|Harris, Burton, Moore|
Sorry, um, where was I?
ReturneesOh yeah, returning titles. There are quite a few others, some equally filled with manly, CGI-less men—such as 1951's wartime actioner, The Desert Fox, and 1953's classic western, Shane (you came back!). You won't see James Mason or Alan Ladd messin' around with no computer-generated guns or planes or...or cows, okay? Same goes for Bruce Campbell in Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II (1987), with its elaborately gooey and gory ghouls splattering across the set, oozing gallons of fake blood straight into the floorboards.
Dirty Dancing (1987) is also back. And I can guarantee that warn't no computer-generated Jennifer Grey being hoisted into the air by Patrick Swayze. Computers wish they could create a synthetic being as anatomically perfect as Swayze in his prime.
You know who else wasn't computer-generated? James Caan, that's who. He stars in the rarely seen James Toback-written, Karel Reisz-directed The Gambler (1974), which, unlike the Dostoyevsky story of the same name, is actually another chapter in Toback's long history of obsessive characters getting in over their heads with guys who want to break their fingers. This was Caan just as his post-Godfather star was rising, doing what amounted to a little New York indie. Playing opposite him was former fashion model Lauren Hutton (who also isn't CG), mostly holding her own while looking gosh-darn adorable in one of her earlier acting gigs. They make an unusual pair, these two, but for low-profile oddities like The Gambler, that's part of the fun.
|Which is real?|
The ClassicsAn Affair to Remember, the Cary Grant-Deborah Kerr melodrama that inspired Sleepless in Seattle and which appears in clips throughout. (Double feature, anyone?) This is good not only for fans of romantic weepies, but for anyone lamenting the lack of classic films on Netflix. Among those joining Affair are the 1954 Frank Sinatra suspenser, Suddenly (also a returnee), and Stanley Kubrick's always excellent anti-war drama, Paths of Glory (1957), starring Kirk Douglas and Adolph Menjou in a symbolic chess match pitting obstinate military authority against the lives of soldiers being tried for cowardice in WWI. This is indispensable Kubrick—lean and mean and with fire in his belly.
Along with Shane, a couple more westerns have saddled up for streaming. First up is John Sturges' Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, released the same year as Paths of Glory and also starring Kirk Douglas, who plays gunfighter Doc Holliday opposite Burt Lancaster's Wyatt Earp. Watch closely and you'll spot a young Dennis Hopper and—for you Trekkies out there—DeForest Kelley, who as Star Trek's Leonard 'Bones' McCoy would return to the O.K. Corral in the classic episode, "Spectre of the Gun." The other new western may not be a classic in the temporal sense, but 1993's Tombstone is over 20 years old already (how?!) and is a gritty, well-regarded retelling of the same tale, this time with Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell in the Holliday/Earp roles, heading an outstanding cast.
In the action category you may want to check out 1973's Hit!, a not-too-well-known blaxpoitation flick
starring Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor. Directed by Sidney J. Furie (Little Fauss and Big Halsy, Lady Sings the Blues, The Boys in Company C), it appears to be a step
You've also got a couple of options for freaking yourself out, first with David Cronenberg's feature debut, Shivers (1975), which promises no end of gross-out fun, and then with 1979's Best Picture winner, Kramer vs. Kramer, which despite its otherwise sober subject matter may cause certain viewers to bulge out their eyes and exclaim, "Holy cow! Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep were practically kids!"
Kid Stuff(Don't try these segues at home, boys and girls.)
I didn't plan to cover family films again so soon after all that Flubber and Disney film confusion last month, but I felt like there were enough promising new titles that it would be a shame not to point them out. First up is that soon-to-be-a-remake, 1982's Annie—which, I'll be honest, looked pretty crappy back when it came out (even though it was directed by John Huston, of all people). But apparently it was ahead of its time or something, because now it's looked at fondly and rates just shy of 4 stars on Netflix. So maybe it's worth sharing with the little ones? Tell you what, why don't you tell me—since it will be a long, drunken weekend in hell before I sit down for two hours to watch that singing moppet, her shaggy ol' dog, and Albert Finney in a bald cap.
However, I can personally recommend Chicken Run (2000), which is a clever and very funny stop-motion animated romp from Nick Park and the makers of the always inspired Wallace & Gromit. It does occasionally skirt some dark areas (like what really happens to chickens on a farm), but a recent viewing with a seven-year-old didn't seem to induce any trauma. Also supposed to be entertaining are Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, from 2001 (I saw the trailer for it once and, well, it didn't insult or annoy me), and 2002's The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which I know nothing about except that it's based on a Nickelodeon cartoon. (Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea for me to cover family films after all...?)
Decidedly Not for KidsAffliction (1997), directed by the always intense Paul Schrader (American Gigolo, Light Sleeper)—who here guided James Coburn to an Oscar win and Nolte to a nomination. The cast also includes Sissy Spacek, Willem Dafoe, and Mary Beth Hurt, so there's no fear of encountering wacky talking chickens. You'll also find Dafoe starring with fellow ladykiller John Malkovich in 2000's Shadow of the Vampire, a fictionalized account of the making of 1922's Nosferatu (conveniently also streaming), which clearly benefited from the existence of Tim Burton's earlier Ed Wood. So if you're still hurting from last week's loss of Bram Stoker's Dracula, here's another vampire flick to sink your molars into.
Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, and Gary Oldman take the reigns in Rod Lurie's The Contender (2000), an inside look at how Washington, D.C., eats its own; while Sean Connery appears in one of his final films, Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester (2000), a companion piece of sorts to the director's Good Will Hunting. And if all that's not adult enough for you, Christian Bale starring in Werner Herzog's Vietnam War drama, Rescue Dawn (2006), is guaranteed to make you clench in all your grown-up places. One Netflix commenter claims he almost threw up while watching it—so you know it's gotta be good.
Romeo + Juliet (1996), which definitively put the director and his young stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, on the map. This is cinematic Shakespeare the way it ought to be done—the way Orson Welles would have loved it—vital, edgy, alive.
Meanwhile, over in TV land, everyone's been talking about the debut of Gilmore Girls. But I also hear good things about the new British show, Peaky Blinders, season 1 of which is supposedly addictive to the point of unreason. The second season already aired in the U.K. and is scheduled to reach Netflix in November, so those who like to binge won't have to wait long for their next fix (yes, Sarah, I'm looking at you).
After so much dark and gritty fare, it may be time to indulge your inner kid and cleanse your palate with some comedy. There's 1999's irrepressible Star Trek parody, Galaxy Quest, with Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and a comic ensemble that repeatedly knocks it out of the park (Rickman! Rockwell! Shalhoub!). Or if you prefer comedy to make you feel smart and dirty and kind of guilty all at once, take a gander at Team America: World Police (2004)—a raunchy puppet satire from Trey Parker, the director who brought you, yes, South Park, but also Cannibal! The Musical. Even grown-up kids may find themselves throwing up during this one.
|Take that, suckas!|
Late SeptemberHoop Dreams (1994)
On My Way (2013)
A Room with a View (1986)
The Wild Geese (1978)
An Affair to Remember (1957)
The Boxcar Children (2014)
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)
Chicken Run (2000)
The Contender (2000)
Cool World (1992)
Finding Forrester (2000)
The Fly (1958)
Galaxy Quest (1999)
Gilmore Girls: The Complete Series (2000-2007)
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
From the Hip (1987)
House Arrest (1996)
In a World... (2013)
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
L'Auberge Espagnole (2002)
Please Subscribe: A Documentary About YouTubers (2013)
Nick of Time (1995)
Paths of Glory (1957)
Peaky Blinders: Season 1 (2013)
The Producers (1968)
Rescue Dawn (2006)
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Team America: World Police (2004)
This Property Is Condemned (1966)
Three Fugitives (1989)
The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976)
The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)
ReturningThe Desert Fox (1951)
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Evil Dead II (1987)
The Gambler (1974)
The Hunted (2003)
Mike Birbiglia: What I Should Have Said Was Nothing (2008)
The Parallax View (1974) - Review
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Swimming with Sharks (1994)