Friday, May 3, 2013

New May Titles (2013)

Despite last month's massive MGM/UA purge, a few notable new titles have found their way to Netflix Instant.

The Three Musketeers (1973) - Expired 7/1/13

Director Richard Lester (A Hard Day's Night, Petulia) brings a fresh take to this old tale, cramming a large all-star cast into corsets and tabards and letting the mud and swords fly. Bawdy, messy, violent, and occasionally thrilling, this first of two Musketeers movies shot back-to-back (The Four Musketeers is inexplicably unavailable on Instant) remains the standard for all Dumas interpretations before or since. Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Christopher Lee and others take part in some of the most spirited—and exhausting—swordplay ever put on film, made all the more convincing for being performed by the actors themselves. Lester accomplishes the rare feat of fusing a sometimes Monty-Pythonesque tone with genuinely escalating dramatic stakes. Good old-fashioned fun.

Harry & Tonto (1974) Expired 5/1/14

Art Carney gives an Oscar-winning performance in this Paul Mazursky road movie. I haven't seen this one myself, but it's always been well regarded and I'm a lifelong fan of Mazursky's other work (including Moscow on the Hudson, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and Enemies, A Love Story). This one's definitely going into my queue. [UPDATE: Saw it. Loved it. Sorry to see it gone.]

Jack as Jake

Chinatown (1974)

One of the all-time great American films—studied, worshiped, and parodied in equal measure—Chinatown shouldn't require an introduction. But if all you know is the film's reputation or one or two of its more famous lines, then put this at the top of your queue. Heck, put it there even if you have seen it. With its convoluted tale of murder, diverted water supplies, institutional cover-ups, and incest, there's always more to discover—and enjoy—with repeated viewings. In a career of great performances, Jack Nicholson gives one of his all-time best as Jake Gittes, a private dick who finds himself over his head in rotten-to-the-core 1930s Los Angeles. Everything about this movie works, from the acting to the writing to the dusty heat of the cinematography and production design—all of it realized through Roman Polanski's meticulous directorial vision. Landmark cinema that's as smart and entertaining as it is (ultimately) disturbing.

Masquerade (1988)Expired 1/1/14

A sexy modern noir with the unlikely cast of Rob Lowe, Kim Catrall, and Meg Tilly, this '90s cable staple is way more enjoyable than it has a right to be. But between the steamy sex scenes, beautiful bodies, and games of deception, it's well above the guilty pleasure one would expect.

Bridges channels Tucker

Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)Expired 7/1/13

Francis Ford Coppola's career was at one of its periodic lows following the failure of Gardens of Stone and the death of his son, Gio, when old friend George Lucas stepped in to help produce this long-gestating passion project. Telling the true-life story of Preston Tucker, a visionary inventor whose revolutionary "car of tomorrow" tried to take on Detroit's Big Three, Tucker has a zippy, classic-movie feel aided immeasurably by the passionate performances of Bridges and Oscar-nominated Martin Landau. The film, like the car, was a commercial flop, but it's a great ride and beautiful to look at. Well worth a spin.

Attraction (2000)Expired 7/14/15

This is one of a number of dark indie relationship dramas that sprouted like weeds in the late '90s and early '00s. But depending on your tolerance for direct-address confessionals and obsessive, potentially unsympathetic characters, this particular example happens to be pretty good. I'm not normally a fan of stalker cinema—stories of jealous lovers doing shady things to get their exes back usually leave me impatiently drumming my fingers—but the twists and shifting perspectives among the film's lead characters consistently held my interest. Until all the pieces finally come together, you're not sure who to believe, who's doing what to whom, or even how much is at stake. It's a clever little shell game, one ably executed by first-time director Russell DeGrazier and a strong cast including Tom Everett Scott, Gretchen Mol, and the always welcome Samantha Mathis.


The Accused (1988)
Attraction (2000)
Big Night (1996)
Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Can’t Stop the Music (1980)
Chinatown (1974)
Dagmar's Hot Pants, Inc. - Returned
Dead Snow (2009)
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Ginger and Cinnamon (2003)
Gregory's Girl (1981) - Returned
Harry and Tonto (1974)
Hit and Run (2012)
Igby Goes Down (2002)
Into the Wild (2007)
Irreversible (2002)
Looking for Richard (1996)
Masquerade (1988)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Three Musketeers (1973)
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
Y Tu Mamá También (2001) - Returned

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