Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Expiration Watch: More Musical Chairs (2014)

I'm hard-pressed to find any rhyme or reason in the licensing agreements between Netflix and the studios and distributors who provide its content. You'd think that if you're going to pay for the rights to stream, say, an all-time classic like Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, you'd want it to stick around for more than a couple of months, right? And yet, after debuting in February, this brilliant Hollywood satire is now returning from whence it came (to some virtual equivalent of a studio vault?). The same goes for Play It Again, Sam (review) and Breakfast at Tiffany's, both of which reappeared in January after expiring last year and are once again exiting stage left. Finishing equally brief stays are the underappreciated Racing with the Moon and Catch-22—bringing to mind those on-again/off-again Coppola films last seen in January.

Olivia D'abo, Josh Hamilton
At least Darren Aronofsky's Pi (review) got to stick around for a full year before it gets the axe on the 31st [update: it's been renewed], which is more than can be said for 1995's Kicking and Screaming, which showed up less than 30 days ago and is already getting its pink slip. It's hard to believe the streaming rights to such a small film cost all that much, so why not pay for a longer-term license? Else why bother? After all, despite its many charms, Noah Baumbach's first feature is hardly the kind of prestige flick that will get people signing up for Netflix in droves. Such a brief visit seems far more appropriate (if cynical) for a recent blockbuster, no? Netflix could even build a marketing campaign around it: "Now, for one month only, catch up on all the X-Men movies before the new sequel's premiere!" Heck, do that several times a year prior to big summer and holiday releases, and it would boost business for all concerned (and Netflix might even be able to score a licensing discount in exchange for the joint publicity).

But I don't work for Netflix's marketing department, so what do I know? If I did, I don't think even I could put a positive spin on the upcoming expirations of classics like Young Mr. Lincoln; modern classics like The Truman Show, 21 Grams, and John Huston's final film, The Dead; or popular favorites like American Gigolo, Mommie Dearest, and The Impostors. Depending on your mood, any one of these is worth a spot in your queue, but you've only got until midnight of the 31st to catch them. (The only good news: some pretty good flicks should be taking their place come April 1. Stay tuned.)

WoNN Spotlight  The Off Hours (2011)

Amy Seimetz in The Off Hours
Expiring a day earlier is one other noteworthy title, Megan Griffith's 2011 debut, The Off Hours. As mentioned in my review of her even more accomplished Abduction of Eden, this little indie has a quiet grace and an appreciation for its small-town characters and atmosphere that may not bowl you over but is moving nonetheless. Considering the pittance this Seattle-shot drama was made for, it's a testament to the hard work involved—including cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke's moody, restless images (shot on a Canon 5D) and the subtle, evocative score by Joshua Morrison and Jeramy Koepping—that Griffiths and her dedicated cast were able to overcome most of the technical and narrative hurdles before them. It's always tricky to tell such a familiar tale without falling into cliche, but, as always, artfulness and sincerity (and sheer talent) have a way of trumping familiarity.

March 9

Billy Jack (1971)
The Last Emperor (1987)
My Name Is Nobody (1974)
Rosencrantz & Guildernstern Are Dead (1990)
The Trial of Billy Jack (1974)

March 12

After Porn Ends (2010)
Cleanflix (2009)
Love (2011)

March 17

Nine (2009)

March 19

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)

March 21

Louis C.K.: Chewed Up (2008)
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)
Powwow Highway (1989)

March 25

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (2011)

March 28

Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 (2008)

March 30

The Off Hours (2010)

March 31

21 Grams (2003)
American Gigolo (1980)
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Baby Boom (1987)
Bandits (2001)
Blue Hawaii (1961)
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Catch-22 (1970)
Dark Blue (2003)
The Dead (1987)
Dead Again (1991)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Farewell to the King (1989)
The Good Thief (2003)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
The Impostors (1998)
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)
Kicking and Screaming (1995)
Mommie Dearest (1981)
My Tutor (1983)
Nell (1994)
Oldboy (2003)
Play It Again, Sam (1972) - Review
Racing with the Moon (1984)
Rare Exports (2010)
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
The Rules of Attraction (2002)
Staying Alive (1983)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
The Thing Called Love (1993)
The Truman Show (1998)
Who's Minding the Store (1963)
X (2011)
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)


Unknown said...

Pi didn't get the ax yet. Watching it streaming on Netflix right now.

David Speranza said...

Correct. It expires at midnight on the 31st. I see the article may have implied otherwise. Will adjust the wording to make that clear. Thanks.

David Speranza said...

And now, of course, it's been renewed, so all is good with the world. For now. ;-)