With the start of a new month comes a flood of new content to streaming services, and May is no exception. The last week has seen a few choice films and shows come to services like Netflix, and audiences will have even more to watch shortly. This week is devoid of remarkable new programming for the most part, but several classic shows and movies will be available, including a new Netflix documentary, a beloved sketch-comedy show, and an odd, short-lived sitcom.
John Woo’s forays into Hollywood were generally messy, but they’ve resulted in a few commercial successes, including 1997’s Face/Off, a stylish action film which features famed scenery chewers John Travolta and Nic Cage swapping roles. Travolta stars as FBI agent Sean Archer, a man out for revenge against Castor Troy, a terrorist-for-hire who killed Archer’s son. After Archer captures Troy in the film’s kinetic opening, leaving him comatose, he discovers that Troy and his gang have planted a bomb in Los Angeles. Desperate to find it, Archer undergoes an experimental procedure to graft Troy’s face onto his, allowing him to infiltrate the gang as Castor Troy. One problem: Troy wakes up and, angry, decides to take Archer’s face and his whole life. The two men set off on a bloody path of revenge, and while the action is as elegant as any Hong Kong film, what elevates Face/Off are the dueling performances from Cage and Travolta, each trying to show up the other.
Mr. Show with Bob and David (seasons 1-4)
Fans of alternative comedy should be excited for this one, as HBO will finally be adding its cult classic sketch comedy show Mr. Show with Bob and David. Headlined by comedians Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, Mr. Show is an odd chimera of a sketch show, combining surreal, serialized sketches with ’90s cynicism. Television history is littered with the corpses of sketch comedy shows; what sets Mr. Show apart is that Odenkirk and Cross are — as anyone who has watched Better Call Saul or Arrested Development can attest — good actors, and they bring complexity to characters who would otherwise just be one-note gags. Despite only lasting four seasons (along with a revival series on Netflix) Mr. Show’s caustic wit and brilliant cast set it among the great institutions of comedy.
The 2014 film Foxcatcher, a true crime drama based on the shooting of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz, drew acclaim for its tone and performances, but many audiences probably were not familiar with the bizarre true story it is based on. Team Foxcatcher, a new documentary from Netflix, is an exhaustive look into the events surrounding Schultz’s murder at the hands of eccentric sports patron John E. du Pont. Born into old money in the du Pont family, John dabbled in a number of fields and, fancying himself a wrestler, started his own training facility at his family’s Foxcatcher Farm. Among his recruits were Dave and his younger brother Mark. The documentary attempts to untangle the complicated relationships and events between the parties that led to murder.
Selfie (season 1)
Despite its atrocious title and marketing, ABC’s short-lived comedy Selfie had a lot of ambition. A modern retelling of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, in which a speech professor tries to turn a working-class girl into a member of high society, Selfie follows Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan), a sales representative with a disturbing addiction to social media. Realizing that her obsession with becoming internet famous has made her obnoxious, she seeks to reinvent herself with help from marketing expert Henry Higgs (John Cho). Despite its literary inspiration, Selfie is markedly modern, almost annoyingly so. Selfie aims to not just skewer millennial social media, but dismember it entirely. Unfortunately, it often dives a bit too convincingly into the zeitgeist, and some may find the constant pop culture references as irritating as the show’s protagonist. Still, Selfie is an interesting experiment, and its brief life makes for a breezy viewing experience.
Several classic James Bond films are finding their way online. But if you don’t have time to watch them all, why not stick with arguably the best — or at least the most iconic — of them all? Starring Sean Connery as the legendary spy James Bond, Goldfinger distills all the hallmarks of the franchise — slick production, dialog stuffed with innuendo, and oddball villains — into 110 minutes. The film follows Bond as he investigates gold smuggler Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), a cartoonish psychopath whose image revolves around gold. Connery makes his case for the title of “Greatest Bond” with his performance here, his lithe movements and wry humor establishing him as a professional killer that you can’t help but love.
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