Friday, July 25, 2014

July Expiration Watch: Fun While They Lasted

Still haven't watched the 1950s suburban zombie flick, Fido? What about Peter Bogdanovich's classic 1973 comedy, Paper Moon (reviewed here)? Or the darkly imaginative The City of Lost Children, from the duo who created the brilliant Delicatessen? If not, you better get to it, because those and other recently added titles are about to expire, including one of the better entries in the Star Trek series, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (which arrived only this month, in case you're feeling a sense of deja vu).

The City of Lost Children
You may also want to get cracking on a number of other new-ish titles already earmarked for the big sleep, such as the two ZAZ* comedies, Airplane! and Top Secret!, which redefined big-screen zaniness in the 1980s; Mel Gibson's Braveheart, which helped redefine movie violence in the 1990s; and 1969's Easy Rider, which redefined youth culture, the movie industry, and Jack Nicholson's career, all in one smoke-filled swoop.

Love Hewitt (and that's an order)
And if you think older movies are the only ones getting pinched, there's Bryan Singer's 2008 WWII thriller, Valkyrie, which features an impressive roster of British actors flanking a short, toothy dude named Cruise. Meanwhile, I've always heard good things about 1997's Breakdown, a nail-biter starring Kurt Russell and the late J.T. Walsh, while I can heartily endorse the Sigourney Weaver-Ray Liotta comedy, Heartbreakers, which despite running a bit long is far funnier than you'd expect, especially given the presence of that pneumatic symbol of mediocrity, Jennifer Love Hewitt (whom I sheepishly admit to heavily crushing on back in the day). Add in a disgustingly gnarly Gene Hackman, and you've got comedy gold.

Among titles previously spotlighted here on the blog, there's the aforementioned Paper Moon (which I won't stop recommending until I have proof that everyone in the world has seen it), as well as Francis Ford Coppola's entertaining 1997 adaptation of John Grisham's The Rainmaker (reviewed here), and Kevin Smith's raunchy, supremely underrated comedy, Zack and Miri Make a Porno (review), starring Seth Rogen and the peerless Elizabeth Banks.

That leaves us with an assortment of longer-term titles now being jettisoned, a number of which are comedies both intentional (The Addams Family, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, To Be or Not to Be) and unintentional (Attack of the Crab Monsters, the original Piranha, and Days of Thunder). If you're in the mood for something heavier, you may take comfort in Spike Lee's Clockers (based on Richard Price's novel), Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning The Pianist (grim but great), or the time travel-love story, Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. If not quite up to its source material—Richard Matheson's wonderful Bid Time Return—the always touching story and cast keep this cult favorite a notch above the usual romantic fodder.

Johnny's Donnie

Along with The Pianist, perhaps the strongest of the dramas leaving the service this month is 1997's Donnie Brasco, starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino (in a real throwback role to his 1970s heyday). The acting is superb, with both men giving two of their finest performances, while Anne Heche, Michael Madsen, and Bruno Kirby lend effective support. Director Mike Newell really ratchets up the tension as the story progressesand then some. For fans of gritty '70s cop dramas, this one's indispensable.

Go West

A number of other notable films round out the list (see below), including a must-see oddity for classic movie fans: Mae West's She Done Him Wrong, as brazen and bawdy as films could be in 1933. Co-starring a young, not-quite-formed Cary Grant, the film is shocking not only for how sexually provocative West was—the woman was the definition of "sassy"—but for the amount of creative control she exercised, from writing her own dialogue (the film was based on her play) to overseeing casting. Unfortunately, Hollywood's dreaded Hays Office took control a year later, knocking much of the bawdy from West along with a good deal of her box-office receipts. It would be another 35 years before American movies allowed such an unapologetically sexual female on screen again.

Mae West: one of the unlikeliest sex symbols to ever grace the screen
*Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker - writer/director trio who made a number of such comedies, both together and apart, including Police Squad! and the Naked Gun series.

July 30

The Mill and the Cross (2011)

July 31

The Addams Family (1991)
Airplane! (1980)
Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
Braveheart (1995)
Breakdown (1997)
The City of Lost Children (1995)
Clay Pigeons (1998)
Clockers (1995)
Days of Thunder (1990)
Diggstown (1992)
Donnie Brasco (1997)
Easy Rider (1969)
Fido (2006)
The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
The Good Son (1993)
The Haunting of Julia (1977)
Heartbreakers (2001)
Idiots and Angels (2008)
The Incredible Melting Man (1977)
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Monty Python's the Meaning of Life (1983)
Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006)
Paper Moon (1973) - Review
The Pianist (2002)
Piranha (1978)
The Rainmaker (1997) - Review
She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Somewhere in Time (1980)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Stephen King’s Thinner (1996)
Stripped to Kill (1987)
Swimming with Sharks (1994)
To Be or Not to Be (1983)
Top Secret! (1984)
Valkyrie (2008
Waking Ned Devine (1998)
Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) - Review

August 1

The Final Countdown (1980) - Review


Anonymous said...

8/1 - The Brotherhood

Netflix fan said...

I watched the city of lost children on netflix back in June. Unmissable!

David Speranza said...

Glad you were able to catch it. You might also like their first film, DELICATESSEN, which isn't currently streaming but is well worth tracking down elsewhere.