Netflicked: Netflix Instant, May 11-17

Tuesday, 17 May 2011 13:42 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Netflicked: Netflix Instant, May 11-17

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

Contact was released in the summer of 1997, and a lot of people were disappointed that a summer science fiction film didn't include buildings being vaporized or even any gooey aliens,  Instead, Robert Zemeckis' adaptation of Carl Sagan's novel is thoughtful, serious sci fi.  It's not perfect, but it's ambitious, interesting, and smart.

A strange beast, Howl combines footage and audio of poet Allen Ginsberg, surreal animation of the titular poem, and James Franco playing Ginsberg during his 1957 obscenity trial. 

You might need a shower after watching Sid and Nancy, the destructive love story between Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, played by Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb.  Both actors give impressive performances in the film, which makes no bones about being punishing and difficult.

If you haven't seen Blue Velvet, then you should remedy that.  Writer-director David Lynch upends suburbia and Dennis Hopper goes to town on the role of Frank Booth, one of his most memorable characters.  There is no movie quite like Blue Velvet.  Really.

See the same jokes that you saw in the first two swinging comedies with Austin Powers in Goldmember, the last film in that venerable trilogy.  While you feel the franchise running out of gas almost immediately, Michael Caine livens up the proceedings as Nigel Powers, Britains most formidable secret agent and father to Austin.

Ryan Gosling plays a character who is the exact opposite of The Notebook's dreamboat in All Good Things.  The film is based on a true story, with Kirsten Dunst as a wife who goes missing and all kinds of suspicious behavior from Gosling.

TELEVISION SERIES

A modernized version of the most famous detective this side of Batman might sound too familiar, but the new BBC series Sherlock gets it just right.  Martin Freeman stars as Watson, a former military doctor injured in Afghanistan, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes.  There are only a couple of episodes in the first series, but they're surprisingly well done and addictive.

Pushing Daisies only made it 22 episodes, but the show has a vocal cult following devoted to the quirky series.  Lee Pace stars as Ned, the owner of a pie restaurant who has the ability to bring dead people back to life.  The show features an offbeat sense of humor, a novel concept, and well-written dialogue.  Both seasons are streaming now.

ON THE WAY OUT

2010: The Year We Make Contact, a not-so-trippy and Kubrickian sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, expires on Thursday, May 19th.

The locus classicus of awful Jaws sequels, Jaws: The Revenge, is put out of its streaming misery on Thursday, May 19th.

Jaws 3, the second greatest achievement in terrible Jaws sequels, expires on Friday, May 20th.

The wonderfully unhinged Nickelodeon series Aaahh!!! Real Monsters heads for the exit on Saturday, May 21st.

All 240 episodes of stand-up in Comedy Central Presents will cease streaming on Sunday, May 22nd.

The antecedent to other crazy Nickelodeon shows, Ren and Stimpy, expires on Sunday, May 22nd.

South Park is also ending its current Instant run on Sunday, May 22nd.

Rocko's Modern Life continues the cavalcade of awesome animated shows expiring on Sunday, May 22nd.

Ditto for Rugrats on Sunday, May 22nd.

Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America hits the bricks on Monday, May 23rd.

DOC OF THE WEEK

The 2006 documentary Maxed Out takes a look at credit and debt in contemporary America.  While a film exploring predatory creditors, political complicity, and a culture without foresight probably doesn't sound like a good time, director James D. Scurlock brings a nimble sense of humor to his topic.  He includes several bits of stand up from Louis CK, for example.  That said, Maxed Out is also upsetting and horrifying.  Interviews with average citizens are sobering and inspire a lot of sympathy, while footage from Congressional hearings should get your blood boiling just a bit. 

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