Friday, July 3, 2015

July Expirations: Let's Call It a Massacre

Well, this was unexpected. After June's list of more-than-could-be-processed expiring titles, it was natural to assume the bulk of the damage was done and we could go ahead and discuss July's new arrivals. But Netflix had other ideas. Perhaps trying to keep everyone from noticing exactly how many titles it's eliminating, the service saved a large chunk of its vanishing catalog for July 5—giving no prior notice until the last couple of days (the fact that it's July 4th weekend may also have been part of their plan, if you're conspiracy-minded).

Thanks to all the eagle-eyed readers out there who have been diligently posting their findings (and making my humble Expirations page look like a sub-Reddit forum!), we can gauge just how much will be gone as of Sunday at midnight. Granted, much of it is obscure genre fare and some is downright crappy, but there are also a few genuinely notable older titles—including the early John Boorman flick, Leo the Last (1970), and Jim McBride's seminal David Holzman's Diary (1967)—not to mention a whole slew of silents, many by that era's most distinguished filmmakers. There are too many for me to provide links, but here are all the silent films and pre-1982 titles (so far) that are viewable through July 5:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

June Expiration Watch: Too Many to Tally

Impossible mission, indeed
Well, Netflix has gone and done it: there are officially more titles expiring this month than I have the capacity to process. A good number of these arrived within the last six months, many as recently as April, which makes them even more disheartening to tabulate. Plus, with a large batch of very familiar titles scheduled to return next month, I'm feeling beyond burnt-out in trying to track every coming and going (and coming...and going...). Add to that Netflix's steady stream of original content, mid-month announcements, and the ubiquity of news stories on the company's every move, and this blog has now outgrown one (unpaid) person's ability to manage it.

On a personal level, I'm also finding it increasingly difficult to balance the needs of this site with my own creative work, especially given the number of hours now required to simply update these lists and moderate the comments from all the many helpful contributors out there. Since I don't like the idea of shutting the blog down completely—something I'd been considering—I'm going to instead attempt some streamlining.


A change in approach

My plan, as of now, is to continue to post updates on what's new and what's expiring, but with a few key changes:
  1. Updates such as this will consist mainly of lists, with a minimum of editorial comment.
  2. Lists will narrow their focus to titles I can personally recommend, in keeping with the blog's original intent.
  3. These semi-monthly posts will replace the standalone Expiring and What's New pages.
  4. The current Expiring page will be converted into a discussion area, since the increasingly general nature of the comments there seems to dictate such a space is necessary (plus I'm not quite ready to start an actual forum).

Thursday, June 11, 2015

June's New Arrivals (and Early Departures)

A small but interesting mix of new and returning titles hit Netflix Instant this month. But before we get to those I should point out a handful of mid-month departures that will definitely be missed...

Leaving Soon

Tin Man
At 12:01 AM on the 15th, Netflix will no longer be streaming Alejandro González Iñárritu's Amores Perros (2000). Like the director's later efforts, such as Babel (2006) and 21 Grams (2003), his feature debut is supposed to be quite good if also a bit intense (especially if you're squeamish about violence toward animals). Iñárritu's more recent Biutiful (2010) also expires this month (on the 27th), which means the director of last year's Oscar-winning Birdman will soon be entirely absent from Netflix—a situation we hope is only temporary.

Departing on the same day as Amores Perros is the Wizard of Oz reboot, Tin Man, a 2007 miniseries starring Zooey Deschanel that's more enjoyable than it has any right to be, especially given the many past attempts at recreating the magic of the 1939 original. This one manages to be both sequel and update, and uses its extended running time to tell a rich tale that allows for many charming—and frightening—moments. Suitable for adults and children alike, the show's impressive cast also includes Alan Cumming and Richard Dreyfuss.

June 19 will see the departure of three movies that arrived in March, marking only a brief, three-month stay for multi-Oscar-winner Amadeus (1984), Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2002 revenge flick, Collateral Damage, and the Sandra Bullock/Nicole Kidman romantic witch comedy, Practical Magic (1998). Granted, the latter two are light entertainment at best, but the fact that they lasted just three months seemed worth noting. (Why, Netflix?)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 2015: What's New / What's Leaving

Before I get into what's expiring this month, I want to take a moment to acknowledge all the great titles that showed up on Netflix in May. For various reasons I wasn't able to comment on them earlier, so I want to at least call out the most notable.

The Newly Welcome

The marquee titles you probably already know (and/or have an opinion) about: The Blues Brothers (1980), David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986), The Exorcist (1973), Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (2009), John Woo's The Killer (1989), Legally Blonde (2001), Leon: The Professional (1994), and The Sixth Sense (1999). Oh, and the zombie-beaver movie the world's been waiting for: 2014's Zombeavers. These represent an excellent mix of new and old, violent and funny, and—in the cases of Lynch and Tarantino—a mix of all four.

But there's also the underrated Assassins (1995), a surprisingly entertaining Sylvester Stallone/Antonio Banderas action flick (based on a script by the Wachowskis); Bus Stop (1956), showcasing one of Marilyn Monroe's best performances (and the first new MM title since the March purge); Tom DiCillo's playful, satirical look at the movie business, The Real Blonde (1998); an obscure 1970s western called Santee (1973), starring Glenn Ford; the uniformly excellent indie drama, In the Bedroom (2001), which received a boatload of Oscar nominations; and a couple of acclaimed documentaries, Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man (2005) and Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz (1978). The latter disappeared for a few days due to technical difficulties, but seems to be back up now and makes a surprising but welcome addition to the Instant catalog.

Equally welcome are the returning titles, which include such stalwarts as Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Internal Affairs (1990), and Saturday Night Fever (1977), but also less well-known pics like Peter Bogdanovich's amusing tale of 1920s Hollywood, The Cat's Meow (2001), and Jay and Mark Duplass's first feature, The Puffy Chair (2005). And then there are a couple of scruffy 1970s films: Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude (1971) and the brutal Nick Nolte football comedy, North Dallas Forty (1979), both of which were reviewed the last time they showed up. It's nice to see these join The Exorcist, Bus Stop, and The Last Waltz as proof that Netflix hasn't entirely given up on pre-1982 films.

Monday, April 27, 2015

April Expiration Watch: Farewell to Friends New & Old

Once again Netflix teases us with some stream-worthy titles, only to snatch them away just a few months later. As I did back in January, when something similar happened, I'm going to sort this month's expiring titles into groups based on when they arrived—only this time I'll start with the most recent (just to keep you on your toes). Unless otherwise noted, all of these can be streamed through April 30.

Arrived in March (available 2 months)
Across the Great Divide (1976)
Bitter Moon (1992) - Review
The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Arrived in February (avail. 3 months)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
Cecil B. Demented (2000)
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-2010) - thru 5/12
Ulee's Gold (1997)

Arrived in January (avail. 4 months)
Robocop (1987)
Valkyrie (2008)

And then there are those that seemed to be on more reasonable timetables, i.e., on contracts ranging from six months to two years:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Expiration Watch: Stan and George

Given all the breathless headlines these days about superhero franchises and upcoming Star Wars sequels, it's ironic that Netflix is letting go of a couple of very appealing documentaries focused on two of the founding fathers of modern geekdom: Stan Lee and George Lucas.

With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (2010) 

It's impossible to imagine what pop culture—or today's Hollywood—would be like without Stan Lee. As the co-creator of Marvel Comics' most recognizable superheroes, from the Fantastic Four to the Hulk to Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, Daredevil, and even Ant-Man, Lee helped shape the path comic books—and now movies—have taken for over 50 years. And he's still going strong, as this thorough and (justifiably) worshipful documentary shows. At 92, the man (or, in this case, "The Man") continues to work rooms, comic conventions, the Internet, and movie studios as the most tireless, charming, and durable advocate of his art imaginable. In his mid-80s at the time of filming, Lee is irrepressibly fit and spry and still very much in love with life (along with his adoring wife of 60-plus years). He comes off as not only a wonderful spokesman for the comics industry, but as a peerless example of the human spirit. You can't help but admire his humor, his energy, and his ability to keep up with the times. And at film's end, you'll feel grateful—and mildly amazed—that he's managed to sustain this level of creativity (and salesmanship) for so long, while quietly dreading the grayer world we'll be left with when he's no longer a part of it. (Update: the doc is gone, but Stan Lee continues to impress in this latest short video, on the art of...cameo acting!]

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Since It Was Good Enough for Netflix...

Introducing the new standalone blog for Amazon Prime subscribers: What's On PRIME Now? (catchy name, no?). Just like this site, WoPN will maintain running tallies of the service's streaming titles to help you decide what's worth watching. This replaces the single Prime page that debuted here last month, with a direct link now taking its place in the tab above—letting you essentially toggle between the two sites.

Go ahead and take a look around. Even if you're not a Prime user, you may find it useful to compare the two service's offerings. I hope you like what you see! And feel free to let me know if I've forgotten something or if anything seems goofy.

New commenting style

On an unrelated note: For some time, technical issues have prevented certain readers from commenting on this site, so I'm changing the commenting style to allow greater access. The trade-off is that now each new comment opens a pop-up window for you to write in, instead of letting you comment inline. It also, for some reason, removes the Reply option, which I'm not happy about but which we'll all just have to get used to—unless someone out there is more fluent in Blogger than I am, and can suggest a more elegant solution.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

New in April: Going to 11?

Some interesting titles are making their streaming debuts on Netflix this month, along with a number of impressive standouts. Let's start with the high points, shall we?


STANDING TALL
The Big Lebowski (1998) - What else is there to say, but..."The Dude abides"?
Bound (1996) - A steamy neo-noir from the directors of The Matrix, back when they still knew how to put together a taut, well-constructed entertainment
Natural Born Killers (1994) - Oliver Stone's nasty, tasty slice of '90s nihilism, with Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis making Bonnie and Clyde look like Hepburn & Tracy, from a script by Quentin Tarantino
Three Kings (1999) - David O. Russell, better known today for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, cooked up this dark Gulf War comedy that's one part Treasure of the Sierra Madre, one part Catch 22
This Is Spinal Tap (1984) - Even though I own two different DVD editions of this film (one of which is long out of print), I'm very happy to see this seminal rockumentary now online—a comedy that truly goes to 11

There are also a batch of notable titles showing up later in the month, including the much-anticipated first season of Netflix's Daredevil, the off-its-rocker Crank (2006), the latest mind puzzle from Jean-Luc Godard, Goodbye to Language (2014), and a couple of highly regarded new horror films, The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. I'm looking forward to all of these (except maybe the Godard, which I saw in a theater—in 3D—and which might be tough to watch again, especially in 2D). Premiere dates listed at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March Expiration Watch: Hitting Where It Hurts

Welcome to the blog's 100th post. Combined with next month's 2nd anniversary and the recently added Amazon Prime page, these are celebratory times at What's On NETFLIX Now? (Cut to: David dozing off at his keyboard). Would that Netflix itself provided greater cause for celebration: unless original series are your be-all/end-all, pretty much every category takes a sock to the jaw this month, from classic Hollywood's biggest stars to underappreciated comedies, cult indies, and, in a big blow to the kid in all of us, nearly the entire stable of Cartoon Network and Adult Swim programs. But let's start with the classics...

Goodbye, Norma Jeane

It's a rough month if you happen to be a Marilyn Monroe fan. On March 31, three of MM's more flamboyant 1950s productions are getting the hook: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and There's No Business Like Show Business (1954). Over the last couple of years we've seen these titles come and go, but my faith in their return isn't terribly strong now that Netflix seems to have lost interest in maintaining its back catalog. In fact, at this rate I may need to rename this blog What's NOT on NETFLIX Now?.

These colorful, over-the-top spectaculars (two are musicals) marked an unofficial coming-out party for the former Norma Jeane, who emerged from half a decade of supporting parts, prurient publicity, and a couple of low-profile dramatic leads (Don't Bother to Knock, Niagara) to fully cement her blonde bombshell status and create an iconic persona for the Hollywood ages. So if you've ever wondered what the fuss was about, this trio of films—filled to bursting with star power and production value—makes a pretty good argument for Monroe's status as a larger-than-life sex symbol who could sing, dance, and play the dumb blonde to comic perfection. She was much more than that, of course, as a number of her more dramatic roles would prove (particularly Bus Stop and The Misfits). But these early flowerings of stardom are how a majority still remember her, before her personal and professional problems overtook the headlines and lent a lasting aura of sadness to the woman whose show-stopping performance of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" (in Howard Hawks' Gentleman Prefer Blondes) remains a joyful pop-culture touchstone.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

3 Romantic Comedies That Don't Suck

Hollywood has now given such a bad name to romantic comedies, it's essentially thrown in the towel and stopped making them. (Go ahead: try naming one successful studio-made rom-com from the last couple of years.) For some people that may not be a terrible loss, but I'm not one of them. I'll always enjoy a clever, truly funny rom-com—hold the schmaltz—and I'm sure there are other manly folk out there who secretly like to watch couples meet cute, fight, then make up while we grin foolishly and pretend there's soot in our eye.

That's where independent filmmakers are able to pick up the slack. In place of stratospheric budgets, exotic locations, or superpowered special effects, romantic comedies demand little more than a solid script, a likable, talented cast, deft direction, and an ability to breathe freshness into situations we've all seen a thousand times. A tall order, certainly, but one that, like any good indie, can be achieved for the price of a digital camera and a cast and crew willing to subsist on pizza, bagels, and passion.

Sure, the results can be as bad and predictable as anything starring Katherine Heigl or Kate Hudson (*shudder*). But there are also unheralded gems able to climb their way out of the streaming indie muck (for examples, see my reviews of Stuck Between Stations, Cashback, and In a World). Some of these combine a surprising level of star power, professionalism, and originality, and are more than worthy additions to a genre all but abandoned by the studios who invented it. I'm not saying any of the below titles are the next It Happened One Night, When Harry Met Sally, or Silver Linings Playbook, but each offers its own unique take on the pitfalls of finding love in the modern world.

Save the Date (2012)

Lizzy Caplan, Mark Webber
Despite its generic, rom-com-sounding title (ugh, not another wedding movie!), Save the Date still had me wondering how bad a film starring Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, and Martin Starr could possibly be. The answer, it turned out, was, "Not bad at all." As representatives (joint and otherwise) of three very funny cult comedy series—Freaks and Geeks, Party Down, and Community—the three stars promised to deliver at least a few laughs (and of course it's never hard to watch Ms. Caplan or Ms. Brie, who hit a sweet spot of smart/funny/gorgeous that can warp the faculties of even the harshest critic).

Saturday, March 7, 2015

New in March: A Few Good Things

At first glance I wouldn't call March a particularly stellar month in the history of Netflix streaming—especially in light of all the painful expirations since December. But nearly every category gets a few worthy additions, joining obvious headliners like Top Gun (1986), Twilight (2008), Crash (2004), and Groundhog Day (1993), as well as returning greats Donnie Brasco (1997) and Taxi Driver (1976).


NEW RELEASES
Netflix, of course, likes to promote its original series, so you likely already know about the arrival of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock's new sitcom, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The premise—irrepressible young woman hits the Big City after being locked in a bunker for 15 years—doesn't exactly set the toes a'tingling, but as the creator of 30 Rock and Mean Girls, Fey's cred is unimpeachable and I'll definitely give this one a look. Later in the month brings the complete runs of A Different World and 3rd Rock from the Sun, the first half of Mad Men's final season, and another Netflix original, Bloodline.

I'm a big fan of Dan Harmon's cult sitcom, Community (unforgivably absent from Netflix), so I was especially excited by the arrival of 2014's Harmontown. Documenting the cross-country tour of Harmon's live podcast—a free-form, often drunken mix of comic geekery, group therapy, and audience love-in—the film takes a peek inside the brain, and conscience, of a brilliantly creative man whose warring id and ego are at times painfully on display, but which remain inseparable from his razor-sharp wit and intimidating comic imagination.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February Expiration Watch: Whittling Away

"I am not an animal! I am...
...an old movie on Netflix!"
I'm going to keep it short this month, as it's more of the same old story, i.e., Netflix is taking yet another chunk out of its back catalog, erasing nearly 20 more pre-1982 titles. Among those are such all-time greats as The Elephant Man (1980), The Graduate (1967), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), The Long, Hot Summer (1958), Old Yeller (1957), Ordinary People (1980), Saturday Night Fever (1977), and Das Boot (1981). At this rate, I hate to imagine what will be left of legitimate classics by year's end.

That's not even taking into account expiring second-tier pics like Adios, Sabata (1971), Hatari! (1962), Thief (1981), This Property Is Condemned (1966), and Will Penny (1968). Granted, there should be a few pre-1982 additions arriving in March, but at this point I count only two: Taxi Driver and 3 Days of the Condor. Of course, if you're a fan of upcoming TV shows like A Different World or the recently added Robocop remake, then no worries, right? (Note: heavy sarcasm. Do not ingest if on a low-calorie diet.)

If we look at more recent decades' titles, the picture isn't much rosier. The 1980s fare the best, with the most notable deletions being Ridley Scott's underrated Black Rain (1989), the B-grade John Hughes flick Pretty in Pink (1986), kiddie fave Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), and Terry Gilliam's hot mess, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989).

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New in February: Taking It Slow

This has definitely been one of the slower months I've seen in terms of new releases. More than a third of the new titles were returning ones, while, with the exception of Houseboat (1958), there were no classics added in February, not even with 1980 as a cutoff. For comparison, this time last year Netflix added 10 classic titles, including an excellent group of 1970s films. Given all the recent deletions of older catalog titles—both feature films and BBC shows—that's not a good sign, and seems to further cement Instant's continuing emphasis on original content and new TV shows.

But let's look at the good news: among those TV shows are the second season of Bates Motel (2014), the full 2010-2013 run of the sexy/violent Spartacus, and the first five—some would say best—seasons of all-time classic M*A*S*H (comprising the years 1972 to 1978). The latter is a pretty nice coup, I must say, since it's been a long, long time since a lot of us have had the chance to revisit that landmark show. For those who have never seen it, I'm happy to report it still holds up in most ways—as long as you can get past some of the first season's casual sexism (a holdover from the original movie) and learn to ignore the superfluous laugh track CBS forced on the show's creators (to make sure audiences knew it was, you know, a comedy). No telling if Netflix will add the remaining six seasons, the last three of which are a bit spotty, but for now these episodes from the Frank Burns era should keep fans of the 4077th giggling through their surgical masks.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January Expiration Watch: Not So Bad (if you don't count the BBC)

For a lot of you, this month's expiration story boils down to only one headline: All Those BBC Titles—Gone!

But wrenching as that is, it's become something of an old story already, and now that many of us have had time to work our way through shock, denial, and into acceptance (sort of), there's another story being told this month—one that's peculiar and a bit less devastating. It's the tale of 52 notable, non-BBC titles leaving the service by the 1st of February, a full 31 of which arrived within the last three months—suggesting a chronic case of premature (ahem) expiration on the part of Netflix.

But here's the good news: the bulk of those recent additions aren't exactly what you'd call masterpieces, while the rest seem to pop off and on Instant with the regularity of blinking neon in an old film noir. Here's what we're looking at, broken down by month:

Arrived in November

Batman Returns (1992)
Babes in Toyland (1961)
Breakheart Pass (1975)
The 'Burbs (1989)
The Crimson Cult (1968)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Hiding Out (1987)
Kingpin (1996)
Live Nude Girls (1995)
Phase IV (1974) - Reviewed
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Trading Mom (1994)

Monday, January 19, 2015

BBC Fallout: What's Staying, What's Going

My, my. Who knew there would be such a media firestorm surrounding those BBC titles marked to expire from Netflix Instant? I was pretty surprised to see a record number of news sites citing this blog as a source, resulting in a record number of hits—numbers which continue to boggle (thank you all).

But here's the thing: even with all the attention this story received, so many news sites got—and continue to get—their facts wrong. In one story after another I've read that "all" of the BBC titles were on the chopping block. Or, if not all, then shows like The Office and Sherlock were among them (which they never were). I've also seen claims that the mass expiration was "rumored"—which was pretty rich considering Netflix itself was responsible for slapping on all those expiration labels. And now that a good chunk of the most popular series have been renewed, I'm seeing stories claim that "all" or "most" of the titles have been renewed and, Whew! we needn't have been so worried after all, it's just business as usual, move along, nothing to see here, etc.

Well, I hate to stick my thumb in the (black) pudding, but that's just not the case. As you can see from the lists below, 24 titles were renewed, while another 52 are still marked for 2/1 (actually 1/31) departures. Granted, many of those staying are among the most popular and headline-worthy (hello, Dr. Who and Top Gear), but there are equally important series still getting the axe, among them such stalwarts as Fawlty Towers, Coupling, Black Adder, Red Dwarf, A Bit of Fry & Laurie, and not one but two Diana Rigg miniseries.

Is it possible Netflix will still renew some or all of these shows in the months to come? We can certainly hope. But for now, they're wearing the scarlet letter E. So I'll leave it to the Anglophiles and the nature- and history buffs to sift through the list and decide which are worth bingeing into the wee hours of January's remaining days. All I can say is: Godspeed. And I do mean 'speed'...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

On Those (Possibly) Expiring BBC Titles

(1/16 update: Many of these titles have now been renewed, including all of Dr. Who. See next post for the full rundown.)

There's been a lot of buzz in the last 24 hours regarding the large block of BBC shows scheduled to expire from Netflix Instant on the 31st (and which have been listed here for over a week). Sources as diverse as The Huffington Post, CNN, MTV News, and Vulture have all referenced this site's expiration list, which has been awesome, but it's also led to some minor confusion. So, to address any questions some of you might have:

If you don't see it listed, it's probably safe

Not every streaming BBC show is marked to expire. Programs such as Sherlock, Doc Martin, Merlin, and Ripper Street, for example, look to be safe (for now). If there's a specific title you're worried about that you don't see here, just search for it on Netflix's website, then hover your cursor over the thumbnail like so:


See that availability date? It will also be listed on the show's main info page, down on the right beneath Streaming Details:


If there's no availability date, then you're okay (again—for now!). As longtime readers know, this isn't always a foolproof test, since Netflix can be cagey about revealing such dates. But for this block of shows (and TV series in general), it's usually accurate. (Movies, of course, are another matter...)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

January 2015: The New & the Notable

Well, the end of December certainly was brutal. I don't know about you, but I'm still feeling a sharp ringing behind the ears from so many sacked titles. And if this month's upcoming losses are to be believed, the carnage is far from over. (Don't you dare take away my Coupling and Fawlty Towers! Or BBC faves like Dr. Who and Luther and Top Gear and...)

So, has Netflix decided to atone for these accumulating sins by rolling out an irresistible roster of January movies and series? Not so much. I mean, yes, there are good—and even great—titles that showed up this month. But fully a third of those were returning after a brief absence, so we've not only encountered most of them in the past year, but in all probability they'll pull another vanishing act in 3-6 months.


Not that I'll ever argue with returning titles The Apartment, Chinatown, Marathon Man, or Sunset Boulevard. Those should form a permanent foundation beneath the service—an impregnable Wall of Classics (if you'll forgive the mixed architecture)—especially paired with newcomers The French ConnectionFantasia, Marty, the original Robocop, Moonstruck, Mystic River, and Swingers. But considering the damage done to Netflix's pre-1982 catalog in the past couple of months, it's going to take a heck of a lot more to restore my confidence in the service's ability to maintain a respectable mix of both classics and newer titles.

In the meantime, here's the breakdown of what's queue-worthy:

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: A Year in Review

It was a pretty eventful year on Netflix Instant and here at What's On NETFLIX Now?, with lots of good movies coming and going (many of them more than once). For less thorough readers and those who only discovered the blog in recent months, I thought it would be fun to recount some of 2014's highlights, not only to give an idea of what you missed but to show what's still available to explore—both on Netflix and on the backpages of this site. I'll also try to provide some insight into what's ahead in 2015 (depressing though it may seem)...

Altman's 3 Women
JANUARY 2014 saw an impressive influx of new titles following a pretty dismal December, including rarities like Robert Altman's 3 Women and indispensable classics like Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot and The Apartment—both of which have unfortunately expired (although I'm happy to report that the latter will be returning in January 2015). Standalone reviews covered an obscure, oddly charming 1972 comedy, The Public Eye, from director Carol Reed, and Megan Griffith's effective, low-key thriller, Abduction of Eden, loosely based on the true story of a woman kidnapped into a human trafficking ring.

FEBRUARY marked the site's first significant bump in readership following a highly ranked post on Reddit, with monthly hits more than tripling. This prompted a look back on the blog's philosophy and some of what had come before (a post I may need to revisit myself, since I feel I may be wandering a bit from my original purpose). The month was also notable for an influx of excellent 1970s flicks, four of which received short reviews, although three of those later expired—as is so often the case on Netflix these days. Another film, 1974's Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, merited its own full review, mainly because I've always had a soft spot for car chase movies of the early 1970s. February also saw the passing of writer/director Harold Ramis, a true mensch of 1980s and '90s comedy, along with the loss of a number of notable French films, including two starring French heartthrobs Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo. One of those, 1962's A Woman Is a Woman, represented Jean-Luc Godard's lone entry on Netflix.