Video streaming platform Max’s catalog features over 2,000 movies, which can feel a bit paralyzing. Rather than being doomed to scroll endlessly on movie night looking for something good, I’ve winnowed it down to six great movies that appeared on Max recently. If you want a rock-doc, you can’t miss with Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. If you’re in the mood for a smart-but-charming family comedy, check out Our Idiot Brother. If it’s been a few years, re-watch The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. And definitely don’t sleep on The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)
First-time director Joe Talbot blew the doors off the cinema world with this visionary feature. Jimmie and Monty are best friends who live in San Francisco in the near future. Gentrifiers live in the house Jimmie’s grandfather built, and he wants it back. That spare story opens into a film that mixes fantasy and reality to explore what the modern world is doing to tradition, family, community, and love.
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (2013)
Formed in 1972, rock band Big Star was as important and influential as The Beatles, but hardly anyone noticed them while they were around—despite its title, their debut album, “#1 Record” sold less than 10,000 copies. It wasn’t until after they’d broken up that their collected works were rediscovered and went on to influence basically every worthwhile rock musician, from Kurt Cobain to Elliott Smith to The Replacements. This documentary chronicles Big Star’s troubled career and the lives of its members, and tries to answer a burning question: “Why wasn’t Big Star the biggest band on earth?”
Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins (2019)
Fearless journalist and commentator Molly Ivins’ life’s work was speaking truth to power. Through recollections of the people she knew and inspired—Rachel Maddow, Paul Krugman, Dan Rather, and more—and archival footage of her no-bullshit interviews, Raise Hell takes us inside the work and life of a journalistic titan who ruled both print and broadcast journalism for decades.
Our Idiot Brother (2011)
Our Idiot Brother isn’t perfect, but the cast is so charming, and the story so refreshingly bullshit-free, you’ll forgive any faults. Paul Rudd plays Ned Rochlin, the “idiot” of the tile. He is as trusting, loving, and loyal as the golden retriever he loves, but his steadfast belief in the goodness of others leads to prison, a romantic break-up, and being forced to back to his mother’s house. An indie-style family comedy without the cynicism that’s so pervasive in the genre, Our Idiot Brother is a gem.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966)
You can watch Sergio Leone’s mid-60s masterpiece over and over, and notice something new with each viewing. On the surface, it’s the story of a trio of cowboys trying to find (and steal) a fortune in buried gold. But it’s really about a battle between demi-gods. Through Leone’s lens, the Good, Bad, and Ugly of the title are bigger than the Western mountains, and their epic struggle plays out like an ancient myth against the backdrop of the Civil War. You can check out the other two iconic Sergio Leone-Clint Eastwood team-ups, A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, on Max too.