This Week on Netflix Instant: Big Fan, Che, Lymelife & More
by Ethan Anderton
March 16, 2010
Well it looks like this is our first week in Netflix Instant where the line-up of releases is pretty barren. But never fear, because the ginormous library of titles available for streaming has plenty in its arsenal for us to call attention to, so in addition to the brand new titles on Netflix this week, I've decided to throw in a few flicks that I've got in my Instant Queue and plan to watch in the near future. There's plenty to choose from this week including from filmmakers like David Lynch, John Hughes, and Steven Soderbergh not to mention a wide variety of films in documentary, sci-fi, and comedy genres. What's in our queue this week?
Big Fan (Available Now):
If you're not familiar with Patton Oswalt's (Ratatouille) stand-up career, you don't know what you're missing. But in this gritty dark comedy written and directed by Robert D. Siegel (the writer of The Wrestler) the comedian proves he's got dramatic acting chops to back up his signature wit. Oswalt stars as New York Giants football super fan Paul Aufiero who must choose between his love for his team and taking care of himself after he's beaten up by his favorite player Quantrell Bishop. Socially confused, and dangerously obsessive, Aufiero is a character Oswalt digs into with great intensity and proves that there are greater things in store for the actor.
Lymelife (Available Now):
Director Derick Martini proves he's got plenty of potential on the indie circuit and hopefully for major motion pictures with this film he also made with his brother Steven. Set in 1970s suburbia, this coming-of-age tale revolves around the exploits of a pair of Long Island families grappling with complex relationships, financial woes and an outbreak of lyme disease. Sounds like an indie comedy to me, and this one brings Alec Baldwin, Timothy Hutton, Cynthia Nixon, Emma Roberts and the two younger Culkin Brothers (Kieran and Rory) along for the ride.
Uncle Buck (Available Now):
One of the few great comedies that the late John Hughes left behind in his albeit brief period of time on top of his game was this comedy starring another sadly deceased entertainer, John Candy. When a family crisis forces a couple to find someone to take care of their three kids, the irresponsible Uncle Buck seems their only easy option, but handling a bitchy teenage girl, and a couple feisty youngsters (including a very young Macaulay Culkin) might be exactly what Buck has been waiting for to prove to his family that he's not just some schmuck.
Che: Parts 1 & 2 (Available Now):
More than likely Steven Soderbergh's two-part, four hour journey into the life of Ernesto "Che" Guevara didn't make it to your local multiplex, but now you can watch the whole story in its entirety thanks to Netflix. Much like Kill Bill this is just one large film, but where each part is distinctive and unique in its own right. The first part, The Argentine focuses on Che's exploits as a young doctor who teams up with Fidel Castro on a dangerous mission: to overthrow the corrupt Cuban dictatorship run by Fulgencio Batista. The second part, The Guerilla follows him as he abandons Cuba in order to start an even more daunting Latin-American revolution. Benicio Del Toro is amazing as the revolutionary so if you have the time, check it out.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Available Now):
While I didn't dislike Tim Burton's recent adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's book, the original film adaptation starring Gene Wilder as the eccentric candy is far superior (though less loyal to the book) in whimsical musical fashion with a more grounded type of humor making Wonka a shrewd businessman with child-like vision rather than a strange, somewhat introverted social misfit. I used to watch this movie non-stop as a kid and just can't get enough of it. This is Wilder's best role and you'd be hard pressed to find an actor with the same gravitas and screen presence he has in this film.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Available Now):
There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best documentaries ever made. The film is an inspirational and at-times heartbreaking look into the lives of two seemingly normal guys as they compete for the world record high score on the classic arcade game Donkey Kong. Though it seems a bit silly upon first inspection, the documentary is a candid look at in the wake of recession and tragedy (one of the competitors, Steve Wiebe, the hero of the story, if you will, lost his job before turning to the game) and how even the most simplistic of goals and dreams can drive a person to do great things, even if that great thing is just a high score on a video game. Seriously, this documentary is nothing short of spectacular.
When Harry Met Sally (Available Now):
Another one of my all-time favorites (not just in the romantic comedy arena) this is a film that surprisingly doesn't pair Meg Ryan with Tom Hanks, but rather with funnyman Billy Crystal (where the hell is that guy anyway?) as a man and woman who meet at various times in their life until they realize that they have feelings for each other thus complicating and eventually making good on the subtle sparks that flew the first time when Harry met Sally. Rob Reiner (A Few Good Men, This is Spinal Tap) directs this film, and it's his mother who delivers the signature quote to Meg Ryan's public fake orgasm, "I'll have what she's having."
Reign of Fire (Available March 16th):
Who hasn't wanted to see Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey fight dragons? In this post-apocalyptic story set in England, dragons really are the villain (they even killed Bale's mother) as they attempt to reclaim dominance on the planet after laying dormant for centuries. Even Gerard Butler is along for the wild ride, and if you haven't figured it out by now, this movie (from Elektra director Rob Bowman) really is not very good. But you know you want to see Batman fight dragons.
Dune (Available March 19th):
While you're waiting for Pierre Morel's newest take on Frank Herbert's popular sci-fi novel, you can check out David Lynch's take on the book where Sting is a villain. Yes, that Sting. The film has a relatively decent cult following but many critics panned the film including Roger Ebert who said, "This movie is a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time." Ouch. But if you're in the mood for a sandy sci-fi epic, this is still a good one to watch.
And now the best of the rest online free movie websites' new additions for your online viewing pleasure…
The Auteurs: Your online cinema. Anytime. Anywhere.
The Phantom Menace, Clash of the Titans (1981), Taxi Driver, Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, Team America: World Police, Kinky Boots, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
That's all for this week's installment of new Netflix Instant titles and other free movies to check out online. And remember, if you ever want to look back at titles already released, look forward to movies on the way, or check out the entire library of Netflix Instant titles, you can head over to InstantWatcher (in my opinion the most complete listing of Netflix's instant titles, updated daily) or also FeedFliks, whose hawk-eyes are on the lookout for future streaming release dates. And of course we'll also be back next week with the latest line-up of new Netflix titles. Now go watch some movies! Are you satisfied with this week's new selection?