Netflicked: Netflix Instant, March 2-8

Tuesday, 08 March 2011 12:39 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Netflicked: Netflix Instant, March 2-8

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'll be here every Tuesday 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 unfairly maligned dark comedy The Cable Guy, starring Jim Carrey and directed by Ben Stiller, is now redeeming itself on any streaming-enabled device.  It wasn't what audiences were expecting at the time, but it's worth a watch even if only for the scene in which a methodical, mustachioed Carrey beats a then-unknown Owen Wilson senseless in a bathroom.

If you're looking for a Jim Carrey movie that was embraced by the masses, then you can do no better than Dumb & Dumber.  An unrated version of the Farrelly Bros comedy starring Carrey and Jeff Daniels as a pair of imbeciles on a cross-county journey will cause you to happily regress into a stage of juvenile giggles.

In the much-loved low budget independent allegory Monsters, a jaded journalist escorts a tourist through hundred of miles of wild landscape crawling with extraterrestrial beasties, all in an attempt to reach the safety of the United States border.

See where more than a decade of stale impressions came from with Sling Blade, in which Billy Bob Thornton directs and stars as Karl, a man-child fresh out of an institution for the decades-ago murder of his mother and her lover.

Sofia Coppola's debut directorial feature, The Virgin Suicides  is heavy, but is stylistically unique and guaranteed to leave an impression.  Adapted from the seemingly un-adaptable novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, the '70's-set drama stars Kirsten Dunst as one of five sisters in a sheltered family imploding after the suicide of the youngest sibling.

The 1952 Western High Noon influenced every single subsequent entry in the genre. Gary Cooper plays a sheriff scrambling to round up reinforcements as three criminals head into town on the noon train.  You might assume that since the film is sixty years old, it's slow-paced and boring, but this vintage picture unfolds in real time.

If you think you can handle the most iconic instances of dental torture in cinematic history, peep Marathon Man, starring Dustin Hoffman as a graduate student on the run from Laurence Olivier as a sadistic Nazi.

Two impeccable heist films to get slick Hollywood remakes roughly 35 years after their release are The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and The Italian Job.  In the first, New York Transit cop Walter Matthau must contend with a backstabbing bunch of criminals led by Robert Shaw when they take a subway train hostage.  In the second, Michael Caine and his British crew steal Italian gold by creating an epic traffic jam, which they zip through in Mini Coopers.  Both of these movies feature delightfully dated sensibilities and endings that you won't see coming.

Eminem goes semi-autobiographical in the unexpectedly effective portrait of a young man struggling through Detroit-in-decay, 8 Mile, directed by LA Confidential helmer Curtis Hanson.

Tom Stoppard's only directorial feature, adapted from his own play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, stars Gary Oldman and Tim Roth as two characters from Hamlet, engaged in their own existential adventure that ties into Shakespeare's tragedy.  Visually, it's as unremarkable as a brown paper bag, but the dialogue is some of the best you'll ever hear, jumping from nimble wordplay to eloquent insight to outright comedy, sometimes in the space of a single sentence.

TEEVEE

Once again, this week's action was almost exclusively movie-related, but a few notable shows did become instantly available.  The 13th Series of Top Gear, the globally popular British automotive series, for example, is a new addition.  If you've never seen Top Gear, be advised that you needn't be a gear head to enjoy it; the show is exceedingly clever and very slick.

The first season of the FX animated comedy Archer is back after several months on the bench.  Fans of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup, in particular The Venture Bros or Aqua Teen Hunger Force, will undoubtedly enjoy the exploits of ISIS, an international espionage organization.  H. Jon Benjamin gets remarkable comedic mileage out of deadpan delivery.

DOC OF THE WEEK

In 1974, a young french tightrope walker named Phillipe Petit illegally extended a tightrope between the uncompleted Twin Towers of the New York's World Trade Center and spent nearly an hour on that wire, 110 stories up, ebfore being forced off by New York's finest.  Man On Wire is one of the more popular documentaries of the last few years, and for good reason.  Director James Marsh frames the entire thing like a heist movie, detailing months of planning between Petit and his cohorts, while using surprisingly effective re-enactments to show their daring plan in action.  When Petit finally steps out onto his rope, the result is awe-inspiring and incredibly moving.  If you haven't seen it, do so.  It might just change your whole idea of what constitutes great art.

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