This Week on Netflix Instant: New York, I Love You & More
by Ethan Anderton
February 9, 2010
The movie rental behemoth Netflix has changed the way millions of people enjoy movies in their homes. From the start of their innovative mail rental system to the exponential growth of their streaming selections through Instant Viewing, it's easier to watch movies in the comfort of your home without ever leaving the house than ever before (although we don't support that). Though we don't deal with the home entertainment side of movies, we thought it appropriate to highlight some of the new titles available on Instant Viewing as they're updated every week. Below you can check out this week's new titles between now and February 14!
Just for the sake of full disclosure, I haven't necessarily seen all of these highlighted films, so these aren't necessarily suggestions of films, but rather films of interest, be they new releases, festival films finally getting distribution, or award winning films of years passed now available to stream instantly. With Netflix constantly adding more films, including a recent deal with a number of big distributors of independent film that will give Netflix members the opportunity to instantly watch hundreds of new indie titles, there's always something great popping up online at Netflix. So without further adieu here's this week's movies of note:
New York, I Love You (Available Now):
Taking a cue from the City of Lights short film compilation Paris Je T'aime, this new collection of shorts takes to the Big Apple. Stories of love in the big city are casually intertwined following stories of a sexually anxious teen boy, a cocky pickpocket, a charming old couple, and more. Tons of actors like Shia LaBeouf, Cloris Leachman, Bradley Cooper, Ethan Hawke, Christina Ricci, Anton Yelchin and more bring great life to shorts from directors like Brett Ratner, Mira Nair, Natalie Portman, Allen Hughes and many more. Each film isn't as varied or unique as the installments of Paris Je T'aime, but I commend an attempt at making the stories more involved with each other even if only through transitional scenes. If you want to see more, you can watch the trailer here.
Endgame (Available Now):
Labeled as terrorists, South African government representative Prof. Willie Esterhuyse (William Hurt) and African National Congress President Thabo Mbek (Chiwetel Ejiofor) meet secretly in England to try to bring about the peaceful demise of apartheid in the torn African nation. This film premiered last year at Sundance and I've been waiting to see it ever since. Like most Sundance films that don't immediately get huge buzz, this one has taken a whole year before finally becoming widely available. With an 83% at Rotten Tomatoes, I'm hoping this one was worth the wait.
Peter and Vandy (Available Now):
The second Sundance film featured in this week's highlights focuses on the love between Peter (John Ritter's son Jason Ritter) and Vandy (Teeth's Jess Wexler) in Jay DiPietro's adaptation of his own stage play which skips back and forth between different stages of their relationship. It sounds like this one might have been over shadowed by the seemingly higher quality romance with the same time-jumping narrative, (500) Days of Summer. I know Alex didn't really enjoy this film, but I'll probably give it a look anyway just for my own peace of mind.
The Insider (Available February 12th):
Nominated for a whole slew of Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Mann), Best Actor (Russell Crowe) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Forrest Gump writer Eric Roth), this film focuses on a true tale about a Big Tobacco scientist (Crowe) who exposed industry secrets, and the newsman (Al Pacino) who fought corporate forces that would have squelched the story. Based on an film-reference titled article in Vanity Fair, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," the film delivers amazing performances, highlighted with fantastic cinematography all within one of the best whistleblower stories cinema has ever seen. It's been 11 years since this one was released, but it stands strong, and even remains relevant today.
Departures (Available February 12th):
In an upset at last year's Academy Awards, this Yojiro Takita directed Japanese film beat out other favorites like The Class and Waltz with Bashir for Best Foreign Language Film. The film tells the story of a young cellist (Masahiro Motoki) who suddenly finds himself out of a job, only to come to the realization that he's been heading down the wrong career path. When he returns home, he trains for a new professional role as a nakanshi, or one who prepares the dead for burial. Despite being profound and dramatic, the film is said to the joy and beauty of life. I look forward to checking out foreign films whenever they make their way to the U.S. and especially won't miss one nominated for an Academy Award. Check out the trailer right here.
Signs (Available February 12th):
If the Super Bowl TV spot for The Last Airbender wasn't so damn impressive, I might have said this could have been writer/director M. Nght Shyamalan's last great flick. This was the film that launched young Abigail Breslin's career as well as Mel Gibson's last film before an eight year hiatus from acting. Both of them are fantastic alongside Joaquin Phoenix and Rory Culkin in Shyamalan's simplistic approach to the alien invasion story. The scope of the invasion is large, but Shyamalan only lets us experience the invaders through what our characters see. Only brief news snippets key us in to the events around the globe and they only heighten the ominous feel the entire film has. Without all the bells and whistles of a globally destructive alien invasion destroying all the world's landmarks, Shyamalan keys into the fact that creatures from another planet would be terrifying.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (Available February 14th):
Ever since it was announced way back in 2006 that John Krasinski (Jim from NBC's "The Office") would be making this is directorial debut, I couldn't wait to check it out. So I'm happy to see it will be available on Valentine's Day, an entire month before it's release on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 16. Based on a collection of short stories by David Foster Wallace, the film is an intimate portrait of the male species at their best, worst and most hilariously complex, confessing their desires, failures, frustrations and resentments. Julianne Nicholson is the graduate student who takes it upon herself to "interview" the characters from the likes of Timothy Hutton, Lou Taylor Pucci, Will Arnett, Will Forte and even Krasinksi himself. This was another film that Alex wasn't too fond of at Sundance last year, but since I've been waiting for it this long, I might as well check it out.
That's all for our first edition of this new weekly installment of Netflix Instant titles. Starting officially next week, we'll be tossing up something like this every Tuesday for your information and enjoyment. But 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 StreamingSoon, whose hawk-eyes are on the lookout for future streaming release dates. Now go watch some movies! Are you a Netflix Instant viewer, too?