Watch List Weekly Recap 5/19/23

Two eulogies, five Amazon Prime worthies, and three new releases.

Watch List Weekly Recap 5/19/23

This is the Friday recap of Ty Burr’s Watch List postings for the week. If you’d like to cut down on in-box clutter and receive this weekly email ONLY, please go to your account page and under “Email notifications” uncheck every box except “Weekly Digest.” If you’d prefer to not receive it at all, uncheck just “Weekly Digest.”

I was moved to commemoration by the recent deaths of two people — a filmmaker I didn’t know and a film lover I knew only through social media. (The photo is of the filmmaker, Pema Tseden.)

Remembrances ⭐️

Two Passings

Ty Burr • May 16, 2023

You never knew Jim Gabriel, but to tell you the truth, neither did I. I counted him a friend, but it was one of those friendships specific to the Internet era, where strangers are exposed to each other’s intimate thoughts without ever laying eyes on each other. Ghosts in our respective feeds. Jim was one of the more vocal members of the loose consortium derisively/defensively referred to as “Film Twitter” – to belong to the club, all you need is a Twitter account, an opinion, a paid or unpaid gig writing film criticism OR an academic post OR just a knowledgeable and not too Bro-ey passion for cinema in all its iterations. And a mouth. Jim was one of the good ones, though: open-hearted, rude, funny as hell, knew his film history and then some, kind to newcomers, brutally unforgiving of asshats and blowhards and Republicans and Elon, and, although you had to look elsewhere to find his long-form work, a dream of a critic, capable of writing erudite and intensely readable film analyses.

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For the midweek post, I figured it was about time to dig up some of the good stuff on Amazon Prime for paid subscribers. These are not new films, but they are choice.

Good Movies 📽

Sleeper Patrol: 5 on Amazon Prime

Ty Burr • May 18, 2023

I usually find myself rummaging through Netflix for this newsletter, looking for hidden treasures to suggest to readers, but for once I thought I’d take a look at Amazon Prime, the second most popular streaming video platform with 149 million subscribers to Netflix’s 232 million. The prospect is daunting – nearly 10,000 movies are available for free on Prime Video at any given time – but also far more rewarding than the cinematic desert that Netflix has become. Here are five lesser-known films – historical drama, suspense, a documentary, a tale of intergenerational friendship, and a 21st century “To Sir, With Love” – for whom satisfaction is just about guaranteed. Check one or more of them out if you’re at a loss for what to watch this week. (If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, I’ve noted which additional services are offering the films for streaming or rental.)

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For New Release Friday, the final entry in Paul Schrader’s “Man in a Room” trilogy and, on demand, a scruffy eco-terrorism thriller and a genuinely surprising documentary.

Good Movies 📽

What To Watch: Planter's Punch

Ty Burr • May 19, 2023

At what point do an artist’s recurrent themes become schtick? When does repetition become fetish? I ask because “Master Gardener” (⭐ ⭐ 1/2, in theaters today) at times almost seems like a parody of a Paul Schrader film. At other times it bristles with the unholy strengths and moral paradoxes of this…

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