Last of the January Goodies from Netflix

Here’s the last slew of Netflix updates for January. Fans of Asian cinema got a mighty boost but not much else.

Comedy: Cheesecake Casserole, Jim Jefferies: Fully Functional, Budz House

Documentary: Oh, Saigon, Graham Chapman: Anatomy of a Liar

Drama: In the Dark Half, Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, A Place of One’s Own

Family: Police Patrol

Foreign: Mr. Lee vs. Mr. Lee, Adrift in Tokyo, Baby & Me, Meteor (not the disaster movie), La Visa Loca, Viva! Love, Last Scene, A Yaksa, Sad Movie, Black Night, The Man from Beijing, Time Traveller, Highway Star, Girl Scout, More Than Blue, End Call, Don, Lakshya

Television: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, XIII: The Conspiracy, Fun with Claude, and new episodes of Shark Week and Toddlers & Tiaras

More January Goodies on Netflix Streaming

The title pretty much says it all. I highly recommend the French action thriller Sleepless Night.

Action: Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft (NOT to be confused with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters)

Comedy: The Switch, The Giant Mechanical Man

Documentary: Dreams of a Life, Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story, Chariots of the Gods

Drama: Hunt Angels, The Good Doctor, 388 Arletta Avenue, Meant to Be, Death of a Superhero

Family: Good Luck Charlie

Foreign: Unforgivable, Mob Sister, Little Red Flowers, Miao Miao, Invisible Waves, The Last Days of Emma Blank, Dance Subaru!, Kahaani, Sleepless Night, Breathing

Horror: Scary or Die, Barrio Tales

Television: The Magic Roundabout, Inami, Cedric, Two of a Kind: Spirou & Fantasio, and new episodes of Sons of Guns

February FREE Movies!

February may be short but there is no lack of FREE movies at Carolina Cinemas

The Asheville Film Society puts on a FREE movie every Tuesday at 8 in Carolina’s cinema lounge. Membership is not necessary to attend.

2/5 Love and Human Remains (1993, Denys Arcand)

2/12 A Night to Remember (1943, Richard Wallace)

2/19 Metropolitan (1990, Whit Stillman)

2/26 Flying Down to Rio (1933, Thornton Freeland)

Every Thursday night, Carolina Cinemas puts on a FREE horror movie in their cinema lounge at 8 p.m. Actually it is Ken and Justin but Carolina Cinemas is kind enough to donate their cinema lounge.

2/7 H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond (1986, Stuart Gordon)

2/14 The Mummy’s Ghost (1944, Reginald Le Borg) & The Mummy’s Curse (1944, Leslie Goodwin) – Woohoo! A Universal double feature for Valentine’s Day! Just what my wife’s spouse wanted!

2/21 The Phantom of Crestwood (1932, J. Walter Rubin)

2/28 The Magic Sword (1962, Bert I. Gordon)

On Wednesday 2/13, The Asheville Film Society presents Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (1974, Sidney Lumet). This will be showing in one of the downstairs theaters and is NOT free. Tickets are $5 for Film Society members and $7 for those who are not.


Die Hard Marathon! Yippie Ki Yay Mother Russia!

I LOVE movie marathons. It gives me an excuse to spend my day in a darkened movie theater with an unacceptable in New York bucket of soda. All my cares drift away as the lights go down.

I’ve missed quite a few recently. I wasn’t interested in Twilight so I skipped the Twilight marathon. The Mighty Marvel Marathon (Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, & The Avengers) wasn’t playing anywhere near me. The Indiana Jones marathon was playing in Charlotte but I had previously promised the day to my wife.

That said I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Batman Begins and The Dark Knight right before the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises – all on Regal’s super duper RPX screen. The week before The Hobbit opened, Regal also played The Lord of the Rings extended edition trilogy and I loved that butt-numb-a-thon (with a tray of mini hot dogs!).

Mark your calendars! February 13th is a Die Hard marathon. I missed Die Hard in the theater so this will be my first time seeing it on the big screen (if I’m lucky). Yes, only the first Die Hard is a bona fide classic but I still enjoy the other three. I’m also looking forward to A Good Day to Die Hard capping off the marathon.

Price at Regal is $20 for cardholders and that includes the new movie. Woohoo!

Die Hard: 12:00 p.m.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder 2:35 p.m.

Die Hard with a Vengeance 5 p.m.

Live Free or Die Hard 7:30 p.m.

A Good Day to Die Hard 10 p.m.

Dredd, Resident Evil: Retribution, and FREE Netflix

“Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.”

Okay I couldn’t resist. Apparently I had canceled my DVD subscription long enough to trigger a FREE month from Netflix. I signed up and immediately got Resident Evil Retribution and the new Dredd because I had missed them in theaters. I only plan to keep Netflix disc for the FREE month but isn’t that what everyone says?

The Resident Evil movie is mind-bogglingly awful. The Red Queen, who had been trying to save humanity in the first film, tries to wipe out humanity in this film. Wesker, Alice’s thoroughly evil and implacable foe in the last film, becomes Alice’s unseen ally in this one. Characters who had been killed off in the first films pop up here as clones – though there was no previous indication they had been clones.

There is almost no plot and what plot there is makes absolutely no sense. Paul W.S. Anderson appears to have taken the first four films and thrown them into a blender to make this film. The Hive gets mentioned and recapped, Raccoon City is featured as are the giant dog-like zombies with the large tongues, the giant with the hammer is back and this time he has brought a friend.

On the other hand, Dredd was a breath of fresh air. Karl Urban provides a gutsy portrayal of Judge Dredd in that his face is covered for almost the entire film. The action is wonderful, if a little reminiscent of The Raid. The world of Mega City One is well realized and far better handled than the Sylvester Stallone version. Lena Headey is fun to watch, even if her villain here is not nearly as nuanced as her portrayal of Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones.

Firefly & Serenity & Deleted Scenes

Just a quick note to all the Browncoats out there: Apparently there are some deleted scenes for Firefly. Geek Exchange has posted three of them here.If you aren’t a Browncoat, go watch Firefly and then Serenity on streaming Netflix.

Firefly (2002)

“Set almost 500 years in the future, this short-lived but much-loved sci-fi series follows the adventures of the ragtag crew of the transport spaceship Serenity, who view no job as too small, too dirty or too close to the line of illegality.”

If you haven’t seen Firefly, you should. While it can be summed up dismissively as a Western in Space, you would be missing out on a fantastic ensemble cast, great plotting, and scripts that play wonderfully with language.

Serenity (2005) – Rated PG-13

“Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the ship Serenity, picks up two fugitives from the powerful coalition ruling the universe. Mal and his mates find themselves at the center of a cosmic conflict, pursued by military forces and space-roaming savages.”

Serenity is a great film but if you have seen and enjoyed the series, it makes a fantastic denouement to an under-appreciated show.

Not Quite Horror – Iron Sky, Donovan’s Brain, Red Lights

Boy I watch a lot of streaming Netflix.

Iron Sky (2012) – Rated R

“Having secretly fled to a base on the moon at the end of World War II, Nazis put the final touches on their scheme to launch an invasion of Earth. When a new space shuttle mission threatens to expose them, they rush their plan into action.”

Okay I am a sucker for movies where Nazis are the bad guy. I love Dead Snow, The Boys from Brazil, Outpost, even the super-cheezy Shock Waves. On the other hand I’m not completely blind – Blood Creek was a ridiculous mess in spite of the sublime Michael Fassbender and Outpost: Black Sun clearly didn’t understand what made Outpost so much fun.

Iron Sky treads the middle ground. It is quite ludicrous (in a good way) but also tasteless (not in a good way). It is funny enough to be amusing (Nazi base on the far side of the moon) but many of the jokes fall flat (a faux President Palin) and some dip into the offensive (albinoing an African-American astronaut). I found Iron Sky to be worth a watch but only just.

Donovan’s Brain (1953) – Not rated

“While conducting groundbreaking but highly illegal experiments, brilliant scientist Patrick (Lew Ayres) falls under the supernatural control of a dead industrialist’s living brain, which commands him to carry out numerous nefarious deeds, including murder. Based on the novel by Curt Siodmak, this sci-fi horror classic co-stars former first lady Nancy Davis (Reagan) as Patrick’s wife, who bravely struggles to defeat the evil brain.”

This is a nice little science fiction tale. As with many of them in the 50s, it is somewhat dry. This is based on Curt Siodmak’s novel, Donovan’s Brain and was previously filmed as The Lady and The Monster (1944). Curt Siodmak also used many of his same elements in the Bela Lugosi thriller, Black Friday (1940).

Red Lights (2012) – Rated R

“Professor Margaret Matheson and her assistant, Tom Buckley, set out to debunk claims of paranormal activity. During their investigation, a legendary psychic comes out of retirement, and Buckley becomes obsessed with proving he’s a fraud.”

Red Lights is a well-acted, atmospheric drama but it is a slow burn that builds up to nothing. In the end, it just kind of fizzles out.

Oscars – Gotta Catch ‘Em All! – Documentary edition

Jenny and I are making a concentrated effort this year to catch as many of the Academy Award nominated films as possible. Netflix is being very helpful as they have three of the five documentaries on streaming. I will warn you that none of the three are likely to be easy viewing. The two not on streaming are Searching for Sugar Man and The Gatekeepers.

The Invisible War (2012) – Not Rated

“This documentary calls attention to little-known facts about the high prevalence of rape within the ranks of America’s armed forces. Interviews with military personnel, elected officials and rape victims provide alarming evidence.”

Warning: this documentary is extremely hard to watch and is definitely not a date movie. This movie has a near perfect balance between depth and breadth. We get to hear enough different stories to understand how widespread the issue is but they focus enough on just a few stories so that they achieve intimacy.

How to Survive a Plague (2012) – Not rated

“This passionate documentary focuses on the grass-roots crusade in the 1980s and ’90s to speed up efforts at developing treatments for the HIV virus. The film follows AIDS activists to Washington, where they challenge the government to act.”

5 Broken Cameras (2012) – Not rated

“In this moving documentary, a Palestinian farmer chronicles his village’s nonviolent resistance to the presence of encroaching Israeli settlers and military. As camera after camera gets shot or otherwise destroyed, the farmer continues filming.”

Netflix Funny Stuff – Bernie, The Muppet Movie, John Pinette

I don’t always watch horror – occasionally I like a good laugh from my streaming Netflix.

John Pinette: Still Hungry (2011) – Rated TV-14

“Larger-than-life funnyman John Pinette is still hungry for laughs in this sold-out comedy concert filmed live inside Chicago’s historic Vic Theater. The crowd eats up Pinette’s humor as he questions the sense of panini makers and arugula.”

This special is quite funny but definitely watch John Pinette: I’m Starvin’ first. I’m Starvin’ is hysterical – Still Hungry is not as good but they make a good double feature.

Bernie (2011) – Rated PG-13

“In this black comedy inspired by a true story, affable Texas mortician Bernie befriends the small town’s wealthiest widow and then kills her. But despite the suspicious nature of her death, no one wants to think anything but the best of Bernie.”

The three of us in the house have very different tastes in movies. It is rare for all of us to agree but we all very much enjoyed Bernie. It is bafflingly offbeat – half the film consists of a series of interviews with the ‘townspeople’ who witnessed the actual events, the other half contains wonderful performances by Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. This is very low-key and not at all what you would expect from Jack Black.

The Muppet Movie (1979) – Rated G

“After deciding to pursue a career in acting, Kermit the Frog goes on a cross-country trek to find fame in Hollywood. Along the way, he meets Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the rest of the Muppets cast, and voilĂ , the Muppets are born.”

Why are there so many songs about rainbows? While I enjoyed Jason Segel’s good-hearted revival of the Muppet franchise, it doesn’t hold a candle to the 1979 original. The Muppet Movie is hysterical and is also a movie I can watch with my three-year-old granddaughter. It also features a mind-boggling series of cameos: James Coburn, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Bob Hope, Edgar Bergen, Carol Kane, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and many others.

More Netflix Horror – V/H/S, Hell, 7 Below, Intruders

Here’s another batch of good and not so good horror films streaming on Netflix:

Intruders (2011) – Rated R

“Childhood demons become all too real in this thriller starring Clive Owen as the father of a girl who dreams of creatures that are out to get her family. A parallel story focuses on a Spanish mother and son who go up against a faceless stranger.”

Easily the best of the four, Intruders has a decent storyline and several very creepy moments but ultimately doesn’t thrill so much as intrigue.

Hell (2011) – Rated R

“The sun has turned the entire world into a baked and barren wasteland. Heading for the mountains in search of water, Marie, her sister Leonie and Phillip run into Tom, a first-rate mechanic who becomes indispensible. But can they trust him?”

This is a fascinating misfire from Germany. The atmosphere and cinematography are nice but the whole thing devolves into a ‘hillbillies kidnapped my friends’ scenario.

V/H/S (2012) – Rated R

“Hired to steal a rare VHS tape from a secluded house, a group of petty crooks breaks in and discovers a corpse surrounded by TVs and stacks of tapes. Now they must watch each horrific and bizarre video as they search for the correct one.”

This is a neat idea for an anthology movie. Unfortunately the individual stories are only so-so and the wraparound story is ridiculous.

7 Below (2012) – Rated R

“After a bus accident leaves them stranded, a group of strangers must ride out a storm in a foreboding house with a frightening history: A century earlier, a 10-year-old boy brutally murdered his family there.”

Val Kilmer continues to sink into Direct-to-DVD oblivion. He honestly seems asleep through his small role in this picture. Ving Rhames is better but the movie is terrible, simply terrible.