This week I take a peek at Hulu Plus, another paid online streaming service that charges $8 a month for access to new and old TV shows, but also a decent collection of movies—ranging from extremely highbrow to extremely lowbrow. A huge bonus is that service hosts many movies from the Criterion Collection, which is perhaps the most respected of all American DVD and Blu-ray distributors. Like Netflix, Hulu's content depends on complex contracts with various studios, and sometimes videos will "expire." But for now I'll be concentrating on several titles from its "new" list, starting with some cult favorites.
The middle part of Korean director Park Chan-wook's "Vengeance Trilogy" is also the most loved; a proposed American remake has been buzzed about for years (currently, it's in Spike Lee's hands). Oldboy (2003) concerns a man (Choi Min-sik) who is captured and imprisoned for many years without explanation. When he's finally released, he begins to work out what happened. Actor Choi undergoes a striking transformation, from a paunchy softie in a business suit to a lean, haunted, animal-like entity. In one striking scene, he fights off dozens of bad guys in a single sustained shot, tracking back and forth in a long hallway. But the ending of this revenge tale is the most memorable of all.
The Evil Dead
Hopefully the new remake will inspire gorehounds to seek out Sam Raimi's original The Evil Dead (1983), which is one of the most innovative of all American independent debut films. Bruce Campbell stars in the ultimate "cabin in the woods" film, wherein a bunch of pals find their existence turned upside down during a visit to a spooky cabin. This time, it's "the book of the dead" that unleashes an evil force upon them. Raimi pours imagination and energy into every frame, pushing the boundaries of horror and gore--as well as gory comedy--to new heights.
Writer/director Shane Carruth made an audacious debut with the brainy, 77-minute time travel movie, Primer (2004). While working on a new refrigeration system, two young scientists (at top) accidentally discover time travel. They begin spending their days moving back and forth through time, one day at a time, gambling on the stock market, and trying not to run into their doppelgangers or cause any ripples in the space-time continuum. But things begin to get more than a little confusing--and then there are the side effects. Despite the voluminous amount of dialogue, and even without any action or visual effects, the movie has a dreamy, fluid feel that's enticing. Several viewings are recommended. Carruth himself plays one of the scientists.
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