This Week on Netflix Instant: The Pianist, The Messenger & Up
by Ethan Anderton
June 1, 2010
Last week our batch of Netflix Instant updates was absent simply because the selection was outrageously terrible (though there were some excellent additions in TV - like Nicktoons such as "Rocko's Modern Life," "Rugrats," "Aaahh! Real Monsters" and "Ren & Stimpy"). So right now, we're just playing each week by ear and seeing if there's a good enough selection up for grabs. Luckily we've got a pretty decent batch this week: plenty of award nominated films, including Pixar's first Best Picture nominated effort, a classic western and a fantastic indie horror flick from last year that you don't want to miss. So what's in our queue this week?
Up (Available Now):
It's Pixar masterpieces like this that make drivel like Shrek Forever After so hard to endure. This is just one of the many films from Pixar that proves you don't need burp and fart jokes or pointless pop culture references to have a movie that resonates with adults and kids alike. The first 10 minutes of this movie alone will make you laugh and cry in a heartbeat. So if you haven't already, take on this big adventure with an old man, a boy scout, a talking dog and a big bird named Kevin.
The Pianist (Available Now):
It's not everyday that an actor has a role that leads him right onto the Academy Awards stage to kiss Halle Berry long and hard, but that's exactly what Adrien Brody did with his amazing performance in this Holocaust drama. Unlike other films that focus on the wide scope of the genocide, this one takes a more focused approach as we experience the horror and danger through the survival story of a concert pianist as he is separated from his family and everything he knows in World War II Warsaw.
The Ten (Available Now):
This series of comedic vignettes has an all-star cast taking on short stories inspired by the Ten Commandments with the hilarious power of The State comedians David Wain and Ken Marino responsible. There's plenty of adultery, lying and coveting to send everyone to hell twice, but sometimes, there's not enough consistent laughs to run all the way through. Still, Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Jessica Alba, Oliver Platt, Liev Schreiber, Famke Janssen, Rob Corddry and many more make this enjoyable enough for a viewing.
The House of the Devil (Available Now):
With the horror genre being my least favorite, checking out this little independent film came as quite an enjoyably but wholly frightening surprise as this is one of the scariest and most genuinely thrilling horror flicks I've ever encountered. Grounded in reality and with all the visual style of an old school horror flick, Ti West delivers a chilling and gruesome tale of a baby sitter caught in the wrong place and the wrong time. It may sound cheap and cliche, but this is horror at its best.
The Messenger (Available June 2nd):
One of a few films that have contributed to such an amazing comeback from actor Woody Harrelson who received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in this story of an injured U.S. soldier (Ben Foster), who is paired up with by-the-book Capt. Tony Stone (Harrelson) to notify families of killed soldiers with the two bonding as they debate different views on serving America.
Casualties of War (Available June 4th):
Another war drama, but this one comes from 20 years back with Brian De Palma at the helm of a story that follows a young soldier (Michael J. Fox) who suffers a crisis of conscience when the men on his patrol callously rape and murder a Vietnamese girl and then try to cover up the crime. I've yet to see this drama, and the fact that I have serious withdrawal of Michael J. Fox in my life means that I'll need to check this one out to hold me over. A young John Leguizamo and John C. Reilly appear too!
The Mask (Available June 4th):
Okay, this is a guilty pleasure to the highest degree, but we just don't get to see Jim Carrey this crazy anymore, and I honestly miss his staple over-the-top comedy that skyrocketed him to fame in the 90's. You also can't deny that Cameron Diaz has almost never looked as hot as she does in her feature film debut right here. This will always be a flick that reminds me of my childhood, and I just can't help but let everyone know you can watch it on Netflix Instant.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Available June 4th):
Robert Redford and the late Paul Newman make for one hell of an outlaw duo in this fantastic, and even funny western that is kind of like a western version of The Sting but is certainly still its own film. On the run from a dangerous posse, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid flee to Bolivia in an attempt to pick up their heisting ways, but it just doesn't seem to be all that easy when you're on the run.
Honorable Mentions (If No Date Listed, It's Available Now): Mad Max (June 4th), James and the Giant Peach (June 4th), Sense and Sensibility (June 4th), Forever Young (June 4th), Die Hard 2: Die Harder (June 4th), Now and Then (June 4th), The Avengers (June 4th), The Cure (June 4th) and A River Runs Through It.
And now the best of the rest online free movie websites' new additions for your online viewing pleasure...
Mubi: Your online cinema. Anytime. Anywhere.
Auto Focus, Primary Colors, K-19: the Widowmaker, The Maltese Falcon, Visioneers, Back to the Future Part II, The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing, The Great Mouse Detective and Tucker: The Man and His Dream.
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?