Netflicked: Netflix Instant, July 26-August 2

Tuesday, 02 August 2011 15:00 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Netflicked: Netflix Instant, July 26-August 2

Netflix's streaming Watch Instantly service is fast becoming America's favorite way to watch movies (instantly). 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.


Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for an Oscar on account of her work in the hillbilly noir Winter's Bone.  She plays Ree, a teenager seeking out her no-account father in the Ozarks and embroiling herself in some very dangerous goings-on in the process.  It's a brutal, great film populated by memorable characters played perfectly by actors including John Hawkes, Dale Dickey, and Garrett Dillahunt.

You're probably more familiar with the modern, CGI-filled The Mummy franchise, but the 1932 original starring Boris Karloff is iconic for a reason.  Check it out and you'll never want to see Brendan Frasier battling weightless baddies.

As Riggs and Murtaugh, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover embodied the buddy-cop dynamic damn near perfectly, and though the sequels continued to diminishing creative returns, Richard Donner's first Lethal Weapon holds up 24 years later, even with Gibson's regrettable mullet.  The sequel, Lethal Weapon 2 isn't half bad, either, but the witty dialogue of screenwriter Shane Black is sorely missed.

While the sequel stuffed the character into too heroic a tole, David Twohy's Pitch Black provided just the right introduction for Vin Diesel's Nightvision-equipped space criminal Riddick.  It's a stripped-down, effective little science fiction thriller with a wild card in the form of Riddick and some cool creature designs to boot.

Fallen is by no means a great film, but it is a fun story starring Denzel Washington as a homicide cop tracking a serial killer whose soul refuses to die along with his body, and who may very well be a fallen angel looking to wreak havoc on the Earthly plane.

Directed by Rob Reiner and adapted from the Stephen King novel by all star screenwriter William Goldman, Misery is a suspenseful, frequently grueling experience and a reminder that cat-and-mouse tension requires no more than a pair of good actors and one location.  James Caan stars as a King-like novelist and Kathy Bates plays a fan who is way too devoted to her favorite author.  If for nothing else, the film deserves its reputation for making Bates horrifying.

Videodrome is like a primer in the preoccupations of singular writer-director David Cronenberg, featuring no end of surreal imagery, gooey violence, off-kilter sexuality, and general weirdness.  Plus, plenty of commentary on the effects of sensationalized television.

Who is Keyser Soze?  By now you've probably seen The Usual Suspects, which remains the very finest work that director Bryan Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrie have yet created.  Still, it stands up to repeated viewings.  If you haven't seen it, then partake in a twisty, well acted ensemble crime tale.


Jackpot, ladies and gentlemen.  All four seasons of AMC's Mad Men, one of the very best shows on television, are now streaming.  That's 52 episodes of cigarette-smoking, scotch-drinking, womanizing drama set in the ad world of 1960's New York.  Incredible performances abound, but Jon Hamm towers over them all as erstwhile Dick Whitman Don Draper.  Watch now so you can finally start raving with your friends.

An American offshoot of the BBC series Torchwood debuted on Starz this summer, but all three seasons of the Doctor Who spin-off are available to serve as a primer for the Americanized version.  Basically, the series is a witty take on a group of investigators assembled by the Queen to make sure aliens and other out-of-the-ordinary visitors remain on their best behavior.


John Cassavetes' brilliant and brutal A Woman Under the Influence, starring Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk, expires on Wednesday, August 3rd.

The unnerving, incredible documentary Capturing the Friedmans will no longer be available to puzzle and revolt as of Friday, August 5th.

Field of Dreams, a fine piece of corn-fed, baseball-loving Americana, expires on Saturday, August 6th.


This week's pick is very much in the spirit of Mad Men.  Advertising is so ubiquitous a part of our culture that we don't often stop to consider its origins or its implications, but Doug Pray's Art & Copy looks at both.  It is perhaps too fawning a portrait of some of the most prominent figures in contemporary advertising, but it's also thought-provoking and includes surprising information like the fact that the average American child takes in 20,000 television commercials a year.  It also examines familiar ads and catchphrases that became a part of the popular culture, rising above their status as mere advertisements.

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