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6 of the Best Movies on Stan

Home > Adelaide > Cinema | Film Reviews | Movie Reviews | Rainy Day
by Nicholas Gordon (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Sydney.
Published December 9th 2020
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Stan's vast library of over a thousand films offers something for every movie lover. But such a large selection necessarily means some serious filtering is in order. My picks of the streaming service run all the way from recent Oscar winners to classics from the 1950s. Here are the best movies on Stan right now.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)



French director Céline Sciamma's film follows Marianne (Noémie Merlant), a young woman who arrives on an island off the coast of Brittany. She's there to paint a portrait of Heloise (Adèle Haenel) who at the insistence of her mother is to be married to a Milanese suitor. Heloise refuses to sit for a portrait, forcing Marianne to pretend to be nothing more than a companion. Marianne, clandestinely, completes her portrait, but when Heloise's mother departs the island, Marianne confesses her true purpose. The attraction between the two women builds slowly, told in a number of hauntingly gorgeous scenes. Visually breathtaking and pitch-perfectly told - this is so much better than your average period drama.

Parasite (2019)



Bong Joon-ho's rollicking masterpiece rightly took the top gong at last year's Oscars. The film concerns two families: one poor and one stinking rich. The poor family live in a cramped basement flat. Father, mother, son and daughter are all unemployed. That changes when son Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) hears about a tutoring job with the Park family who live in a huge mansion in a ritzy part of town. Ki-woo gets the tutoring job and soon after gets the idea that more could be milked from the Park family. What follows is a tale that descends into some very strange places, the story told masterfully, alternating between shockingly funny moments and thrilling dramatic scenes. A film you won't forget in a hurry.

Read my full review of Parasite.

Life is Beautiful (1997)



Roberto Benigni's WWII comedy is dazzling and brave. Benigni plays Guido, a bumbling Jewish waiter who arrives in Arezzo to work for his uncle. Guido soon falls madly in love with a local woman named Dora (Nicoletta Braschi). We then flash forward and Guido and Dora have a young son named Giosue. Guido runs a bookstore in town but Italy has turned dark under Fascism and the family are sent to a concentration camp. Guido, in an effort to shield his son from the horrors occurring in the camp, tells Giosue that it's all an elaborate game and that the winner receives a tank as a prize. Despite its two very distinct parts, Life is Beautiful remains engrossing throughout, the humour and emotion building to the film's brilliant conclusion.

Network (1976)



Howard Beale is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. Director Sidney Lumet's clever media satire involves an ageing newsman (the aforementioned Beale played by Peter Finch) whose news broadcast is scrapped due to poor ratings. But before he can be yanked off-air, Beale threatens to kill himself. Station executive Diana (Faye Dunaway) smells rating gold and convinces her boss to put Beale back on television. Beale is now completely bonkers, ranting and railing against everything and everyone, to the delight of the viewing public. Remarkably prescient, the thread from what's depicted in Network to current-day reality television, cable news and outrageous talk shows is easy to trace. Relevant now more than ever.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)



It's New York in the 1950s and JJ Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) is a powerful newspaper columnist. He's at the top of his game, his column able to make or break people. If Hunsecker's a star, publicity man Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) is not; he sleeps in his office and doesn't carry a coat to save on tips. Falco made a living getting his puff pieces into Hunsecker's column until the columnist abruptly froze him out. Falco can get back in if he can stop Hunsecker's sister from marrying a jazz musician. It's a strange demand (Hunsecker's a strange man), but Falco, desperate for income, tries his hardest. The power imbalance between the two men is fascinating to watch, with Lancaster and Curtis drawing their characters vividly.

Rear Window (1954)



The recent addition of five Alfred Hitchcock classics (The Birds, Saboteur, Psycho and Rope are also available) is a great introduction to the master of suspense. And Rear Window is up there with the best. Jimmy Stewart plays Jeff, a globe-trotting photographer laid up in his apartment with a broken leg. Jeff has little to do all day except look out his window and wait for visits from girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly). The relationship between Lisa and Jeff seems strained, especially now that Jeff is obsessed with watching his neighbours. Jeff watches a desperate dater he dubs 'Miss Lonelyhearts', a newly married couple, and an older couple where the wife seems to be descending into depression. One day she is no longer seen and Jeff senses trouble. Astonishing in many ways, from its story to its staging, to its great acting, Rear Window builds suspense right up until its thrilling finale.
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Your Comment
Thanks for your suggestions Nicholas.
by May Cross (score: 3|8029) 307 days ago
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