Netflicked: Netflix Instant, June 14-21

Tuesday, 21 June 2011 17:01 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Netflicked: Netflix Instant, June 14-21

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

Calling Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey "boring" is sort of missing the point.  It's daringly, thought-provokingly boring, deliberately telling a grand cosmic story with huge implications.  Kubrick boldly refuses to make narrative or stylistic concessions, resulting in a 43 year-old film that is still ahead of its time.  Plus, it's a rare science fiction film that sticks close to the science part.

If any movie could strut, it would be Smokey and the Bandit, in which world-class swaggerer Burt Reynolds plays Bandit, a racecar driver engaged in the noblest of endeavors: smuggling a trailer full of booze across state lines.  Very few people have ever been cuter than Sally Field in this movie.

With Searching for Bobby Fischer, writer-director Steve Zaillian creates a well-observed, affecting drama with a strong central performance from child actor Max Pomeranc.  Solid actors like Ben Kingsley, Joan Allen, Joe Mantegna, and Laurence Fishburne add a lot to a movie that makes playing chess riveting.

In the first five minutes of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, a cop played by Nicolas Cage hurts his back and gets a prescription for painkillers.  Director Werner Herzog then cuts to six months later, when said cop is snorting cocaine off the back of his hand before entering a crime scene.  This what a strange, strange comedy by Herzog looks like.

Alex Cox's Repo Man is, in many respects, a prototypical cult film, the sort of idiosyncratic oddity that a lot of folks will dismiss outright, but those get into it will do unabashedly and with great relish.  The films stars superior sibling Emilio Estevez a punk who finds his calling in the surreal world of repossession, but it's also so much more.

TELEVISION SERIES

The three seasons of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers will put many a child of the 90's nostalgia to the test.  They can follow that up with seemingly every televised iteration of the rangers, including Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, Power Rangers in Space, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Power Rangers Mystic Force, Power Rangers Time Force, Power Rangers Jungle Fury, Power Rangers Ninja Storm, Power Rangers S.P.D., Power Rangers RPM, Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, and Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue.  Wow.  Just wow.

Before he created The West Wing or wrote The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin created Sports Night, a comedy-drama set a fictitious Sportscenter-style news show.  Over two seasons, the show matures out of the awkward sitcom conventions it was first saddled with, but excellent dialogue, endearing characters, and pitch perfect performances make for a show worth loving.

ON THE WAY OUT

Ransom, the Ron Howard thriller in which Mel Gibson plays a millionaire whose son is abducted, expires on Wednesday, June 22nd.

The excellent music documentary Rolling Stones: Stones in Exile hops off the streaming cloud on Wednesday, June 22nd.

Legal drama and irreversible childhood trauma combine in Sleepers, which also expires on Wednesday, June 22nd.

Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play an implausibly adorable pair of crime scene cleaners in Sunshine Cleaning; it's on the way out as of Friday, June 24th.

The Damned United, featuring a stellar performance from Michael Sheen as flame-out soccer coach Brian Clough, expires on Friday, June 24th.

DOC OF THE WEEK

It's rare that the documentaryis more audience-friendly than a narrative feature based on the same events.  Compare Casino Jack, starring Kevin Spacey as mega-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, to Alex Gibney's Casino Jack and the United States of Money, though, and the superior film is obvious.  Gibney is the documentarian behind Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side, and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, and he doesn't simply coax interesting interviews with his subjects, he creates films that are both challenging and nimbly entertaining.  With Casino Jack and the United States of Money, he looks at the story of an unrepentantly unethical mover/shaker and how that one strange tale illustrates an endemic greediness and monetized politics.

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