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Plex is continuously offering up thousands of new and old familiar favorites to its platform and we’re here to dutifully handpick the best of the bunch. This month, we’ve got improvised films, headline-grabbing documentaries, and misunderstood blockbusters.
Check out Plex TV now for the best free entertainment streaming and check back each month for Den of Geek Critics’ picks!
Director Joe Swanberg has carved out an interesting niche in Hollywood, creating small budget, mostly improvisational films with a rotating cast of famous friends. His best film, 2013’s Drinking Buddies, is anchored by the easy charms of its lovable leads — Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston. Focusing on friends who work at a microbrewery, the film chronicles the scary late 20s and early 30s period that hits all of us: strong coed friendships and an even stronger identity crisis for the single and nervous. Johnson and Wilde are the titular drinking buddies, ignoring their obvious chemistry to the annoyance of their significant others. This sitcom-y setup could have stumbled into cutesy, try-hard humor or over-the-top melodrama, but instead, the film dutifully captures an uncomfortably blunt truth about the age of its two main characters and their conflicting impulses.
You may remember Blackfish as the movie that changed SeaWorld forever. Soon after the release of Blackfish, SeaWorld announced it would no longer be seeking out new killer whales to include in its parks or acts. That’s because of the upsetting truth revealed by the documentary, which highlights inhabitable conditions and focuses on the obvious: that Orcas don’t do very well in captivity. It’s a particularly excellent documentary now that we know the real world ending, but a harrowing watch that will make you rethink the concept of a zoo.
A film with a bit of a negative reputation, The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogen, deserves a revisit. It’s clearly got some tonal issues and a muddled plot, and it struggles with what kind of film it wants to be and never quite lands on a side. But for almost two-thirds of its admittedly bloated two-hour runtime, The Green Hornet is an enjoyable Hollywood spectacle and a welcome entry into the superhero genre. French director Michele Gondry, who helmed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is a big reason why the movie is as interesting as it is. Anyone who wants to see the difference between an anonymous, bland superhero hack job, and a distinct, visually strong director making a superhero movie, should take a look. It’s far from Gondry’s best, but he takes every chance to inject his signature visual style into the proceedings.
Alan Turing was arguably one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. During World War II he led the codebreaking endeavor to crack the German Enigma machine. With his colleagues at Bletchley Park, Turing successfully decrypted Nazi secret communications – a development that enabled the Allies to get the upper hand in the conflict, shorten the war and save millions of lives. In The Imitation Game, the great Benedict Cumberbatch brings Turing to life as a socially awkward and aloof genius — his Turing is at times brilliant, cruel, funny, compassionate, obsessive, and just plain odd. In other words, it’s a showcase performance worthy of watch.
The story of master sushi-maker Jiro and his son Yoshikazu perfecting the art of sushi-making at a beyond-exclusive Tokyo restaurant has been a favorite documentary since it popped up on streaming services, and its success has led to greater investment in documentary filmmaking. It’s easy to see why, as Jiro Dreams of Sushi is excellent, surprisingly emotional, and some of the best food porn imaginable. Even if you’ve never gotten adventurous with sashimi at your local sushi spot, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this feel-good documentary.