Now Streaming: Satirical and hysterical

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[Streaming movies—on services such as Netflix—are ephemeral: Here one day, gone the next. The purpose of the Now Streaming series—written by film critic Jeffrey M. Anderson—is to alert you to what movies are new to streaming, what you might want to watch before it disappears, and other cinema treasures that are worth checking out.]

God Bless America

God Bless America

★★★☆☆

With his previous film, World’s Greatest Dad (2009), and this incendiary comedy, Bobcat Goldthwait has become quite the American satirist. In God Bless America (2012), Joel Murray—Bill’s brother—plays Frank, a newly unemployed malcontent who decides to kill himself. But he realizes it’ll be more satisfying to kill the bratty teen star of a reality series, “Chloe.” A classmate of Chloe’s, Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), thinks Frank is cool and joins him on a cross-country killing spree, dispatching anyone who is unkind. Murray’s great performance carries the film, and Goldthwait sticks to his convictions all the way to the end.

Margin Call

★★★★☆

In another timely tale, J.C. Chandor made his writing and directing debut with this astounding drama of a Wall Street firm. In 2008, a young broker (Zachary Quinto) learns that the firm’s risky investments have stretched things too thin and a huge crash is imminent. Soon all the head honchos are sitting in late-night meetings trying to decide whether to protect the public interest, or save the firm. Guess which one they choose? Jeremy Irons has perhaps the key role as the man in charge, untouched by it all. Margin Call (2011) feels a bit like a play, but with some quiet, tense cinematic touches. Chandor received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay.

Small Soldiers

Small Soldiers

★★★★☆

Joe Dante’s Small Soldiers (1998) looked a bit too much like a family movie or a summer blockbuster, and very few realized what a canny satire on war it really was. A new series of action figures, the Commando Elite and the Gorgonites, were made with military technology, which unexpectedly enables them to wage real wars with one another. Even stranger, the alien Gorgonites are the good guys! It’s up to a toy store owner’s son (Gregory Smith) to save his suburban neighborhood.

The Ruling Class (expiring 8/7)

★★★★☆

With The Ruling Class (1972), writer Peter Barnes, director Peter Medak, and star Peter O’Toole leveled their satire at England’s elite. O’Toole plays the soon-to-be Earl of Gurney, who happens to be barking mad; he believes that he’s, by turns, Jesus Christ, God, or Jack the Ripper. His family tries to steal his newly inherited estate from him, but the Earl is not so easily duped. O’Toole is one of our greatest scenery chewers, and this was one of his best and funniest performances. He earned the fifth of his eight Oscar nominations for it.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

★★★☆☆

Given all the Sherlock Holmes mania going on at the moment, fans may want to get a look at Billy Wilder’s version, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), starring Robert Stephens as Holmes, Colin Blakely as Watson, and—best of all—Christopher Lee as Mycroft Holmes. Known as a master satirist, Wilder’s amusing, fascinating movie doesn’t go the usual route; rather, it hints at Holmes’ sexuality and various romances. Wilder originally filmed a much longer version, but this 125-minute cut is all that is known to exist.

Creepshow

★★★★★

George A. Romero and Stephen King bonded over their mutual love for old EC horror comics and teamed up on the satirical anthology horror film Creepshow (1982). Each of the five stories has a tense, gruesome quality, but in each one, bad people get punished in the most horrific—and humorous—ways. King himself stars in “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.” And don’t miss four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris doing his silly dance in “Father’s Day.”

The Bellboy

The Bellboy

★★★★★

You won’t believe it unless you see it, but Jerry Lewis’ The Bellboy (1960) is one of the great American directorial debuts. It’s not a satire, but it’s a wonderful example of pure comedy, stripped of plot and everything else. It’s a great way to forget the world’s troubles, rather than making fun of them. Lewis plays the title bellboy at the Fountainbleu Hotel, and trouble follows him through several unconnected episodes. Lewis filmed in rich black-and-white, performing his cartoonish routines in big, deep spaces. Lewis isn’t just for the French. At only 71 minutes, it’s worth a try!

What’s new

  • Albert Nobbs (8/8)
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • Arthur (1981)
  • Big Doll Houus
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Capote
  • Charlotte Gray
  • Cruising
  • Demolition Man
  • A Dirty Shame
  • Dogtooth
  • Driving Miss Daisy
  • Extract
  • Graveyard Shift
  • Heartbreakers
  • Heaven’s Gate
  • High Noon
  • The Hunter (Willem Dafoe)
  • Funny Farm
  • Lady for a Day
  • A Little Princess
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
  • Risky Business
  • Sabrina (1954)
  • Somewhere in Time
  • Superman II
  • The Sweetest Thing
  • Tequila Sunrise
  • Tightrope
  • Wasabi
  • Welcome to Collinwood

Expiring soon

  • Adam & Steve (8/11)
  • Five Corners (8/12)
  • Hoop Dreams (8/7)
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: The Best of Fractured Fairy Tales (8/9)

This story, "Now Streaming: Satirical and hysterical" was originally published by TechHive.

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