Like so many of you, I continue to peruse the highways and byways of multiple streaming platforms in a quest, ever hopeful I will discover something wonderful to watch and recommend.
That pursuit has recently left much to be desired, still the search goes on. What follows is a listing of some that are mostly worthy, if not outstanding… what we used to call in the motion picture business, “B” movies.
The movie industry hardly makes these things anymore, choosing instead to swing for the fences with what are called “tent pole” movies… pictures that often cost in the hundreds of millions to produce. This is thought necessary by the wise and powerful in Hollywood so as to have box-office figures that approach the billions.
It really is sort of too bad when you think on it. Afterall, Casablanca was a “B” movie in its day, and so was The Treasure of Sierra Madre. With a little research it would be easy to come up with a dozen more examples of films that went on to become motion picture classics that were made back in the day as filler for a voracious distribution system, or to placate… for the moment… a discontented star or director.
The A list and the B lists back in Hollywood’s heyday were a very real thing, indicating not only the status of a particular film but of actors, writers, and directors as well. Before the government’s lawsuit of the 1950s (US vs Paramount) which forced the major studios to divest themselves of their theatre chains, an MGM, or a 20th Century Fox, or a Paramount might produce upwards of fifty films a year. Not every one of them could be a “blockbuster.”
Today’s “B” movies are the few made by independent filmmakers as well as the stand-alone films and miniseries made for the TV networks and premium platforms, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBOMax, and the like.
Here is a small collection… not terribly noteworthy in terms of great cinema… but some you might enjoy watching:
LOU on Netflix is the distaff answer to the Old Man. The best thing about it is that Lou is Allison Janney, and that the movie is only one hour and forty-seven minutes long. It is only a bit far-fetched, but credible enough to maintain your attention span for the less than two hours required to see it all.
THE PATIENT stars Steve Carell. It is on Hulu, and you shouldn’t turn it on expecting a lot of laughs despite its lead actor. In this mini-series, Carell plays a psychotherapist, kidnapped by a serial killer seeking a cure through therapy for his compulsion to commit murder. It takes ten not-too-long episodes to round out the entire caper. It is worth a look-see, but only if you are already a subscriber to Hulu.
THE BEAR has only eight episodes to make its point and it does it well… albeit a bit frenetically. This is no homage to old-fashioned film making, but it catches the eye, and is worthy of your attention. No one will fault you if you say it is not your cup of chowder. FX put this out there… and these are folks one must admire as their shop has been responsible for sterling series such as Justified and The Americans to name only two of the super shows that platform has produced. Hulu has this now, so … just maybe… you should consider becoming a subscriber after all.
BAD SISTERS: so near and yet so far. This is a wannabe one season wonder which is about three quarters of a season too long. It is a terrific setup for a wonderful movie but…. Ten episodes??? My mentor used to say, “you can stretch a thing, but don’t tear it.” That is sort of what happens here. It is good enough that you should judge for yourself… and Ireland looks like a lovely place to make a movie. In case you missed my point, I’m sorry they didn’t eschew the series and make the movie instead. Might well have been a whole lot better. Sometimes less is more. But if you do watch, stick with it to the end; the last episode is not one of those that should have been cut…it’s one that almost makes the whole thing worth watching… almost. It is on Apple TV.
What???? You didn’t know about Justified? Forget the above and plunk down the mini bucks for a Hulu subscription. This fabulous series is worth the price of admission anywhere. One of the best ever made for TV, it will bowl you over week after week, season after season. Justified ruled the roost from 2010 to 2015 and it is a shame it ever ended.
Follow Barney at:
To purchase “Cagney & Lacey and Me” click or go to: http://www.cagneyandlacey.com/products-1/merchandise
From the eye and mind of a man who’s been there and done that, I always find Barney’s reviews to be right on target. The films he finds worthwhile, usually are. And the others, well he saves me from channel surfing, watching half an episode, walking out of the room, or falling asleep. So Thanks, Barney. Dena Stewart