The 10 best titles on Canada’s newly launched Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video has finally launched in Canada, and, while the streaming service may be lacking a clever catchphrase (Amazon Prime and Chill?), it does offer some excellent titles. There’s a smattering of original programming (Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent), a wealth of recent hits (Bridesmaids, Despicable Me) and, well, some half-forgotten flops (The Beautician and the Beast? Gigli?). Here, we round up the top 10 finds on Netflix’s new competitor.
The seminal parody movie, Airplane! has managed to outlast most of the movies it parodies (anyone seen Airport ’75 lately?). The Zucker brothers’ brand of rapid-fire, anything-for-a-laugh comedy has been imitated a lot, but Shirley it has never been surpassed.
Jack Nicholson gives one of his quintessential performances as a detective caught in a web of corruption involving the Los Angeles water system. Arguably the greatest film of Roman Polanski’s chequered career, this solid-gold classic is an engrossing mystery, a cynical riff on the film noir genre and a sour Valentine to L.A.
Fresh off Evil Dead II but still years away from Spider-Man, director Sam Raimi rode the post-Batman superhero wave. Liam Neeson stars as a disfigured scientist out to avenge the mobsters who left him for dead, turning himself into a face-swapping vigilante. Working for the first time with a major studio, Raimi still brought the gonzo energy of his early work.
One of Amazon Prime’s chief assets is its selection of recent Bollywood movies. This peculiar film stars Shah Rukh Khan as both a Bollywood superstar (not unlike Khan himself) and his own obsessive fan-turned-stalker. It has all the turbocharged melodrama you’d expect from Bollywood, and Khan’s standout performance manages to make the goofy premise work.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Terry Gilliam’s almost unwatchably faithful adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson book was a flop in 1998. But time has been kind to visually imaginative title, and Thompson’s Nixon-era lament for the lost idealism of the ’60s has a new resonance today.
Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
The British comedy troupe’s final feature tends to get short shrift next to Holy Grail and Life of Brian. But even more than those canonical titles, it plays to the team’s strengths. A centuries-spanning collection of sketches about sex, death, class and our place in the universe, the film retains its power to shock and includes some of the troupe’s most iconic, brutally satirical scenes (two words: Mr. Creosote).
As with most streaming services, Prime is frustratingly short-stocked on true classics. But it does have an Alfred Hitchcock offering, and it’s a good one. Consigned to a wheelchair with nothing to do but spy on his neighbours across the courtyard, James Stewart realizes that one of the residents might be a murderer. Unfolding in just one location, Rear Window is a near-perfect exercise in suspense.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
If you happen to be a pop culture–savvy, Toronto-dwelling millennial, this movie was basically made for you to project yourself onto. Beyond that, Edgar Wright’s genre-bending movie winds comedy, fantasy and action into a stellar coming-of-age film that captures the video-game aesthetic of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s original comic book series. And as the bulldozers come for Honest Ed’s, it’s also a chance to remember what the Annex looked like circa 2010.
There Will Be Blood
It’s universally acknowledged as one of the greatest films of the young millennium, so it’s worth another (or first) watch. Beyond Daniel Day-Lewis’s show-stopping moments (“I…drink…your…milkshake!”), Paul Thomas Anderson’s film packs some hypnotic power. It’s a brilliant evocation of the early-20th-century American oil boom with an intoxicating tone: equal parts Citizen Kane and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
There was a time—before The Love Guru and the Austin Powers sequels and that book he wrote about Canada—when Mike Myers was a very funny man. In Wayne’s World, Myers and Dana Carvey turned their basement-dwelling public-access personalities into a whip-smart media satire with countless memorable scenes (“Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played a girl bunny?”). It’s the best of the Saturday Night Live spin-off movies by a country mile, and high-order cinematic comfort-food.