Reel Dad gives streaming films a second chance
Several weeks into the sequester, it may be time to broaden my movie palette.
What if I begin to use my time to revisit films that, the first time around, I didn’t admire?
Perhaps I was in the wrong mood, or rushed, or had been caught in traffic on the way to the theater. No matter the reason, I just checked what’s available to stream to identify some opportunities for second chance streams.
Here are my picks.
Julie & Julia (2009, Netflix)
When this opened, I wrote in my review, “Like any good meal, Nora Ephron’s new comedy about a woman’s obsession with chef Julia Child leaves you wanting more. Meryl Streep is a hoot as Child, so much so that you may wish the film had simply been called “Julia” and that the marvelous Ms. Streep could own every moment. Unfortunately, Ephron overfills the plate with a dull-by-comparison counter story about a blogger with a Julia complex.” Maybe a second look will deliver a different result?
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008, Netflix)
I panned this fourth installment of the celebrated franchise when it was released. For some reason, the magic of the original left screen. Could Harrison Ford have been too old to play the lead role? Not a chance. Was Cate Blanchett too cold for her role as a villain? Never. Did too much plot get in the way of the characters? Absolutely. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas needed to edit before they started shooting. Will a second look change my view?
As Good as It Gets (1997, Netflix)
As a movie fan who adores James L. Brooks - the writer/director of “Terms and Endearment” and “Broadcast News” - I couldn’t wait to see this comedy about lonely people. But it was clear, when the film opened, that Brooks had more ideas than he had screen time, and the final product felt cobbled together. Still, the movie brought Oscars to stars Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. Maybe I was wrong! I am looking forward to checking it out again.
Saving Mr. Banks (2013, Netflix)
This “backstage look at what happens before a story reaches the screen” (as I wrote when the film opened) took us behind the scenes of Walt Disney’s classic, “Mary Poppins.” While Tom Hanks (as Disney) and, especially, Emma Thompson (as author Pamela Travers) soared in their portrayals, I thought the film spent too much time on flashbacks instead of letting us explore the studio. But when the movie focuses on the movie, it’s really entertaining. I wonder how it will look the second time!
Soap Dish (1991, Amazon Prime Video)
My son, Jonathan, loves this film. As much as I love watching Sally Field on screen, I couldn’t get into the slapstick silliness of its take on soap operas. Give me a good parody any day and I am a happy moviegoer. But strong satire requires a foundation of character. And the screenplay by Robert Harling and Andrew Bergman plays too much with the gimmicks and spends too little time on the people. Maybe I was in a bad mood when I saw it the first time! That can happen.
A Matter of Time (1976, Amazon Prime Video)
Once upon a time in Hollywood, Liza Minnelli was a box office sensation after winning an Oscar for “Cabaret” in 1972. Then she made “Lucky Lady” which bombed and, when this misfire stumbled to theaters, Minnelli’s star began to fade. This collection of stylish moments and exaggerated performances never found its rhythm. And, a year later, Minnelli starred in the ill-fated “New York, New York,” closing out her career as a movie star.
A Bridge Too Far (1977, Amazon Prime Video)
When this three-hour war epic opened, I remember thinking it, “a movie too long,” as it explored, in great detail, the events surrounding Operation Market Garden during World War II. The film was teased for its all-star cast - including Robert Redford, Ryan O’Neal, Sean Connery - with almost everyone else working in Hollywood at the time. But my sons Matthew and Garrett love this film. Now I owe it to them to give the movie a second chance. I’ll let you know.
As you continue to stay at home, consider a fresh look at some films from your past.
You never know what you may discover.
And stay safe.