Netflicked: Netflix Instant, August 30-September 6

Tuesday, 06 September 2011 15:30 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Netflicked: Netflix Instant, August 30-September 6

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.

MOVIES

Dazed and Confused is writer-director Richard Linklater's ode to the 1970's, partying, and that magical feeling of uncertainty and promise that invariable accompanies the last day of school.  If you need it sold to you, the movie has a ridiculous cast that includes turns from the young, unknown versions of Matthew McConaghy, Parker Posey, Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Adam Goldberg, Nicky Katt, and Anthony Rapp.  This is one of those perfect little movies that will simply never get old.

Speaking of perfection, Billy Wilders Some Like it Hot is empirically perfect and ends with a perfect line about imperfection.  It's perfectly written, directed, and performed, with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon having a blast and Marilyn Monroe being every shade of iconic.  One of those films that is required viewing.

In The Expendables, writer-director-star Sylvester Stallone leads a bunch of square jawed action standbys like Jason Statham, Terry Crews,  Jet Li, and Dolph Lundgren.  As you'd expect, these men kill an excessive amount of nameless henchmen and spend a perhaps-unreasonable amount of time flexing (when not slicing jugulars and exploding craniums).

As written by star Steve Martin, Roxanne is an exceedingly sweet 1980's take on Cyrano de Bergerac, with Martin playing the huge-nosed fire chief of an idyllic mountain town.  Martin is charming the whole way through, and the film's genuine affection for all of its characters makes it an enjoyable slice of romantic cheese.

Any martinis what need mixing had best get shaking, because a slew of 007-centric titles began streaming this week, encompassing no less than four cinematic James Bonds.  First there's Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice, Thunderball, and Never Say Never Again.  Next up,Roger Moore has the lion's share with Live and Let Die, Moonraker, The Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy, The Spy Who Loved Me, and A View to Kill   Even shorter-lived Bonds George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton show up for On Her Majesty's Secret Service and The Living Daylights, respectively.

Now that Christopher Nolan's bat-films have stitched up the fanboy wounds, Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever can be viewed as a harmlessly campy, ridiculously overstuffed, and thoroughly homoerotic take on the Dark Knight.  Val Kilmer makes for a damn fine Bruce Wayne and Batman, though the be-nippled batsuit can still inspire an eye-roll.

Buried stars Ryan Reynolds as an American contractor in Iraq who wakes up buried alive with very, very little to save himself from a truly horrific death.  The film pretty much never leaves the confines of Reynold's would-be grave, and while the movie as a whole certainly has its faults, the level of cinematic invention by director Rodrigo Cortes is truly impressive.

TELEVISION SERIES

If you constantly wonder exactly what's going on in the privileged Los Angeles lives of the Kardashian family, then the pseudo-reality of Keeping Up With the Kardashians will provide you with hours of insight into the exceedingly public existences of Kim, Kourtney, and the whole gang.  Three seasons worth of goings-on are available right now.

Similarly, if the exploits of parking officers sounds like pulse-pounding entertainment, then Parking Wars will oblige with plenty of footage of Philadelphia and Detroit parking officials being harangued by pissed-off citizens.

The magisterial BBC documentary series Yellowstone: Struggle for Life makes a perfect palate-cleanser after inhaling copious Kardashian fumes.  The series chronicles, in great detail, the constant fight for sustenance and survival faced by the natural inhabitants of Yellowstone, one of the crown jewels of America's national park system.  Seriously, go with this one.

ON THE WAY OUT

Valentino: The Last Emperor, a documentary exploring the life and creative process of the fashion designer, expires on Thursday, September 8th.

The not-what-you'd-expect love story/drama Alive and Kicking will no longer be streaming as of Saturday, September 10th.

Beloved miniseries Lonesome Dove, which adapts the western novel by Larry McMurty, expires on Saturday, September 10th, too.

The stand-up comedy special Kevin Hart: Seriously Funny, also heads for the streaming door on Saturday, September 10th.

DOC OF THE WEEK

I've generally avoided dropping any docs from the PBS series Frontline into the Doc of the Week simply because they're pretty consistently excellent and well-researched, so this could become a procession of episode spotlights.  Frontline: Bush's War is, however, an incredible bit of televised journalism that chronicles the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.  Produced in 2008, the two-part documentary begins with the political calculations in the lead up to the 2003 invasion and follows the course of events from the highest levels of power down to footage generated by troops and journalists on the ground.  Said footage is often violent and very upsetting, so be warned.  It's a remarkably comprehensive examination of how a fundamentally misguided strategy and several crucial miscalculations led from a light-footprint to a state of untenable insurgency.  If you're up to it, the Afghanistan war documentary Frontline: Obama's War is less of an overview and more of a deeply disheartening, occasionally searing look at that armed conflict.

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