Netflicked: Netlfix Instant, Feb. 15-22

Tuesday, 22 February 2011 11:52 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Netflicked: Netlfix Instant, Feb. 15-22

Netflix's streaming Watch Instantly service is fast becoming America's favorite way to watch movies.  The library of available titles is so vast and mutable that you, the avid instant watcher, could no doubt use a guide as you navigate the streaming frontier.  Luckily for you, I'm here every week to update you on the latest titles available for instant-watching, as well as bringing attention some gems out there in the instantly watchable wilds.




Movies

The week's most high-profile addition is last year's remake of the Ralph Macchio sort-of classic The Karate Kid starring Jackie Chan and Will Smith-offspring Jaden Smith as the titular kid.  This time, the action moves from Los Angeles to China, and instead of Japanese karate, the movie actually depicts Smith learning kung-fu.

Speaking of Jackie Chan, the family friendly The Spy Next Door joined the Instant party this week.  If you've ever wanted to see a movie with Chan and erstwhile mullet-wearer Billy Ray Cyrus, then this romp might just be for you.  Maybe.

Christopher Plummer plays Leo Tolstoy and Helen Mirren steals the show as his fiery wife in The Last StationJames McAvoy is an idealistic writer caught between Tolstoy and his conniving disciple Chertkov, played by Paul Giamatti.

Dazed and Confused director Richard Linklater's most recent film, Me and Orson Welles is a fresh film from the latest crop of streaming titles.  This period film follows Zac Efron as a young actor unexpectedly cast as Lucius in the stage production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar under the direction of Orson Welles, played by Christian McKay.  The actor and director immediately compete for the affections of Welles' assistant, played by Claire Danes.

Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson square off to limited comedic effect in the comedy Anger Management.  It's the perfect choice if you're in the mood for an unnecessarily convoluted plot, Nicholson slumming, and John C. Reilly in a cameo as a monk.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Vincent Cassel plays France's most famous criminal in Mesrine: Killer Instinct, the first half of a larger, two-film story chronicling the jail-breaking, bank-robbing gangster's rise to nationwide celebrity.  It's an awesome, highly recommended movie, and the second film, Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 should also be streaming shortly.

Three documentaries, Freakonomics, Last Train Home, and Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel added to Netflix's all ready considerable documentary cache.  In the first, pop culture and economic theory collide; in the second, documentarian Lixin Fan follows one family amongst 130 million Chinese peasants making an annual migration to their home towns; in the last, the Playboy publisher gets a loving centerfold of his own.

For the ladies, there's the 1996 Jane Austen adaptation Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor, in which Miss Woodhouse muddles in the romantic affairs of her town, producing Nineteenth Century hilarity.

TEEVEE

Netflix continues its relentless consolidation of television titles this week, starting with Comedy Central's uncensored Roast of William Shatner, in which the one-time Captain Kirk and current Priceline mascot is mocked relentlessly by a bevy of comedians.

If you just can't get enough of the alcohol-soaked, UTI-inflected adventures of America's favorite troglodytes, then you'll rejoice at the addition of Jersey Shore: Season 2.  Be warned, though: once you start, there's no turning back.  You'll spend the rest of your life contemplating the mysteries of Pauly D's gravity-defying coiffure.

Nineties kid's shows got a whole lot of streaming company this week, with additions including the complete Eerie, Indiana, all four seasons of Rocko's Modern Life, seasons 6 through 9 of Rugrats, and the first three seasons of Hey Arnold!

DOC OF THE WEEK

You need a strong constitution to handle it, but director Andrew Jarecki's Capturing the Friedmans will rattle provokingly around your skull for a long, long time after the documentary is actually over.  An upper middle-class family in Long Island with a habit of extensively home videoing their happy, wholesome days together continues the constant self-documentation when father Arnold and youngest son Jesse are put on trial for the serial molestation of children in Arnold's computer class in 1987.  The family films itself as it implodes in the face of the allegations and the hysteria of the trial, which quickly became a media sensation.  The doc covers every angle of the family's deterioration, but refuses to provide closure.  The truth remains elusive, and all the possible truths are horrible in varying measures.  So if you think you can handle a riveting, masterfully made, ultimately mortifying documentary, then Capturing the Friedmans is definitely the way to go.

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