goals

Out with the Old, In with the New

End of March update:

New restaurants: Freebirds at USC. Cheating a bit because I’ve been to Freebirds, but the one in Austin, like four years ago. Like Chipotle on steroids. Brat’s Brothers in Studio City. A twist on the hot dog joints we tend to frequent, with lots of kinds of brats, from standard ones to crazy exotic ones like ostrich, duck, and alligator. The real star is the multitude of condiments, though – wasabi mustard was a big hit. Not particularly atmospheric, though. Barney’s Beanery in Santa Monica. Fairly standard sports bar, but I *love* sports bars. Some unique burgers, which were really good, and some of the best seasoned fries I’ve ever had. A touch pricey, perhaps, but it is Santa Monica. Kyoto Sushi 3 in Valencia, on well-guided advice from a friend. Relatively inexpensive, and very tasty.

New things cooked: Grilled lamb chops, except I don’t have a grill so I broiled it instead. Still very tasty. The marinade was really good. I might cook the lamb a bit longer next time. Paired it with frozen mixed veggies – which let me just say, why does everyone seem to think carrots are the most awesomest mixed veggies? There were way more carrots in there than peas, corn, or green beans, all of which I like WAY more than carrots. But I digress. All the other things I’ve either cooked before, even though it’s been a while (fried chicken tenders, fried pickles) or came from a pre-made meal (stir fry a couple of times, hashbrowns, sausage links).

Household: Did a major cleaning early in the month, which made me a lot happier with my space. Now to just keep it that way.

Reading: Yeah, not going so good. I’m kind of stalled out on the book I NEED to be reading (Down and Dirty Pictures, about the 1990s independent film movement), though when I jump into Game of Thrones I’m pretty captivated. I just have been devoting more time to writing and going out than to reading.

Credit Card: Well, I had one paid off in the sense that I moved the balance to a non-interest one. But then I had to get my car fixed and now it’s not paid off anymore. Baby steps.

Blogging: The Cinema 101 series is underway! Only a few posts in, but I have plenty of ideas for more – just got to get time to research and write them. Suggestions for topics you’re interested in are still welcome. The Godard series on Row Three is still on hold, because I need to finish Down and Dirty Pictures before starting on Brody’s Godard book. Other things on R3 are ramping up, though – we’re all kind of redoubling our efforts to keep content flowing there (which is where a lot of my writing and planning energy have been going), so be sure to check out what we’ve got going on. Screenshot quizzes are back, Netflix Instant Recommendations are ramping up, Movies We Watched is back and hopefully weekly now, and we have a new 3×5 review series that’s pretty awesome.

Mid-February update:

Eating out less often and more adventurously is going well. I went to Ratata in Westwood, Fair Oaks Burger in Altadena, Lotus Vegan and Pitfire Pizza in North Hollywood, and Pink’s, Groundwork Coffee and Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood. And cooked at home a whole lot more. Didn’t get too adventurous yet on cooking new things, but I did do some cinnamon French toast, which I don’t think I’ve ever cooked on my own before. So I’m counting that. Hope to ramp that up in the next few months and try some new dinner things.

I’ve been focusing on dishes in the “being domestic” thing, and getting better. It’s just a question of getting in the habit of doing them immediately, especially since I’m often not home for several evenings in a row. I also did some major cleaning in the bathroom, so that’s good. The rest of the apartment…uh…work in progress. Reading more is happening, but not in substantial amounts. I am getting some reading in before bed and on most lunch breaks, though.

The rest of the stuff is in various stages, but I am working on most of it actively. So, yay!

Original Post

All in all, 2010 turned out to be a pretty good year for me. It started off really crappy, with the startup I worked for hitting financial trouble and having to lay everyone off. Lots of meals of rice and ramen for a few months, but I can’t really complain because I ended up getting a job offer from the University of Southern California within three months, working in my field as a writer/video editor. I started that job in June and it’s been a great experience, and being back in an academic environment (even though I’m in administrative operations, which is faculty/staff support rather than working with students) is perfect for me.

In September, I started dating Jonathan, so at long last both my professional and personal lives are far more on track than they’ve ever been before. Earlier this year, I started volunteering at Cinefamily, a repertory cinema in LA that I’ve been patronizing regularly since I moved out here, and that’s been extremely fulfilling. Getting this blog redesigned and posting a bit more regularly to it has also been fun, and only taking away a little bit, I promise, from my posting at Row Three, where I still do the majority of my film posting. Thanks to Row Three, I’ve been able to get press passes to a few film festivals and build relationships with some publicity reps out here, which have opened up lots more opportunities for film watching and reviewing than I’ve had in past years.

But I do still have a few goals for 2011, now that a bunch of the big things are taken care of – I’d like to focus on some smaller, more fun, and more domestic things.

  1. Eat out less often, but more adventurously (fewer chains, more locally-owned places).
  2. Cook something new at least once a month.
  3. Get my apartment clean and keep it that way (specific goals of this – do dishes immediately and sort/fold clothes promptly).
  4. Spend most of my lunch breaks reading instead of playing on the internet.
  5. When faced with the choice to futz around online or read before going to bed, choose to read.
  6. Go to at least one music festival.
  7. Go to a film festival not based in Los Angeles.
  8. Move out of the Valley (okay, this is a big one).
  9. Start buying, conservatively, furniture and decor that actually match instead of the hodgepodge I have.
  10. Pay off a credit card (this conflicts with several of the other things, I know…*sigh*).
  11. Start a Cinema 101 series on my blog.
  12. Do a Jean-Luc Godard series on Row Three, which includes reading Richard Brody’s Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard.
  13. Explore LA off the beaten path, starting with the walks in this book.
Inception

Multiple Possibilities at One Time

A few weeks ago I was talking about Christopher Nolan’s Inception with a friend who had just seen it (this is a common occurrence – kudos again to Mr. Nolan for making a blockbuster film that is so imminently discussable and compels people to want to think about it and talk about it after seeing it). I haven’t seen it since opening weekend in theatres, so in some ways I’m not as well-equipped to discuss the question of the ending and what it means for the reality or non-reality of the rest of the film as those who have seen it more recently or more often, but even from the first time I saw it I found the question of “which parts were a dream” and “whose dream was it” and “is he still in a dream” interesting not because I enjoyed trying to figure out the answer, like a puzzle, but because I think the film invites multiple interpretations that are all supportable. Close reading the film, studying each frame, etc. to try to figure out what really happened is far less intriguing to me than the multiple possibilities the film seems to allow.

I was trying to explain this to my friend, that I thought it was less interesting and perhaps not worth it to try to answer those questions, but in the discussion I almost inadvertently allowed that yeah, there probably was one real answer, though we couldn’t really know what it was, because the film is so well constructed for ambiguity that at least three or four interpretations are supportable. I want to take that back, maybe not for Inception, because Inception is also constructed as a puzzle film and Nolan is enough of a left-brain filmmaker that a determinable answer isn’t out of the question, but for film in general.

I ran across the two-paragraph quote below on Jim Emerson’s excellent scanners::blog, always a great source for in-depth film criticism, talking about the recent Abbas Kiarostami film Certified Copy. For context (and this description has spoilers, but the film doesn’t depend on its secret), the film is about an author, James, who wrote an art criticism book. While on a promotional tour in Italy, he meets Elle, a woman who has read the book and wants to discuss it, but doesn’t totally agree with him. They meet to talk, start getting to know each other, and then suddenly in the middle of the film start acting like they’ve been married for several years. The film never reveals whether they’re really strangers or really married, and Emerson suggests that trying to figure out whether they are or not is not useful. The comments to his post have people both adamantly sure they are strangers and adamantly sure they are married. I prefer Emerson’s stance – focusing on the facts of their particular relationship distracts from focusing on the truths of relationships and art that the film is really about (my full review is here). Here’s the relevant quote:

So, I’ll just chime in here to say that I think these are both good answers to the wrong question. Or, one that isn’t worth answering definitively, because it offers only binary options, and the movie requires that you hold multiple possibilities in your head at the same time. What you see is what happens in the movie. There is no “reality” apart from what is there. (Mr. Scorsese, please: “Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.”) You don’t look at Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and say: “Well, that dinner party is real, but when they’re walking down the road it’s a fantasy.” You don’t look at That Obscure Object of Desire and say, “The scenes with Carole Bouquet are the real ones, and the scenes with √Āngela Molina are imaginary.” Where would that get you? You would be denying the essential movieness of the experience.

Sicinsky has his reasons, well-argued, for his point of view, but I think he’s closer to the mark when he cites Bordwell and says that the events depicted in the movie just don’t rigorously correspond to what we experience as viewers watching the movie. Look at James’s entrance: Late for his own lecture, he enters from the rear of the room and is immediately stopped by a woman and a boy, for whom he stops to sign a copy of his book — until the host asks people to hold off until afterwards. That woman is Elle and the boy is her son. How do we square that with the moment in the trattoria when James grills Elle (both of them adopting new, amped-up, soap-operatic acting styles) about the road accident she almost had when she dozed off at the wheel while their son was in the back seat? Well, we don’t. How can we? Why should we? They are married and not married, strangers and intimates. What’s unknown — that is, what is deliberately left out of the movie — is as important as what’s known. Perhaps, like Billy Pilgrim, these characters have come unstuck in time, or have slipped into multiple alternate universes (Glenn Kenny said the movie “can be seen as the first great science-fiction film of the year”).

The point is that cinema is what is on the screen. If it’s not on the screen, if it’s not ensconced in that frame, it doesn’t exist. You can conjecture, you can guess, you can infer, but in a very real way, especially in films that so carefully construct what they do and don’t reveal, you’re conjecturing about something that doesn’t exist in the film – not simply something that isn’t definitely knowable, but something that is not there. Film is not life; it creates its own frame of reference. It’s still fun to talk about what might be outside the frame, and some films are more amenable to such conjecture than others (for instance, many people conjecture that Sammy Jankis in Nolan’s Memento is, in fact, Leonard, and that conjecture, while probably not provable, is certainly believable and adds a layer of meaning to the film). Maybe Inception is one of these. But I find it more interesting to “hold multiple possibilities in your head at the same time,” even about Inception. The film may mean different things depending on which interpretation you choose – why can’t it mean ALL those things? That seems much deeper and richer to me than having to choose one and disregard the others when Nolan has done such a careful job of making multiple interpretations plausible. Is he just throwing red herrings at us, when he has one single interpretation and meaning in mind? Maybe. But I feel no call to match my mind to his. I think it’s great that his film has made me and so many other people think. But I have no desire to reduce those thoughts to a single “answer,” nor debate which answer is the best.

dvd-triage

DVD Triage: Week of March 29

Well, I must be in a good mood this week – I put several up under “Buy” and didn’t find any to put under “Skip.” Or else everything really did look at least a little bit interesting to me. We’re also to the first of the month, so there are a bunch of new releases coming to Instant Watch as of the 1st (Friday). We’re also losing a bunch off Instant – since I go two weeks out on expirations, you’ll see a lot of the same ones from last week listed again, but there are also a few tacked onto the end that are expiring next week. Do check out the Woody Allen films and Criterions that are expiring Friday and Sunday respectively; there’s some really good cinema in there.

Buy

Black Swan
One of my favorite movies from last year, and probably the one that overwhelmed me the most upon seeing it – it’s theatrical, showy, and melodramatic in all the best ways, with more than a touch of full-on horror mixing with its psychological drama.
2010 USA. Director: Darren Aronofsky. Starring: Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Mad Men Season 4
Easily one of the best shows on TV, AMC’s Mad Men shows no signs of slowing down. The new ad agency formed at the end of S3 struggles to find its feet, several characters move new directions with their lives, but the quality of writing and acting is staying put, right where I like it.
2010 USA. Creator: Matthew Weiner. Starring: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheser.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends: Season 5
Among the more surprisingly clever and subversive animated shows ever, and Season 5 is finally out on DVD on its own after outraged fans complained that it was only available in the full series box set.
1964 USA, stars Bill Scott, June Foray.
Amazon DVD | Netflix

The Ten Commandments (2-disc Special Edition)
Fair chance you already own this classic Biblical epic if you have any desire to do so – there was an excellent special edition out a few years ago. But if you don’t, I believe this its Blu-ray debut, complete with DVD rerelease and limited edition gift set edition.
1956 USA. Director: Cecil B. DeMille. Starring: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Limited Edition Gift Set (w/DVD and BD) | Netflix

Rent

Topsy-Turvy Criterion
Gilbert and Sullivan wrote some of the most enduring comic operettas ever, with their works like The Mikado, H.M.S. Pinafore, and The Pirates of Penzance still performed today – this imaginative biopic captures their world perfectly, and is far better as a film than most biopics can claim. A joy to watch from start to finish.
1999 UK. Director: Mike Leigh. Starring: Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner, Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Treme: Season 1
I didn’t get to catch this HBO show when it was on (due to not having HBO), but a drama about post-Katrina New Orleans from the creator of The Wire is certainly an intriguing notion, and the feedback I heard from people who were watching it was good.
2010 USA. Creator: Eric Overmyer, David Simon. Starring: Khandi Alexander, Rob Brown, Kim Dickens.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Mesrine: Public Enemy #1
The second half of the Mesrine set, about one of France’s most notorious gangsters. I do love me some gangster films AND some French films, so I’m ready to check this double feature out. Also on Instant Watch.
2008 France. Director: Jean-Francois Richet. Starring Vincent Cassel, Ludivine Sagnier.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Made in Dagenham
Norma Rae for the new millennium? But in England? Maybe…Sally Hawkins leads a group of female textile workers in a labor fight for better treatment. Hawkins is always worth watching, and the trailers look like this might be better than your average issue piece.
2010 UK. Director: Nigel Cole. Starring: Sally Hawkins, Miranda Richardson.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Tangled
Even though it’s been ages since I wasn’t disappointed by a Disney-branded animated film, I keep hoping – I’ve had graphic design and animator friends tell me the art on this one is good, but the trailers still look like they’re trying a bit too hard to be hip to me. Willing to give it a shot, though.
2010 USA. Director: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard. Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray (includes DVD) | Netflix

The Mikado Criterion
Coinciding with Criterion’s release of Gilbert and Sullivan biopic Tospy Turvy is this release of the 1939 version of the G&S classic The Mikado. Now, I haven’t seen this one, and 1930s adaptations of stage musicals tend to change them pretty drastically (I heard a bunch of the songs were cut out of this one), but it’s at least an interesting curio.
1939 USA. Director: Victor Schertzinger. Starring: Kenny Baker, Martyn Green.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix (streaming now, not Criterion)

Fair Game
had to look this one up to remember what it was, but it’s the political thriller based on the Natalie Plame scandal. Oh, right. This one must’ve snuck in and out of theatres with spy-like stealth, but I somehow tend to like political thrillers even though I don’t like politics. And as far as big action thrillers go, Doug Liman’s a pretty good director.
2010 USA. Director: Doug Liman. Starring: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

All Good Things
I remember this film’s release being all but overshadowed by talk of Gosling’s amazing performance in Blue Valentine, but he’s usually worth watching, even if this does look a bit on the cliched/melodramatic side.
2010 USA. Director: Andrew Jarecki. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Watch Instantly

Before Sunrise [4/1]
Solitary travelers Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy meet while passing through Vienna, and end up wandering the city talking all night. Basically a long conversation, but this film is so imminently watchable I fell in love with it immediately.
1995 USA. Director: Richard Linklater. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy.

Before Sunset [4/1]
The 9-years-delayed sequel to Before Sunrise, as the two people who spent such a memorable night wandering Vienna together meet again a decade later; similarly conversation-driven, but with a bittersweet tone this time that makes many people prefer it over Before Sunrise. (I don’t.)
2004 USA. Director: Richard Linklater. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy.

Gone With the Wind [4/1]
One of the most epic of epic films needs no introduction from me. It’s actually been quite a while since I saw it; I was thinking recently I need to get around to rewatching it, and now it’ll be easier!
1939 USA. Director: Victor Fleming. Starring: Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable.

Micmacs
The latest from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, with a quirk-laden story about a man who falls in with a group of innovative junkyard dwellers and swears revenge on the armament companies who ruined his life (his father was killed by a mine, and he’s got a bullet lodged in his head). This could be deadly if you’re allergic to quirk, but if you like Jeunet’s style, you’ll enjoy this – it’s like Amelie crossed with The City of Lost Children and turned up to eleven.
2009 France. Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Starring: Danny Boon, André Dussollier, Yolande Moreau.

Whale Rider [also Canada]
One of New Zealand’s most popular cinematic exports, following the story of a young aboriginal girl whose destiny seems tied to the legend of the whale rider, though no one pays her any attention because she’s a girl. Sweet and funny and fierce, in perfect proportions.
2003 New Zealand. Director: Niki Caro. Starring: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton.

Gangs of New York
I’m not a particularly big fan of this film, which hit me as a bit overblown and uneven, but I’m definitely due a rewatch on it, and in any case, I’m never one to turn up my nose at Scorsese.
2002 USA. Director: Martin Scorsese. Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz.

Far From Heaven [4/1]
Todd Haynes’ carefully rendered homage to 1950s melodrama, particularly the films of Douglas Sirk (and particularly Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows), doesn’t quite have the punch for me that those originals do, but it’s certainly an excellent film taken on its own.
2002 USA. Director: Todd Haynes. Starring: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert.

21 Grams [4/1]
Iñrrítu’s first English-language film is rather in the same vein as his Mexican breakout Amores Perros, a tortured ensemble piece bringing together disparate characters around a central event – in this case, a hit and run – with a thematic focus on death. Not particularly cheery-sounding, but it is quite compelling – for my money, only surpassed by Amores Perros among his filmography.
2003 USA. Director: Alejandro Gonazalez Iñarrítu. Starring: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro.

The Joneses [4/1]
A seemingly perfect family moves into a suburban community, quickly become favorites thanks to their command of material wealth and status – but all may not be as it seems with the Joneses. Haven’t seen myself, but Andrew was a fan, and I’m definitely curious to check it out.
2009 USA. Director: Derrick Borte. Starring: Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Amber Heard.

Hot Tub Time Machine [4/1]
A group of friends get ported back to the 1980s thanks to a time-traveling hot tub – from what I’ve heard, it’s not quite as funny as it needs to be to put this concept over, but there’s still some amusement to be had.
2010 USA. Director: Steve Pink. Starring: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson.

Conspiracy Theory [4/1]
Though I’m far from a conspiracy theorist myself, I am kind of a sucker for movies about conspiracy theories. That said, this one about a guy who may have found an actual conspiracy mixed in among all his theories isn’t really that great a movie. But for a couple of hours to kill, it’s decent.
1997 USA. Director: Richard Donner. Starring: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts.

Invaders from Mars
I am almost always in the mood for a good sci-fi B movie, and this looks to fit the bill nicely (in fact, has been on my “sci-fi B movies to see” list for some time), as a young boy sees a spaceship crash and then notices that people who go near it are changed, taken over by alien consciousness. Menzies is best known as an art director, so I’m betting this looks stunning, too.
1953 USA. Director: William Cameron Menzies. Starring: Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter.

The Name of the Rose
i remember being less than thrilled with this adaptation of Umberto Eco’s novel, but that could just be because I’m in love with Eco’s deeply academic and referential writing style, which doesn’t translate well to screen. The story itself is a great medieval-set murder mystery, and I could probably do with a rewatch.
1986 UK. Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud. Starring: Sean Connery, Christian Slater, Helmut Qualtinger.

Cheyenne Autumn
John Ford’s last western, and in a career of simply amazing westerns, that’s reason enough for me to add it to my queue.
1964 USA. Director: John Ford. Starring: Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, Karl Malden.

How to Marry a Millionaire [4/1]
So apparently Fox thought it would be fair to take Gentlemen Prefer Blondes off Instant and give us this plus Don’t Bother to Knock instead. Well…okay. GPB is twice the film this is, but How to Marry a Millionaire is still a really good time, with an excellent cast.
1953 USA. Director: Jean Negulesco. Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable.

Hello, Dolly! [4/1]
One of the few films Gene Kelly directed with starring in, instead starring Barbra Streisand (probably a bit young for the role, but oh well) straight off her Oscar win for Funny Lady.
1969 USA. Director: Gene Kelly. Starring: Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau.

I Want to Live! [3/31]
Susan Hayward won her Oscar for her role as real-life death row inmate Barbara Graham, who claimed to be framed for the murder for which she is convicted, in this socially conscious and heavy hitting drama.
1958 USA. Director: Robert Wise. Starring: Susan Hayward, Wesley Lau, Simon Oakland.

Louis C.K.: Chewed Up [also Canada]
Louis C.K. is one of the funniest and most incisive stand up comics in the business today, so seeing more of his stuff hit Instant Watch can only be a good thing.
2008 USA. Starring: Louis C.K.

Expiring Soon from Instant Watch


I’m reposting the April 1st and April 3rd expirations from last week, and adding a few more to the end of the first set of random movies. Starting with Black Beauty, the expiration date is April 6th. The TV shows and Woody Allen films expire on the 1st, and the Criterions expire on the 3rd.



Other Releases

MOVIES AND MORE
Evangelion: 2.0 You Can [Not] Advance (2009 Japan, dir Hideaki Anno, stars Megumi Hayashibara, Maaya Sakamoto; Blu-ray, Netflix)
In Plain Sight: S3 (2010 USA, creator David Maples, stars Mary McCormack, Frederick Weller, Paul Ben-Victor; Netflix)
The Resident (2011 USA, dir Antti Jokinen, stars Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan; Blu-ray, Netflix)
The Times of Harvey Milk Criterion (1984 USA, dir Robert Epstein, stars Harvey Milk, Harvey Fierstein; Blu-ray, Netflix)
Upstairs, Downstairs: The Complete Series – 40th Anniversary (1971-1975 UK, stars Gordon Jackson, David Langton, Jean Marsh; Netflix)

NEW ON BLU-RAY
Against All Odds (1984 USA, dir Taylor Hackford, stars Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward)
All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989 USA, dir Don Bluth, stars Dom DeLuise, Burt Reynolds, Judith Barsi)
Awakenings (1990 USA, dir Penny Marshall, stars Robert De Niro, Robin Williams)
Dementia 13 (1963 USA, dir Francis Ford Coppola, stars William Campbell, Luana Anders)
Dogtooth (2010 Greece, dir Yorgos Lanthimos, stars Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley)
Inferno (1980 Italy, dir Dario Argento, stars Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle)
Scream (1996 USA, dir Wes Craven, stars Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard)
Scream 2 (1997 USA, dir Wes Craven, stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette)
Scream 3 (2000 USA, dir Wes Craven, stars Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox)
The Secret of NIMH (1982, dir Don Bluth, stars Elizabeth Hartman, Derek Jacobi, Dom DeLuise)
Soylent Green (1973 USA, dir Richard Fleischer, stars Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson)
Teen Wolf (1985 USA, dir Rod Daniel, stars Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Susan Ursitti)

INSTANT WATCH
Absolute Power (1997 USA, dir Clint Eastwood, stars Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman) [4/1]
Alien vs. Ninja (2010 Japan, dir Seiji Chiba, stars Masanori Mimoto, Mika Jijii)
At Long Last Love (1975 USA, dir Peter Bogdavnoich, stars Burt Reynolds, Madeline Kahn) [4/1]
Blood Work (2002 USA, dir Clint Eastwood, stars Clint Eastwood, Wanda De Jesus) [4/1]
Chalk (2006 USA, dir Mike Akel, stars Chris Mass, Troy Schremmer, Shannon Haragan)
City Hall (1996 USA, dir Harold Becker, stars Al Pacino, John Cusack) [4/1]
Dallas (1950 USA, dir Stuart Heisler, stars Gary Cooper, Ruth Roman)
Deal of the Century (1983 USA, dir William Friedkin, stars Chevy Chase, Sigourney Weaver)
Demolition Man (1993 USA, dir Marco Brambilla, stars Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes) [4/1]
Derailed (2002 USA, dir Bob Misiorowski, stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, Laura Elena Harring) [4/1]
Don’t Bother to Knock (1952 USA, dir Roy Ward Baker, stars Marilyn Monroe, Richard Widmark) [4/1]
First Knight (1995 USA, dir Jerry Zucker, stars Sean Connery, Richard Gere, Julia Ormond)
God Grew Tired of Us (2006 USA, dir Christopher Dillon Quinn) [also Canada]
A Home at the End of the World (2004 USA, dir Michael Mayer, stars Colin Farrell, Dallas Roberts) [4/1]
House of Bamboo (1955 USA, dir Samuel Fuller, stars Robert Stack, Robert Ryan) [4/1]
How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989 USA, dir Bruce Robinson, stars Richard E. Grant, Rachel Ward)
Kathleen Madigan: Gone Madigan (2010 USA, stars Kathleen Madigan)
Made for Each Other (1939 USA, dir John Cromwell, stars James Stewart, Carole Lombard) [4/1]
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983 UK/Japan, dir Nagisa Ôshima, stars David Bowie, Ryuichi Sakamoto)
Rising Sun (1993 USA, dir Philip Kaufman, stars Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes) [4/1]
Pinky (1949 USA, dir Elia Kazan, stars Jeanne Crain, Ethel Waters, Ethel Barrymore) [4/1]
The Prisoner (1990 Hong Kong, dir Yen-ping Chu, stars Jackie Chan, Tony Leung) [also Canada]
The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969 USA, dir Stanley Kramer, stars Anthony Quinn, Anna Magnani) [3/31]
Springfield Rifle (1952 USA, dir André De Toth, stars Gary Cooper, Phyllis Thaxter)
Sondheim: The Birthday Concert (2010 USA, dir Lonny Price, stars Bernadette Beters, Patti LuPone)

EXPIRING SOON FROM INSTANT WATCH
Inglorious Bastards (1978 Italy, dir Enzo G. Castellari, stars Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson) [3/30]
The Dark Corner (1946 USA, dir Henry Hathaway, stars Lucille Ball, Mark Stevens) [3/31]
8 1/2 Women (1999 Australia, dir Peter Greenaway, stars John Standing, Toni Collette) [4/1]
Battle of the Bulge (1965 USA, dir Ken Annakin, stars Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson) [4/1]
Better Off Ted (2009 USA, creator Victor Fresco, starring Jay Harrington, Portia DiRossi)
Child’s Play (1988 USA, dir Tom Holland, stars Brad Dourif, Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks) [4/1]
Creepshow (1982 USA, dir George A. Romero, stars Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook) [4/1]
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988 USA, dir Frank Oz, stars Steve Martin, Michael Caine) [4/1]
The Madness of King George (1994 USA, dir Nicholas Hytner, stars Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren) [4/1]
Proof of Life (2000 USA, dir Taylor Hackford, stars Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe) [4/1]
Space Cowboys (2000 USA, dir Clint Eastwood, stars Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones) [4/1]
Tank Girl (1995 USA, dir Rachel Talalay, stars Malcolm McDowell, Lori Petty, Naomi Watts) [4/1]
Tin Cup (1996 USA, dir Ron Shelton, stars Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson) [4/1]
Eraser (1996 USA, dir Charles Russell, stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa L. Williams) [4/2]
Executive Decision (1996 USA, dir Stuart Baird, stars Steven Seagal, Kurt Russell) [4/2]
Michael Collins (1996 UK, dir Neil Jordan, stars Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman) [4/6]
The Proposal (2009 USA, dir Anne Fletcher, stars Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds) [4/6]
Tears of the Sun (2003 USA, dir Antoine Fuqua, stars Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci) [4/9]
Single White Female (1992 US, dir Barbet Schroeder, stars Bridget Fonda, Steven Weber) [4/11]

Disclaimers

  • Amazon links use my affiliate account, and will kick a small percentage of your purchase back to me. You pay the same price you would anyway.
  • Not all new releases are available on Netflix immediately. Some studio films have a 30-day release window before Netflix can rent them, and some smaller releases are not picked up by Netflix immediately. Add them to your “saved” queue if you’re interested; that tells Netflix there is demand for the disc.
  • Not all new Blu-ray releases are available on Netflix – Netflix usually buys both DVD and Blu-ray editions of new releases, but if a DVD has already been released, they don’t always get the Blu-ray when it comes out later.
  • Instant Watch releases are not always 100% accurate – often the data from the API is not fully accurate until the actual day of release. I always check on release day to make sure things actually do hit Instant Watch, but for things that come out later than Tuesday when I publish this post, I won’t be able to tell.
  • Instant Watch expirations are not always 100% accurate – sometimes they don’t expire after all, sometimes things expire with little advance warning. I always check to make sure the data is accurate to the best of my knowledge when I publish the post, but things could still change, especially since I’m giving expiration warnings up to two weeks in advance.
  • I rely on Box Office Mojo and InstantWatcher for the majority of the data for these posts, so thank you to them for the work they do.
dvd-triage

DVD Triage: Week of March 22

This is a pretty dismal week for DVD releases, and there’s not even that much new coming on to Instant Watch this week, but you’ll note a whole bunch of stuff is due to expire off Instant Watch on April 1st. The balance between new ones and expiring ones looks scarier than it is, though, because I only go out one week on new releases, but two weeks on expirations – the influx of new titles for April 1st will be in next week’s column. Of particular note on the expiration side are just about all of the Fox TV series, and a lot of MGM titles, including all of Woody Allen’s films. Expiration data is gathered from InstantWatcher, and often changes quickly (some titles that expired on the 16th are already back as of the 20th), so take that info with a grain of salt, but if there’s anything you particularly want to watch, it’s not a bad idea to check it out soon just in case.

Buy

The Riddick Collection Blu-ray
Kind of a blah week in general, but if you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you’re still looking to upgrade that DVD collection, you could do worse than both of the Riddick films on Blu-ray. For B-level sci-fi/action moviemaking, I had a lot of fun with both of these films.
Pitch Black – 2000 USA. Director: David Twohy. Starring: Vin Diesel, Claudia Black.
The Chronicles of Riddick – 2004 USA. Director: David Twohy. Starring: Vin Diesel, Thandie Newton.
Amazon Blu-ray

Rent

Our Hospitality
I know I’ve seen this Buster Keaton film (barely a feature at 75min), but I can’t actually remember much about – but that doesn’t stop me from recommending it unequivocally, because I’ve never seen anything of Keaton’s that wasn’t awesome. This new edition marks its first blu-ray release, and also includes a rare alternate edit, a documentary, the two-reeler The Iron Mule, and a new score by Carl Davis.
1923 USA. Director: Buston Keaton, Jack Blystone. Starring: Buster Keaton, Natalie Talmadge.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix (different edition)

The Tourist
I always hope for good things from foreign directors heading to Hollywood, and I’m usually disappointed – this time it’s The Lives of Others director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, and based on the reviews, I’m pretty sure I’m in for disappointment. But I’m still curious, against my better judgement.
2010 USA. Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Starring: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Skyline
The low-budget, early release competitor to Battle: LA ended up getting pretty poor reviews, so this is pretty low down on my rental list, but I won’t take it off completely – I’m still a sci-fi junkie at heart, and I usually find some enjoyment even out of bad ones.
2011 USA. Director: Greg and Colin Strause. Starring: Eric Balfour, Donald Faison.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Skip

How Do You Know
Actually, I didn’t even know this was a thing until the week it hit theatres, and even after I found out about it, I wasn’t that excited. Looks like a fairly run-of-the-mill romcom, probably decent if you like that sort of thing (Brooks has done some great stuff in the past), but not remotely interesting to me.
2010 USA. Director: James L. Brooks. Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, Jack Nicholson.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Yogi Bear
And this is a little thing I like to call ripping up my childhood, stomping up and down on it, and then trying to put it back together when superglue and computers. I couldn’t even make it through the trailer for this. The only thing even remotely interesting was that one poster. You know the one.
2010 USA. Director: Eric Brevig. Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Watch Instantly

Dirty Dancing
Nobody puts baby in a corner! I heard that line dozen of times in other contexts before I saw Dirty Dancing a couple of years ago – I’m always late to the party on ’80s movies, and though I do suffer my general ’80s malaise with Dirty Dancing, it generally won me over.
1987 USA. Director: Emile Ardolino. Starring: Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze.

Le Cercle Rouge
More Jean-Pierre Melville on Instant Watch will ALWAYS make me happy – and this is one I haven’t seen yet, a later crime drama by the master of French crime cinema, reuinted with Le samourai star Alain Delon. I’m really looking forward to sitting down with this.
1970 USA. Director: Jean-Pierre Melville. Starring: Alain Delon, Yves Montand, Paul Crauchet.

Talk to Her [also Canada]
One of the best films in Pedro Almodóvar’s excellent filmography – emotionally devastating, flamboyantly colorful, deeply disturbing, unfailingly romantic, and at times rather surreal. I don’t love it quite as much as I love All About My Mother, but it is very close.
2002 Spain. Director: Pedro Almodóvar. Starring: Javier Cámara, Darío Grandinetti, Rosario Flores, Leonor Watling.

House on Haunted Hill
One of the landmark haunted house movies, with Price inviting a group of people to his creepy mansion – whoever stays all night will get a sizeable cash prize. Director Castle is fabulous at creepy camp, and this is one of his best-known films.
1958 USA. Director: William Castle. Starring: Vincent Price, Elisha Cook Jr., Carol Ohmart, Alan Marshal, Richard Long.

Charlie Chaplin Collection: Shorts
I have no idea what the quality on these is like – most if not all of them are public domain, so getting good prints for stuff like this can be difficult. In any case, there are some 35 shorts here, including some of Chaplin’s best – One A.M., The Cure, The Tramp, The Rink, The Pawnshop and The Immigrant are all great.
1914-1920ish. Director: Charles Chaplin. Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, etc.

Escape from New York
New York has been turned into a maximum security prison, with the inmates largely left to fend for themselves – a fine place for the US president to have to crash land. Thank goodness hardened criminal Kurt Russell is on hand to navigate the urban wasteland and rescue him.
1981 USA. Director: John Carpenter. Starring: Kurt Russell, Donald Pleasence.

Eat Pray Love
Not a film I have a particular interest in, except insofar as it looks like a lovely travelogue through Europe, but it is relatively high-profile new release for Instant, and those are always good to have.
2010 USA. Director: Ryan Murphy. Starring: Julia Roberts, James Franco, Richard Jenkins.

Wristcutters: A Love Story [also Canada]
A quirky little coming of age story, set in a purgatory-esque place where suicides go. Patrick Fugit is making his way there, but then Shannyn Sossamon shows up and swears she didn’t commit suicide and he tries to help her make it back to where she’s supposed to be. Surprisingly sweet and funny, but with great dark undertones.
2006 USA. Director: Goran Dukic. Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon.

Syriana
A mult-plotted political thriller centered on America’s need for Midde Eastern oil – it got kind of middling reviews, as I recall, but i’m still interested in check it out, especially now that it’s easy to do on Instant.
2005 USA. Director: Stephen Gaghan. Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet.

Trigun: The Complete Series
I’m woefully uneducated on anime, but reading the description of this sounds awesome – bounty hunters, outlaws, Old West-ish planet, future tech. I’m so there.
1998 Japan. Creator: Yasuhiro Nightow. Starring: Mona marshall, Jeff Nimoy, Matthew Mercer.

The Experiment [3/25]
An American remake of a great German film from a few years back (Das Experiment), though both are based on a real-life social experiment that designated some participants as prisoners and others as guards and then studied their interactions. I haven’t seen this one, but the German one is fantastic. But not available on Netflix right now. So this one might have to suffice.
2010 USA. Director: Paul Scheuring. Starring: Forest Whitaker, Adrien Brody.

Children of a Lesser God [also Canada]
Marlee Matlin won an Oscar for her portrayal of a deaf woman who resists being helped by speech teacher William Hurt. I haven’t seen it, and it sounds rather like a typical “disability Oscar-bait role”, but hey – benefit of the doubt and all that.
1986 USA. Director Randa Haines. Starring: Marlee Matlin, William Hurt, Piper Laurie.

Dinner for Five
Haven’t seen this series, with Jon Favreau inviting Hollywood personalities to dinner and a chat about whatever, but it kind of sounds intriguing.
2001 USA. Creator: Jon Favreau. Starring: Jon Favreau.

Expiring Soon from Instant Watch

All the ones after The Age of Innocence (including all the Woody Allen films and TV shows) expire on April 1st, so you have a bit over a week on those. The ones before that expire between 3/23 and 3/31. All the Criterions expire on April 3rd.



Other Releases

MOVIES AND MORE
Bleach Uncut Box Set 8 (2004 Japan, creator Tite Kubo, stars Johnny Yong Bosch, Michelle Ruff, Stephanie Sheh)
The Venture Bros.: Season 4, Vol. 2 (2010 USA, creator Christopher McCulloch, stars Christopher McCulloch, James Urbaniak, Michael Sinterniklaas; Netflix)

NEW ON BLU-RAY
Anastasia (1997 USA, dir Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, stars Meg Ryan, John Cusack)
Elizabeth/Elizabeth: The Golden Age Double Feature (1998/2007 USA, dir Shekhar Kapur, stars Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush)
Random Hearts (1999 USA, dir Sydney Pollack, stars Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas)
Robots (2005 USA, dir Chris Wedge, Carlos Saldanha, stars Robin Williams, Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry)
The Sandlot (1993 USA, dir David M. Evans, stars Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna)
Stand By Me: 25th Anniversary Edition (1986 USA, dir Rob Reiner, stars Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman)
The Venture Bros.: Season 4 (2009-2010 USA, creator Christopher McCulloch, stars Christopher McCulloch, James Urbaniak, Michael Sinterniklaas)

INSTANT WATCH
The Apartment (1996 France, dir Gilles Mimouni, stars Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel)
Vanity Fair (2004 USA, dir Mira Nair, stars Reese Witherspoon, Rhys Ifans, James Purfoy) [also Canada]

EXPIRING SOON FROM INSTANT WATCH
St. Elmo’s Fire (1985 USA, dir Joel Schumacher, stars Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Mare Winningham) [3/23]
The Ugly Truth (2009 USA, dir Robert Luketic, stars Gerard Butler, Katherine Heigl, Cheryl Hines) [3/25]
About Last Night… (1986 USA, dir Edward Zwick, stars Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belush) [3/26]
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994 USA, dir Kenneth Branagh, stars Robert De Niro, John Cleese, Helena Bonham Carter) [3/26]
Showgirls (1995 USA, dir Paul Verhoeven, stars Elizabeth Berkley, Gina Gershon) [3/26]
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965 USA, dir George Stevens, David Lean, Jean Negulesco, stars Max von Sydow, Charlton Heston, John Wayne) [3/28]
Inglorious Bastards (1978 Italy, dir Enzo G. Castellari, stars Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson) [3/30]
The Dark Corner (1946 USA, dir Henry Hathaway, stars Lucille Ball, Mark Stevens, Clifton Webb) [3/31]
8 1/2 Women (1999 Australia, dir Peter Greenaway, stars John Standing, Toni Collette, Amanda Plummer) [4/1]
Battle of the Bulge (1965 USA, dir Ken Annakin, stars Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, Charles Bronson) [4/1]
Child’s Play (1988 USA, dir Tom Holland, stars Brad Dourif, Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks) [4/1]
Creepshow (1982 USA, dir George A. Romero, stars Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau) [4/1]
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988 USA, dir Frank Oz, stars Steve Martin, Michael Caine) [4/1]
The Madness of King George (1994 USA, dir Nicholas Hytner, stars Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm) [4/1]
Proof of Life (2000 USA, dir Taylor Hackford, stars Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe) [4/1]
Space Cowboys (2000 USA, dir Clint Eastwood, stars Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland) [4/1]
Tank Girl (1995 USA, dir Rachel Talalay, stars Malcolm McDowell, Lori Petty, Naomi Watts) [4/1]
Tin Cup (1996 USA, dir Ron Shelton, stars Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson) [4/1]
Eraser (1996 USA, dir Charles Russell, stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa L. Williams) [4/2]
Executive Decision (1996 USA, dir Stuart Baird, stars Steven Seagal, Kurt Russell) [4/2]

Disclaimers

  • Amazon links use my affiliate account, and will kick a small percentage of your purchase back to me. You pay the same price you would anyway.
  • Not all new releases are available on Netflix immediately. Some studio films have a 30-day release window before Netflix can rent them, and some smaller releases are not picked up by Netflix immediately. Add them to your “saved” queue if you’re interested; that tells Netflix there is demand for the disc.
  • Not all new Blu-ray releases are available on Netflix – Netflix usually buys both DVD and Blu-ray editions of new releases, but if a DVD has already been released, they don’t always get the Blu-ray when it comes out later.
  • Instant Watch releases are not always 100% accurate – often the data from the API is not fully accurate until the actual day of release. I always check on release day to make sure things actually do hit Instant Watch, but for things that come out later than Tuesday when I publish this post, I won’t be able to tell.
  • Instant Watch expirations are not always 100% accurate – sometimes they don’t expire after all, sometimes things expire with little advance warning. I always check to make sure the data is accurate to the best of my knowledge when I publish the post, but things could still change, especially since I’m giving expiration warnings up to two weeks in advance.
  • I rely on Box Office Mojo and InstantWatcher for the majority of the data for these posts, so thank you to them for the work they do.
dvd-triage

DVD Triage: Week of March 15

The big DVD/Blu release this week is The Fighter, fresh off Best Supporting Actor and Actress Oscar wins for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Also check out No One Knows About Persian Cats, though, a fine example of Iranian underground cinema, where some pretty exciting things are happening. I decided to throw in a couple of sections listing things that are scheduled to expire from Netflix Instant Watch soon – I’ve run it out for a couple of weeks instead of just one week, to give you more time, but be aware that the lists of expiring films, which I pull from InstantWatcher.com, which in turn gets them from Netflix’s API, are often not set in stone. Things sometimes don’t expire, are brought back quickly (Noah Baumbach’s excellent Kicking and Screaming expired today, but should be back on April 1st), or expire without hitting the InstantWatcher lists at all prior to their expiration. So hopefully this will be a helpful guide, but it’s not a perfect one. And yeah, two sections of those, even though I opted not to write up the expiring ones at all – more recommended/more interesting under the main Instant Watch section, less recommended/less interesting under the Other Releases section.

Buy

Au revoir, les enfants Criterion blu-ray
A French boys’ school in the 1940s gets a new student. One boy in particular befriends him, but it soon becomes clear that the new boy is Jewish and on the run from the Nazis. Incredibly subtle and moving view of WWII and its attendant racial conflict through the eyes of children.
1987 France. Director: Louis Malle. Starring: Gaspard Manesse, Francine Racette.
Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix (DVD and streaming)

Rent

The Fighter
I don’t have a lot of use for boxing movies, which is why I couldn’t stir up much personal interest in seeing this last year, despite having liked David O. Russell films in the past. The reviews were strong enough, though, and pointed out aspects of the story dealing with Bale’s drug addiction, media portrayal of the story, and the interfamilial relationships (and accompanying excellent acting turns) that definitely make me willing to check it out on DVD.
2010 USA. Director: David O. Russell. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray)

No One Knows About Persian Cats
I caught this a couple of years ago at the AFI Film Festival, and it’s stuck with me – it’s the fictionalized story of the two real-life musicians Negar and Ashkan, who attempt to put on one last underground rock show in Tehran before fleeing to London, where they can perform without government censorship and interference (the film also had to be shot guerilla-style, without government permits). Also on Instant Watch.
2009 Iran. Director: Bahman Ghobadi. Starring: Negar Shaghaghi, Ashkan Koshanejad.
Amazon DVD | Netflix (DVD and streaming)

Yi Yi Criterion blu-ray
I haven’t seen this yet, but it always comes up high on critical best lists, and as I try to acquaint myself better with Asian cinema, this is definitely something I need to rectify. And now I can on blu-ray!
2000 China. Director: Edward Yang. Starring: Nianzhen Wu, Elaine Jin.
Amazon Blu-ray | Amazon DVD (previoiusly released) | Netflix (DVD, not Criterion)

Waste Land
A nominee for the Best Documentary Feature award this year, following concept artist Vik Muniz as he works with Brazilian garbage pickers to create art in Rio’s largest landfill. I’m intrigued.Also on Instant Watch
2010 USA. Director: Lucy Walker. Starring: Vik Muniz.
Amazon DVD | Netflix (DVD and streaming)

Skip

Hereafter
I’m sorry, Mr. Eastwood. I respect you as both an actor and a director, but this latest sortie about a guy who’s somehow connected to the afterlife (and other people who are haunted by death) just seems…not good. I could barely stand the earnestness of the trailer, I’d never last through the whole movie.
2010 USA. Director: Clint Eastwood. Starring: Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray (includes DVD and digital copy) | Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray 4/12)

The Switch
I will grant that Will Speck did good work on Easy A, but I’m not remotely intrigued by anything else in this romcom.
2010 USA. Director: Will Speck, Josh Gordon. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray)

Watch Instantly

Nights of Cabiria
Fellini at his most neo-realist, though he tends to bring a touch of the surreal into whatever he does. This is probably my favorite Fellini film, actually, though I have a few vying for position. Masina is just unbeatable. The trailer for this is still in my sidebar, actually, from a while back, so check that out.
1957 Italy. Director: Federico Fellini. Starring: Guilietta Masina, François Périer, Franca Marzi.

Alphaville
Not my favorite Jean-Luc Godard film, but it’s still pretty cool – his only foray into science fiction, with secret agent Lemmy Caution sent into to take down a supercomputer. But it’s sci-fi with a very Godardian feel, more concerned with language play and existential questions than most.
1965 France. Director: Jean-Luc Godard. Starring: Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina.

The Producers
Finding it tough to make money on Broadway? Producer Max Bialystock did, until his mousy accountant hit upon the possibility of producing a flop and making off with the investment money, so they choose sure-fire flop musical “Springtime for Hitler.” Easily one of the funniest movies ever made.
1968 USA. Director: Mel Brooks. Starring: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder.

This Is Spinal Tap
One of the definitive mockumentaries, taking aim at a fictional heavy metal band trying to make a comeback. So much of this film has become legendary, and for good reason. So kick back, turn it up to eleven, and don’t trip over Stonehenge.
1984 USA. Director: Rob Reiner. Starring: Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Peter Michael Dillon.

Agora [3/18]
If there’s such a thing as a cerebral epic, Agora is a shining example of it, taking as its subject the relationship between science and religion (both Christian and pagan) in 4th century Alexandria, focusing on Weisz as philosopher Hypatia and her celestial discoveries, but also the armed conflicts between different factions of the time.
2009 Spain. Director: Alejandro Amenábar. Starring: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Rupert Evans.

Bob le flambeur
Bob is a retired criminal with a soft spot for street kids Paolo and Anne. But Bob is also a gambler (the title is “Bob the Gambler” in English) when they hatch a casino robbery scheme and he agrees to help them for a final heist, his complusion threatens everything. This is a New Wave forerunner, with the kind of quiet, weary sophistication that marks French crime films.
1956 France. Director: Jean-Pierre Melville. Starring: Roger Duchesne, Daniel Cauchy, Isabelle Corey

Army of Shadows
I’m actually pretty ashamed that I haven’t seen this yet, since I love every Melville film I have seen and this one is generally touted as one of his best, following a group of French Resistance fighters with an uncompromising vision borne of Melville’s own experiences during WWII.
1968 France. Director: Jean-Pierre Melville. Starring: Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Simone Signoret.

Half Nelson
One of the first films that really brought attention to Ryan Gosling; here he’s a crack-addicted teacher who forms an unlikely friendship with one of his middle-schoolers – what could be mere feel-good inspirational schmaltz becomes something much darker and deeper thanks to Fleck’s unerring direction and Gosling’s strong performance (matched beat for beat by Epps).
2006 USA. Director: Ryan Fleck. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie.

The Lion in Winter
O’Toole and Hepburn face off as King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most volatile royal couples in British history – a lot is at stake during this particular Christmas Eve celebration, as they engage in a battle of the wills for who will inherit the throne from Henry. Excellently produced costume drama held together by tremendous performances all around (an Oscar-winning one for Hepburn).
1968 USA, dir Anthony Harvey, stars Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins.

Wild Grass
The latest from French New Wave auteur Alain Resnais (Last Year at Marienbad), with a quirk-ridden story of love and obsession – the trailer doesn’t quite convince me, but some reviews from people who know French film (and Resnais) suggests there’s more going on here that I will probably like.
2009 France. Director: Alain Resnais. Starring: André Dussollier, Sabine Azéma, Mathieu Amalric.

Archer
An animated spy comedy series? Sign me up for that. I don’t keep good track of FX shows, so I hadn’t heard of this until it hit Netflix a few months back, but then it stopped streaming before I had a chance to check it out. Now it’s back, and I definitely want to check it out this time.
2010 USA. Creator: Adam Reed, Matt Thompson. Starring: H. Jon Benjamin, Judy Greer, Chris Parnell.

Darling
Julie Christie won an Oscar for her portrayal of an ambitious fashion model who works her way from man to man on her way to the top, with a great view of London’s mod scene on the way.
1965 UK, dir John Schlesinger, stars Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Harvey.

The Inspector General
I haven’t seen this myself, but it’s supposedly one of Danny Kaye’s finest moments, as a traveling con man in a small Russian town who poses as the Czar’s inspector and gets plenty of bribes from the corrupt townspeople. Kaye on a good day can pretty unbeatable, so I’m definitely looking forward to checking this out.
1949 USA. Director: Henry Koster. Starring: Danny Kaye, Walter Slezak, Elsa Lanchester.

The Man in the White Suit
One of the few Ealing comedies I haven’t seen, but they’re all definitely worthwhile, so I have high hopes for this one, which is about a chemist (Guinness) who invents an indestructible cloth and then ends up on the run as textile manufacturers fear the economic impact of such a fabric and the mob who want it for themselves.
1951 UK. Director: Alexander Mackendrick. Starring: Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker.

Mystery Team
A feature comedy from the Derrick Comedy team, of which Donald Glover is the most recognizable member due to his role on Community, about an Encyclopedia Brown-esque group of kids who never really outgrew the Mystery Team hijinks of their youth, even though they’re about to graduate from high school. It’s pretty silly, but a lot of fun if you go along with it.
2009 USA. Director Dan Eckman. Starring Donald Glover, D.C. Pierson, Dominic Dierkes.

The Servant
Joseph Losey’s taut drama is generally considered top-drawer British cinema, especially thanks to its script by Harold Pinter and strong acting turns. Bogarde is Fox’s manservant, but as he slowly and carefully takes over his master’s affairs, the roles subtly start to reverse.
1963 UK. Director: Joseph Losey. Starring: Dirk Bogarde, James Fox, Sarah Miles.

War and Peace
It can’t be easy to bring one of Russia’s most epic novels to the screen in under three hours, and I haven’t seen the film to judge how well Vidor and company do it, but it has a pretty great cast, and they did know how to do opulence back then.
1956 USA. Director: King Vidor. Starring: Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Mel Ferrer, Herbert Lom, Anita Ekberg.

From Paris With Love [3/18]
I didn’t see this, but it looks like decent popcorn espionage thriller fun, as Rhys Meyers plays a lowly intelligence agent pulled in over his head by Travolta. The script is by Luc Besson, and I do like me some Besson films.
2009 USA. Director: Pierre Morel. Starring: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, John Travolta.

Oceans [3/19]
Disneynature takes on the oceans of the world, highlighting unusual life forms and investigating the complex interplay between life in the ocean and life on land. I’m not a huge documentary person, but I do like pretty pictures sometimes if I can get them for free. :)
2009 USA. Director: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud.

Death Race 2000
In a futuristic world, teams race across America and score points by killing random bystanders. Sounds like good wholesome entertainment! Produced by Roger Corman, which doesn’t surprise me in the least.
1975 USA. Director: Paul Bartel. Starring: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Simone Griffeth.

Carnal Knowledge
I actually really disliked this film when I saw it, but your mileage may vary – it certainly is a good example of the type of character-driven, conversation-driven drama that dominated New Hollywood, and there’s one scene with Nicholson that’s pretty compelling (if also off-putting). I just got really frustrated with its gender politics. Maybe I was supposed to. Anyway.
1971 USA. Director: Mike Nichols. Starring: Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Candice Bergen, Rita Moreno.

Expiring Soon from Instant Watch

Friday the 13th (1980 USA, dir Sean S. Cunningham, stars Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Kevin Bacon) [3/16]
I.Q. (1994 USA, dir Stephen Fry, stars Meg Ryan, Walter Matthau, Tim Robbins) [3/16]
King of California (2007 USA, dir Mike Cahill, stars Michael Douglas, Evan Rachel Wood) [3/16]
The Man from Snowy River (1982 Australia, dir George T. Miller, stars Tom Burlinson, Sigrid Thornton, Kirk Douglas) [3/21]
James and the Giant Peach (1996 USA, dir Henry Selick, stars Richard Dreyfuss, Jane Leeves, Susan Sarandon) [3/21]
The Vicious Kind (2008 USA, dir Lee Toland Krieger, stars Adam Scott, Brittany Snow, J.K. Simmons) [3/23]
St. Elmo’s Fire (1985 USA, dir Joel Schumacher, stars Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Mare Winningham) [3/23]
Careful (1992 Canada, dir Guy Maddin, stars Kyle McCulloch, Gosia Dobrowolska, Sarah Neville) [3/24]
The Duchess (2008 USA, dir Saul Dibb, stars Keira Knightley, Dominic Cooper, Ralph Fiennes) [3/26]
About Last Night… (1986 USA, dir Edward Zwick, stars Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belush) [3/26]
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994 USA, dir Kenneth Branagh, stars Robert De Niro, John Cleese, Helena Bonham Carter) [3/26]
Showgirls (1995 USA, dir Paul Verhoeven, stars Elizabeth Berkley, Gina Gershon) [3/26]
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965 USA, dir George Stevens, David Lean, Jean Negulesco, stars Max von Sydow, Charlton Heston, John Wayne) [3/28]
Minnie and Moskovitz (1971 USA, dir John Cassavetes, stars Gena Rowlands, Seymour Cassel) [3/29]

Other Releases

MOVIES AND MORE
Hemingway’s Garden of Eden (2008 UK, dir John Irvin, stars Jack Huston, Mena Suvari, Caterina Murino; Netflix)
Spooner (2009 USA, dir Drake Doremus, stars Matthew Lillard, Nora Zehetner, Shea Wigham; Netflix)

NEW ON BLU-RAY
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004 USA, dir Adam McKay, stars Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carrell; Netflix)
Battle of the Warriors (2006 China, dir Jacob Cheung, stars Any Lau, Zhiwen Wang; Netflix)

INSTANT WATCH
The Bat (1959 USA, dir Crane Wilbur, stars Agnes Moorehead, Vincent Price)
Down from the Mountain (2000 USA, dir D.A. Pennebaker, stars Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch)
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000 USA, dir Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, stars Tammy Faye, RuPaul)
Gulliver’s Travels (1939 USA, dir Dave Fleischer, stars Jessica Dragonette, Lanny Ross)
Happy Tears (2009 USA, dir Mitchell Lichtenstein, stars Parker Posey, Demi Moore, Rip Torn, Ellen Barkin) [3/19]
I’m With Lucy (2002 USA, dir Jon Sherman, stars Monica Potter, John Hannah, Gael Garcia Bernal, Anthony LaPaglia, Henry Thomas, David Boreanaz) [3/18]
The Last Warrior (2001 USA, dir Sheldon Lettich, stars Dolph Lundgren, Sherri Alexander, Joe Michael Burke)
Lone Star State of Mind (2002 USA, dir David Semel, stars Joshua Jackson, James King, DJ Qualls) [3/18]
Murder by Decree (1979 UK, dir Bob Clark, stars Christopher Plummer, Donald Sutherland, John Gielgud, James Mason)
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Atomic Brain (1964 USA, dir Joseph V. Mascelli, stars Marjorie Eaton, Frank Gerstle, Frank Fowler)
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Beginning of the End (1957 USA, dir Bert I. Gordon, stars Peter Graves, Peggie Castle, Morris Ankrum)
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Girl in Gold Boots (1968 USA, dir Ted V. Mikels, stars Jody Daniels, Leslie McRae, Tom Pace)
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Gunslinger (1956 USA, dir Roger Corman, stars John Ireland, Beverly Garland, Allison Hayes)
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Hamlet (1961 Germany, dir Franz Peter Wirth, stars Maximillian Schell, Hans Caninenberg, Ricardo Montalban)
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: I Accuse My Parents (1944 USA, dir Sam Newfield, stars Robert Lowell, Mary Beth Hughes, John Miljan)
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964 USA, dir Ray Dennis Steckler, stars Ray Dennis Stckler, Carolyn Brandt, Brett O’Hara)
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Red Zone Cuba (1966 USA, dir Coleman Francis, stars Coleman Francis, Anthony Cardoza, Harold Saunders)
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Touch of Satan (1971 USA, dir Don Henderson, stars Michael Berry, Emby Mellay, Lee Amber)
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Unearthly (1957 USA, dir Boris Petroff, stars John Carradine, Myron Healey, Allison Hayes)
Practical Magic (1998 USA, dir Griffin Dunne, stars Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing)
Santa Fe Trail (1940 USA, dir Michael Curtiz, stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Raymond Massey)
The Southerner (1945 USA, dir Jean Renoir, stars Zachary Scott, Betty Field)
Three Kingdoms (2008 Hong Kong, dir Daniel Lee, stars Andy Lau, Maggie Q)
Top Dog (1995 USA, dir Aaron Norris, stars Chuck Norris, Michele Lamar Richards, Timothy Bottoms)
Ulysses (1954 Italy, dir Mario Camerini, stars Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Silvana Mangano)
The Virginian Seasons 1, 2, 3 (1962-64, stars James Drury, Doug McClure, Lee J. Cobb)
The War Bride (2001 USA, dir Lyndon Chubbuck, stars Anna Friel, Aden Young, Brenda Fricker)
The Wasp Woman (1959 USA, dir Roger Corman, stars Susan Cabot, Michael Mark)

EXPIRING SOON FROM INSTANT WATCH
The Big Blue (1988 USA, dir Luc Besson, stars Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno, Rosanna Arquette) [3/16]
Congo (1995 USA, dir Frank Marshall, stars Dylan Walsh, Laura Linney, Tim Curry) [3/16]
Friday the 13th, Part 2 (1981 USA, dir Steve Miner, stars Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King) [3/16]
Friday the 13th, Part 3 (1982 USA, dir Steve Miner, stars Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Tracie Savage) [3/16]
Friday the 13th, Part 4: The Final Chapter (1984 USA, dir Joseph Zito, stars Kimberly Beck, Corey Feldman, Cristpin Glover) [3/16]
Friday the 13th, Part 5: A New Beginning (1985 USA, dir Danny Steinmann, stars Melanie Kinnaman, John Sheperd, Shavar Ross) [3/16]
Friday the 13th, Part 6: Jason Lives (1986 USA, dir Tom McLoughlin, stars Thom Matthews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen) [3/16]
Friday the 13th, Part 7: The New Blood (1988 USA, dir John Carl Buechler, Jennifer Banko, John Otrin, Susan Blu) [3/16]
Friday the 13th, Part 8 (1989 USA, dir Rob Hedden, stars Jensen Daggett, Scott Reeves, Barbara Bingham) [3/16]
Friday the 13th: Jason Goes to Hell (1993 USA, dir Adam Marcus, stars Kane Hodder, Steven Williams, Steven Culp) [3/16]
Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Blood Waters of Dr. Z, The Beatniks, The Crawling Eye, and The Final Sacrifice [3/16 - all back on as of 3/20]
A Smile Like Yours (1997 USA, dir Keith Samples, stars Greg Kinnear, Lauren Holly, Joan Cusack) [3/16]
Top Secret! (1984 USA, dir Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, stars Val Kilmer) [3/16]
Stealing Harvard (2002 USA, dir Bruce McCulloch, stars Jason Lee, Tom Green, Leslie Mann) [3/18]
White Squall (1996 USA, dir Ridley Scott, stars Jeff Bridges, Scott Wolf, John Savage) [3/19]
Hush (1998 USA, dir Jonathan Darby, stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Johnathon Schaech, Jessica Lange) [3/21]
$9.99 (2008 Australia, dir Tatia Rosenthal, stars Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia, Samuel Johnson) [3/23]
Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009 USA, dir Kevin Hamedani, stars Doug Fahl, Cooper Hopkins, Janette Armand) [3/23]
Defending Your Life (1991 USA, dir Albert Brooks, stars Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep) [3/25]
The Ugly Truth (2009 USA, dir Robert Luketic, stars Gerard Butler, Katherine Heigl, Cheryl Hines) [3/25]
Mr. Jones (1993 USA, dir Mike Figgis, stars Richard Gere, Lena Olin) [3/26]
Someone to Watch Over Me (1987 USA, dir Ridley Scott, stars Mimi Rogers, Tom Berenger, Lorraine Bracco) [3/26]
Stir Crazy (1980 USA, dir Sidney Poitier, stars Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Craig T. Nelson) [3/26]

Disclaimers

  • Amazon links use my affiliate account, and will kick a small percentage of your purchase back to me. You pay the same price you would anyway.
  • Not all new releases are available on Netflix immediately. Some studio films have a 30-day release window before Netflix can rent them, and some smaller releases are not picked up by Netflix immediately. Add them to your “saved” queue if you’re interested; that tells Netflix there is demand for the disc.
  • Not all new Blu-ray releases are available on Netflix – Netflix usually buys both DVD and Blu-ray editions of new releases, but if a DVD has already been released, they don’t always get the Blu-ray when it comes out later.
  • Instant Watch releases are not always 100% accurate – often the data from the API is not fully accurate until the actual day of release. I always check on release day to make sure things actually do hit Instant Watch, but for things that come out later than Tuesday when I publish this post, I won’t be able to tell.
  • Instant Watch expirations are not always 100% accurate – sometimes they don’t expire after all, sometimes things expire with little advance warning. I always check to make sure the data is accurate to the best of my knowledge when I publish the post, but things could still change, especially since I’m giving expiration warnings up to two weeks in advance.
  • I rely on Box Office Mojo and InstantWatcher for the majority of the data for these posts, so thank you to them for the work they do.