Netflicked: Netflix Instant, March 16-22

Tuesday, 22 March 2011 10:51 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Netflicked: Netflix Instant, March 16-22

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'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

While The Thing (streaming as of last week) is the best movie to emerge from the collaboration between director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell, 1981's Escape from New York contains their most indelible creation: Snake Plissken.  Set in a future 1997, the entire island of Manhattan has become a no-holds-barred national prison, and one-eyed badass antihero Snake is the only man who can save the President after Air Force One crashes in New York.

Stephen Gaghan, the Oscar-winning writer of Traffic, wrote and directed Syriana, an equally dense and troubling examination of American involvement in Middle Eastern politics and the true value of the petrodollar.  If that summary doesn't exactly incite your interest, just check out the ensemble cast, which includes Geroge Clooney, Chris Cooper, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet, Jeffrey Wright,  and Christopher Plummer.

Paul Shore and Stephen Baldwin play morons who find themselves participating in a massive environmental experiment for a year in Bio-Dome, a Pauly Shore movie with an important message on ecological responsibility.

This one's for the ladies.  In Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts plays a dissatisfied writer who, following her divorce, eats, prays, and loves in Italy, India, and Bali, respectively.  Roberts is joined by Y-chromosomal co-stars James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Billy Crudup, and Javier Bardem.

Also for the ladies: learn whether or not anybody can put Baby in a corner and have the time of your life with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing.

Three solid documentaries began streaming this week.  The first, director Wim Wenders' rightly acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club, follows a group of elderly, forgotten Cuban musicians who reunite to record a new CD.  The second, Van Gogh: Brush with Genius, examines both the life and art of troubled-but-brilliant painter Vincent Van Gogh, using his own words.  The third, Disney's Oceans, provides a sweeping, Planet Earth-style look at the seas, complete with incredible underwater imagery.

In his stand-up special Chewed Up, comedian Louis CK never censors himself for a moment, resulting in a concert film that is daring, insightful, and most importantly, really damn funny.

TEEVEE

All six episodes comprising Season 1 of the FX series The League are now watchable instantly.  Ostensibly about fantasy football, the show is really about the dysfunctions and obsessions of a group of middle aged men, played by Nick Kroll, Mark Duplass, Jonathan Lajoie, Paul Scheer, and Stephen Rannazzisi

Before he was the director of the Iron Man films, Swingers star and writer Jon Favreau hosted Dinner for Five on IFC.  In each episode, Favreau has dinner and a relaxed conversation with four other Hollywood figures.  First season guests include Sean Combs, Sarah Silverman, Seth Green, Famke Janssen, Ray Romano, and Juliette Lewis.

ON THE WAY OUT

Stir Crazy, starring inimitable comedy legends Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, expires on Saturday, March 26th.

Claymation oddity $9.99 will no longer be available as of Wednesday, March 23rd.

Period piece The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley as 18th Century royalty, goes DVD-only on Saturday, March 26th.

Joel Schumacher's Brat Pack mission statement St. Elmo's Fire ceases streaming on Wednesday, March 23rd.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, director Kenneth Branagh's wildly uneven  adaptation of the novel starring himself as the doctor and Robert DeNiro as his creation, expires on Saturday, March 26th.

DOC OF THE WEEK

In Restrepo, author Sebastian Junger and photojournalist Tim Hetherington spent fifteen months with the beleagured second platoon of Battle Company, positioned in the remote Korengal Valley of Afghanistan.  The resulting documentary captures the frequently described tedium of war, with long, boring stretches spent in substandard conditions, punctuated by sudden bursts of violence.  The frequent attacks on Outpost Restrepo, named for deceased medic Juan Restrepo, are not what you're conditioned to expect: we never see the enemy, just American soldiers firing more or less blindly into the wilderness.  Restrepo avoids overt politicization, yet it's impossible to watch without having a political reaction.  Footage of soldiers attempting daily diplomacy with justifiably suspicious Afghans is dispiriting, to say the least, and the ultimate fate of Outpost Restrepo provides a strong statement on the vagaries of our current wars.

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