FilmStruck: Netflix for Cinephiles

For those who revel in well-crafted film from the comfort of home, the past few years have been mired in disappointment. Streaming service after streaming service has transitioned from fledgling business to media juggernaut only to leave scores of essential films out of their respective libraries, often due to difficulties obtaining rights. As wonderful as they are, a simple search on Netflix or Amazon Prime will reveal the ‘Classics’ selection to be sorely lacking with only a handful of titles truly worthy of such categorization. The newly launched FilmStruck is the internet’s spectacular answer to this movie-watching conundrum.

A joint venture between the enormously respected Turner Classic Movies and equally revered Criterion Collection, their exhaustive holdings are combined for the first time to compose the greatest trove of movies yet assembled onto a subscription streaming platform. For $10.99 a month, members have unlimited access to a list of films that expands weekly and bonus content–a first for websites of this kind–so they can learn even more about their all-time favorites or underappreciated gems. Below, we’ve compiled a brief list of movies from FilmStruck’s diverse archive that are beloved by cinephiles everywhere and must-watches for every Man of Metropolis.

Ran (1985)

Directed by the incomparable Akira Kurosawa, Ran is a sublime drama of epic scale that takes Shakespeare’s King Lear and transposes it into the vast landscapes of feudal Japan. It was heralded as one of Kurosawa’s finest achievements upon release for its mesmerizing use of color, stellar production and piercing analysis of war’s unexpected intimacies. Costume designer Emi Wada won an Academy Award for her sublime work on this masterpiece, an honor that holds up decades later.

Gaslight (1944)

Gaslight is a superb thriller by Hollywood legend George Cukor in which Ingrid Bergman stars as Paula, a young opera singer with a tragic past who marries the mysterious Gregory (Charles Boyer) after a whirlwind romance. Upon moving to London at his behest, strange happenings occur in the townhouse bequeathed to her by her aunt (who died under suspect circumstances) that drive her to the brink of madness. But is it really all in her mind or is something more sinister afoot? A picture that will keep you guessing till the credits roll.

…And the Pursuit of Happiness (1986)

From famed filmmaker and documentarian Louis Malle, …And the Pursuit of Happiness explores the American immigrant experience through the eyes of a director who was himself a transplant from France. Malle tirelessly crisscrossed the United States speaking to people of all professions (teachers, doctors), ethnic backgrounds and economic statuses to paint a loving but truthful portrait of what making it in America really entails.

Lust For Life (1956)

A biopic from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Lust for Life tells the story of Vincent van Gogh as brilliantly portrayed by Kirk Douglas. Director Vincent Minnelli used van Gogh’s own work as a jumping off point for the wonderfully textured set designs that seem imbued with the artist’s frenetic brushstrokes and lush color palette. It is a phenomenal depiction of an artist’s inner life as well as his perpetual search for beauty and the desire to capture it.

The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

Perhaps the single most iconic depiction of the Middle East in Hollywood history, The Thief of Bagdad remains a wellspring of inspiration for films nearly 80 years after its release (Disney’s animated classic Aladdin borrows from it heavily to name but one example). Complete with flying carpets, affable young market thieves, sultans and princesses, it is a visual marvel shot in Technicolor and a timeless adventure that enchants viewers of all ages.

written by martin lerma

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