Netflicked: Netflix Instant, April 27-May 3

Tuesday, 03 May 2011 11:57 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Netflicked: Netflix Instant, April 27-May 3

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, we'll be here every Tuesday to update you on the latest titles available for instant-watching, as well as bringing attention some gems and even some enjoyable calamities out there in the instantly watchable wilds.



MOVIES

The Godfather and Chinatown producer Robert Evans narrates his own ridiculous, decadent, improbable Hollywood career in the documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture.  If you think of documentaries as staid, purely informative affairs, this stylish, name-dropping fairy tale will correct that perception right quick.

In Cecil B. Demented, Stephen Dorff plays the title character, a renegade director who fights the cinematic establishment with what amounts to filmed terrorism.  It comes from mustachioed trash-auteur John Waters, and that alone lets you know more or less whether you'll enjoy it or hate every minute of it.

Steve McQueen as an already rich man who is so cool that he pulls of a heist for the fun of it, and Faye Dunaway as an insurance investigator on his level.  What more you do you need?  The Thomas Crown Affair is no-frills entertainment with two crazy-charismatic movie stars, and a director (Norman Jewison) who knows how to use them. 

Director David Wain's Wet Hot American Summer has a devoted and ever-growing cult fanbase for a reason: it's hilariously funny.  Singularly, unceasingly absurd too.  A loving ode to the cliches of 1980's summer camp-style teen movies, with a stacked cast, including Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Janeane Garofalo, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and Judah Friedlander.

Another absurd comedy, albeit one with considerably less to recommend it, is David Zucker's BASEketball, which casts South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker as a pair of idiots who invent a new American spot.  As a less discerning, more vulgar young gent, I had a fondness for this film, and I'll be damned if I apologize for it now.

If you've never seen Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull, you're not just missing out on a virtuoso's stunningly filmed (in black and white no less), impeccably edited, psychologically dense piece of cinema, but also on Robert DeNiro's transformative performance as Jake LaMotto.  I could go on with accolades without ever slipping into hyperbole.  And hey, Joe Pesci!

While we're on the subject of pugilism, Leon Gast's excellent documentary When We Were Kings provides a fascinating portrait of Muhammad Ali and his 'Rumble in the Jungle' Heavyweight fight against champ George Foreman.

TELEVISION

Five collections of Mythbusters, all of which feature 10-13 episodes, make science fun, usually by being destructive in pursuit of the truth behind all manner of urban myths and popular misconceptions.

If it's science you're looking for, Carl Sagan's Cosmos will elegantly blow your mind, as the stunningly insightful astronomer holds your hand through a 13 episode tour of our universe.

Kiefer Sutherland growls, barks, skips due process, and brutally interrogates terrorists as Jack Bauer, the hero of 24.  All eight seasons of the popular action series with a novel premise and stylized presentation are available to watch right now. 

Seven full seasons of the reality series Intervention provide deeply personal unflinching looks at individuals coping with crippling addictions.  Not exactly lighthearted viewing, obviously.

ON THE WAY OUT

Neill Blomkamp's superb, brutal sci-fi action satire District 9 expires on Thursday, May 5th.

The documentary miniseries Carrier docks after months on the streaming seas starting Friday, May 6th.

Manic animated romp Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is also departing Instant Watch on Friday, May 6th.

Steven Spielberg's masterful Jaws and the Spielberg-less sequel Jaws 2 end their availability on Friday, May 6th.

Finally, Mad Max sequel The Road Warrior is yet another film expiring on Friday, May 6th.

DOC OF THE WEEK

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father is one of the most upsetting and emotional films you'll ever see.  When his friend is murdered, Kurt Kuenne endeavors to create a portrait of the exuberant, flawed, much-loved man for his unborn son who will otherwise never know his father.  Subsequent events, however, radically change the film, and the effect is devastating.  The sadness is most pronounced and debilitating if know nothing more than that, so that's where we'll leave summarization.  Dear Zachary will, in all likelihood, leave you raw and shaken, but if you can handle a good cry it might prove cathartic.  Not for the faint of heart.

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