We’re back to a pretty good release week, with some great mainstream films like Rango and some award-winning international features like Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – I only picked a few to feature, but there are more in the “other” section that might be of interest. Not too much on the Instant Watch front, except that a bunch more Criterions are expiring on the 22nd. I’ve highlighted my picks for the best of those, but really, they’re all worthwhile.
New Release Picks of the Week
Unusual character designs, a witty script, and a ton of well-placed allusions to past films elevate this film past a lot of its animated competitors – definitely one of the films I’ve enjoyed most this year, and I look forward to revisiting it again.
2011 USA. Director: Gore Verbinski. Starring: Johnny Depp, Timothy Olyphant.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Last year’s Palme d’Or recipient, which I’ve managed to unwillingly miss at least two or three times in theatres in the interim. I’ve heard lots of polarized opinions on the film, and I’m mightily curious to check out its apparently dreamlike and poetic qualities.
Also on Instant.
2010 Thailand. Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Starring: Thanapat Saisaymar, Janjira Pongpas.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix
I enjoyed the first [REC] quite a bit, and I’ve had people tell me the sequel is even better; we’ll see – this one has SWAT and medical officers going into the building to contain things, but does it have the punch of the first one’s ending?
2009 Spain. Director: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza. Starring: Jonathan Mellor, Manuela Velasco.
Amazon DVD | Netflix
OTHER NEW RELEASES
Arthur (2011 USA, dir Jason Winer, stars Russell Brand, Greta Gerwig, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner; Amazon Blu-ray/Netflix)
Miral (2010 France, dir Julian Schnabel, stars Freida Pinto, Willem Dafoe; Blu-ray/Netflix)
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011 USA, dir Brad Furman, stars Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei; Blu-ray/Netflix)
Insidious (2011 USA, dir James Wan, stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne; Blu-ray/Netflix)
Brother’s Justice (2010 USA, dir David Palmer, stars Dax Shepard, Bradley Cooper; Blu-ray/Netflix)
Dinocroc vs. Supergator (2010 USA, dir Jim Wynorski, stars David Carradine, James C. Burns; Blu-ray/Netflix)
Maneater (2009 USA, dir Michael Emanuel, stars Dean Cain, Lacy Phillips; Netflix)
Waking Madison (2010 USA, dir Katherine Brooks, stars Elisabeth Shue, Sarah Roemer; Netflix)
White Irish Drinkers (2010 USA, dir John Gray, stars Stephen Lang, Peter Riegert; Blu-ray/Netflix)
Classic Picks of the Week
Buster Keaton Short Films Collection: 1920-1923
This set includes a bunch of Keaton’s best shorts, including One Week, The Boat, The Paleface, The Goat, The Electric House, and lots more. Certainly a set that any fans of Keaton or silent comedy or, like, good films should want to own.
1920-1923 USA. Director: Buster Keaton, etc. Starring: Buster Keaton.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray
TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Elizabeth Taylor
There are a few more of these TCM sets releasing today, and they’re always worth checking out (four films in one box for less than $20 total), but this is easily the best this week, getting a cross-section of Liz throughout her adult career, including her Oscar-winning turn in BUtterfield 8.
Father of the Bride (1950), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), BUtterfield 8 (1960), The Sandpiper (1965)
OTHER CLASSIC/OLDER RELEASES
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980 USA, dir Jimmy T. Murakami, stars Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn; Blu-ray/Netflix)
Damnation Alley (1977 USA, dir Jack Smight, stars Jan-Michael Vincent, George Peppard; Blu-ray)
TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Burt Lancaster (Local Hero, The Flame and the Arrow, Executive Action, Seven Days in May)
TCM Greatest Classic Films: Literary Romance (Little Women, Pride & Prejudice, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina)
TCM Greatest Classic Films: Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra)
The Sweet Life (2003 USA, dir Rocco Simonelli, stars James Lorinz, Barbara Sicuranza)
Things (1989 Canada, dir Andrew Jordan, stars Barry J. Gillis, Amber Lynn)
Blu-ray Picks of the Week
Arguably Terry Gilliam’s most celebrated film gets a Blu-ray facelift. Note that this is the 132-minute original theatrical cut, not the 142-minute director’s cut. Apparently it is NOT the “Love Conquers All” edit, though. I’m not a Brazil expert to judge which is the best, but this film has been released enough ways it’s good to know what you’re getting.
1985 UK. Director: Terry Gilliam. Starring: Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Michael Palin.
Amazon Blu-ray | Amazon DVD | Netflix
Naked: Criterion Collection
Criterion’s sole release this week is a Blu-ray upgrade to their existing catalog release of Mike Leigh’s harsh social drama, which won acclaim at Cannes in ’93 for both Leigh and David Thewlis’s central performance.
1993 UK. Director: Mike Leigh. Starring: David Thewlis, Katrin Cartlidge.
Amazon Blu-ray | Amazon DVD | Netflix (DVD)
Television Picks of the Week
MI-5: Vol. 9
I’ve seen a half-season or so of this British spy drama (called Spooks in Britain), and really enjoyed it. It’s all on Netflix Instant as well, so I hope to dip into again before too long.
2007 UK. Creator: David Wolstencroft. Starring: Peter Firth, Richard Armitage.
Amazon DVD | Netflix
Entourage: Season 7 (2010 USA, creator Doug Ellin, stars Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier; Blu-ray/Netflix)
ER: The Final Season (S15) (2008 USA, creator Michael Crichton, stars Maura Tierney; Netflix)
Damages: Season 3 (2009 USA, creators Glenn & Todd A. Kessler, stars Glenn Close; Netflix)
Robot Chicken: Star Wars III (2011 USA, dir Chris McKay, stars Seth Green; Blu-ray/Netflix)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot Movie Collection Set 6 (2010 UK, dir Charles Palmer, Ashley Pearce, stars David Suchet; Blu-ray/Netflix)
Doctor Who: The Gunfighters – Episode 25 (1987 UK, dir Rex Tucker, stars William Hartnell; Netflix)
Doctor Who: The Awakening – Episode 132 (1984 UK, dir Michael Owen Morris, stars Peter Davison; Netflix)
Instant Watch Picks of the Week
Christopher Nolan is a household name now, but he first catapulted into notice with this film, innovatively structured backwards to simulate the rare memory loss suffered by the protagonist. It may be gimmicky, but it doesn’t come across that way.
1999 USA. Director: Christopher Nolan. Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss.
Into the Woods
A recorded stage play, which don’t tend to go over too well all the time, but Sondheim’s Into the Woods happens to be one of the very best musical plays ever written, and the chance to see the original cast is too good to pass up.
1990 USA. Director: James Lapine. Starring: Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason.
I missed this film when it released, but I’m always up for Michelle Williams movies, even if stories about grief and ill-advised relationships don’t tend to be my thing.
2008 USA. Director: Sharon Maguire. Starring: Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Confession: I think I might like this film more than Blazing Saddles. But I should rewatch to make sure, and now I can.
1993 USA. Director: Mel Brooks. Starring: Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis.
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
Roman Polanski is a polarizing figure in the cinematic community and beyond – both a brilliant filmmaker and a convicted rapist who has remained in exile rather than serve his sentence. This documentary delves into the case deeper than anyone else has been able to do.
2008 USA. Director: Marina Zenovich. Starring: Roman Polanski, Samantha Geimer.
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Sidney Lumet’s final film is back on Instant, a twisty heist thriller with elements of family drama that I’m still eager to check out for myself.
2007 USA. Director: Sidney Lumet. Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke.
The Vicious Kind
I missed this last time it was on Instant, despire my burgeoning interest in Adam Scott (thanks to Party Down, among others), but I certainly hope to get to it this time.
2009 USA. Director: Lee Toland Krieger. Starring: Adam Scott, Brittany Snow.
The Last Airbender [7/16]
Oh, come on. You know you want to see if it’s really as bad as all that. Just admit it.
2010 USA. Director: M. Night Shyamalan. Starring: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz.
OTHER INSTANT WATCHES
Addicted to Love (1997 USA, dir Griffin Dunne, stars Meg Ryan, Matthew Broderick)
The Air I Breathe (2008 USA, dir Jieho Lee, stars Kevin Bacon, Brendan Fraser)
The Edge of Love (2008 USA, dir John Maybury, stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Rhys)
Four Rooms (1995 USA, dir Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Allison Anders)
High School Musical (2006 USA, dir Kenny Ortega, stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens)
High School Musical 2 (2007 USA, dir Kenny Ortega, stars Zach Efron, Vanessa Hudgens)
Liam (2000 UK, dir Stephen Frears, stars Ian Hart, Claire Hackett)
Stuck (2007 USA, dir Stuart Gordon, stars Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea)
Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995 USA, dir Cary Fleder, stars Andy Garcia, Gabrielle Anwar)
Tom and Viv (1994 USA, dir Brian Gilbert, stars Willem Dafoe, Miranda Richardson)
War Dance (2006 USA, dir Sean Fine, Andrea Nix)
Instant Watch Expiring Picks
Hamburger Hill (1987 USA, dir John Irvin, stars Dylan McDermott, Don Cheadle) [7/16]
Super Size Me (2004 USA, dir Morgan Spurlock) [7/16]
Trapped in Paradise (1994 USA, dir George Gallo, stars Dana Carvey, Nicolas Cage) [7/16]
Back to School (1986 USA, dir Alan Metter, stars Rodney Dangerfield, Keith Gordon) [7/17]
Caramel (2007 Lebanon, dir Nadine Labaki, stars Nadine Labaki, Yasmine Elmasri) [7/17]
The Jacket (2005 USA, dir John Maybury, stars Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley) [7/17]
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002 Australia, dir Phillip Noyce, stars Kenneth Branagh, Laura Monaghan) [7/17]
Surrogates (2009 USA, dir Jonathan Mostow, stars Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell) [7/20]
Circle of Iron (1978 USA, dir Richard Moore, stars David Carradine, Jeff Cooper) [7/22]
Purple Rain (1984 USA, dir Albert Magnoli, stars Prince, Apollonia Kotero) [7/22]
The Battle of Algiers (1966 Italy/Algeria, dir Gillo Pontecorvo, stars Brahim Haggiag, Jean Martin) [7/22]
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985 USA, dir Paul Schrader) [7/22]
Pandora’s Box (1929 Germany, dir G.W. Pabst, stars Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner) [7/22]
Richard III (1955 UK, dir Laurence Olivier, stars Laurence Olivier, Cedric Hardwicke) [7/22]
Samurai Rebellion (1967 Japan, dir Masaki Kobayashi, stars Toshirô Mifune, Yôko Tsukasa) [7/22]
Tout va bien (1972 France, dir Jean-Luc Godard, stars Yves Montand, Jane Fonda) [7/22]
Ugetsu (1953 Japan, dir Kenji Mizoguchi, stars Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyô) [7/22]
Umberto D (1952 Italy, dir Vittorio De Sica, stars Carlo Battisti, Maria-Pia Casilio) [7/22]
The Beguiled (1971 USA, dir Don Siegel, stars Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page) [7/26]
Midnight Run (1988 USA, dir Martin Brest, stars Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin) [7/26]
See all expiring titles.
- 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.