Sunday, April 5, 2015

New in April: Going to 11?

Some interesting titles are making their streaming debuts on Netflix this month, along with a number of impressive standouts. Let's start with the high points, shall we?

The Big Lebowski (1998) - What else is there to say, but..."The Dude abides"?
Bound (1996) - A steamy neo-noir from the directors of The Matrix, back when they still knew how to put together a taut, well-constructed entertainment
Natural Born Killers (1994) - Oliver Stone's nasty, tasty slice of '90s nihilism, with Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis making Bonnie and Clyde look like Hepburn & Tracy, from a script by Quentin Tarantino
Three Kings (1999) - David O. Russell, better known today for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, cooked up this dark Gulf War comedy that's one part Treasure of the Sierra Madre, one part Catch 22
This Is Spinal Tap (1984) - Even though I own two different DVD editions of this film (one of which is long out of print), I'm very happy to see this seminal rockumentary now online—a comedy that truly goes to 11

There are also a batch of notable titles showing up later in the month, including the much-anticipated first season of Netflix's Daredevil, the off-its-rocker Crank (2006), the latest mind puzzle from Jean-Luc Godard, Goodbye to Language (2014), and a couple of highly regarded new horror films, The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. I'm looking forward to all of these (except maybe the Godard, which I saw in a theater—in 3D—and which might be tough to watch again, especially in 2D). Premiere dates listed at the bottom of the page.

First place is...
Quite a few of this month's highlights have been here before, including some major Oscar winners. But several have been absent for a while, which is good news for those who missed them the last time.
Agora (2009) - See review
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Flesh + Blood (1985)
Gladiator (2000) - Russell Crowe gets an Oscar by fighting a CG tiger (or was that a CG Oliver Reed?)
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) - Men! Mamet! Pacino! Baldwin! Steak knives!
Kicking and Screaming (1995) - Noah Baumbach's charming, breezy directorial debut, just in time for the release of his latest, While We're Young
Mommie Dearest (1981) - Faye Dunaway eats coat hangers, or something (note to self: look this one up on IMDB)
Thief (1981) - See review
The Thing Called Love (1993) - Romantic drama directed (unfussily) by Peter Bogdanovich and featuring a strong soundtrack, a rare starring turn by the underrated Samantha Mathis, a young Sandra Bullock, and River Phoenix in his last full performance
Titanic (1997) - Two kids fall in love on a big boat, complications ensue

Irons, Kaas
And Now…Ladies and Gentlemen… (2002) - Director Claude Lelouch (A Man and a Woman) sets Jeremy Irons and French crooner Patricia Kaas on low simmer in this oddly entertaining mix of jewel thievery, romance, exotic lands, and brain tumors
Racing with the Moon (1984) - See brief review here
Tapeheads (1988) - John Cusack and Tim Robbins get goofy as aspiring music video makers, back when making music videos still meant something
Unforgettable (1996) - I haven't seen this, but director John Dahl (Red Rock WestThe Last Seduction) knows his way around a thriller, so strap yourself in

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) - One of a number of retro wannabe franchises (see also: Buckaroo Banzai, The Rocketeer, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) that was better than its box-office failure suggests—or at least that's what I hear
Snake Eyes (1998) - Sure, not Brian DePalma's best, but who can resist all that fancy camerawork and a paranoid, yelling Nicolas Cage?
Unbreakable (2000) - As another failed potential franchise, M. Night Shyamalan's slow-burn take on the superhero movie—unlike so many of today's prefab superhero flicks—genuinely deserved a sequel

Despite the introduction (and return) of a number of worthy titles this month, Netflix's classic offerings continue to be a study in attrition. Only four entries qualify as genuinely new, while the rest have made previous appearances, one of which—The Graduate—was here as recently as February.

The future governor of California
Bandolero! (1968) - Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin, and Raquel Welch bring guns a'blazin' to this rollickin' late '60s western
The Graduate (1967) - You're always welcome around these parts, Mrs. Robinson.
Hercules in New York (1969) - See Arnold Schwarzenegger flex through his first starring role, as a Greek god with a thick Austrian accent—and oh, those dancing pecs!
The Man Who Never Was (1956) - It's British, with Nazis and spies. And old. That's all I got.
Night Train to Munich (1940) - More Brits, more Nazis, produced during the actual war
The Seven Ups (1973) - I was glad to see this one return following its 2013 expiration. If you dig movies like The Getaway and The French Connection, then this NYC-set crime thriller—with its lengthy car chase up Manhattan's West Side and into New Jersey—should get your motor runnin'.

Clockstoppers (2002)
Fly Me to the Moon (2008)

Another Woman (1988) - One of Woody Allen's mid-career dramas, notable for its clever concept and for Gena Rowlands' powerful performance
Driving Miss Daisy (1989) - Oscar! Oscar! Come get your Oscar!
Space Cowboys (2000) - Clint and the boys suit up to prove that even old guys can hang in Zero-g
Wooly Boys (2001) - A comedy with heart—and more old dudes (that means you, Peter Fonda, Kris Kristofferson, and Keith Carradine)

All of these, aside from The Devil's Rejects, are returning.
Cujo (1983) - Dee Wallace meets a scary, rabid dog
The Dead Zone (1983) - David Cronenberg directs Christopher Walken in a creepy Stephen King tale. What else could you ask for? (Okay, besides an exploding head.)
The Devil’s Rejects (2005) - Rob Zombie's "sadistic" and "appalling" (I'm quoting the good reviews) cult sequel to House of 1,000 Corpses
Open Water (2004) - Based on an actual shark attack, this minimalist horror film takes a realistic approach that's either frustrating or quietly terrifying, sometimes both

The Crazy Ones: Season 1 (2014) - Robin Williams, in his last TV role, mixes it up with Sarah Michelle Gellar in this (canceled) David E. Kelly joint
The Jewel in the Crown (1984) - What do you know, a new BBC show! And we thought Netflix was abandoning its U.K. content...
Louie: Season 4 (2014) - Louis C.K. takes a turn toward the serious in what's still a very funny—and groundbreaking—half-hour of television like no other
M*A*S*H: Seasons 6-11 (1978-1983) - Following the welcome debut of seasons 1-5 back in February, these remaining episodes comprise the complete Charles Winchester era—and the gradual domestication of a once subversive series


Angela's Ashes (1999)
Autumn in New York (2000)
Bella (2006)
Bloody Sunday (2002)
The Bounty (1984)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)
Buffalo Soldiers (2001)
Charlie Bartlett (2007)
Derek: A Special Episode (2015)
Flight 93 (2006)
Life Partners (2014)
The Punisher (2004)
Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show (2014)
Step into Liquid (2003)
Twins (1988)
The Vicar of Dibley: Christmas Specials (2004-2006)

Not Really Recommended, but...

Beyond Borders (2003)
Blue State (2007)
Disturbing Behavior (1998)
Down to Earth (2001)
Frankenstein (2004)
Godzilla (1998)
The Last Samurai (2003)
Nurse (2014)
The Reckoning (2004)
Suicide Kings (1997)
Underworld (2003)
Wild Wild West (1999)

Other Returning Titles

9 to 5 (1980)
American Psycho (2000)
Braveheart (1995)
Death Wish (1974)
Saved! (2004)

Later in April

The Babadook (2014) - April 14
Crank (2006) - April 9
Daredevil: Season 1 (2015) - April 10
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) - April 21
Goodbye to Language (2014) - April 14
Hot Fuzz (2007) - April 16
Noah (2014) - April 18
They Came Together (2014) - April 17
Winnebago Man (2010) - April 12


Anonymous said...

The Last Samurai not recommended, what!!!!!!! WTF is wrong with you?

David Speranza said...

Hah. Sorry, I could never take seriously a movie called The Last Samurai, set in Japan, starring...Tom Cruise! The movie's poster alone bugs the hell out of me, and I'm hardly what you would call politically correct. (I had nearly as bad a reaction to seeing Cruise as a German in an eyepatch in the poster for Valkyrie.) No matter how good the movie is, to me it will always represent a laughable Hollywood attempt to prioritize starpower over sense. And that's something I never want to encourage.

arsenal45 said...

Really looking forward to Daredevil!

David Speranza said...


Anonymous said...

I see you noted that Hercules in New York features Arnold's thick Austrian accent. Looking at Wikipedia I see that they noted that in newer releases they restored his regular voice to the sound track.

This had me confused because all of the times I've seen this movie it was dubbed with a preposterous voice. That made it more fun to watch. I don't think hearing his real voice is nearly as fun.

Anonymous said...

David: I'd suggest you watch the movie. Tom's cardboard acting style actually works very well in this movie. His presence in Feudal Japan is perfectly sensible in the context of the movie's universe.

Although I'm not a big Cruise fan, this move is so beautifully filmed and the Japanese actors so wonderful that it's a must see movie I think.

Anonymous said...

Noah was absolutely Horrible!