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Cut the Cord: R-Z
June 2023. Volume 2, Issue 6.
Welcome back to Cut the Cord. This is the monthly newsletter that suggests great movies on free streaming services.
Anyway, let’s get on with it!
R: Rear Window (1998)
Jason Kemp is a quadriplegic who passes the time spying on his neighbors from his window. By chance he catches one of them, Julian Thorpe, beating his wife and reports it to the police. He becomes certain that Julian has killed her, but fails to convince his nurse or his friends of any foul play.
Christoper Reeve was playing The Circle in 1998!
All joking aside, this movie really isn’t too bad. Some fun performances and a decent thrill. It’ll never get over being a remake, but that’s because it’s remaking one of the best thrillers ever made. And it’s the perfect way for Reeve to keep working post-accident.
S: The Surrogate (2020)
Jess is thrilled to be the surrogate for her best friend and his husband, but when a prenatal test comes back, it creates a moral dilemma that threatens their friendship.
I finished this movie over a week ago (and we'll talk about how it's taken me a week to write this review) and I say "finished" because I actually started this movie over six months ago. With about 20 minutes left in the movie, I just turned it off and never came back. It was too painful and I was too scared to find out how it would end. A film about ethics and morality means that no one is right and no one is wrong - everyone will make excellent points - but yet someone will seem to be right or wrong to you. If you find watching and listening to these conversations to be challenging, imagine how it is for the real-life people who actually have to have these conversations.
For that very reason, it's been difficult to put my thoughts down, so I've opted to just suggest you watch this powerful, emotionally dense piece of work. If anything in this realm of this conversation is difficult for you, skip it, it's not worth it. But wow, what an effort for all involved - a thin tightrope with no net.
T: Thief (1981)
Frank is an expert professional safecracker, specialized in high-profile diamond heists. He plans to use his ill-gotten income to retire from crime and build a nice life for himself complete with a home, wife and kids. To accelerate the process, he signs on with a top gangster for a big score.
This one is all about the vibes and Michael Mann, Jimmy Caan, and Tangerine Dream bring the vibes.
U: Up in the Air (2009)
Corporate downsizing expert Ryan Bingham spends his life in planes, airports, and hotels, but just as he’s about to reach a milestone of ten million frequent flyer miles, he meets a woman who causes him to rethink his transient life.
George Clooney is a capital-m capital-s Movie Star. Sharing the screen with Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga, and Jason Bateman helps, but I'm pretty sure Clooney could act against a brick wall.
He really makes this miserable prick worth watching, a character who professionally fires people, avoids his "friends" and family, and aims for nothing in life except airline miles. It's not an easy task to get an audience to root for him, but he's George freaking Clooney.
V: Vice (2018)
George W. Bush picks Dick Cheney, the CEO of Halliburton Co., to be his Republican running mate in the 2000 presidential election. No stranger to politics, Cheney’s impressive résumé includes stints as White House chief of staff, House Minority Whip and defense secretary. When Bush wins by a narrow margin, Cheney begins to use his newfound power to help reshape the country and the world.
Anyway, this movie gets too much crap. I think the same thing happened to McKay’s Don’t Look Up. Sure, his politics are a little heavy-handed, but he’s a capable filmmaker and it’s not hurting anybody.
W: Waves (2019)
A controlling father’s attempts to ensure that his two children succeed in high school backfire after his son experiences a career-ending sports injury. Their familial bonds are eventually placed under severe strain by an unexpected tragedy.
This movie feels so real. It’s raw and messy and organic and perpetual - all thanks to so many well crafted and well executed elements. The cinematography and direction exist in this perfect balance to create these beautiful or excruciating (or sometimes both) montages that are elevated by fantastic music selections. And the performances make the work done behind the camera feel effortless and inevitable. It’s a stunner.
X: X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)
A doctor uses special eye drops to give himself x-ray vision, but the new power has disastrous consequences.
79 minutes! That’s what I’m talking about - thanks Roger Corman!
I have to say, I had a really long and stressful eye exam right before watching this movie and this was...a terrible follow-up. Very trippy.
Y: Yes, God, Yes (2019)
Alice, a young innocent Catholic girl, is tempted into masturbating after an AOL chat suddenly turns sexual, however is conflicted as the act would be considered a sin.
78 minutes! Easily digestible in the best way!
Natalia Dyer delivers a remarkable performance here, capturing her character's vulnerability and internal struggle with examining the complex relationship between faith and sexuality. Her subtle yet nuanced portrayal allows the audience to empathize with her predicament. It’s a movie that balances levity and introspection really well, stressful but funny. Short and sweet.
Z: Zola (2020)
A waitress agrees to accompany an exotic dancer, her put-upon boyfriend, and her mysterious and domineering roommate on a road trip to Florida to seek their fortune at a high-end strip club.
The first time I saw this, 30 seconds before it ended, a lady two rows in front of us said, “This is the dumbest shit I ever seen.”
That being said, this only got better the second time around on my recent rewatch. It’s insane. And I love it.
Credit: Each plot synopsis comes from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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