This Week on Netflix Instant: Serpico, Machinist, Delgo & More
by Ethan Anderton
April 27, 2010
This week's Netflix Instant brings a combination of unique films, but this installment pales in comparison to the amount of programming from Viacom (including networks like MTV & Comedy Central). Though we don't focus on TV, keep your eye out for major series additions like "The State," "Beavis & Butt-Head," and "Reno 911," not to mention stand-up from comedians like Demetri Martin, Patton Oswalt, John Oliver, and many more. On the film front, our picks include a dangerously skinny Christian Bale, a great coming-of-age flick from Barry Levinson, and a film with the very worst opening ever. So what's in our queue this week?
Note: All titles below are not available as of today, but will be soon. Refer to the availability next to each.
Liberty Heights (Available April 30th):
In this fantastic coming-of-age story, director Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Good Morning Vietnam) returns to the roots of his earlier films like Diner, throwing a group of teenagers into 1954 Baltimore where anti-Semitism and racism are the norm, and Jews and "coloreds" aren't allowed in the public pool just like dogs. Jewish teen Ben Kurtzman (Ben Foster) and his older brother Van (Adrien Brody) are exploring the other side of the fence. In Ben's case, it's friendship (or more) with Sylvia, a cute African American girl and with Van, it's a party in the WASP part of town and falling for a debutante named Dubbie. Levinson just doesn't make them like this anymore.
Delgo (Available April 30th):
The only reason to see this film is because it's nearly the exact opposite of, and yet, maybe the same as, the recently crowned highest grossing film of all-time Avatar. Not only did the film receive the honor of becoming the worst wide release opening ever, but there was talk of the creators of the film potentially suing the creators of Avatar because of the visual similarities the two films share. However when the story follows Delgo, a young dreamer who must both prove his innocence and persuade the two warring tribes to unite and save the princess from their common enemy, the similarities seem to end. Or do they? See for yourself if you dare.
Murder on the Orient Express (Available May 1st):
A Sidney Lumet directed motion picture classic is found in this murder mystery that saw Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as Best Actor (Albert Finney) and Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman). Even more big names like Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Vanessa Redgrave and others fill out this whodunit which follows Investigator Hercule Poirot (Finney) heading home aboard the Orient Express when a fellow passenger, American businessman Samuel Ratchett (Richard Widmark), is found murdered. See if you can solve the mystery.
Serpico (Available May 1st):
If you've seen Garden State, then you know being a struggling actor who returns home is inexplicably compared to Serpico. But Zach Braff's character would have a lot to live up to as Al Pacino's performance is considered to be one of his career's best in the second film directed by Sidney Lumet in this week's installment. This is the real-life story of New York City undercover cop Frank Serpico, an honest man who was grievously wounded for refusing to take part in the corruption forced upon him by his peers. Both Pacino and the adapted screenplay were nominated for Academy Awards.
Funny Games (Available May 1st):
Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke remakes his own 1997 German-language film of the same name for another sadistic and violent story that follows Anna (Naomi Watts) and George (Tim Roth) enjoying a vacation with their son when two sadistic young men (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet) break into their cabin and hold the family hostage. The psychotic duo plays twisted games with their prisoners, forcing them to comply to stay alive. The result isn't quite as impressive as the original, but the fact that Haneke creatd a nearly word-for-word and shot-for-shot remake of his own film certainly has to be some sort of an accomplishment.
The Machinist (Available May 1st):
Sure Christian Bale looks ripped and buff for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but just before he became the infamous vigilante, Bale lost an amazing 63 lbs. reducing his weight to a mere 121 lbs. to play Trevor Reznik a man who hasn't slept in a year, and and whose physical and mental health have eroded. Cryptic notes pop up in his apartment and he has visions of a co-worker nobody else can see, and he has to figure out whether this mystery is in his insomniac head, or if they are all too real. After this role, Bale put on 100 lbs. to become Batman. That's some serious dedication to his craft.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (Available May 1st):
Of course everyone knows the infamous miscommunication comedy short that is Who's on First? but the dynamic comedy duo of Abbott & Costello also faced off with some of the most iconic movie monsters in cinema's history. In this flick, the bumbling buddies are railroad baggage clerks who receive a strange shipment: the last remains of Dracula and Frankenstein's monster., and they're still alive. When the monsters escape to a remote island, Abbott and Costello follow their trail and find not only the two ghouls, but also a mad scientist who wants to switch Costello's brain with that of Frankenstein's monster. This is classic goofy comedy.
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?