The Top 10 most watched movies on Streampix prove that variety is the spice of life. There’s an underwater documentary, star vehicles for Angelina Jolie, Demi Moore, Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves, a martial arts classic, a couple of very different war movies, entries from directorial auteurs Paul Thomas Anderson and David O. Russell, and even an appearance by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s an eclectic batch of flicks that goes to show how one person’s On Demand is another’s Must to Avoid. Here’s the rundown, from 1-10.
“IMAX Deep Sea”: Don’t know too many people who have IMAX-size screens in their living rooms, but this 2006 underwater adventure presents some up-close encounters with an array of exotic sea creatures, not to mention narrators Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. Apparently watching this on your flat-screen is the next best thing to having your own aquarium, if its popularity is any indication. Famed oceanic filmmaker Howard Hall goes immersive long before James Cameron’s “Avatar,” to let you swim with the fishes and not have to come up for air or wear a scuba mask. Warning: do not watch on a full stomach.
“Striptease”: Apparently, the promise of seeing Demi Moore on a stripper’s pole in this 1996 dark comedy is enough to draw viewers like, well, patrons to a strip club. As a former FBI secretary-turned-stripper with a heart of gold struggling to gain custody of her daughter, Moore becomes involved in a vicious court dispute and some political shenanigans in this Andrew Bergman-written and directed film based on the satirical novel by Carl Hiaasen. Although named the Worst Picture of 1996 by the Golden Raspberry Awards, the movie has its charms, including Burt Reynolds as a corrupt congressman, Armand Assante as a police officer and Ving Rhames as a burly club bouncer. Look also for Moore’s real-life daughter with Bruce Willis, Rumer, playing her on-screen child in just her second film role.
“Three Kings”: Writer/director David O. Russell’s 1999 Operation Desert Storm follow-up to his 1996 comedy, “Flirting with Disaster,” was his third feature, and marked his emergence as a major talent. George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube and Spike Jonze star as soldiers mopping up loose ends following the end of the Gulf War in Iraq. The four stumble upon a cache of gold, unleashing a series of events that bring home the chaotic nature of the conflict. The movie was marked by an on-set fight between Clooney and the director, known for his volatile, hands-on style, over his rough treatment of an extra. Another controversy involved Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”), who was given a story credit, but not a screenplay nod, as Russell claimed to go in a completely different direction.
“Boogie Nights”: Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 paean to the San Fernando Valley adult film scene of the ‘70s features a remarkable ensemble, including Mark Wahlberg in the role of the dishwasher-turned-porn star Dirk Diggler, co-starring his prosthetic member. The film received three Oscar nominations, including Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore in the categories of Best Supporting Actor and Actress, with Anderson receiving one for his Best Original Screenplay. The rest of the cast includes Don Cheadle as Buck Swope, Anderson’s own tribute to the midnight cult classic “Putney Swope” (directed by Robert Downey Sr., who also has a brief cameo), John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, Luis Guzman, Alfred Molina and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Look for appearances by real-life porn stars Nina Hartley and Veronica Hart, as well a singer/ songwriter/film composer Michael Penn, magician Ricky Jay and “Hung” star Thoams Jane.
“Battle Force”: In this 2011 World War II movie, an elite fighting squad is formed of men (and women!?) handpicked for a desperate mission, “The Dirty Dozen” style, with the only alternative to aim, shoot and stay alive. The movie was both directed and written by Scott Martin, and includes some remarkable action sequences for what is pretty much a low-budget film with no real name stars. The film’s most notable feature is Stephanie Beran as a violent, crazy soldier who kills a Nazi without using a firearm, then wipes his blood on a fellow soldier’s uniform sleeve.
“The Devil’s Advocate”: Taylor Hackford’s 1997 legal thriller has taken on cult status, thanks to Al Pacino’s over-the-top performance as a Satanic head of a law firm who offers the ultimate Faustian bargain to fledgling attorney Keanu Reeves. The screenplay by Jonathan Lemkin and Tony Gilroy was adapted from Andrew Neiderman’s novel of the same name. Charlize Theron plays Reeves’ wife, who warns him about what he’s getting into, but to no avail. For all those who think Lucifer is really an attorney, this one’s for you, topped by Pacino morphing from a reporter into Beezlebub himself, breaking the fourth wall to memorably tell us, “Vanity. Definitely my favorite sin.” After his performance here, there is little doubt.
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“TMNT”: Who knew the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had such staying power? Your favorite crime-fighting tortoises—Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael—return to battle an evil industrialist who is plotting to take over the world in this 2007 computer-animated update of the ‘80s icons. This is the fourth installment of the series, grossing $95 million on a budget of $34 million, but the real bonanza was the merchandising, which included toys, comics and video games. A live action version of the venerable franchise, starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Johnny Knoxville, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Shalhoub, Abby Elliott and William Fichtner, is set to premiere this August.
“Romeo Must Die”: Jet Li and the late R&B diva Aaliyah co-star in this 2000 martial arts thriller, a violent take on “Romeo and Juliet,” centering on the love affair between an escaped Chinese prisoner and the daughter of the head of a black crime syndicate. For Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in August, 2001, this was her first major film role. She also sang four songs on the soundtrack for the movie, which also featured rapper DMX along with Isaiah Washington and Delroy Lindo. The movie earned more than $91 million worldwide as the English-language breakout hit for star Jet Li.
“Taking Lives”: Angelina Jolie stars as an FBI profiler who tangles with a serial killer that supposedly died in an accident 20 years earlier after she’s called in by a former colleague to assist two Canadian police detectives. The 2004 psychological thriller, directed by D.J. Caruso and adapted from a 1999 novel by Michael Pye, co-stars Ethan Hawke and features a pulsating original music score by avant-garde composer Philip Glass. Look for Paul Dano as the killer and Gena Rowlands as his mother along with Kiefer Sutherland as an art thief who gets entangled in the case of mistaken identities.
“Rush Hour”: The initial 1998 installment of Brett Ratner’s blockbuster franchise pairs a Hong Kong inspector (Jackie Chan) with a wise-cracking L.A. detective (Chris Tucker) who form an odd couple who team up to find the kidnapped daughter of a Chinese diplomat. The movie spawned two sequels, with a third ready to roll. The movie made more than $244 million worldwide. It features the hit single, “Can I Get A…” performed by Jay Z, Ja Rule and Amil, with additional tracks by Edwin Starr, Flesh-n-Bone, Wu-Tang Clan, Dru Hill, Charli Baltimore and Montell Jordan. The movie took home “Best On-Screen Duo” honors at the 1999 MTV Movie Awards among its four nominations, including Best Movie Song, Best Fight and Best Comedic Performance (Tucker).