Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September Expiration Watch (2013)

I may not have time for my monthly expiration roundup (it's been a busy month), but I at least wanted to call attention to what's expiring from Netflix Instant in the coming days—a list that includes such significant titles as Robert Altman's Gosford Park, the steamy French classic Betty Blue, Wong Kar-Wai's melancholy In the Mood for Love, and important films by Alfred Hitchcock, Nicholas Roeg, John Sayles, and Peter Weir. Also biting the dust: Warren Beatty, Steve Martin, Jane Fonda, and John Cusack. Check out the updated Expiring Soon list, above, to see what you'll soon be missing.

September 27

Rango (2011) 

September 28

Gosford Park (2001)

September 29

Betty Blue (1986)
The Moon in the Gutter (1983)
Mortal Transfer (2001)

September 30

Barefoot in the Park (1967)
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)
Don't Look Now (1973) - Review
Eight Men Out (1988)
Frenzy (1972)
Heaven Can Wait (1978) - Review
Identity (2003)
In the Mood for Love (2001)
Next Stop Wonderland (1998)
The Parallax View (1974) - Review
Saved! (2004)
Witness (1985) - Review

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


With the arrival of Saturday Night Fever (1977) to Netflix Instant, I thought I'd reach back to an article I wrote a few years ago for Popshifter.com's 1970's-themed issue, "Dancing Ourselves Into the Tomb." It's more of a personal take on the film's soundtrack than an outright movie review, but my thoughts on the film do come across, so consider this a slight change of pace.

Can't Fight the Fever

(Published December 5, 2011, in slightly different form)

When the movie Saturday Night Fever was released in December of 1977, it became a smash critical and popular success that delivered disco to the masses, John Travolta to movie theaters, and a record that became the biggest-selling soundtrack of all time.

But in my household, the film’s influence was exactly...nil. Considering my family’s strict rock & roll diet and my impressionable age, I didn’t have to be told that a movie about disco was cinema non grata. (Say it with me now: “Disco sucks!") But beyond hewing to the party line, as a family we agreed those high-pitched, nasal Bee Gee voices had become annoyingly ubiquitous in the months following the film's release.

The Bee Gees and their chests
And those voices—along with the other Fever songs cramming the airwaves—were everywhere. I don't remember how many times that thumping bass and Gibb-brother whine would suddenly infect the car radio, causing one or the other Woodstock-era parent to reach violently for the tuner with a stream of R-rated invective. I knew the rules: if it had a dance beat, it was shunned—as clear as the laws of physics.

For the next half decade, my views on disco—and by extension, Saturday Night Fever—remained unchanged, even after the country's disco rage had subsided. When the movie showed up on cable in both PG and R-rated versions, I peeked in at a few key scenes to compare the levels of nudity and swearing (the '80s equivalent of watching deleted scenes), but even the charms of Donna Pescow and Karen Lynn Gorney couldn't overcome my lingering aversion to the film as a whole.