New on Netflix Instant: Robert Redford's 'The Conspirator' and the French thriller 'Tell No One'
Plus cult films and TV old and new
The Robert Redford-directed "The Conspirator" (2010) tells the story of Mary Surrat, the sole woman charged with conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, but modern parallels aside, MSN critic James Rocchi finds little effective drama in the true story. "From the first frame, "The Conspirator" looks like a bad idea," he warns. "Its (bleeding) heart is plainly on its sleeve, and its brain is nowhere to be found." Robin Wright stars as Mary and James McAvoy, Kevin Kline, Danny Huston, Evan Rachel Wood, Justin Long and Tom Wilkinson co-star.
"Tell No One" (2006) is a superb French mystery thriller based on American author Harlan Coben's best-selling mystery about a grieving doctor (François Cluzet) suspected by the cops in the eight-year-old murder of his wife, who just may be alive. There's a lot going on in this well-tooled crime drama and Canet and his cast (which includes Kristin Scott Thomas, André Dussollier and Jean Rochefort) keeps it all in the realm of physical possibility and emotional believability.
Recent new disc releases now available for instant streaming include "I Melt With You," a portrait of arrested adolescence in adult men starring Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, and Rob Lowe; British indie coming-of-age drama "Submarine"; Alexandre Rockwell's "Pete Smalls is Dead" with Peter Dinklage and Tim Roth; and "The Off Hours" from Seattle filmmaker Megan Griffiths.
"Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter" (1974) is a Hammer horror film with swashbuckling flavor. Horst Janson is the brooding Kronos, a Napoleanic soldier who hunts the undead with his jovial hunchbacked partner, Grost (John Cater), and takes time out from his athletic battles and meditative interludes for a few lusty pleasures with curvaceous peasant girl/camp follower Caroline Munro. Director/writer Brian Clemens rewrites vampire lore with abandon and puts a whole new spin on a familiar genre. He's not much of a stylist, but his sensibility is refreshing for a seventies vampire picture.
Chan-wook Park’s bloody and brutal South Korean revenge film "Oldboy" (2003) begins as a deprivation experiment concocted by a quirky mad scientist and turns into an obsessive, unrelenting campaign of torment. The film won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and the adoration of extreme cinema fans everywhere, for the mix of creative violence, surreal vengeance, and cinematic beauty.
The aggressively grotesque "The Human Centipede II [Full Sequence]" (IFC/MPI) was banned in Britain, one of those dubious badges of honor that hasn't been awarded in a long time. "Your consumer reporter must warn you that "The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)" outdoes the first film in repulsiveness," cautions MSN film critic Kat Murphy. "It revels in blood and excrement, vicious cruelty and atrocity, and the casualties are more numerous, including a pregnant woman." Take that as a recommendation or a warning bell.
Also worth a look is Johnny To's gangland thriller of underworld politics "Triad Election" (2006), "A Tale of Two Sisters" (2004), one of the smartest, spookiest, and most mature of the Japanese ghost stories, and "Little Shop of Horrors" (1986), the colorful, hilarious big screen version of the stage musical version of Roger Corman's famous two-day wonder.
And here's film that earned its cult credentials for other reasons: "Battlefield Earth" (2000) really is one of the worst movies of its day, but this is the kind of badness that can be very entertaining under the right conditions.
"Jane By Design: Season 1" is the high school answer to "The Devil Wears Prada," with Erica Dasher as a teenage girl hired as the personal assistant to the head of a major fashion executive (Andie McDowell in the Meryl Streep role). The ABC Family Channel series is just fine to family viewing.
The first season of the animated sitcom "American Dad!," Seth McFarlane's follow-up to "The Family Guy," has been available for over a year. Now Seasons 2 through 5 have been added.
Also newly available: "Law & Order: Criminal Intent – The Tenth Year" arrives for instant streaming before it lands on disc, plus the British forensic crime series "Waking the Dead: Season 5" and the original American forensic crime show "Quincy, M.E.: Seasons 1 & 2."