Outside of a few titles, this year's summer movies have underwhelmed. One look at the box office is depressing. You get to choose from reboots of "Shaft," "Men in Black" and "Child's Play," alongside the five Disney movies that are playing.
Those titles don't scream "original." True, they aren't made to scratch that itch. However, if you want to watch something different, something a little out there, something that will keep you intrigued, check out "Under the Silver Lake," now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Part neo-noir mystery and social commentary — and college kids' next favorite movie to get stoned to — "Under the Silver Lake" is the type of daring, go-for-broke movie that barely gets backed. (True to form, A24 barely released this in April, showing the movie in maybe five theaters in April before throwing it to on-demand sites.)
Coming off the success of "It Follows," writer-director David Robert Mitchell is doing whatever he wants in "Under the Silver Lake." This latest movie tells a story about Sam (Andrew Garfield), a Los Angeles loser searching for a mysterious woman he met once. Along the way, Sam crosses paths with pop-rock bands, posers, call girls, conspiracy theorist graphic novelists and high-society types.
If you dug movies like "Inherent Vice" and "The Big Lebowski," but thought they should have been darker, uncomfortable and profane, this is for you.
While "Under the Silver Lake" is a little overlong and full of itself, Mitchell crafts stylish scenes with great dialogue. He pulls off camera tricks that feel Hitchcockian; writes lines that would make Chuck Palahniuk jealous.
At the same time, the movie's unwillingness to commit to formula, aesthetic or direction will turn off everyday viewers. For me, that's the best reason to watch the movie. The result is Mitchell paying homage to his cinematic heroes as much as he's satirizing a generation of always-bored, self-important hacks who have been tied to a screen since day one. As Topher Grace's "bar buddy" puts it: "We crave mystery because there's none left."
This year, "Under the Silver Lake" is the only movie that has taken me on a trip, spun me for a loop and spat me out. It's a bucket of "what the hell?" Followed by Mitchell replying, "I don't know, but watch this." That will always be more interesting than another damned reboot.
ALSO STREAMING THIS MONTH
On Amazon Prime: "Phoenix," "Peterloo," available now; "Marshall," available July 7; "Never Grow Old," available July 13; "A Vigilante," available July 27; "Arctic," available July 31
On Hulu: "The Brink," "The Last Word," "The Panic in Needle Park," "Phoenix," "Woman at War," available now; "Apollo 11," available July 20
On HBO: "Cyrus," "The Hoax," "Notting Hill," "Thoroughbreds," "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," "When We Were Kings," available now; "First Man," available July 20; "Widows," available July 27
On Netflix: "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," "Mean Streets," "Frozen River," "Who's That Knocking at My Door?," available now; "Smart People," available July 12