Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September Expiration Watch: Roads Not Taken

This month's expiration list looks mighty familiareither because we've seen most of these titles expire before or because they only recently made their way to streaming. In the latter category, a good half of those leaving on September 30 arrived in either July or last October, which means a lot of three-month and one-year contracts are up.

Will they be renewed? Hard to say. Although given the resilience of Netflix repeaters like Mean Girls (2004), Barefoot in the Park (1967), and Legends of the Fall (1994), I'm guessing they're in that sweet spot of popular-but-not-too-expensive that will assure a return.

I'm less confident about those perennials that have been around so long it seemed they'd be available forever: titles like The African Queen (1951), Battlestar Galactica, Law & Order, and The War Zone (1999)a motley mix, for sure, but a high-quality group whose absence will make Netflix Instant just a little less special. Also unlikely to return anytime soon are big-ticket items The Hunger Games (2012) and Safe (2012), which are wrapping up what appear to be 18-month contracts.

Meanwhile, let's hope the more outlying titles like Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Mädchen in Uniform (1958), and Don't Look Now (1973) are shown some renewed love in the coming months. There can never be too many classics on Instant, as far as I'm concerned—or too many Coppola or Roeg films.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A-Tweeting We Will Go

For those of you who occasionally dip a toe (or even a whole leg) into the Twitterverse, I've just started a WoNN-only account that you might be interested in, @NetflixNow1. I'd previously used my personal handle for announcing new blog posts, but I was feeling more and more limited in what I could tweet without seeming schizophrenic.

The truth is, over the course of any week there are all sorts of Netflix-related tidbits I'd like to share with all of you, but they aren't usually deserving of the time needed to write (or read) a full blog post. You knowupdates to the new and expiring lists, links to pertinent news stories, brief announcements about titles to watch out for, thoughts on movies good and bad, etc.the kinds of things that are perfect in short bursts. And, as regular Twitter users know, it's also an easy way to exchange thoughts and ideas, especially with those of you too shy to leave comments here (or who have weird browsers that won't let them).

So if that sounds like your kind of thing, and you'd like a bit of added value to your WoNN experience beyond a simple subscription, by all means click on that inviting-looking Follow button below. Then, tweet your friends.

Or as henchman Harry Wilson said to Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, in Some Like It Hot:

"Join us..."

#followme #itseasy #orelse

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Swing First, Ask Questions Later: MINNIE & MOSKOWITZ

There are a couple of things to bear in mind while watching the spiky romance that is John Cassavetes' Minnie & Moskowitz (1971). First of all, if you view it through eyes that are even remotely politically correct, you're sure to be horrifiedthe characters (usually the men) resort to violence and unnerving, stalkery behavior on a regular basis. Which is where the second consideration comes in: this lovestruck free-for-all is intended as a scrappy homage to 1930s screwball comedy, so it's as much cartoon as it is romancethe violence, despite the gritty 1970s textures and vérité-like camerawork, shouldn't be taken too seriously.

In fact, as far as Cassavetes films go, Minnie & Moskowitz is considered a frothy romp. But like the director's other, more serious work (such as Faces and A Woman Under the Influence), it offers its share of darkness and disillusionment amid the romancewhich makes it all the more affecting. In some ways it's a shaggier, less clenched forebear to Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love, one of the few films it's comparable to. I like its scatterbrained quality, its unpredictability, the tossed-off nature of its handheld camera and its unusual editing rhythms (scenes often end a beat or two before you expect). I also like the growling, dissatisfied incidental characters who unexpectedly emerge from the background to claim flesh-and-blood lives before ceding the spotlight back to the film's stars.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Tick, tick, tick...

Somehow, one of the greatest science fiction shows of all time is expiring from Netflix at the end of the month. How can that be? By the gods, Netflix, have you no heart?

Of course, all of you have watched it by now. Right? Um, you haven't? Then it's time to get on it! Think you've got what it takes to binge your way through 75 episodes in just three weeks? That's only...let's see...a tad over 3-1/2 episodes per day, including a couple of weekends for extra-large portions. You don't really need all that food and air, do you?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New in September: It's All About Pacing

This month's new offerings are a bit deceptive. On the one hand, most of the titles showing up in the first few days of September don't inspire a lot of excitement. There was the return of a number of on-again, off-again classics (welcome back, Ms. Hepburn and Messrs. Cooper and Wayne), a bunch of 1980s and '90s comedies and sci-fi/horror, and a handful of returning kid flicks. So far, so predictable. But once we look forward, things start to get interesting, with the debuts of a number of recent films that are undeniably top tier, as well as new seasons of quite a few notable TV shows.

Robin Williams down but not out

But let's take a moment to break out the older and returning titles. First off, last month's loss of two Robin Williams movies, Popeye and The Fisher King, was certainly bad timing given the actor's own untimely departure. But Netflix seems to be making up for that with the joint arrival of Barry Levinson's beloved wartime comedy, Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), and 1997's Flubber, a serviceable remake of Jerry Lewis' Disney's The Absent-Minded Professor (1961). Which means the late Mr. Williams hasn't been totally left out in the cold, even if his incoming titles are arguably a downgrade from the outgoing. Perhaps the Michael Keaton comedy two-fer of  Mr. Mom (1983) and Multiplicity (1996) will help balance the scales?

Hello, kiddies

It's also more or less a wash as far as family films go, with last month's expirations being offset by a number of  (mostly returning) titles. Among those are the above mentioned Flubber, Barry Sonnenfeld's witty remake of TV's The Addams Family (1991), Disney's Fox's animated Anastasia (1997) and live-action Swiss Family Robinson (1960), Mel Brooks' Star Wars spoof, Spaceballs (1987), Pee-Wee Herman's second big-screen appearance, in Big Top Pee-Wee (1988), and the welcome return of Martin Scorsese's sumptuous ode to cinema, Hugo (2011). Also making its way to streaming is that rite-of-passage film for generations past, Old Yeller (1957), which may be a bit musty but should still leave a tot or two bawling by the end credits.