New on Netflix Instant: 'Like Crazy' in mi 'Casa' de 'Re-Animator'
Plus a checklist of notable films soon to expire on Netflix Instant
"Like Crazy" (2012), an American indie drama of young love meeting insurmountable obstacles, stars Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, and an on-the-verge-of-stardom Jennifer Lawrence. "Fictional accounts of young love aren't generally notable for their understatement," observes MSN film critic Glenn Kenny. "But one of the more refreshing aspects of "Like Crazy" is that, its title notwithstanding, it tells an affecting and genuine-seeming tale on this theme with not just disarming naturalism, but an admirable sense of proportion."
"Casa de mi Padre" (2012) is a parody of Mexican telenovellas and melodramas starring Will Ferrell (speaking entirely in poorly-accented Spanish), Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, and Genesis Rodriguez. It turned out to be a misfire for Ferrell. "I found the experience of sitting through the relatively scant 80-plus minutes of the movie to be thoroughly tedious," confesses MSN film critic Glenn Kenny. "Humor being a subjective matter, of course, your experience may be different. But, to paraphrase a former editor of mine, if it is, maybe we shouldn't have lunch anytime soon."
"Re-Animator" (1985), Stuart Gordon's cult horror classic from the gory eighties, is a mix of metaphysics, medicine, zombies, and "Frankenstein" loosely adapted from H.P. Lovecraft's "Herbert West: Re-Animator" and directed with a gallows humor. Full of black humor and startling shocks, the feature film debut of experimental theater director Gordon is arguably his best, and easily his most fun (a kinky, sick sort of fun, mind you).
Got time this Thanksgiving weekend? Here are some notable films you should probably get to before they are gone from Netflix at the end of the month:
"Letters From Iwo Jima" (2006), Clint Eastwood's companion film to "Flags of Our Fathers," is a thoughtful portrait of the battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the defending Japanese army and a sympathetic look at a military culture at war with itself and the soldiers and officers sacrificed to notions of honor that seem alien today.
"The Thin Red Line" (1998), Terrence Malick's first film after a twenty-year absence, is an ambitious adaptation of James Jones' quasi-autobiographical novel with superb cast (including Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, James Caviezel and George Clooney) and a vivid canvas. It's one of the richest, densest, most contemplative films ever to emerge from Hollywood in the nineties.
"Dog Day Afternoon" (1975) reunites "Serpico" star Al Pacino and director Sidney Lumet for a gritty, funny, electric drama about a failed New York bank robbery turned gripping hostage situation turned energetic media circus.
"Donnie Brasco" (1997) is ostensibly the (true) story of an FBI undercover agent in the mob who gets in so deep that he starts to confuse he allegiances, but Al Pacino’s heartbreaking performance of a big-shot wannabe not only anchors the unusual tale, it defines it. Under his bravado and wise-guy posturing lies a sad, insecure little man who watches the deals pass him by.
"Harry Brown" (2009) stars Michael Caine as a newly-widowed pensioner turned creaky vigilante and he gives a weary dignity to an otherwise improbable and very bloody crime thriller.
Plus: Francis Ford Coppola's colorful period drama "The Cotton Club" (1984), "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (1981) with Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, the Woody Allen films "Another Woman" (1988), "Alice" (1990), and "Shadows and Fog" (1992), and Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky" (1990) and its four sequels.
Expiring Instant cult movies:
"The Big Lebowski" (1998), the Coen Brothers' most eccentric cult hit, stars Jeff Bridges as The Dude, bowler and free spirit mistaken for a millionaire (David Huddleston) by a band of German punk nihilists, in a shaggy dog parody of classic L.A. detective stories where the passive hero is forced to solve a mystery so everyone will just leave him alone to enjoy his dope and his Dylan. Great stuff!
"Bangkok Dangerous" (2000) takes Hong Kong flash to Thailand for this flashy, splashy piece of action melodrama, the story of a deaf-mute master assassin (Pawalit Mongkolpisit) with an innocent heart, a puppy-love attachment to a sweet young pharmacist, and a commitment to romantic nihilism and blood-spattered chivalry. Not to be confused with the American remakes with Nicolas Cage.
Plus: the erotic classic "The Story of O" (1975), the playful "The Coca-Cola Kid" (1985) with Eric Roberts, Wes Craven's original "The Last House on the Left" (1972), and "Blue Sunshine" (1978), an acid flashback horror with a brain-frying afterburn.
Expiring Instant TV:
"Spaced" (1999) - Before "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," director Edgar Wright and actor/writer Simon Pegg collaborated with actress/writer Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson) on this hilarious 1999 cult BBC sitcom about a couple of likable slackers. The lively humor is crammed with pop culture references and playful gags and executed with an inventive sense of style (for TV, anyway) and terrific energy.
"Ultraviolet" (1998) is a modern twist on the vampire series, sharp, smart, compelling British mini-series of a vampire society trying to stop the human race from destroying the planet (and thus the vampires as well), and the elite government force formed to combat the activist vampires. Features the great Idris Elba in a supporting role.
Other British mini-series about to expire: "A Dance to the Music of Time" (1997), a lavish eight-hour adaptation of Anthony Powell's landmark 12-novel cycle, and the original "Traffik" (1989), about the global tentacles of the drug trade.
Plus the British series "Midsomer Murders: Series 11 and 12" (2008-2009), the comic legal show "Kingdom: Series 1-3" (2007-2008) with Stephen Fry, and the sardonic sitcom "Black Books: Series 1-3" (2000-2004).