Monday, July 14, 2014

July Highlights: Slow on the Update

No two ways about it: there were some pretty good additions to the streaming catalog this month (even if it's taken me longer than usual to note them). I've been finding it tricky to do much more than update the new and expiring lists this summer, but in place of a GONE FISHIN' sign, how about we break down the best of the new titles into more manageable chunks? We'll start with the prestige pics, which include numerous multi-Oscar winners, and work our way through the classics, the so-bad-they're-good, the rewatchables, and the returned. And just to mix things up, we'll put each list in chronologicalas opposed to the usual alphaorder.


Patton (1970) - George C. Scott kills it as the erstwhile general, in an Oscar-winning script by Francis Ford Coppola
On Golden Pond (1981) - Jane and Henry Fonda team up with Katherine Hepburn; a bit mawkish but well-acted and beautifully filmed
Sophie's Choice (1982) - Meryl Streep in the first of her many world-changing performances
Gandhi (1982) - Richard Attenborough directs Ben Kingsley in this epic Oscar-winning tale
Eight Men Out (1988) - John Sayles guides a stellar ensemble cast (John Cusack, David Strathairn, Charlie Sheen, Christopher Lloyd) in this understated, intriguing account of the infamous "Black Sox" Scandal
Philadelphia (1993) - Tom Hanks shows he's serious, nabbing his first Oscar for Best Actor in Jonathan Demme's AIDS drama, which also stars Denzel Washington
Dead Man Walking (1995) - Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, more Oscars
City Of God (2002) - Searing, must-see drama set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, filled with incredible filmmaking and unforgettable performances by a non-professional cast
Venus (2006) - Peter O'Toole in a late-career performance as an aging actor who finds himself falling for a young model. But will she fall for him back?
The Master (2012) - Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams all got nominated for Oscars in this latest exercise in intensity from Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love)


The Keys Of The Kingdom (1944)
From Here To Eternity (1953) - World War II, Hawaii, kissing on the beach, sand in bathing suits, etc. If you've never seen this all-time classic, now's your chance.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - Don Siegel's seminal aliens-replace-humans flick, from the Jack Finney novel and spawning at least three remakes, two of which were as good or better but without the Cold War paranoia and snappy, offbeat mix of dark humor and existential dread
12 Angry Men (1957) - Henry Fonda and 11 other members of the jury have their say in court in this early Sidney Lumet drama
The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness (1958)
Barefoot in the Park (1967) - Jane Fonda and Robert Redford during their '60s sex-kitten phases, looking oh-so-adorable while spouting some of Neil Simon's more glibly superficial dialogue. For all that it's still kind of fun to watch.


The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant (1971) - Bruce Dern! Casey Kasem! Two heads! Just add your intoxicant of choice (and maybe a bag of something salty).
The Bride (1985) - Notorious for being the worst of many awful attempts to reintroduce Frankenstein to modern audiences (last year's I, Frankenstein being the most recent fiasco). If nothing else, there's a young Sting and Jennifer Beals to gawk at.
Body of Evidence (1993) - More proofas if that were neededthat Madonna should stop acting forever (unless directed by a personality, e.g., Warren Beatty, Susan Seidelman, stronger than her own). Willem Dafoe shows the mark of a true professional by even showing up for this laughable study in anti-eroticism.
Jersey Girl (2004) -Kevin Smith's answer to Gigli. (Wait, what was the question?)


Uncommon Valor (1983) - Vietnam-set adventure starring Gene Hackman, Robert Stack, Fred Ward, and Patrick Swayzeback when that shit meant something.
Boyz In The Hood (1991)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) - Among the top two or three installments with Star Trek's original cast, and far better than the recent overblown, overamped prequels. Directed by Wrath of Khan's Nicholas Meyer, at the kind of measured pace that was still acceptable in sci-fi blockbusters as late as the 1990sand feels downright refreshing today. For all the action and effects, it allows ample time for character development and adult discussions of real-world problems. Go figure.
Basic Instinct (1992) - For all its sexy notoriety, this one's still a solid and effective thriller, directed by kinky Dutch maestro Paul Verhoeven, from a better-than-average script by kinky American hack Paul Ezsterhas
Crimson Tide (1995)
Primal Fear (1996)
Bad Santa (2003) - Possibly the darkest feel-bad holiday movie ever made

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) - One of the few modern romances that isn't a shameless embrace of everything banal and predictable in romantic comedies. Diane Lane shows she can play comedy as well as drama (it's a shame she hasn't done this more often) in a tale that's more character- than plot-drivenand almost European in the way its well-drawn protagonist's quest for fulfillment and love never quite follows the predictable path.
Louis C.K.: Hilarious (2009) - Louis continues to set the high bar for modern standup comedy, bringing a dark, clear-eyed, and bracingly personal approach to the world that evokes the sensibilities of George Carlin and Richard Pryor while still being clearly his own


Funny Face (1957) - Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn dance and sing and make a borderline-creepy case for January-December romance (in Paris, naturally)
Don't Look Now (1973) - So glad to see this classic '70s horror tale return. For the reasons why, check out my earlier review.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) - Review
Witness (1985) - One of Harrison Ford's best dramatic roles, directed by the great Peter Weir. Reviewed here, way back in the blog's first month of existence.
Croupier (1998) - Clive Owen at his dashing best, in an early starring role. Why isn't this man headlining more movies?
Mean Girls (2004) - Review


Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)
Ararat (2002)
The Believer (2001)
Black Rock (2012)
Blue Chips (1994)
Can't Buy Me Love (1987)
Cheech & Chong's Up In Smoke (1978) - returned
China Girl (1987)
Cujo (1983)
The Dark Half (1993)
Fever Pitch (1997)
Generation War (2013)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Hemlock Grove: Season Two (2014)
Homefront (2013)  
The Hunt For Red October (1990) - returned
I Am Divine (2013)
The Karate Kid (1984) / The Karate Kid Part II (1986)
Legends Of The Fall (1994)
Madeline (1998)
Out of the Furnace (2013)  
The Parent Trap (1998)
Perfect Sense (2011)
Phantoms (1998)
Renoir (2012)  
The Stand (1994)
Sugar Hill (1974)
Thale (2012)


Anonymous said...

Did Somebody's Child expire? I didn't see it on the list.

David Speranza said...

Yes, it looks like it expired on midnight of the 19th. I didn't list it myself, but it was among those titles in the comments section beneath my Expiring Soon list. I only point out those titles I feel are of value or are too big to ignore, and leave it up to readers to supply their own lists. Not a perfect system, I know, but the idea here is to emphasize quality movies and TV shows that Netflix users might not already be aware of.