Livin’ the Stream. Streamin’ to Live – Streaming Movie Suggestions: R.I.P Edition

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This week we learned of the tragic passing of Robin Williams. An actor capable of playing broad dramatic roles, Williams’ filmography is full of risky choices. While most likely remembered for his comedic roles, his dramatic work earned him 4 Academy Award nominations, winning one for Good Will Hunting. This week we also learned of the passing of Menahem Golan, a prolific writer, producer, and director, founder of Cannon Films. It was impossible to be growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s and not come across a Cannon title at your local video store. For this new column of streaming suggestions, let’s look notable works by Williams and Golan that are available to currently stream.

Popeye

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As Carl wrote about earlier, Robert Altman’s Popeye is a unique musical comedy. A modestly successful film at the box office, critics were split on the film. Over the years, Popeye has cultivated a passionate, vocal fan base, and deservedly so. It’s like one of Altman’s sprawling ensemble pieces as a live-action cartoon. Williams plays the spinach-eating sailor, and even with his vocal impersonation of the cartoon, Williams delivers a rather subdued performance. Also perfectly cast is Shelly Duvall as Olive Oyl, the part she was born to play.

Popeye is streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime

The Fisher King

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After the fiasco that was The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (which briefly features Williams and is streaming on Netflix), Terry Gilliam was in desperate need to rehabilitate his professional image. Gilliam successfully did that with The Fisher King, a drama about a radio shock-jock (Jeff Bridges) who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a homeless person (Williams) who is seeking the Holy Grail in New York City. Williams earned his third Oscar nomination for his role of Parry. The film strikes a wonderful balance between its comedy and tragedy, and is shot with all the visual gusto one comes to expect from Terry Gilliam.

The Fisher King is streaming on Netflix and Crackle

World’s Greatest Dad

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Now this movie is fucked up. It’s great but fucked up. Sorry, there’s no other way to put it. Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, World’s Greatest Dad has Robin Williams as a single father and high school teacher. After finding his son dead in an auto-erotic asphyxiation accident, he alters the scene and composes a fake suicide note. Before long, he becomes a minor celebrity, the suicide notes and diary he penned under his son’s name being praised as high literature. I haven’t revisited this film since first seeing it when it came out, but it’s a film that lingers. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, and Williams is perfect in it, bringing a subtle desperation and sadness to his performance.

World’s Greatest Dad is streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Other notable Robin Williams films streaming include: Mike Nichols’ The Birdcage (Netflix, Amazon Prime), Joe Johnston’s Jumanji (Netflix), and Steven Spielberg’s Hook (Netflix).

 The Delta Force

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Anyone who says Chuck Norris is the epitome of badassery has obviously never seen anything with Lee Marvin. The Delta Force was Marvin’s last film role, a role originally cast with Charles Bronson (they even had posters printed before the movie was being filmed). Almost the quintessential Cannon movie, The Delta Force is action schlock that rips its material from the day’s headlines. An angry group of Arabs hijack a plane and only the Delta Force can stop them. The film has a fantastic supporting cast including Martin Balsam, Robert Forster, George Kennedy, Shelly Winters, and Bo Svenson.

The Delta Force is streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime

American Ninja

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There were a grand total of 5 movies in the American Ninja series. Starring Michael Dudikoff, American Ninja is a low-budget action film that offers pleasure by being frequently awful. When I was 9 or 10, I loved the American Ninja series, and recent revisit to the first installment revealed that in my younger days I had terrible taste. Like many films from Cannon, American Ninja is entertaining schlock. That’s it.

American Ninja is streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime

The Apple

The Apple is as flashy as it insane, which is to say big time. Directed and co-written by Golan, The Apple has survived as cult classic for decades. It’s one of those films where words fail. Just watch the trailer.

The Apple is streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime

That’s all for the inaugural installment, but be sure to check back in the coming weeks for more and more streaming suggestions.

 

 

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