About two months ago, my parents decided to start getting the premium channels again. Which also means I get access to HBO GO (and its little brother, MAX Go)! There’s a lot of great and/or interesting movies on these services, so I thought I’d pick out a few of these movies to highlight each month. This month’s post will be quite long, because I’m going to include the previous picks that I’ve tweeted out (that are still available). [I would include stuff from Starz/Encore and Showtime, but my cable provider, Charter, doesn’t support either of those services yet. *CoughCharterpleasesupporttheseservicesCough*]
Update note: I haven’t done an HBO GO Picks post in a while, due to time constraints. However, a lot of these movies cycle in and out and between the two services fairly regularly, so while the links might not work any more, you might still find them on HBO GO or MAX GO if you search for them. My recommendations still stand, so give it a try!
Inception (2010, PG-13, 149min, HBO GO through August 31)
How do I describe Inception? I had heard basically nothing before seeing Inception in the theater, and then I had my mind blown. At this point, it’s probably impossible to have this kind of “pure” experience; Inception is too well-known in the pop canon culture to be super surprised. Great concept, great actors, and stunning visual effects. I’ve seen it several times, but I’m going to watch it again.
X-Men: First Class (2011, PG-13, 132min, MAX GO through September 30)
I was surprised by X-Men: First Class. I’m not very familiar with the X-Men franchise, but this movie was pretty great. I’d probably have liked it better if I was more familiar with the characters when they’re older, but it’s a great way to break into the X-Men. There’s a lot of characters, and several never seem to be fleshed out, but that’s an understandable problem given the large ensemble cast.
In Time (2011, PG-13, 111min, HBO GO until August 25)
I’m still surprised that Justin Timberlake was successfully able to transition from boy band member to movie star. In this movie, the time left in your life is the currency, and Timberlake’s character sets out to disrupt the system. Some of the character motivations are a little unclear, and it’s not how I would have liked to see this concept explored, but it was still an enjoyable film.
Fast Five (2011, PG-13, 131min, MAX GO until August 31)
Cars + heist movie + Brazil = Fast Five. That’s pretty much it. It’s not a movie that requires a lot of thought, but that’s why I liked it. It’s a movie where you can turn your brain off for two hours and just watch the explosions and crazy car chases.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010, PG-13, 102min, MAX GO until August 31)
This movie is about a depressed teen who checks himself into a hospital because of suicidal thoughts. What he didn’t know about was the mandatory 5-day stay. While in, he gains a little more perspective on life and himself, meets a colorful and comedic cast of characters, and a girl who might just be the one. This is a touching comedy that delivers laughs in an unexpected way.
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000, PG, 92min, MAX GO through August 31)
Dudley Do-Right (1999, PG, 83min, MAX GO through September 30)
George of the Jungle (1997, PG, 92min, No longer available)
Are any of these movies any good? Pretty much, no. Not at all. So what are they doing on this list? And why are they grouped together? Let me tell you the tale: when I was young, I lived in Anchorage, Alaska. Elementary school started relatively late in the day, so that meant there was a little time to watch cartoons on television before school started. However, back then we didn’t have Nickelodeon or Disney or any of those channels. So I got my morning cartoons courtesy of the local UPN station. And what did they show? Dudley Do-Right and Rocky and Bullwinkle! All three of these movies are based on cartoons created by Jay Ward back in the 1960s. All of these movies are pretty dumb, quite cartoonish, and feature a narrator who sometimes interacts with the characters in the movie. Interestingly, two of these movies star Brendan Fraser. George of the Jungle is pretty stupid, I’d skip it. Dudley Do-Right is OK, and includes one of the smartest bad guy schemes in all of cartoon history. Rocky & Bullwinkle is kinda fun because it does a lot with the fourth wall.
tl;dr These movies are a nostalgia trip for me from early morning cartoon-watching days.
Lorenzo’s Oil (1992, PG-13, 136min, MAX GO until September 30)
I first saw this film back in high school biology. Yeah, we had a cool teacher. Basically, Lorenzo has a very rare genetic disorder with no known cure, and basically no real treatment options either. That doesn’t stop Lorenzo’s parents though; they do everything they can and more to find a treatment. There’s even a decent amount of sciency stuff in there, but there isn’t enough to distract or take away from the enjoyment. And it’s based on a true story!
Back to the Future (1985, PG, 116min, MAX GO until August 31)
Back to the Future Part II (1989, PG, 109min, MAX GO until August 31)
Back to the Future Part III (1990, PG, 119min, MAX GO until August 31)
Gonna be honest. It’s been a while since I’ve watched the Back to the Future series, but I remember enjoying them. I especially like that the entire trilogy is available. They were on HBO GO, but now they’ve moved over to MAX GO, so you can still enjoy them. (Fun fact: when I originally tweeted about these movies on HBO GO, I got retweeted by @HBOGO. Probably because I included #awesome.)
Galaxy Quest (1999, PG, 103min, MAX GO until August 31)
Wikipedia says that J.J. Abrams called it “one of the greatest Star Trek movies ever made,” though there isn’t a citation listed. This comedy starring Tim Allen is both a parody of and homage to Star Trek and its fans. 20 years after Galaxy Quest gets cancelled, its main actors are still making money off of the show by appearing at Galaxy Quest conventions and signing autographs and such. However, the Thermians are an alien race that saw the television broadcasts and thought the show was real, so now the washed-up cast must help prevent their destruction at the hands of Sarris, an evil warlord. It’s a pretty funny movie.
Green Lantern (2011, PG-13, 114min, HBO GO until September 15)
Let’s face it. Green Lantern isn’t on the list because it’s a good movie. It’s on the list because it’s notable. Marvel’s movies tend to be of a fairly consistent high quality. DC’s still working on it. This certainly isn’t the worst movie ever, but it stands in stark contrast to DC’s big franchise, Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. If DC hopes to get their own Avengers-like movie going, they’re going to have to make a few movies that are better than this one.
La Casa Muda (The Silent House) (2010, TV-MA, 90min, MAX GO until August 31)
Here’s another one that I have to admit I haven’t seen. I just can’t get myself to watch horror films by myself. However, this Uruguayan film made the list because it’s notable for a few reasons: 1) It was made on a budget of about $6000, 2) It was shot on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 3) It was shot in one continuous sequence. Also, it got remade as Silent House starring Elisabeth Olson here in the US. Even though this is a Spanish title, it does have English subtitles. I can’t imagine how hard this must have been to make because of the continuous sequence!
Catfish (2010, PG-13, 88min, MAX GO until August 31)
You may have seen the Facebook movie, The Social Network. But did you know there were 2 Facebook movies in 2010? This is the other one. If you haven’t heard about it, great. I’ll just copy and paste the MAX GO description so I don’t ruin it: “A Facebook friendship takes a strange series of turns that leads a young man on an emotional and disturbing journey in this documentary. For ‘Nev’ Schulman, being ‘friended’ by a talented eight-year-old artist and her family results in a satisfying friendship–and more. But when Nev uncovers inconsistencies, he undertakes a journey to get to the bottom of the mystery.”
Field of Dreams (1989, PG, 106min, MAX GO until October 31)
I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t seen this one yet. Feel free to make fun of me in the comments. I just haven’t gotten around to it. Olympics have gotten in the way. Good thing I have until October 31. If only I could have included Moneyball on this list. I have seen that one, but it’s on Starz (Starz and Charter, feel like getting on top of this? Please?)