The Amazon Prime Video catalog is growing by the month, and not only because a ton of old movies are jumping into the public domain. They’re getting their hands on Oscar and Emmy winners, along with an ever increasing selection of original programming. If you don’t have Amazon, now may be the time to consider signing up, if only because you’ve run out of stuff to watch on Netflix. Here are the best things coming to Amazon Prime Video this month.
The AIDS scare is over, hopefully, but that doesn’t mean Philadelphia is any less powerful of a movie. Plenty of people had their lives and livelihoods ruined by a complete and total misunderstanding of homosexuality and the HIV virus, and Philadelphia gives a voice to some of those victims. It’s not an easy movie to watch, but with two great performances from Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, you can bet the material is handled with the respect and intelligence it deserves.
Married to the Mob
Michelle Pfeiffer has shown more than once that she has some comedy chops. Stardust and The Family both prove she knows her way around a punchline, though Married to the Mob proved the point long before either of those. You also get some late 80s Alec Baldwin and Joan Cusack too, with a few other names we should probably recognize. It’s also inventive, the way it plays the FBI and mafia off each other and it’s good to see a mob movie with some upbeat moments.
Saturday Night Live movies aren’t generally good and depending on your point of view, Superstar isn’t either. But we know we laughed at this movie, which is kind of the point of comedies. Molly Shannon is one of SNL’s great character comedians and Mary Katherine Gallagher is easily her best work. She’s one of the few characters who’s strong enough to carry her own movie and carry it she does. It’s a turn-your-brain-off-and-maybe-have-something-else-to-do kind of movie, but it’s the best kind of one of those movies, so we’re excited to be able to stream it.
Throw Momma from the Train
Offering to kill your writing workshop instructor’s ex-wife seems like something Danny DeVito might do in real life, especially since we can never parse out exactly how different DeVito is from his characters. You don’t get to play someone like Frank Reynolds or Owen LIft from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Throw Momma from the Train, respectively, without raising a few questions about your real personality. DeVito also directs the movie, which may or may not further prove the point we’re trying to make about him. Whatever he’s like in real life, it’s undeniable that DeVito has a knack for comedy.
The King of Comedy
Normally we wouldn’t recommend a Robert De Niro comedy, but this was early 80s De Niro, before he got caught up in soulless franchise comedies. The premise, a man who has constructed an elaborate late night talk show fantasy in his mind, has room for him to show his talents. There’s a lot of truth to the premise as well, as anyone who knows aspiring comedians or people who religiously watched Jon Stewart’s reign The Daily Show and The Colbert Report can tell you. Those people seemed to think Stewart and Colbert were their close personal friends, not the internationally renowned celebrities they actually were. The only rightful place those delusions have is in the movies.
Stand Up Guys
Getting a bunch of past-their-prime actors together to relive their glory days shouldn’t work, but when those guys are Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, and Christopher Walken, the idea can’t help but work. Between the three of them, they have enough experience in the crime and comedy genres that they’ll carry whatever the plot is. In this case, it’s a healthy serving of crime and murder, so that’s always fun to watch. This is also a movie where the reviews and audience reception are all over the place. It cratered on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert’s reviewers gave it a near perfect score, and IMDB users were lukewarm about it. Just watch it and make your own decision.
Spaceballs is one of the movies that keeps us from fully trusting Rotten Tomatoes ratings. It’s not “certified fresh,” which calls into question their whole system of reviewing movies. For us, Spaceballs and Blazing Saddles are on the same level. They both tear through their respective genres with Mel Brooks signature style and pull some of the best comedic talent available in the 70s and 80s, though flip those if we want to talk respectively. Rick Moranis’s performance as Dark Helmet stands out both in this movie and in his career, and he delivers more of this movie’s classic lines than anyone else.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The plot is hard to nail down with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, though, since this movie was made by the same director as The Lobster, we’re thinking the confusion is part of the point. The Lobster wasn’t exactly straightforward either. Teenagers already make us uncomfortable and when they’re dudes who decide stalking is a fun pastime, it’s basically a guarantee that we’ll find your creepy movie sufficiently creepy. Make sure someone is around when you’re watching this one because otherwise you’ll be locking yourself in a safe room while you pray for a Children of Men situation to eliminate the world’s teenage population.
The Florida Project
Setting The Florida Project in a budget motel not far from Disney World is no accident. It provides an immediate and stark contrast in financial well-being, with affluent tourists only a stone’s throw from where a single mother struggles to provide for her daughter. The only reason this movie isn’t a complete sobfest is because it mostly follows the daughter, who has no trouble finding happiness in her daily life. It fluctuates between a feel-good movie and a depressing look at poverty. What you get from it will depend on what you focus on most, but we chose to go with a more optimistic view, so we felt pretty good by the end.
Paul Walker was an understated talent. Not that he was wasted on the Fast and Furious franchise, but they didn’t give him a whole lot of room to flew more nuanced acting muscles. Hours is absolutely a chance for him to show his range. He plays a new father stranded in a hospital hit by Hurricane Katrina who has to manually power his premature child’s respirator. The battery is faulty and has to be recharged every three minutes, adding a precariousness to an already desperate situation. It’s not quite his last movie, but it amplifies the tragedy of his early death, since Hours makes it abundantly clear he went out at the top of his game.
While you’re here, check out our picks for Netflix this month too.