series of poorly received films including "Sinful Davey" (1969) and "Myra Breckinridge" (1970), "Fat City" marked a comeback for director John Huston. His follow-ups, such as 1975's "The Man Who Would be King" and "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" the year after, would generate similar praise and commercial success. Stark yet stunning lensing from acclaimed cinematographer Conrad Hall ("In Cold Blood") and a script from Leonard Gardner, adapting his 1969 novel of the same name, draws (or redraws) a series of grim, desperate characters that are entirely realized and incredibly sympathetic. Furthermore, the film was shot on location in Stockton, California, in a series of Skid Row settings that augment this understated and unsentimental realism. Both the picture and lead actor Keach received awards from various critics’ circles, while Tyrrell was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Finally, "Fat City" enjoys the distinction of maintaining a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which, however you regard the aggregator website, is no small feat.
Where It's Available: Amazon Instant, VUDU, YouTube
What It's About: When alien squids attack an isolated island off the coast of Ireland, and an impending storm quashes any chance of rescue or evacuation, two local police officers (Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley) must find a way to save the local inhabitants. Luckily for these citizens under siege, the little beasties quickly display a lethal reaction to alcohol. So what does everyone do? Why, they get piss drunk! And then fight off the monsters!
Why You Should Stream It: First off, there is nothing bad or boring about watching people get hammered onscreen, especially if said drunkards are forced to engage in something complicated. Secondly, the unlikely combination of romance, comedy, and horror conjured by director Jon Wright and writer Kevin Lehane is tremendous, and reinforced by spectacular effects and some exceptional performances. Our review from the 2012 Karlovy Vary Film Festival calls the film "perfect fodder for a late-night audience," citing the premise as being "so ripe with potential that we just can't believe no one's done it before." "Grabbers" is out in select theaters this weekend, but if it's not playing near you, or if you'd rather sit back (with a pint) in the comfort of your own home, you can watch it on VOD as well. We also imagine there's an excellent drinking game to be found here.
Where It's Available: Cable on Demand
"Finian's Rainbow" (1968)
What It's About: Scoundrel Finian McLonergan (Fred Astaire) steals a pot of gold from a leprechaun (Tommy Steele) and flees Ireland for the U.S. with his daughter, Sharon (Petula Clark), and hopes to multiply the small fortune in tow. But upon arriving in a small southern town, Finian finds his plans sidelined by an altercation between the open-minded Sharon and an intolerant politician (Keenan Wynn). And once the slighted leprechaun arrives in search of his treasure, things really begin to go downhill for the rascally Irishman.
Why You Should Stream It: Despite his later ventures into depicting the fantastic and the dreamscape, at this early stage in his career, director Francis Ford Coppola was still prone to addressing the troubling ruthlessness of reality, a fact which makes his involvement in this fairy tale somewhat curious. Yet, his collaboration with playwrights E. Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy, adapting their own 1947 stage musical, as well as the dance-happy (if aging) Astaire and songbird Clark proved quite successful: critics ultimately lauded the straightforward narrative and pared down look of the film, giving the two leads (and Clark in particular) their due in elevating the production above its Broadway counterpart. Although presented in anamorphic format when in theaters, "Finian's Rainbow" was cropped and resized for its home video release. But now in a digitally remastered format, you'll get the full view, complete with Astaire's dancing feet.
Where It's Available: Amazon Instant, iTunes, VUDU, Warner Bros. Archive Instant