6. Shaft
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

Release Date: 1971

Genre: Blaxploitation/action

Director: Gordon Parks

Cast: Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn

Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks? Shaft. You’re damn right. Gordon Parks‘ immortal blaxploitation classic awaits you on FilmStruck. Richard Roundtree is John Shaft, the coolest motherfucker on the planet. Private eye Shaft is hired to find a gangster’s missing daughter. Meanwhile, a gang war is in danger of breaking out. It’s cool, it’s action packed, it has one of the best damn soundtracks in history, courtesy of Isaac Hayes and Johnny Allen. Parks, who started out as a still photographer, brings a sharp eye to the film, and Urs Furrer‘s cinematography is like a time capsule into 1971 New York. You can practically smell the city as Shaft strolls through it, leather jacket buttoned up tight. Despite director Parks’ talent, he wasn’t quite able to stage convincing fight sequences, which make some of the hand-to-hand brawls in Shaft a bit awkward. But ultimately, that doesn’t matter. All that matters in a movie like this is mood, and Shaft has that to spare.

For fans of: DolemiteHell Up in HarlemAmerican Gangster, funky basslines.

7. Primal Fear
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 1996

Genre: Mystery-thriller

Director: Gregory Hoblit

Cast: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton

Edward Norton burst onto the scene with his debut performance in Primal Fear. It’s the type of sit-up-and-take-notice performance, with Norton commanding the screen every chance he gets. The actor plays an altar boy accused of brutally murdering an  Archbishop. There’s a mountain of evidence against Norton, which proves tricky to slick lawyer Richard Gere. But as Gere digs further into the case, he finds more and more shocking revelations. To say more, especially if you’ve never seen the film, would be a crime. Just know that Primal Fear does not play out in the way you expect it to, and the results might knock the wind out of you. As great as Norton is, he’s backed up by some fantastic performances from the cast as a whole. Laura Linney is great as the prosecuting attorney who has a past with Gere, and Gere himself gives one of his best performances here as the morally conflicted lawyer.

For fans of: The Exorcism of Emily RoseThe Lincoln LawyerAnatomy of a Murder, Frances McDormand cameos.

8. Stir of Echoes
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 1999

Genre: Horror

Director: David Koepp

Cast: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas, Kevin Dunn

Stir of Echoes had the misfortune of hitting theaters only weeks after the blockbuster ghost film The Sixth Sense. You would think that audiences high off the Sixth Sense‘s thrills might be game for another ghost story, but alas, it wasn’t to be. Audiences ignored it, and that’s a damn shame, because this tightly-wound film from David Koepp is effective and creepy. Kevin Bacon is a working class guy highly skeptical of the supernatural. That all changes after his sister-in-law (Illeana Douglas) hypnotizes him as part of a party trick. The hypnosis wakens something in Bacon’s mind, and he’s suddenly able to sense a ghostly presence in his house. Or maybe he’s just nuts. Loaded with spooky imagery and a damn believable performance from Bacon, Stir of Echoes has a way of working its way under your skin. It’s the type of smart, laid-back ghost film Hollywood doesn’t really make anymore.

For fans of: The Sixth SenseThe ChangelingThe Dead Zone, orange juice.


9. Braven
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 2018

Genre: Throwback action film

Director: Lin Oeding

Cast: Jason Momoa, Garret Dillahunt, Stephen Lang, Jill Wagner, Brendan Fletcher

Braven! Here’s an old-school action flick in which Jason Momoa plays a big man who kills a bunch of bad guys. Pretty cut and dry, right? And that’s what makes the film so damn fun. Momoa and his aging father (Stephen Lang) head up to the family’s snowed-in cabin only to discover that drug dealers have stashed their illegal substances there. The drug dealers want their stuff back, and they’re not prepared to leave any witnesses. What’s a man named Joe Braven to do but kill all these peopleBraven is the type of action film that used to hit VHS shelves in the ’90s, and it’s kind of refreshing to see that old school sensibility applied to the 21st century. If you’re looking for big, dumb fun, and plenty of scenes of Jason Momoa throwing axes into people’s faces, you need to watch Braven immediately.

For fans of: Hard Target, Hard to KillCobra, axe throwing.


10. Best Worst Movie
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 2009

Genre: Documentary

Director: Michael Stephenson

Cast: Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, Jason F. Wright, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, Claudio Fragasso

Before there was The Room there was Troll 2, a terrible horror sequel to a movie no one even remembered. Troll 2 understandably bombed, but the truly bizarre, inept film soon gained a cult following that lasts to this day. The documentary Best Worst Movie (directed by Michael Stephenson, one of the stars of Troll 2) chronicles both the making of the film and the cult phenomenon that sprung up after its release. It’s a funny, touching but also ultimately sad film. Stephenson focuses a big chunk of the film on Troll 2 actor George Hardy. Hardy leans into his cult status, to the point where he starts to think of himself as an actual movie star. But as Hardy shows up at cons and is unrecognized by hordes of people, an awkwardness sets in. In the end, Best Worst Movie is a fascinating look at what makes terrible movies tick, and why some people just can’t resist them.

For fans of: Troll 2The RoomThe Disaster Artist, corn on the cob.

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