Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November Expiration Watch: Give and Take (but Mostly Take)

Quite the list of casualties this month. Perhaps making up for its largesse at the beginning of November, Netflix is taking away a big chunk of its recent gains, especially titles that arrived in June and September. Notable June entries now expiring include Five Easy Pieces (1970), Funny Lady (1975), and Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), as well as those infamous big-budget flops, 1941 (1979) and Ishtar (1987), which are more entertaining than their reputations might suggest (see my reviews here.)

For some reason, the sci-fi and horror titles from June and September are getting especially hard hit, with toe tags now written up for Event Horizon (1997), Invaders from Mars (1986), Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), Audrey Rose (1977), The Believers (1987), Monkey Shines (1988), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), and Mission Impossible III (2006). RoboCop 2 (1990), which only arrived this month, is also getting the bounce. And then there's 1984's The Philadelphia Experiment, which has been around for a while but otherwise deserves mention in the sci-fi category (and expires a day earlier than the others, on the 29th). Granted, most of this group doesn't rate more than 3 or so stars—and they're all fairly well-worn—but still, could it hurt to let them stick around for fans of these genres?

As mentioned in my recent review of the expiring Double Indemnity (1944), pre-1970 classics continue to find their numbers dwindling, with 1947's The Ghost and Mrs Muir now joining the list. The news is far worse for classics in the 1970-1982 period, with a number of quality titles disappearing beside those mentioned up top. Among the more notable are George Roy Hill's noble failure, The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), starring Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon; John Cassavetes' off-kilter Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), a violent and funny romantic comedy (reviewed here); The Paper Chase (1973), which spawned a successful TV series and gave John Houseman an acting career; and Joe Kidd (1972), now the last of the Clint Eastwood westerns on Netflix after last month's canning of two of his Sergio Leone films. Pending the arrival of new Eastwood titles, that leaves just 1979's Escape from Alcatraz as his only one on Instant, which is frankly kind of lame (and I'm not even a Clint fan).

Some other '70s films worth checking out, if only out of curiosity (assuming you've caught the more well-known titles): The Girl from Petrovka (1974), with Goldie Hawn oddly cast as a Russian ballerina; Sylvester Stallone's non-franchise, non-action film, Paradise Alley (1978), which makes a nice sad-sack bookend with 1997's (non-expiring) Cop Land; and Arthur Hiller's W.C. Fields and Me (1976), starring Rod Steiger as the titular tightwad. And then there are the really unusual ones—so unusual that even I don't know anything about them, but seeing them listed here I kind of want to check them out: The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County (1970), Swashbuckler (1976), and They Might Be Giants (1971), which I'm guessing lent its name to those arty Brooklyn rockers-turned-kid-show-musicians.

And what would a month on Netflix be without the loss of a few key 1980s films? There's the boomerang-like An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), which keeps spinning on and off the service; the recently arrived Mr. Mom (1983); Brian DePalma's operatic Elliott Ness tale, The Untouchables (1987); and a pair of lightweight John Candy comedies, 1983's Going Berserk and 1985's Summer Rental. But probably the most significant '80s title to exit streaming is Warren Beatty's epic Reds (1981), which is a top-of-the-line achievement in every area and won Beatty a Best Director Oscar.

While we're in the drama category, I should mention a few others that are going away, including Robert Duvall's highly acclaimed The Apostle (1997); the Robert Downey Jr. showcase, Chaplin (1992); one of the few Steven Soderbergh films on Instant, King of the Hill (1993)reviewed way back when this blog was still in diapers; The Constant Gardener (2005), starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz; and Anthony Minghella's big-budget thriller, The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), starring what now look like Tiny Toons versions of Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Want to catch something with a little less name value? Take a gander at the 4-star The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008), Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft in 'night Mother (1986), Kathleen Quinlan in The Promise (1979), or Antonio Banderas and Emma Thompson in Christopher Hampton's Imagining Argentina (2003). I can also recommend 2005's En la Cama, a sexy two-hander set entirely in a hotel room, about a couple whose one-night stand turns into something deeper than either expected. It's not the first film to tackle such subject matter, but it's one of the betterand sexierexamples.

Documentaries are a category I don't cover as much as I should, but there are three that come highly recommended expiring at month's end: Helvetica (2007), Magic Trip (2011), and Our City Dreams (2008). The first two in particular seem to get a lot of raves. (Note that Helvetica expires on the 29th.)

Since we've all got packing and cooking and traveling to tend to in the coming days, I'll stop here and simply list the remaining titles you may want to check out (between rounds of turkey and stuffing and college football). To those of you in the U.S., have a happy (and movie-filled) Thanksgiving.


Cry-Baby (1990)
Dirty Dancing (1987)
The Pirates of Penzance (1983)
Spice World (1998)
Year of the Horse: Neil Young & Crazy Horse Live (1997)

More Horror

Blood & Chocolate (2007)
C.H.U.D. (1984) - 11/29
Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) / The Return of Count Yorga (1971)
House (1986) / House II (1987) - 11/29
House of Voices (2004)
Night of the Creeps (1986)
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
The Stuff (1985) - 11/29
Transylvania 6-5000 (1985) - 11/29
The Vampire Lovers (1970)

Family Films

Fairy Tale: A True Story (1997)
How to Frame a Figg (1971)
Opal Dream (2006)
The Other Side of the Mountain (1975)
The Other Side of the Mountain, Part 2 (1978)


November 25

The King's Speech (2010)

November 29

Black Moon Rising (1986)
The Boys Next Door (1985)

November 30

Better than Chocolate (1999)
The Choirboys (1977)
Eye for an Eye (1996)
First Knight (1995)
Free Men (2011)
House of Voices (2004)
I'm Not Rappaport (1996)
Joe Gould's Secret (2000)
Lonely Hearts (2006)
Magicians (2007)
The Parole Officer (2001)
The Presidio (1988) - Sept.
The Proposition (1998)
School Ties (1992)
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Walker (1987)


Kirby Holt said...

"Tiny Toons versions of Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow"

That's hilarious, well done.

David Speranza said...