What to watch the week of Friday, July 3

Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand

Danny Collins” is a nice little character piece for Al Pacino, a low-key redemption story about a rock legend who is jolted out of his numbed-out lifestyle and tries to reconnect with the son he’s never met. Pacino makes the most of the role and Annette Benning, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner, and Christopher Plummer co-star. It’s rated R for language, nudity, and drug use. Hey, it’s the rock star way. Also on Blu-ray and DVD. More on Stream On Demand here.

Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart team up for “Get Hard,” a comedy about a rich white guy who hires a middle-class black guy to help him prepare for life in stir. You know, a film with an R rating and a juvenile sense of humor. And “The Gunman” is an action film with Sean Penn as a retired mercenary whose past has come back for revenge. It’s rated R for violence and language. Both also on disc.

Available same day as select theaters nationwide is the science fiction invasion adventure “Robot Overlords” with Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson and the romantic drama “Jackie and Ryan” with Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes. Both are PG-13.

Al Pacino and Christopher Plummer in 'Danny Collins'
Al Pacino and Christopher Plummer in ‘Danny Collins’

Amazon Instant Prime

Get an eighties flashback with “Flashdance” (1983), with Jennifer Beals as a welder by day and an exotic dancer by night (add to watchlist), and “Dirty Dancing” (1987) with Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, and the immortal line: “Nobody puts baby in a corner!” Add to watchlist.

Even more romantic is “Heaven Can Wait” (1978), a remake of the old Hollywood romantic fantasy “Here Comes Mr. Jordan,” starring Warren Beatty (who also writes and directs with Buck Henry) as a star quarterback who dies before his time and is sent back to earth in the body of a murdered millionaire, where he falls in love with Julie Christie. Add to watchlist.

For action fans there’s the cult gang thriller “The Warriors” (1979) (add to watchlist) and the classic mismatched buddy picture “48 HRS.” (1982) with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte (add to watchlist), both from hard-edged action stylist Walter Hill, and the more lighthearted “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969) with Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the lovable western outlaws. Add to watchlist.

The PBS historical drama hit “Downton Abbey: Season 5” is now available for Prime members. I review it for Stream on Demand here. And as “Under the Dome: Season 3” gets underway CBS, the episodes are available the day after their network showing for Amazon Prime members. Add it to your watchlist.

Also new and interesting: the Stephen King adaptation “The Mist” (2007) (add to watchlist), the big screen parody of the seventies family sitcom “The Brady Bunch Movie” (1995) (add to watchlist), and Oscar winners “Gandhi” (1982) with Ben Kinglsey (add to watchlist) and “Glory” (1989) with Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, and Denzel Washington (add to watchlist).

And when all else fails, you can’t go wrong with another viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964), the funniest film ever made about nuclear holocaust. More on Stream on Demand here.


Netflix has its own eighties flashback this week with four summer hits of yesteryear. Disappointed in the new “Terminator” sequel? Check out the original “The Terminator” (1984), James Cameron’s hard-wired hardware time travel thriller that relaunched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career by making him the bad guy. Queue it up. It was actually Ah-nold’s second action movie hit. Two years earlier, John Milius cast him as the hulking mercenary lead in “Conan the Barbarian” (1982) and turned the bodybuilding champion into an action hero. Queue it up.

WarGames” (1983) stars Matthew Broderick as a high school computer hacker who inadvertently kicks off a countdown on a Pentagon computer that controls the entire nuclear arsenal. It’s a mix of computer gaming and “Dr. Strangelove” as a teen thriller. Queue it up. And then there’s “Road House” (1989), starring Patrick Swayze as a Zen bar bouncer who practices Tai Chi, takes his stitches without painkillers and makes his living taming the rowdiest bars in the region. “Prepare to die!” Queue it up.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist” (2012) is Mira Nair’s film of Mohsin Hamid’s bestselling novel about a successful Pakistani businessman in America whose sense of identity is rocked after the September 11 attack. Riz Ahmed stars with Kate Hudson, Liev Schrieber, and Keifer Sutherland. Queue it up.

John Sayles directs “The Secret of Roan Inish” (1994), a mix of family drama and modern fairy tale set in 1940s Ireland, a land of poverty and hardship and magic. Queue it up.


Hulu adds a big batch of films to their library (subscription only) this week, from Oscar winner Fargo” (1996) to eighties flashbacks WarGames (1983) with Matthew Broderick and Mystic Pizza” (1988) with Julia Roberts (check out the cast reunion here).

Here are a couple of film you may not be familiar with: two takes on modern love. Happy Accidents” (2000) is an old fashioned romance starring Marisa Tomei as an unlucky-at-love New Yorker and Vincent D’Onofrio as a sensitive, sweet soul who may be a time traveler, and Weekend” (2011), from the creator of HBO’s “Looking,” charts the evolution of a romance between two men from a one-night-stand to a weekend-long idyll.

Looking for a little virtual travel? Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon tour the fine dining establishments of England in the road movie comedy The Trip” (2010). But if you want to travel back in time as well as space, Werner Herzog’s documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams” (2010) brings viewers into the ancient Chauvet Cave, home to the oldest human artwork known to exist.


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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