The Boss complained 30 years ago that there were 57 channels and nothin’ on. Today we have a streaming bonanza, yet you still might find yourself scrolling endlessly, searching for entertainment that feeds your mind, heart, and funny bone.
In this column, hopefully the first of a series, I’m going to help you find what the majority of movie cognoscenti consider the most satisfying, memorable movies you can stream today. Later, we’ll tackle the subject of TV shows, and what might merit committing all those hours to watching a season of a TV series.
Everyone’s taste in movies is different, so who knows if you’ll love them. I can only promise that these are well made, provide lots to feel and to think about, and aren’t stupid, obvious, trite, or demeaning. That cuts out at least 98% of the films that have ever been made. See how much time you’re already saving?
Today we’ll look at movies on HBO Max, because it has the best content of any streaming service (though, unfortunately, the most annoying user interface).
The Daytrippers – A smart indie comedy about a dysfunctional family excursion to the city. Great cast, great characters.
The Fisher King – The most human and touching of Terry Gilliam’s films. How long must you pay for forgiveness when you’ve committed the unforgivable? Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges are electric.
Juno – Adorable, horrible, and real. HBO also has the nastier, revealing follow-up, Young Adult, with Charlize Theron.
Moonstruck – How long since you last watched this one? One of the best romantic comedies ever.
George Carlin’s American Dream – A recent documentary about the great standup’s simultaneous fall and rise.
Thoughtful and Dark
Eraserhead – David Lynch’s breakout film is suspenseful, stylish, creepy, funny, unforgettable, and never lets up.
Nightcrawler – A thoughtful, disturbing drama that shows Los Angeles in a true light.
Entertaining, Older Foreign-Language Films With Soul
I Vitelloni – A fun early Fellini film that most haven’t seen. The other Fellini films on HBO are all excellent, too.
Pépé le Moko – A great French 1930s gangster film set in the Casbah. See why Jean Gabin was the overseas Bogart.
Umberto D. – A 1952 Italian neo-realist film you might like even more than Bicycle Thieves. An old man and his dog. Spirit-lifting and heart-breaking.
If you need more, HBO Max sports a quarter of the films on this highly recommended list: AFI 100 American Movies
And if you want more, let us know. Next time, we’ll explore great films and TV series available on Netflix, Prime, and AMC.