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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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)
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]
- 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.