Vampire cult classics and a Paul Thomas Anderson all-timer are among movies new to the streaming platform this month.
New year, new… us? A week into the year, 2022 doesn’t feel totally different than the last one. (Except that we lost Betty White, Sidney Poitier, and Peter Bogdanovich in barely seven days.)
Still, a new year means a fresh start for streaming content, even if the awards season is far, far from over, and we’ll still be talking about the same dozen movies for the next three months. Many of which are on HBO max, including the Christmas weekend streaming smash “Don’t Look Up” (which both irked and wired viewers for either its bracing assault on climate change denial or too tepid treatment of the same; you pick), as well as Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter,” a directorial debut that, in some ways, reduces the bursting historical context of its Elena Ferrante source novel to a Hollywood-friendly adaptation. (Even as the film leaves much to the viewer’s own making.)
If you’re seeking reprieve from the traditional January dumping ground for shoddy horror movies and zombified IP pulled out from the dead, HBO max has alternatives for you, with a few bona fide horror hits that have endured via nostalgia for the ’80s and ’90s, namely Joel Schumacher’s “The Lost Boys” from 1984 and Neil Jordan’s “Interview with the Vampire” from 1994.
But this year’s HBO max movie lineup also includes one of the indisputably greatest films of all time, and one that is sure to rank among them in the decades to come.
David Ehrlich contributed to this story.
Girl, Interrupted” (Now Streaming)
1999 is historically recognized as one of the great years for American cinema, “American Beauty” notwithstanding: “Magnolia,” “Eyes Wide Shut,” “The Matrix,” “The Virgin Suicides.” Often left out of the mix is “Girl, Interrupted,” James Mangold’s wistful and haunted adaptation of Susanna Kaysen’s memoir about her stay in a psychiatric hospital in the 1960s American Northeast. It’s stacked with a cast of ’90s icons, many of whom give their best performances, from Winona Ryder and Clea DuVall, to Brittany Murphy and Elisabeth Moss, to, of course, Angelina Jolie, who won her Oscar for playing the sociopathic Lisa Rowe, who riles up the institution into rebellion and panic.
Stand by Me” (Now Streaming)
Rob Reiner’s 1986 film “Stand by Me” remains a touchstone coming-of-age classic 35 years later, and certainly one of the best Stephen King adaptations, here from his 1982 novella “The Body.” It’s a film that, for many of us, exists in the memory and is easily accessed without having to rewatch it — as key moments in our coming-of-age often are. The film most importantly served as a breakout vehicle for actors like Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, and River Phoenix. They play four friends who, in 1959, embark on a hike to find the dead body of a missing boy — and confront a bully played by Kiefer Sutherland.
“The Lost Boys” (Now Streaming)
Speaking of the 1980s, Joel Schumacher’s “The Lost Boys” served up a bloody delicious buffet of now-iconic actors in 1987: Corey Haim, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, and Corey Feldman, to name a few, but we’d be remiss not to mention Jami Gertz and Dianne Wiest as well. The film delivers a vampiric spin on J.M. Barrie’s tales of Peter Pan and Neverland, but what makes “The Lost Boys” endure is its ensemble of mostly unknown young actors, as director Joel Schumacher was best known for his canny eye for spotting fresh talent. A reimagined take on the teen vampire classic is reportedly in the works with Noah Jupe (“A Quiet Place”) and Jaden Martell (“It”) starring, but it’s hard to imagine anybody topping the original.
Interview with the Vampire” (Now Streaming)
And speaking of vampires… 1994’s “Interview with the Vampire” is also hitting the platform, rightly timed in honor of author Anne Rice’s death on December 11. While not quite introducing heartthrob Brad Pitt to the world after supporting but searingly impressive turns in “Thelma and Louise” and “True Romance,” Neil Jordan’s cemented his position on the marquees with the best of them. Here, he plays centuries-old vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac, reincarnated as a New Orleans vampire by Tom Cruise’s Lestat de Lioncourt after a bloody attack. Few vampire epics hold a candle to the film’s scrumptious period details, but “Interview” is best remembered for the star-making turn of a then-10-year-old Kirsten Dunst as a child vampire who suffers tragically for her transformation.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Now Streaming)
David Fincher’s sleek adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s smash Swedish novel announced the steely, off-kilter talents of Rooney Mara to the world: Her antisocial hacker Lisbeth Salander earned Mara a Best Actress Oscar nomination in a movie undoubtedly too cool for the Academy, but one that’s now certainly the best of all the Larsson cinematic envisionings. Mara’s performance is a feat of muscular, balletic cunning, making her more than a match for Daniel Craig’s maverick journalist Mikael Blomkvist, with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ unnerving electronic score pumping through one masterfully, icily chiseled Finch set piece after another. It’s a hopeless movie, as indicated by the film’s deflating final shot where love, most certainly, doesn’t win, and the kind only Fincher could make.
“Phantom Thread” (Streaming January 16)
“Kiss me, my girl, before I’m sick.”
“All your rules and your clothes and your money, everything is a game!”
“Were you sent here to ruin my evening, or possibly my entire life?”
“Don’t pick a fight with me. You certainly won’t come out alive. I’ll go right through you, and it’ll be you who ends up on the floor.”
I’m quoting these straight from my memory, and because no words do better justice to one of the most swooningly romantic and twisted love stories ever than those of the writer and director himself, Paul Thomas Anderson. I often think of “Phantom Thread” as a go-to cozy Christmas for the sick in the heart and head, but repeated viewings reveal the truly gushing heart at its center — and PTA’s almost pathological reverence to details, the music, the cutting, the inseams, and every stitch of fabric.
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