Netflicked: Netflix Instant, May 31-June 7

Tuesday, 07 June 2011 08:15 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Netflicked: Netflix Instant, May 31-June 7

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

A whole lot of prime 1990's Miramax titles became available this week, and the first nine films here are the cream of that particular crop.

Time for a Quentin Tarantino double feature.  Warm up with his prodigious feature directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs, then bask in the dialogue and style of his masterpiece, Pulp Fiction.  You quite simply cannot go wrong with either film. 

Speaking of Tarantino, he wrote the screenplay and has a major role alongside George Clooney in Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn, an unstoppably fun mashup that takes zigs insanely hard right when generic conventions demand that it zag.

Back in 1996, Wes Craven's first Scream provided a jolt to slasher films, providing some solid jump-scares and an anybody-could-be-the-killer plot, along with a compelling self-awareness and sly sense of humor.  The first sequel, Scream 2, gamely attempts to apply that same cleverness to cash-in follow-ups, but the concept already feels watered down one sequel into the franchise.

Long before Jon Favreau and Doug Liman became purveyors of event movies, they respectively wrote and directed Swingers, a wonderful little comedy starring Favreau and Vince Vaughn as would-be actors with a fondness for women, kitsch, and swing music.  Endlessly quoted and surprisingly influential gem of a movie that has spent a solid 15 years in the zeitgeist.

He's since become an industry unto himself, but it was the almost mythic success of his homemade black-and-white comedy Clerks that kickstarted the cult of Kevin SmithIt's refreshingly low key, with enjoyably obscene and verbose dialogue.  A better film, but still defined by an abundance of dialogic style and a lack of directorial flourishes is Chasing Amy, in which Ben Affleck plays a guy who falls in love with a lesbian, played by Joey Lauren Adams.

There is nothing quite like Dead Man, a bizarre and beautiful modern western from writer-director Jim Jarmusch.  It stars Johnny Depp, from back in the days when he had a justifiable reputation as the strange star of rarely-profitable oddities.  The less you know the better, but for adventurous viewers out there, this could very well become a favorite.

Walter Mattheau as an unrepentant alcoholic.  Small children swearing, smoking, and generally being awesome.  Unethical choices.  Poor sportmanship.  The original Bad News Bears contains all this and more.

Hannah and Her Sisters ranks amongst the best work that Woody Allen has ever done.  It's an unstoppably observant, wryly funny examination of the relationships between three sisters and the men in their lives, with outstanding performances from Michael Caine, Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, and Dianne Wiest

Nostalgic children of the '90s can relive their ecstatic toy-grubbing youth with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.  Definitive proof that nostalgia can only do so much.

Jeff Goldblum is a perfect lead for David Cronenberg's The Fly, which has the director once again engaging with physical damage and deterioration.  The practical effects have a squishy tactility, Goldblum very convincingly plays a man mutating into a man-sized fly, and Geena Davis is a sympathetic audience surrogate, helpless as the charismatic scientist becomes something very, very nasty.

Silence of the Lambs is a wonderfully tense, morbidly fascinating thriller masterfully directed by Jonathan DemmeAnthony Hopkins, of course, steals the show as the brilliant cannibal Hannibal Lector, but it's Jodie Foster as the unexpectedly resilient Clarice Starling that makes the whole thing work.  Also, Ted Levine's Buffalo Bill is a twisted antagonist for the ages.

With The Way of the Gun, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie offers a stripped down, modern take on the revisionist western, with an acidic sense of humor, to boot.  By the end of the opening scene, you'll have a good idea whether or not you love this movie.

TELEVISION SERIES

If you have kids, or just get a kick out of surreal, well produced children's television, then Yo Gabba Gabba! might be right up your alley.  The educational series is hosted by DJ Lance Rock and features a cast of strange creatures.  The first season boasts appearances from the likes of Biz Markie, The Shins, Shiny Toy Guns, Elijah Wood, and The Aquabats.

Season 14 of South Park has joined the 13 prior seasons, so now you can watch the three-part 'Mysterion Rises' epic and Cartman's ascent as a smuggler of illegal Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The miniseries The Kennedys, which stars Katie Holmes, Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, and Greg Kinnear was booted from the History Channel for historical inaccuracy and a controversial depiction of the prominent political family.  Judge for yourself, as all eight episodes, each 44 minutes long, are streaming.

ON THE WAY OUT

The hamsters-as-superspy-team adventure G-Force expires on Thursday, June 9th.

Becket, as classy a motion picture as you'll ever see, ends its streaming run on Thursday, June 9th as well.

A solid documentary about the only metal band in Iraq during the Insurgency, Heavy Metal in Baghdad expires on Saturday, June 11th.

DOC OF THE WEEK

Director Werner Herzog is always happy to wax profound while examining humanity's complex relationship with the natural world.  In Encounters at the End of the World, he does both with his usual eccentricity and captivating eye for detail.  The film is an exploration of Antarctica, as desolate and alien a setting as exists on the planet. At the McMurdo Research Station, Herzog meets the inhabitants of the continent's largest human outpost.  Though these frequently odd and consistently entertaining individuals could probably support their own documentary, the film ventures out to pal around with volcanic explorers and divers who dynamite holes in the ice and scuba in the near-freezing waters, trusting themselves to find their way out.  Like all things Werner Herzog, Encounters at the End of the World is far from conventional, but therein lies its odd, captivating power.

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