Streaming Surprises, Volume 16

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

“Columbus” (2017)
People have been falling in and out of love for a long time now. Film’s keen interests in happily-ever-afters has trained us to recognize the important role music, roses, and a well-timed apology (better if there’s a boombox involved) play in a blooming romance. Filmmaker Koganada’s “Columbus” takes a different tact, and it asks viewers to consider how people variously reveal or keep themselves hidden in the early moments of relationships. The camera sometimes mimics the attention span of a character (maybe the audience) as it looks away to an interesting architectural element as another character is talking about something important. We seek balance and symmetry in relationships, either real-life ones or cinematic ones. “Columbus” would have us reconsider how important asymmetry to them as well.
Submitted by Rubén Casas. Available on Hulu.

“Don’t Think Twice” (2016)
At first glance, “Don’t Think Twice” is a funny movie about improv comedians. But under the surface, writer and director Mike Birbiglia tells the moving story of passionate performers searching for what’s beyond the spotlight. In this poignant tale of an improv troupe relentlessly searching for their big break, Birbiglia accurately portrays the often-overlooked state of dejection in aspiring performers. When one of the members lands a gig on a popular comedy show (Saturday Night Live but with a different name), the relationships inside the troupe begin to crumble. Birbiglia paints this delightfully, in an honest way. Touching on themes of honesty, maturity, jealousy, friendship, and failure, this film will relate to artists at any stage of their career and will act as a peek behind the curtain to those who enjoy comedy, film, or live performance but who don’t know the struggle of those artists who never quite make it. The film features an all-star cast of incredible comedians including Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher, Birbiglia himself, and some fun cameos along the way. This film will resonate with viewers not only because of the chemistry between the cast and witty writing, but because it refuses to gloss over the realities of “making it,” as you appreciate the passion and humanity behind the people who entertain us.
Submitted by Sirley Carballo. Available on Netflix.

“Loving Vincent” (2017)
This animated biopic comes alive in the form of tens of thousands of oil paintings rendered by hand in the style of Vincent van Gogh. While most van Gogh fans know that he cut off his own ear — an asterisk here: some historians have recently argued that Gauguin did the slicing during an altercation — fewer know the explanation for van Gogh’s death. It has been attributed to complications from a gunshot wound to the stomach, reportedly self-inflicted. After van Gogh’s death Armand Roulin, who sat for a van Gogh portrait, travels to the town of van Gogh’s death. Dressed throughout the film in the yellow jacket he wears in the famous portrait, Armand investigates the circumstances of the death by interviewing the townspeople and anyone who can give him information on van Gogh’s state of mind and his actions. The film is visually mesmerizing, the story intriguing, the title derived from van Gogh’s manner of closing his letters to his brother Theo: “Your Loving Vincent.”
Submitted by Linda Knight. Available on Amazon.