This week marks the launch of Paramount+, yet another streaming service in an era that’s already jam-packed with them. But that’s not entirely fair: Paramount+ is just CBS All Access with a new coat of paint, and that service has been around for some time now.
To celebrate (well, at least acknowledge) the existence of a “new” streaming platform, we’ve scoured the service’s library and put together a list of 10 things to watch. You probably already know that you can mainline episodes of Star Trek, the Godfather trilogy, and films like Chinatown and Clue there, but here, in alphabetical order, are some film and television titles that are available but have not been quite as highly publicized.
I admittedly have not revisited this series since I was a kid, but if you grew up with this show and are in a nostalgic mood, want to introduce your children to a kid-centric sketch comedy show, or are just a Kenan Thompson completist, the Nickelodeon comedy is streaming here. Pierre Escargot, Earboy and Pizzaface, Ask Ashley, Superdude…say what you will about the overall ’90s-ness of this show, but they certainly created some memorable characters.
Better Luck Tomorrow
Before he stepped into the Fast and Furious world, director Justin Lin made this lower-budgeted-but-still-slick-as-hell movie about a group of Asian-American high school kids who begin making money selling copies of upcoming tests to their fellow students. It’s a great look at the pressure students are put under at that time in their lives, and how one wrong decision can have catastrophic consequences. It also introduced the world to actor Sung Kang as a charming character named Han, sparking a sort of in-joke between Lin and Kang that the character eventually made the jump to the Fast universe.
The Italian Job
Michael Caine stars in the 1969 original film, which will certainly play slower to modern viewers than the 2003 remake, but this version has its own distinct pleasures. (Example: nobody yells “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” in a Cockney accent in the remake.) Plus, Paramount+ is developing an original TV series that serves as a sequel to the ’69 film, so you’ll be prepped and ready for that.
I’ll say it: people don’t appreciate Billy Zane as much as they should. Before Hollywood became obsessed with comic book movies, Zane played the title character in The Phantom, a ridiculously cheesy 1990s movie based on the comic strip hero. It’s a blatant Indiana Jones rip-off, but Zane commits to the bit and brings exactly the right combination of physicality and a jovial sense of humor that you want in a project like this.
The romance at the center of this film may not be quite as iconic as the ones featured in Casablanca or Brief Encounter, but this is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in a long, long time, and is absolutely a classic that modern audiences should seek out if they’ve never seen it. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck are wonderful together as they cruise around Italy and charm the hell out of each other, and the film’s ending is one of my all-time favorites.
In the vein of silent, meditative, imagery-heavy films like Koyaanisqatsi, 2011’s Samsara is an absolute visual feast that will mesmerize you from start to finish. It’s a gorgeous documentary shot over five years and across 25 countries, featuring elaborate cultural dances, massive martial arts ceremonies, timelapse photography of nature, monks intricate creating sand art that’s wiped away as soon as it’s finished, and much, much more. It’s an incredible viewing experience, and absolutely worth a watch.
To Catch a Thief
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this one features Cary Grant as a retired cat burglar and Grace Kelly as a potential new mark. It’s a beautifully lensed thriller, set in the French Riviera with gorgeous vistas and jaw-dropping locales and a fun plot driving everything forward. Super enjoyable.
Only the first two seasons of this classic mystery series are streaming on Paramount+ – you’ll have to buy the box set or subscribe to Showtime to catch up on the acclaimed recent third season, Twin Peaks: The Return. But there’s plenty to dig into in the first two seasons, which changed television forever and introduced supernatural and otherworldly imagery into a network drama in a way that no other series ever had. It’s an occasionally impenetrable series, but it’s a wholly unique vibe and offers several disturbing, hilarious, and unforgettable moments.
The Virgin Suicides
Speaking of vibes, this movie is a whole mood. I have not revisited Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut since seeing it probably 15 years ago, but I remember being fully engrossed in it and feeling like I was transported into a completely different perspective, which is a feeling I often relish in great movies. Kirsten Dunst does some layered, complicated work in this movie, and I remember Josh Hartnett being surprisingly great, too. I’d recommend watching this over Coppola’s most recent movie, On the Rocks, any day of the week.
Zoolander: Super Model
We’ve actually written about this at /Film before, but I completely missed it at the time, so this is the first I’m hearing about this series and I suspect the same might be true for some of you, as well. I cannot vouch for this because I’ve literally never heard of it until about five minutes ago, but an animated series starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, Patton Oswalt, Rashida Jones, and featuring Jerry Stiller’s final voice acting performance seems…intriguing? Promising, even? Who knows how good it’ll really be, but hey – you have Paramount+ now, so why not give it a shot?
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