HBO Max launched in May, bringing a new major streaming service to the table and adding yet another library to endlessly scroll through while you try to find a movie to watch. With Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, etc. constantly cycling content, it can be hard to find something for your movie night. We’re here to help.
A bunch of great films are being added to streaming services this month, from campy classics (Blacula, Dirty Dancing) to moody new films of the last few years (Ad Astra, Lady Bird.) We’ve got three excellent literary adaptations (Clueless, She’s the Man, The Iron Giant), two films starring Brad Pitt (Thelma and Louise, Ad Astra again) and one landmark film at the intersection of two 90s cinema movements (The Watermelon Woman.) Any one of them is worth watching in June.
Brad Pitt is sad about his dad. In space. That’s the gist of James Gray’s Ad Astra. Pitt plays Major Roy McBride, the son of pioneering astronaut Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones.) The senior McBride went missing in the depths of space 15 years earlier, but now an electromagnetic pulse threatening Earth’s power grid is emanating from the spot where he disappeared. Roy is tasked with finding his father and stopping the pulse, but soon learns that he’s not being told the whole store. It’s a moody, philosophical sci-fi that’s punctuated by breathtaking action set pieces like a chase scene on the moon and a zero-gravity fight with a baboon.
A classic of Blaxploitation horror, Blacula stars William Marshall as an 18th-century African prince named Mamuwalde. Prince Mamuwalde visits Dracula’s castle to ask the count’s help in suppressing the slave trade, but Dracula laughs at his request and turns him into a vampire instead, dubbing him “Blacula.” Two-hundred years later, Blacula’s coffin is brought to Los Angeles, where he awakens and starts drinking the blood of LA residents.
Both Blacula and its even campier sequel, Scream Blacula Scream, are streaming on Shudder. You can also check out the Shudder documentary Horror Noire, which takes a look at the history of Black horror.
Blacula is streaming on Shudder.
Alicia Silverstone stars as Cher Horowitz in Amy Heckerling’s beloved adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. Cher is a wealthy popular girl who can’t help herself from meddling in othe people’s lives. She plays matchmaker for her teachers and for her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash), and gives the “tragically unhip” Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy) a makeover, but her plans tend to backfire. When Tai becomes more popular than Cher, for example, Tai hits Cher with the best insult of all time: “You’re a virgin who can’t drive.” Come for the iconic fashions and one-liners, stay for the sweet (if slightly incestuous) relationship with a young Paul Rudd.
Clueless is streaming on Netflix.
If the only thing you remember about Dirty Dancing is the actual dirty dancing (and, of course, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”) it’s worth a rewatch. Written by Eleanor Bergstein and loosely based on her own childhood as a teenage dancer, Dirty Dancing deals with abortion, classism, and oppressive gender roles. And yes, there are plenty of fun dance numbers.
The Iron Giant
Before Steven Spielberg repurposed the towering hunk of sentient metal as the ultimate weapon in Ready Player One, The Iron Giant was the late-’90s answer to E.T.: an unknown from the great beyond who fell into the right youth’s hands. While the Giant’s oversized learning experiences and heroic acts are the real joys of Brad Bird’s 2D animated film, it’s Hogarth Hughes — the epitome of uncool comic-book reader, the antithesis of 1950s manliness and an ideological adversary to everything happening in the Cold War — who makes this one of the final sci-fi masterpieces of the 20th century. —Matt Patches
The Iron Giant is streaming on HBO Max.
Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age film stars Saoirse Ronan as a creative high school student, Christine, who rechristens herself Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) much to the chagrin of her practical mom, Marion (Laurie Metcalf). Their contentious relationship will feel familiar to those who were particularly angsty teens. If you watch with your mom, by the end you’ll likely both be in tears and/or apologizing for all the mean stuff you said to each other back then.
Lady Bird is streaming on Netflix.
She’s the Man
She’s the Man is one of the best teen movie Shakespeare adaptations ever made, second only to 10 Things I Hate About You. Starring Amanda Bynes as Viola and Channing Tatum in his first leading role as Duke Orsino, She’s the Man adapts Shakespeare’s cross-dressing comedy, Twelfth Night. When Viola’s high school soccer team is disbanded, she pretends to be her twin brother Sebastian so that she can play for the boy’s team at his boarding school. But she falls in love with her hunky roommate and captain of the soccer team, Duke. Hijinks ensue. She’s the Man also features an underrated David Cross performance, as the bumbling principal.
Thelma and Louise
Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise stars Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon as the titular best friends who set out on a weekend road trip together and end up (spoiler alert) driving off the edge of the Grand Canyon. How they get there spans several genres, including buddy comedy, road movie, revenge thriller, western, and crime drama. It’s a classic for a reason, earning both Davis and Sarandon Best Actress nominations, a Best Director nod for Scott, and winning Best Original Screenplay at the 1992 Academy Awards.
Thelma and Louise is streaming on Hulu.
The Watermelon Woman
The Criterion Collection lifted its paywall on “films that focus on Black Lives” this month, which means even if you’re not a subscriber to Criterion Channel you can watch this collection of Black cinema. One of the included titles is The Watermelon Woman, written, directed, edited, and starring Cheryl Dunye. Loosely based on Dunye’s experience researching Black actresses in early films, The Watermelon Woman follows Dunye’s character (also named Cheryl), a Philadelphia video store clerk trying to make a documentary about a fictional actress who was credited only as “The Watermelon Woman.” Cheryl, who is a lesbian, does some digging and finds out that woman’s name was Fae Richards, and that she was also a lesbian who used to sing in Philadelphia clubs. The Watermelon Woman is a landmark of both the New Black Wave and New Queer Cinema. It’s also very funny and very sexy.
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