Now Playing! July 2021

    217
    So many movies come and go from streaming platforms before you even get a chance to see them. This month, I picked my favorite movies lurking in the streaming abyss. What brings these films together is the characters’ unstoppable determination to move forward despite the obstacles in their way. When Johnny Utah says, “I’m gonna learn to surf or break my neck,” he means it. Watch Point Break and the other films on the list before they’re gone.

    Sailor Moon Eternal: The Movie (2021)
    Dir. Chiaki Kon – Netflix 

    This film is a dream come true for fans of the 1990s anime series, as well as the original manga. The movie’s beautifully bright animation is a welcome throwback to the original series. Its themes of hope, positivity, and staying true to yourself are also a lovely testament to the message of Sailor Moon. The story begins when the Dead Moon Circus comes to town, secretly hoping to take control of the moon kingdom. Indeed, the sailor guardians are left hopeless when Queen Nehelenia and other members of the circus prey upon their deepest insecurities. It will take a mighty dose of self-esteem (and the help of a magical Pegasus) to defeat them. 

    Point Break (1991)
    Dir. Kathryn Bigelow – HBO Max 

    Point Break is an over-the-top action film with a strangely philosophical bent. Leading the story is Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), an FBI agent who goes undercover as a surfer to expose a mysterious group of bank robbers. Much to his surprise, he falls in love with surfing and becomes enraptured by the unique outlook of the group’s leader Bodhi (Patrick Swayze). Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze have phenomenal chemistry, and Lori Petty is wonderful as Tyler (the woman who teaches Johnny Utah how to surf and steals his heart). Combine that with the power ballad-laden soundtrack (think Concrete Blonde and Ratt), and you’ve got the perfect summer movie.

    Bound (1996)
    Dir. Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski – Hulu

    Bound is a fierce and precise thriller. It’s the first feature film of The Matrix directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski, and it’s a wonderful showcase of their talent. The two have a knack for focusing on their characters’ unique desires and motivations, while also creating grand, genre-focused films. After being released from prison, Corky (Gina Gershon) moves into a new apartment and quickly falls for Violet (Jennifer Tilly) when they lock eyes in an elevator. Violet lives with her boyfriend Caesar (Joe Pantoliano of The Sopranos), a member of the mafia. Together, Violet and Corky hatch a plan to steal $2 million dollars and run away together. Shot in a neo-noir style, it’s enthralling to watch the story unfold. As their plan veers dangerously off track, you’ll find yourself hoping that the new couple will get away with the perfect crime. 

    The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
    Dir. Lau Kar-leung – Amazon Prime

    This Shaw Brothers classic is one of the best kung fu movies ever made. It’s hard to deny its cultural impact. The film has influenced countless other works, from films to music, and when you see the movie, it’s no surprise why. Its vibrant colors and exquisite costumes pack a punch on screen, and its philosophical themes are equally inspiring. The film follows Liu Yude (Gordon Liu), a young student who narrowly escapes death only to seek refuge at the Shaolin Temple. There, he convinces the monks to train him in martial arts. The character’s resilience is inspiring as he gets through the chambers of Shaolin, each meant to train him in a new skill (some involve knives, others fire). It’s what Liu Yude does with his newfound skills, and his desire to share them with the world, that makes this hero’s journey so profound.