Film Forum

Streaming Surprises, Volume 14

Our “Streaming Surprises” series calls attention to good movies new and old. Titles are available from various streaming services.

Gerald’s Game (2017)
2017 was a big year for Stephen King adaptations. Versions of King’s works, “The Dark Tower”, “I Am the Doorway,” “It,” “1922” (also on Netflix), and “Gerald’s Game” all were released within the year. “It” is my personal favorite of that bunch, however Gerald’s Game is a strong second. The movie is about Jessie who finds herself handcuffed to a bed frame and fighting to survive after her husband dies unexpectedly during their romantic getaway. The movie was directed by Mike Flanagan, a director with a good horror track record (Oculus and Hush) and stars Carla Gugino, whose acting is really impressive in a mostly solo performance. Even though not all the elements of the story jell together as strongly as they could, Gerald’s Game is an entertaining suspenseful thriller that is definitely worth a watch.
Submitted by Carlos Eduardo Rincón. Available on Netflix.

A Ghost Story (2017)
From the moment I first saw this trailer in the theater, I was hooked on the song used in it — “I Get Overwhelmed” by Dark Rooms (the singer/songwriter Daniel Hart also composed the score). When the whole song is played in the film, I was completely lost in it. It was one of my favorite scenes of any film I saw in 2017.

Beyond that scene, there were many images from this film that stuck with me long after seeing it for the first time. The whole film is framed like a projector slide, with it’s unique curved corners. It feels appropriate while as the ghost is perpetually looking on at his former wife and his old home, we see brief flashbacks of important moments between the two characters.

A fair warning: this film is a…slowly paced 92 minutes with little dialogue. It should be watched when you’re feeling patient. There is a moment fairly early on where your patience will really be tested, maybe to the point of discomfort. With that warning given, I still absolutely recommend it for Rooney Mara’s quiet but moving performance, for the beautiful images created with the unique visual format, and for the story’s reflections on grief, memories and the passage of time.
Submitted by Justus Bier-Stanberry. Available on Amazon Prime.

The animated French film “Ma vie de courgette” plays as an ode to trust and true love. The comedic drama, directed with great wit and technical care by Swiss filmmaker and animator Claude Barras, tells the story of Zucchini, a young boy sent to a foster home to live with other orphans after he loses his mother in an unexpected accident. The range of characters Zucchini meets at the foster home are instantly endearing, as they bond with each other as a makeshift family. The technique of using handcrafted stop-motion animation adds a deeper layer of feeling that the director has called “social realism,” creating what Barras describes as “a childhood film rather than a children’s film, a melodrama on childhood full of emotion and humor.”
Submitted by Jefferson Beavers. Available on Netflix.

Our 2019-20 season: Sept. 13; Oct. 11; Nov. 8-10 (Fresno Film Festival); Jan. 10; Feb. 7-8 (Oscar shorts); March 13; April 10; May 8.