This Week on Netflix Instant: Hook, Donnie Darko, & The Fly
by Ethan Anderton
March 30, 2010
After two weeks of lackluster installments, we're back with a diverse and sizable installment of new titles for Netflix Instant. A cult classic, an erotic indie, a Spielberg favorite, a foreign classic, a charming pseudo-documentary and Will Smith's breakthrough role are all featured in this week's new installment. However, a huge chunk of the new titles aren't seen here because many of them are TV shows, most adding their entire series run. Fortunately you can catch a run down of the television series updates at my other home online - DVDSnapshot.com - a great destination for home entertainment gurus. So what's in our queue this week?
This Film Is Not Yet Rated (Available Now):
If you've ever wondered just who's responsible for telling you what may or may not be appropriate in the world of cinema, Kirby Dick's revealing and enraging documentary reveals the bogus rating system from the Motion Picture Association of America that is not only kept a huge secret, but is also ridiculously inconsistent and ludicrously sensitive to the silliest situations, actions, words and especially nudity. On display are some of the stupid choices made by the MPAA, and the footage that was cut in order to get a certain kind of rating. Plenty of interviews with the annoyed filmmakers and industry insiders who have nothing but contempt for the MPAA.
The Inglorious Bastards (Available Now):
No, Quentin Tarantino's Oscar snubbed film isn't on Instant that quickly, but the Italian film that shares its name (albeit spelled correctly) and seemingly only the same setting is now available. Actually called Quel Maledetto Treno Blindato (literally translated as That Damned Armored Train) the film focuses on five escaped military prisoners (killers, deserters and thieves among them) as they set out across World War II France in search of freedom, led by two rebellious tough guys. After their prison convoy is ambushed, the men head for the Swiss border, but they wind up forced to undertake a suicide mission to infiltrate a Nazi train and steal a top secret missile warhead. This is one I haven't seen yet, but figured plenty of film fans would be interested in checking out.
Spread (Available March 31st):
Sadly, Ashton Kutcher's mumbling performance will turn you off, but a surprisingly sexy and very nude Anne Heche just might turn you on in this erotic indie that starts off with promise, but quickly becomes nothing more than a traditional cliche romance dressed up in a raunchy, indie romance's clothes. Kutcher really does try to go against his usual role (and for that I give him credit), but he just falls short of really hitting the mark. However, most of that can be due in part to a script that crafts a couple different characters, only to give them up to the weak traditions of conventional, chick-flick romance.
Hook (Available April 2nd):
This is a guy who met Robin Williams after one of his stand-up shows, had him sign my ticket "Bangarang!" and nearly shit my pants when he proceeded to shout the the entire crowd, "Geeks unite! BANGARANG!" to the entire crowd, SO you can bet I'll be putting this unique childhood favorite continuation of the classic Peter Pan tale on this list now that it's available. Though director Steven Spielberg has admitted that he wasn't completely pleased with the final product, great performances from Williams, Dustin Hoffman (the best Captain Hook ever), Julia Roberts, and Bob Hoskins make this a favorite in my book. Keep an eye out for a brief appearance from Gwyneth Paltrow as a young Wendy Darling and Glenn Close as the male pirate who gets tossed in the "boo box." Yes, that's her.
The Fly (Available April 2nd):
A big budget remake of the original 1958 film is sadly lacking Vincent Price but luckily has David Cronenberg's dark, twisted filmmaking sensibilities. In a masterful blend of romance, horror and sci-fi, the story follows scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) who accidentally merges his cells with those of a housefly. As his reporter girlfriend (Geena Davis) bears witness, Seth slowly and grotesquely morphs into an insect. Goldblum has never been better in the one role that is more iconic than his turn as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park.
Paper Heart (Available April 2nd):
A charming and interesting blend of real documentary footage and interviews mixed with a fictional romance that blossoms between the film's documentary subject/host, comedian Charlene Yi, and champion of awkward lady-swooning teens, Michael Cera. Aside from interviews with home grown romantics and couples, this unique film also features interviews with Yi's celebrity friends like Seth Rogen, Demetri Martin, Paul Rust and Martin Starr. Though it's not exactly groundbreaking, the film definitely has some truly touching moments that make it worth a look.
Six Degrees of Separation (Available April 2nd):
Right before he was a bay boy, Will Smith had a breakthrough performance in this human web referencing film that takes inspiration real-life con artist David Hampton as Smith plays a charming and engaging young con artist who appears one day on the doorstep of Flan and Ouisa Kittredge (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing). Professing to be a friend of the affluent couple's son, Paul spins a tale of celebrity and despair that deeply affects the pair. Based on the John Guare play of the same title the film also features Anthony Michael Hall, Heather Graham and J.J. Abrams.
Mulholland Dr. (Available April 2nd):
The complex and perplexing David Lynch lives up to his own standards in this strange story about an amnesiac woman (Laura Herring) who's left stranded on Mulholland Drive and gets taken in by a young newcomer (Naomi Watts) who's moved to Hollywood to pursue her dreams. With a series of vignettes scattered throughout that are seemingly unrelated until somewhat merging together, the narrative leaves everyone (apparently including the cast members themselves) to speculate on what transpires.
Donnie Darko (Available April 2nd):
A film that has captured the curious minds of many a college student and plenty of amateur filmmakers, Richard Kelly started his peculiar film career with this mind-melting story which follows a troubled Midwestern teenager plagued by incessant sleepwalking, family drama and visions of a menacing 6-foot-tall, doomsday-prophesizing rabbit. Much like all of Kelly's films it plays out like a philosophy class with a narrative that is absolutely captivating. Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Jena Malone, and even Seth Rogen and Ashley Tisdale make appearances in this twisted story.
Breathless (Available April 3rd):
In case you can't wait for the huge theatrical re-release of Jean-Luc Godard's French new wave flick that inspired a whole new level of innovative storytelling through gritty cinematography and hyper jump cuts, here you go. A staple of any history of film class, especially in French cinema, this classic tells the story of young thief Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who, after shooting a cop, meets and shacks up with Patricia (Jean Seberg), an American who sells the International Herald Tribune on the streets of Paris. Hiding out in her hotel room, Michel tries to sell Patricia on a plan to go with him to Italy. Soon, the couple sinks further into the criminal life.
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?