5 Best Movies to Watch by JR

Staff & contributors

Perfect for Halloween marathons with friends, The Return of the Living Dead treads the now well-worn template of zombie apocalypse movies with outstanding practical effects and a refreshingly unserious attitude. What the film might lack in terms of character writing or deeper themes, it more than makes up for with a relentless forward momentum. There isn't any grand mission to be accomplished when these morticians collide with a group of young punks, other than understanding what drives the undead creatures outside in order to survive the night. As a result, this is a movie that lives firmly in the moment, with thrills aplenty and its greatest moments found in the freaked-out reactions of its ensemble cast. The late James Karen, with his hilariously exaggerated hollering and whimpering, only nearly steals the show from the film's wonderful animatronics and disgusting prosthetic makeup. It's a great zombie movie for the reluctant horror newbie.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Horror

Actor: Allan Trautman, Beverly Randolph, Brian Peck, Cathleen Cordell, Cherry Davis, Clu Gulager, David Bond, Don Calfa, Drew Deighan, James Dalesandro, James Karen, Jewel Shepard, John Durbin, John Philbin, Jonathan Terry, JR, Linnea Quigley, Mark Venturini, Michael Crabtree, Miguel A. Núñez, Miguel A. Núñez, Jr., Robert Craighead, Thom Mathews

Director: Dan O'Bannon

Watch out for Ezekiel in this show, he will steal your heart. And also please sit through the first episode. Yes, it's long, but if you get The Get Down, it is one of the best shows on Netflix. Created by Baz Luhrmann and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, it narrates the rise of hip-hop in a broken 1970’s New York. The impressive credentials don’t stop there, as the series is narrated by Nas, features work by four-time Academy Award winner Catherine Martin as well as hip-hop historian Nelson George. It is perhaps for this reason that the word “narration” takes its full meaning here. Every episode, every scene, every character are made with extreme care, resulting in sometimes longer than necessary sequences. A sacrifice that will make some viewers very happy, but which many might have a hard time adjusting to.

Genre: Drama, Music

Actor: Eric Bogosian, Giancarlo Esposito, Herizen F. Guardiola, Herizen Guardiola, Jaden Smith, Jimmy Smits, JR, Justice Smith, Kevin Corrigan, Mamoudou Athie, Michel Gill, Shameik Moore, Shyrley Rodriguez, Skylan Brooks, Stefanee Martin, TJ Brown, Tremaine Brown, Tremaine Brown, Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Zabryna Guevara

Director: Baz Luhrmann, Ed Bianchi, Stephen Adly Guirgis

Rating: TV-MA

As the 1970s brought about the civil rights movement, as well as the abandonment of the American Hays Code, the blaxploitation genre (portmanteau of “Black” and “exploitation”) became popular, with black artists reclaiming their image, albeit with B-films centered around themes of violence, drugs, and sex. Black Dynamite is an homage and parody to the genre, with low budget mistakes, over-the-top dialogue, and Super 16 shooting all combining in the most hilarious of ways through the smooth timing of leading man (and co-writer) Michael Jai White. It’s silly, and stereotypical, but all the jokes poke fun from a clear love and nostalgia of the genre.

Genre: Action, Comedy

Actor: Arsenio Hall, Baron Vaughn, Bokeem Woodbine, Buddy Lewis, Byron Minns, Cedric Yarbrough, Charlotte Stokely, Charmane Star, Chris Spencer, Damion Poitier, Darrel Heath, Irwin Keyes, John Salley, JR, Kevin Chapman, Kym Whitley, Michael Jai White, Miguel A. Núñez, Miguel A. Núñez, Jr., Mike Starr, Mykelti Williamson, Nicole Ari Parker, Nicole Sullivan, Obba Babatundé, Phil Morris, Richard Edson, Roger Yuan, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Stacy Adams, Tommy Davidson, Tucker Smallwood, William Bassett

Director: Scott Sanders

Rating: R

What happens to genius and complex filmmakers once they reach old age? Agnès Varda at 89 is one example. She maintains an interest in the same deep questions but portrays them in a casual way - basically tries to have a little more fun with things. She finds a friend in JR, a young artist with a truck that prints large portraits. Together they go around French villages (the French title is “Visages Villages”), connecting with locals and printing their photos on murals. Their interactions are researched, but not worked. In fact, they are deeply improvised. Because of this and because the movie is structured in an episode format, it will completely disarm you. And when you least expect it you will be met with long-lasting takes on mortality, loss, but also gender, the environment and the evasiveness of life and art.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Agnès Varda, Amaury Bossy, Jean-Paul Beaujon, Jeannine Carpentier, JR, Yves Boulen

Director: Agnès Varda, JR

Rating: PG