Thursday, June 11, 2015

June's New Arrivals (and Early Departures)

A small but interesting mix of new and returning titles hit Netflix Instant this month. But before we get to those I should point out a handful of mid-month departures that will definitely be missed...

Leaving Soon

Tin Man
At 12:01 AM on the 15th, Netflix will no longer be streaming Alejandro González Iñárritu's Amores Perros (2000). Like the director's later efforts, such as Babel (2006) and 21 Grams (2003), his feature debut is supposed to be quite good if also a bit intense (especially if you're squeamish about violence toward animals). Iñárritu's more recent Biutiful (2010) also expires this month (on the 27th), which means the director of last year's Oscar-winning Birdman will soon be entirely absent from Netflix—a situation we hope is only temporary.

Departing on the same day as Amores Perros is the Wizard of Oz reboot, Tin Man, a 2007 miniseries starring Zooey Deschanel that's more enjoyable than it has any right to be, especially given the many past attempts at recreating the magic of the 1939 original. This one manages to be both sequel and update, and uses its extended running time to tell a rich tale that allows for many charming—and frightening—moments. Suitable for adults and children alike, the show's impressive cast also includes Alan Cumming and Richard Dreyfuss.

June 19 will see the departure of three movies that arrived in March, marking only a brief, three-month stay for multi-Oscar-winner Amadeus (1984), Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2002 revenge flick, Collateral Damage, and the Sandra Bullock/Nicole Kidman romantic witch comedy, Practical Magic (1998). Granted, the latter two are light entertainment at best, but the fact that they lasted just three months seemed worth noting. (Why, Netflix?)

By far the most significant 6/19 departure is Lonesome Dove, the epic 1989 miniseries that temporarily revived the western genre (especially on TV) while justifiably earning a slew of awards. I've only finally gotten around to watching this—after two decades of keeping it in one queue or another—and I'm extremely impressed. Beyond impressed, really. This series was the real deal, and any fan of westerns needs to see it before they ride off into the dusty sunset.

Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones in Lonesome Dove
The final notable expiration is 2012's Stand Up Guys, leaving on the 21st. Directed by actor Fisher Stevens (who has a real knack for this kind of material), the film's obvious allure is its cast: the irresistible combo of '70s greats Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin. But this is more than just stunt casting or a nostalgia trip. These guys really bring it, and the funny, elegiacal script serves them well. Yes, everyone's more wrinkled—and a bit slower—than we're used to, but they're still sharp and tough as hell. I crack up every time I think of Walken's oh-so Walken-esque delivery of, "I'm all outta gum!" A surprising treat, especially for longtime fans of these living legends.

Notable Arrivals

There aren't a ton of noteworthy new titles this month, but what there is constitutes a fairly solid lineup. There's Martin Scorsese's 2004 biopic of Howard Hughes, The Aviator, which netted a fair share of Oscar gold, including for Cate Blanchett's pitch-perfect performance as Katherine Hepburn. Visually sumptuous and as impassioned as any past Scorsese picture, its only flaw (in my opinion) is Leonardo DiCaprio. Yes, he's a great actor and chews up the scenery accordingly, but to me he's too young...or too lightweight...or something...to play Hughes convincingly. Leo fans can feel free to tell me where to go.

The Others
There's no shortage of Nicole Kidman films on Netflix (for better and worse), and this month heralds the arrival of two more—one of her best, and one of her worst. In the former category is 2001's The Others, a subtle, very effective horror film that's ultimately as touching as it is creepy. Directed by Alejandro Amenábar (Agora, The Sea Inside, Open Your Eyes), it takes advantage of Kidman's reputation for portraying chilly, emotionally repressed characters, even going so far as to name her Grace in what's believed to have been a nod to Grace Kelly's own ice princess status.

Which brings us to that other Kidman film, last year's disastrous Grace of Monaco—which has had nothing but bad buzz since its debut at Cannes in 2014, suffering not only alternate cuts that failed to salvage it but ultimately being dumped on the Lifetime Network last month. Have I seen it? No. I have too much admiration for both Kelly and Kidman. But if you're curious and enjoy train wrecks, Netflix is here for you.

Classics and Returns

Griffith gets Wild
Maybe 1986 is too recent to allow a "classic" designation (perhaps "modern classic"?), but Jonathan Demme's Something Wild certainly deserves some kind of appellation besides "quirky, funny, genre-bending romantic comedy." Starring Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith in her heyday, most of you have probably seen it (multiple times), but for those that haven't it remains a fun and unnerving twist on our notions of romantic comedy. And, like all of Demme's films, it has a killer soundtrack.

Two more (chronologically) legitimate classics are also now streaming: Joseph Mankiewicz's little-known—and underappreciated—People Will Talk (1951), the writer-director's follow-up to All About Eve, which stars Cary Grant and is an unusual mix of romantic comedy and communist-era witch hunt; and the more well-known The Great Escape, John Sturges' 1963 ensemble action pic headed by Steve McQueen and featuring the manly might of James Garner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and a host of other American and British stars.

Falling into the Returns category are a handful of other classics, including 1953's Roman Holiday (reviewed here); Brian’s Song, the 1971 TV movie that helped put James Caan on the map (and caused two young boys to cry over a movie for the first time); The Paper Chase (1973), which went on to become a popular television series; and the oft-returning group of Francis Ford Coppola films, the crown jewel of which is of course the original Apocalypse Now (1979).

Also making welcome returns are two films that haven't been seen on Netflix in a while: Shane Carruth's head-scratching time-travel indie, Primer, from 2004 (discussed in my review of his even better follow-up, Upstream Color); and Alfonso Cuarón's sexy and wise nouveau road movie, Y Tu Mamá También (2001), which is perhaps meant to make up for the loss of fellow countryman Iñárritu's two titles.

New Releases

Beart gets kinky (again)
Among this month's debuts, a larger than usual number seem to be recent releases. I confess to not having seen any of them, but word is mixed-to-good on at least Diplomacy (2014), Nightcrawler (2014), Rosewater (2014), and 2012's On the Road—all of which are fairly heavy dramas. I'd never heard of My Mistress (2014), which hasn't gotten the best notices, but there are so few films showing up in the U.S. starring the incomparable Emmanuelle Béart, I'll probably need to take a look. From the trailer, it looks like EB is in full Isabelle Huppert mode (fans of French cinema will know exactly what I mean).

Also now streaming, and probably not needing any attention here, is the Netflix original series Sense8, produced by those wacky Wachowski siblings. Matrix-level genius or Cloud Atlas-level flop? You be the judge.

But before you check out the new stuff, schedule some viewing time for Lonesome Dove and/or Tin Man. Both are long and leaving soon. And when you're done, hang out a bit with Al and Chris and Alan. (These things aren't going to watch themselves, you know.)

You heard us, punk! Start watching!

EXPIRING


June 14

Amores Perros (2000)
Dark Secrets (2013)
Forgotten Planet (2011)
Tin Man (2007)

June 16

Dummy (2002)

June 19

Amadeus (1984)
Collateral Damage (2002)
The Guilt Trip (2012)
Lonesome Dove (1989)
Practical Magic (1998)

June 21

Stand Up Guys (2012)
Madonna: The MDNA Tour (2013)

June 27

Biutiful (2010)


Recent Arrivals

The Aviator (2004)
The Best of Me (2014)
Diplomacy (2014)
A Feast at Midnight (1994)
Grace of Monaco (2014)
The Great Escape (1963)
Happy Valley (2014)
Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)
The High and the Mighty (1954)
The Lost Boys: Special Edition (1987)
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: Season 2 (2014)
My Mistress (2014)
Nightcrawler (2014)
Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)
The Others (2001)
On the Road (2012)
People Will Talk (1951)
The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)
The Quiet American (2002)
Rosewater (2014)
Sense8 (2015)
Something Wild (1986)
Words and Pictures (2013)

RETURNED
Brian’s Song (1971)
The 'Burbs (1989)
Dead Snow (2009)
The Escape Artist (1982)
Hammett (1982)
Nine Months (1995)
The Paper Chase (1973)
Pet Sematary (1989)
Primer (2004)
Roman Holiday (1953) - Review
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)

COPPOLA FILMS (Reviews):
  Apocalypse Now (1979) / Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)
  One from the Heart (1982)
  Tetro (2009)

June 12

Life of Crime (2014)
Orange Is the New Black: Season 3 (2015)

June 13

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Scandal: Season 4 (2014)

June 15

Bindi’s Bootcamp: Season 1 (2012)
Danger Mouse: Complete Series (1981)
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (2013)
Rodney Carrington: Laughter’s Good (2014)

June 16

Curious George (2006)
Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)
Two Days, One Night (2014)

June 17

Point and Shoot (2014)

June 19

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

June 20

Cake (2014)

June 24

Beyond the Lights (2014)

June 26

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

June 27

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012)

7 comments:

Kirby said...

Nightcrawler is awesome, as is Two Days, One Night.

Daniel Hensel said...

Diplomacy is one of the most underrated films ever. I was so lucky to catch this because my school played it at our local theater through the German Department - seriously reminded me of 12 Angry Men and Doubt

David Speranza said...

Good to know, guys, thanks. I saw the trailer for Diplomacy sometime last year and was definitely intrigued.

boopboop said...

A movie called "Dummy" is expiring on the 17th of June

David Speranza said...

Right, sorry--forgot to carry that over from the main list. Will put it on there. Thanks.

Wellesley72 said...

What happened to the "Expiring Soon" button?

David Speranza said...

Sorry, technical difficulty.