A Movie Critic’s July Netflix Picks (And *So* Much More)

murder mystery adam sandler jennifer aniston man repeller netflix

“What should I watch on Netflix tonight?” It’s a perennial question with answers that change monthly. Thankfully, writer and film critic Kristen Yoonsoo Kim is extremely on top of it. And she’s got lots of other movie-watching suggestions beyond Netflix, too—whether you’d like to check out lesser-known streaming platforms or a really good indie theater with endearingly squeaky seats. I personally text her at least once a week to find out what she’s watching and whether she thinks I should see it too. I find her takes (both hot and cold) indispensable, so I asked her to share them on Man Repeller too. You do not need popcorn to read this dispatch, but it would certainly add to the ambiance!  —Mallory

There are a couple recent tweets from the film critic and programmer Miriam Bale that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. She said, basically, that cinephilia does wonders for women, but often has the opposite effect on men. As of writing this piece, we are 176 days into 2019, and I have so far seen 291 movies. The countless hours I’ve spent in front of the screen have allowed me to study the way women dress, talk, and carry themselves; my cinephilia, I’d like to believe, has made me sharper, wittier, more fashionable. It’s even enabled me to create a desktop folder filled with screenshots of glamorous women turning down desperate men! (It hasn’t been updated in a while, but it remains a whole mood.)

Imagine being on the receiving end of Brigitte Bardot’s withering pout.
Here I am at Metrograph’s third anniversary party this past March, employing Leandra’s one-legged selfie™ (you gotta show off at least one shoe!). This tapestry of a dress is a cherished find from Century Girl Vintage in New Orleans (a must-visit). It’s so heavy, but so cinematic, and the blue velvet drapes perfectly and dramatically.

When I go to the movies, I make a semi-conscious effort to dress in tune with the film I’m seeing—gingham for a Lauren Bacall night, for instance. I’ve also become a habitual theater bathroom selfie-taker (perhaps a full ranking of NYC movie theater restrooms to come?). So in this missive I’ll update you on the movies I’ve been seeing and the clothes I wear while seeing them, the idea being that you’ll be able to take away some outfit inspiration as well as no B.S. movie recommendations (because the demise of MoviePass has made us selective once again).

Let’s begin with Netflix’s golden child Adam Sandler…

The idea for this piece was birthed when Mallory asked me what I thought about the record-breaking Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston vehicle Murder Mystery. (You know, the movie that was reportedly streamed in more than 30 million households within the first three days?) She wanted to know if it was good or bad, and if it was bad, whether I liked it anyway. I liked it! And I have to say, I think it leans more heavily toward “just plain good” than “so-bad-it’s-good.” Of course, it can be fun to shit on wildly popular formula films created to please en masse, but I’m unabashedly a fan of current-era Sandler. I found Murder Mystery so much more likable than any other recent Netflix joint, even movies that theoretically should pander more to me, like Always Be My Maybe, which was so concerned with representation that it became a Vox explainer for Asian-Americans that completely forgot rom-coms should still have stakes for it to be, well, romantic.

The generically-titled Murder Mystery trumps the recent onslaught of Agatha Christie adaptations by throwing in the wild-card addition of Sandler and Aniston, the comedic gags and lower-class nobodies, on a yacht full of rich people with homicidal motives. It’s spoofy without being mean-spirited. Simultaneously, it’s a nice reprieve from Netflix’s addictive gritty crime content, which I’m sure is having some sort of psychological effect on us all as a society.

After you’ve watched Murder Mystery, Netflix’s next major July offering is a Martin Scorsese binge: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore will all be added on July 1st. Watch them in whatever order you’d like, but watch them!

Speaking of next-level streaming, some news: most of New York is losing the free, arthouse- and indie-leaning service Kanopy on July 1, as their partnership with the New York Public Library is coming to an end. (Kanopy still works with a lot of universities and libraries, so it’s worth seeing if you can join.) That said, if you’re a New Yorker who needs some recommendations for what to squeeze in during its final week, I’d start with the expansive collection of legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman. Some of his movies, including the one about the NYPL itself (Ex Libris), cross the three-hour mark, but his always-observant eye transforms even the quietest footage into captivating commentary.

Okay, hear me out: Should we all start carrying around birdcages as accessories?

Kanopy is the only home for Wiseman movies, and I’ve shamefully put off the binge until now. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more thrilling and suspenseful, I’d recommend Claude Chabrol’s Night Cap, starring Isabelle Huppert as a mysterious, possibly murderous, matriarch. For enviable Givenchy-centric wardrobe inspo, turn to Audrey Hepburn in the meta rom-com Paris When It Sizzles. (She consistently wears a specific shade of key-lime green that might even be better than the shade Tippi Hedren wears in The Birds.) And for your Pride Month queer cinema moment, the harrowing but formative Poison from Carol director Todd Haynes is essential. After that, light a candle for New Yorkers who love Kanopy…RIP.

A selfie in the beautiful bathroom at Olympia Film Society, where I programmed and introduced Girlfriends in 2017. I actually found the cardigan (vintage St. John) at a local thrift store called Psychic Sister (which I visited every day of my stay there), and then added a Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains pin from the iconic local record store, Rainy Day Records.

Thankfully, Kanopy’s Criterion films can still be found on the Criterion Channel (it costs money but it’s the best streaming service out there and you can sign up for a 14-day free trial right now). On July 5th, they’re pairing Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha and Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends as a Friday double feature. The latter, released in 1978, is a seminal entry in New York City films, the female friendship canon, and that increasingly popular genre of movies featuring lovable but less-than-put-together protagonists. Both are great, and lots of people think of Girlfriends as the original Frances Ha, with the endearing Melanie Mayron as its bumbling heroine. As a 20-something New Yorker “in between jobs” and still feeling like a big baby tumbling through the Big Apple, both speak to me a little too much. Be still my anxiously beating millennial heart.

Maybe you’d like to get freaked out?

The movie that everyone will be talking about over the next few weeks is bound to be Midsommar, Ari Aster’s Hereditary follow-up about a terrifying flower crown that becomes sentient after Lana del Rey tosses it in the trash. Just kidding. But it is about a group of young Americans who travel abroad to Sweden and get roped up in macabre rituals during their midsommar. I love the idea of a horror film that takes place mostly in sunlight, but I was often taken out of the moment by shocking imagery that seemed to be overly concerned with keeping me awake. One thing I really appreciated was that Florence Pugh starts off with a tragic wardrobe of stretched-out t-shirts and sweatpants and is eventually shepherded into a Met Gala-worthy, fully bloomed gown. J’adore! I am all for looking good during distressing situations.

It’s like an extra-scary Coachella!

If you’re looking for something a little more mild, Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy (zomedy??) The Dead Don’t Die might fill that void. There are some iconic moments with Carol Kane, Selena Gomez, and, most of all, Tilda Swinton. (Tilda plays a sword-wielding Scottish coroner who is consistently unfazed by the undead.) I naturally wanted more for Chloë Sevigny, who plays one of the cops tasked with dealing with this apocalypse, but he’s characterized as a woman who’s too emotional to handle zombies. Blergh. It must be said, however, that even in a drab cop uniform, Chloë manages to inspire—her character’s baby blue nails definitely influenced my next manicure color.

Big-time horror buffs should mark your calendars for a July 3rd screening in New York: Metrograph is doing a week-long engagement of Takashi Miike’s J-horror classic Audition, which turns 20 this year. It’s easily one of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen. I once recommended it to a friend as a Valentine’s Day date movie—I don’t think that couple is still together.

If I had to recommend one new movie worth seeing in theaters…

One time, I went to a Q&A with the German director Ulrike Ottinger, and was so inspired by her suit that I wore one myself to the movies next day. It turned out she was literally in one of the stalls behind me as I was taking this selfie. Here I’m wearing a 1980s United Colors of Benetton suit from Thriftwares and a vintage Diane Von Furstenberg blouse from Amarcord.

It would be The Plagiarists, a low-budget indie by a director named Peter Parlow (if that’s even a real person?). It is hilarious in its unnecessary dramatics and has a comically earth-shattering plot twist that’s best left unrevealed. (Hint: it’s great fodder for mocking literary bros.) If you’re in New York, skip the synopsis in favor of skipping on over to Film at Lincoln Center when it opens on June 28. Other gems currently screening include: Halston, the Tavi Gevinson-narrated documentary by Dior and I director Frédéric Tcheng about the Studio 54-era couturier Halston who broke out with a hat designed for Jackie Kennedy.

No one’s captured the sticky New York heat better than Spike Lee.

And most importantly, BAM is showing a brand-new 35mm print of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing to mark its 30th anniversary. Find yourself in a cool theater to watch the sweatiest movie ever made. Not in New York? Do the Right Thing is rentable on many platforms or free with a Starz subscription. Either way, you should absolutely wear boxing shorts like Rosie Perez in the opening credits.

Feature photos by SCOTT YAMANO/NETFLIX.

Kristen Yoonsoo Kim

Kristen Yoonsoo Kim

Kristen Yoonsoo Kim is a South Korea-born, New York-based writer. She's literally always at the movies.

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