NextFlix: December 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

Scorsese vs. Carlin!

2010 is just about over and Netflix is set to release a LOT of movies after an end-of-year drought (hence no blogposts lately). The last big release of the year is an excellent one though.

Anything Scorsese touches is worth your attention. Shutter Island seemed to divide audiences a bit, which doesn't surprise me. It's a long film (128 minutes), heavy on paranoia and anxiety. The story follows Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), a U.S. marshal investigating a missing person case at an insane asylum. As the case proceeds, things only get more confusing. The menace mounts steadily, and it's not long before Teddy's haunting dreams become waking hallucinations that threaten his sanity.

Fairly early in the film, there is a dream sequence that ranks among the most cinematic scenes of recent years. With precious little context to work with, Michelle Williams (as Teddy's wife Dolores) takes command of the scene, only to be upstaged by the beautiful visuals. Ashen flakes rain down from the ceiling as Dolores' body burns away during a heartfelt embrace. This is the exact reason we watch whatever Scorsese decides to make.

Now supposing you're just too hungover from New Year's Eve festivities to deal with a mind-bending mystery, Netflix has unleashed a barrage of George Carlin specials. You will laugh your ass off, provided you could handle a LOT of four-letter words. See below for a full list. This is fantastic news!

George Carlin: On Location with George Carlin (1977)
George Carlin Again! (1978)
George Carlin: Carlin at Carnegie (1982)
George Carlin: Carlin on Campus (1984)

George Carlin: Playing with Your Head (1986)
George Carlin: What Am I Doing in New Jersey
George Carlin: Doin' It Again (1992)
George Carlin: Jammin' in New York (1992)
George Carlin: You Are All Diseased (1999)
George Carlin: Complaints and Grievances (2001)

George Carlin: Life Is Worth Losing (2005)
George Carlin: It's Bad for Ya (2008)



Monday, December 20, 2010

The Good, The Bad, The Weird! Nostalgia!

Here in the United States, we rarely hear South Korea mentioned in terms unrelated to conflict. Which is a shame, because some of the best genre films of recent years have come out of their country. What makes them particularly ripe for mainstream U.S. consumption is that many of them are highly influenced by popular filmmakers whose styles are already imprinted in our brains. Here we've got the blazing guns and kinetic camera of Tarantino, the boundless adventure of Spielberg, and of course Spaghetti Western pioneer Sergio Leone (his classic The Good, The Bad and the Ugly being the obvious reference here).

The Good, The Bad, The Weird is all about fun. The movie starts with a stunning and violent sequence aboard a moving train. It seems a little convoluted because you're not really sure how many teams there are, or what exactly they're all after. This is cleared up in due time, and that's when the fun really begins. Director Ji-Woon Kim (director of creepy/disturbing mood-piece A Tale of Two Sisters, also streaming) likes to give his actors big moments, and so the movie is full of them. The film is frequently funny; even when the bullets start flying, there is a levity to the action that will keep you smiling throughout. Chaotic and energetic, it's the Four Loko of Far Eastern Westerns. You will NOT be bored.

Season One of Inspector Gadget is now streaming. Go Gadget Go. And click below for a badass dubstep remix of the theme song. Even better though is the recent addition of Seasons One and Two of Ghostbusters: The Animated Series!





Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop! Joan Rivers!

Today's release is a real treat. Exit Through the Gift Shop is one of my favorite films of 2010. It is an incredibly entertaining documentary about a French man who becomes obsessed with the street art movement. Eventually he embeds himself in the scene, following around the elusive artists as they sneak around at night to leave their marks on society. This leads him to the man at the center of it all: Banksy. (If you somehow haven't heard of him, he's the guy responsible for some truly irreverent graffiti, bold art stunts and even  a memorably dark hijacking of the Simpsons' opening sequence.) At this point in the film, there is a drastic twist to the narrative, and it's as compelling as anything Hollywood has dreamed up. It's certainly possible some of this is fabricated but it doesn't stop this from being one of the most interesting stories around. For one, you get an intimate, never-before-seen look at the processes of one of the most secretive artists around. You also get a crash course in a modern art movement that is only going to get bigger. Ultimately what you get though is an amazing, acid-tongued character study unafraid to laugh at and with art. This one's the real deal. Stream it now!

If you haven't gotten your documentary fix after that, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is also now streaming. I haven't watched it yet, but it's a very well-reviewed look at the comedian known for her acerbic wit and downright cruelty. I have seen the documentarians' previous film, The Devil Came on Horseback (also streaming), a disturbing look at the genocide in Darfur. They definitely know how to put together an extraordinary feature, so if you have any interest in Joan Rivers, this is a safe bet.

Expiring Soon!
The Rock: Exp. 12/18
Flirting With Disaster: Exp. 12/19
Charles in Charge Seasons One-Five (OH NO!!!): Exp. 12/19



Sunday, December 12, 2010


Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire is a harrowing look at the life of an impoverished, obese 16-year-old girl growing up in Harlem. This is not an easy film to swallow, but it's a tremendous achievement nonetheless. Claireece AKA Precious has already suffered through a life-time of extreme emotional and physical torment when the movie begins. She is broke. Hungry. Pregnant for the second time thanks to her father's tendency to rape her. This is dark stuff and director Lee Fields doesn't water down the source material. However, this film doesn't exist for its audience to sit around and wallow in the horrors of Precious's life. It could have been overwrought; it's not. Fields moves things along at a pretty quick clip. It's a movie that goes to great lengths to show how far a little kindness can go. The reason you need to watch this is to see just how terrifying Mo'Nique's performance is...every time she pops up in a scene, your stomach will somersault. She is one of the scariest characters in cinematic history. She makes Mommie Dearest look like Mrs. Doubtfire.

Expiring Soon!
The Love Guru: Exp. 12/13 (last chance to see just how bad it is.)
Archer: Season One: Exp. 12/15
Searching for Bobby Fischer: Exp. 12/16
Inland Empire: Exp. 12/16
A Very Long Engagement: Exp. 12/16
Scott Walker: 30th Century Man: Exp. 12/16


Friday, December 10, 2010

Cold Souls!

Cold Souls hit theaters last year in limited release. In other words, few had the opportunity to check it out. Cut from the same cloth as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich (both are from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman AND available to stream), Paul Giamatti stars as Paul Giamatti. Overcome with anxiety, he hears about a company that will remove, freeze and store your soul. The idea being that if you take emotions out of the equation, life will be much easier. With a supporting cast that features David Strathairn, Emily Watson and Lauren Ambrose, you don't have to worry about the acting. So if you're in the mood for some surreal comedy, interesting philosophical quandaries and an unpredictable storyline, take the plunge. Trailer is embedded at the bottom of the page.

Also new to Netflix is The Money Pit, widely derided as Tom Hank's worst film. Boo to that. It's no masterpiece of storytelling, but if, like me, you enjoy watching shit collapse, then look no further. Hanks rises above the one-note script and delivers some great physical comedy. Hell, with The Burbs, Big, and Bachelor Party all streaming, you could have a Tom Hanks mini-marathon. Hey Netflix, where's Joe Vs. The Volcano? See below for a classic clip (with bonus Finnish subtitles); if you haven't heard Hanks' iconic laugh at the end of this scene, you need to view for that reason  alone.

Lastly, the following films are expiring very soon! Sometimes they get renewed, sometimes they don't.
Bubba Ho-Tep: Exp. 12/11
Revenge of the Nerds: Exp. 12/11
Monsters, Inc.: Exp.12/12
The Fly & The Fly 2: Exp. 12/13



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Restrepo! Cronos!

Once I get into the swing of things here, there will be at least one movie a day here; though as you'll soon see, I am often reminded of related films. We start the blog with an absolutely huge release: Restrepo. This one's so fresh, I haven't even had a chance to stream it yet. Winner of Best Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Festival, it has already made it onto the Academy Awards' shortlist for the 2011 Best Documentary category. Restrepo ended its theatrical run with a whopping 97% on the popular critic aggregator RottenTomatoes. It has been praised for being an intimate account of the modern soldier's life without smothering viewers with the political views that usually turn these films into laborious quagmires.

Other documentaries on the Academy's shortlist (which comprises 15 films in total, soon to be voted down to the top 5) that are currently streaming include The Lottery and William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe. And on 12/14, Oscar front-runner Exit Through The Gift Shop--one of the most entertaining and compelling films I've ever seen--will begin streaming (throw it on the queue now, but don't worry, I'll remind you.)

Guillermo Del Toro's directorial debut, Cronos, is now available. This unique spin on the vampire story is a must for fans of Del Toro's more recent work, films like Pan's Labyrinth. It's here that he first establishes his love of horror, gore and machinery.

Lastly, you can catch up on two movies you'd be embarrassed to admit you haven't seen: Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and Rain Man.

You're welcome!