Offbeat Streaming Picks

If you’re running out of things to watch on streaming services, I’ve got some offbeat picks for you. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you about stuff like Palm Springs or The Old Guard, but there’s lots of good, recent stuff out there if you know how to Medusa Touch the Algorithm. Here’s a few movies I’ve discovered recently that might not be mainstream crowdpleasers, but are interesting in their own right:

  • Arkansas (Amazon Prime) – Slow-burn country noir about drug dealers in Arkansas. They work for a guy named Frog, whom they’ve never met. When a deal goes horribly wrong, they need to figure out how to escape. It’s structured in an odd way and moves a bit slow at times, but the performances are great.

    Arkansas

    Written and directed by the unlikely Clark Duke with an exceptional cast, including Vince Vaughn, John Malkovich, Vivica A. Fox, and Michael Kenneth Williams, it’s got a Tarantino-esque vibe, though that comparison may be unfair. Still, an unconventional narrative structure and some smart procedural stuff make this worth checking out.
  • I See You (Amazon Prime) – What seems like a rote serial killer tale mixed with dysfunctional family drama takes a hard turn about halfway through. Worth sticking with it to see how it goes. I won’t spoil anything here, but it’s an interesting flick.
  • Furie (Netflix) – Slick Vietnamese actioner starring Van Veronica Ngo as a mother whose child has been kidnapped by a trafficking ring. Ngo is an actress on the rise. She’s been showing up in bit parts in Hollywood fare (like The Last Jedi or Da 5 Bloods) and I suspect she’ll be breaking out in the near future. Furie is a good vehicle for her talents, both as an actor and an action star. It’s not a complicated story, but it’s very entertaining.
  • Cosmos (Hulu) – Ultra-low budget drama about three astronomers who accidentally stumble on a weird transmission from space. It takes its time to get going, but it’s reasonably well done. Decent atmosphere and some interesting ideas, it plays out like a less exciting version of Contact. That might be underselling it, but I don’t want to mislead anyone. This isn’t action packed and you’ll probably be ahead of the characters on the mysterious happenings, but it I enjoyed it.
  • The Vast of Night (Amazon Prime) – Micro-budget Twilight Zone riff about Space-Race-era teens discovering a weird radio signal in their small town. Director Andrew Patterson infuses the simple story with tons of energy and visual style.

    The Vast of Night

    This ranges from long-takes freewheeling camera movements to blacking out the screen to emphasize the audio. It might feel a bit overbaked for some, but I really enjoyed the movie.
  • The History of the Seattle Mariners (YouTube) – This six-part documentary on MLB’s most embattled franchise is pretty well done for a film centered on a big graph of wins/losses. If you finished The Last Dance and want another overlong documentary about a sport you don’t need to care about to enjoy the movie, this is for you. Fair warning: it’s basically the opposite experience. Low budget, no access, and covering a terrible team. But they’re a lovable team! As the narrator intones, “The Seattle Mariners are not competitors. They’re protagonists.” Look, if you get to the Jello Toilet incident and you’re not laughing hysterically, maybe this list of movies isn’t for you.

There you have it! Many hours of interesting, off-the-beaten-path movies released within the last couple of years. None are perfect or mainstream, but they’re worth checking out. Do you have any other offbeat streaming picks?

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