Last of the July Netflix Updates

Just in time for the overload of August 1st titles, here are the last of the July releases for instant Netflix:

Action Adventure: AE: Apocalypse Earth

Anime: Hetalia World Series, Hetalia Paint it White, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings

Comedy: My Awkward Sexual Adventure

Documentary: The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, Shut Up and Play the Hits, I Am, Journey to Planet X, WWE For All Mankind: The Life & Career of Mick Foley

Lore

Drama: Lore, Barrymore

Faith: God’s Country

Foreign: Woochi

The Collection

Horror: The Collection, A Haunting at Silver Falls, Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh

Musicals: Sistas

Hell on Wheels

Television: Mako Mermaids: An H2O adventure and season 2 of Hell on Wheels

Warner Archive Final Report

WB Archive Instant

The Warner Instant Archive FREE trial is a great deal. Despite some technical issues, there is a lot to like here if you like movies from the 20s-80s (fans of more modern fare need not apply). The Roku setup is simple though you must follow the instructions on Warner’s website to add the private channel.

Roku

Sadly this does not mean the channel itself is a good deal. Unless you are a devout cinephile, you can probably blow through all the content you want to see on Warner Archive during the trial. Price after that is $9.99 a month. I can imagine revisiting this in a year as Warner has an extensive back catalog that is much larger than their Warner Instant Archive.

Man from UNCLE

They do have a number of television shows available that I did not sample. The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Cheyenne, The Jimmy Stewart Show, Hawaiian eye, Jericho (1966), 77 Sunset Strip, and The Adventures of Superman are all on tap here. Their currently most popular movies are (strangely in alphabetic order) Attack of the 50 ft. Woman, Bachelor in Paradise, The Carey Treatment, Give a Girl a Break, Harper, Kansas City Bomber, Keeper of the Flame, Lone Star, Madame Satan, The Mayor of Hell, The Prize, The Racket, A Slight Case of Murder, Strange Cargo, What’s Up, Doc?.

If you do try Warner Instant Archive, do watch Time After Time, a very entertaining story of H.G. Wells tracking Jack the Ripper.

The Mummy

The Mummy (1959) – “In the 1890s a team of British archaeologists discover the untouched tomb of Princess Ananka but accidentally bring the mummified body of her High Priest back to life. Three years later back in England a follower of the same Egyptian religion unleashes the mummy to exact grisly revenge on the despoilers of the sacred past.

I own this Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee classic on DVD but Warner Archive has it in HD. I watched it and, if you have the bandwidth, it does look much prettier. They also have Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula in HD.

Warner Archive Part Deux

Some more of the films I caught during my FREE trial of Warner Archive Instant.

The Black Scorpion

The Black Scorpion (1957) – “Volcanic activity frees giant scorpions from the earth who wreak havoc in the rural countryside and eventually threaten Mexico City.

There are nice stop-motion special effects in this but also some pretty laughable ones (see poster).

Moon Zero Two

Moon Zero Two (1969) – “A space salvage expert and his partner become involved with a group of criminals intent on hijacking a small asteroid made of sapphire and crashing it into the moon for later recovery. The only place that they can bring the asteroid down without drawing attention to themselves is a far side mining claim. But first they must dispose of the miner. Little known to them, however, is the fact that the miners sister has hired the same salvage team to help her locate her missing brother.

One of the few Hammer movies I’ve never seen. Sadly it is not very good.

The Ultimate Warrior (1975) – “Atomic holocaust is not the only plague that threatens our future. New York City, 2012 A.D.: In a devastated world, one tired man finds a reason to fight.

Yul Brynner poses and stabs people – repeat until end of movie in this cheesy, very low-budget post-apocalyptic movie.

World Without End

World Without End (1956) – “Astronauts returning from a voyage to mars are caught in a time warp and are propelled into a post-Apocalyptic Earth populated by mutants.”

Some interesting concepts (the more civilized we become, the less able we are to handle violence) combined with really bad make-up (the mutants) make for a campy 50s sci-fi outing.

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979) – “Adventurers return to the overturned ship, seeking a fortune.

The Poseidon Adventure is a classic disaster movie. Beyond the Poseidon Adventure is a classic disaster of a movie. Sally Field’s spunky personality is misused here, creating a character you want to see drowned.

This was supposed to be a tale of the passengers who headed the other way (briefly glimpsed in the original). They then add a crew of salvors who happen to come across the Poseidon after the rescue team has left but before it sinks. Apparently that wasn’t enough so there is also another team that also happens to arrive at the same time that is searching for cargo on the ship. Another movie Michael Caine and the others would like erased from their resumes.

Flood! (1976) – “After several weeks of heavy rainfall, the dam above Brownsville is short from running over. However the mayor refuses to open it’s gates, because he fears for the fishes in the lake… and paves the way for disaster.”

This is a terrible disaster movie from Irwin Allen. He assembled a nice set of B-list celebrities (Roddy McDowall, Robert Culp, Martin Milner, Barbara Hershey, Carol Lynley, etc.) but nothing was spent on production. The effects are terrible and the story is ripped straight from Jaws, replacing Bruce with a seldom-glimpsed dam.

He Knows You’re Alone! (1980) – “A young bride-to-be is being stalked upon by a serial killer. She gets help from a former lover, but will they manage to escape?”

AKA Tom Hanks big break. As expected this isn’t very good and Tom Hanks is not in much of the movie so there isn’t much to recommend it.

 

Warner Archive

WB Archive Instant

I finished my two-week FREE trial of Warner Archive. It was a lot of fun – they have a very limited selection of movies but, unlike Netflix/Instant Redbox/Amazon Prime, there is not a lot of overlap. I spent most of my time on horror and science fiction ‘classics’ that I had either missed entirely or not seen in decades.

The service is buggy. If you pause a movie for more than a few minutes, you may have to back all the way out of Warner Archive and go back in again to resume. Not on all movies but on many, service would hiccup and tell me the movie wasn’t available. I would have to back all the way out and go back in. Loading screens are quite a bit longer than Netflix. Adding the channel to Roku requires using the instructions on the website but is not difficult.

Green Slime

The Green Slime (1968) – “A giant asteroid is heading toward Earth so some astronauts disembark from a nearby space station to blow it up. The mission is successful, and they return to the station unknowingly bringing back a gooey green substance that mutates into one-eyed tentacled monsters that feed off electricity. Soon the station is crawling with them, and people are being zapped left and right!

Groovy, psychedelic, trashy science fiction with a bizarre theme song.

The Hand (1981) – “Jon Lansdale is a comic book artist who loses his right hand in a car accident. The hand was not found at the scene of the accident, but it soon returns by itself to follow Jon around, and murder those who anger him.

Poor Michael Caine! I guess when you star in over 150 productions, not all of them can be winners. The Hand is silly, boring, and stupid.

 

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) – “Englishmen race to find the tomb of Ghengis Khan. They have to get there fast, as the evil genius Dr. Fu Manchu is also searching, and if he gets the mysteriously powerful relics, he and his diabolical daughter will enslave the world!”

I love Boris Karloff but wow is this film racist. To be fair, Sax Rohmer’s books are exceedingly racist and xenophobic so it is in the source material but Christopher Lee’s version tones it down quite a bit.

Salem's Lot

Salem’s Lot (1979) – “Vampires are invading a small New England town. It’s up to a novelist and a young horror fan to save it.”

The 1979 miniseries with James Mason is a little goofy but still fun.

Razorback (1984) – “A vicious wild boar terrorizes the Australian outback. The first victim is a small child who is killed. The child’s granddad is brought to trial for killing the child but acquitted. The next victim is an American TV-journalist. Her husband Carl gets there and starts to search for the truth. The local inhabitants won’t really help him, but he is joined by a hunter and a female farmer to find the beast.

Russell Mulcahy’s debut was not as entertaining as I had hoped.

The Valley of Gwangi (1969) – “Cowboy James Franciscus seeks fame and fortune by capturing a Tyrannosaurus Rex living in the Forbidden Valley and putting it in a Mexican circus. His victim, called the Gwangi, turns out to have an aversion to being shown in public.

It was nice to catch one of the few Harryhausen movies I don’t own.

 

 

Despicable Me 2 and the Minions

Despicable MeA month or so ago I bought Despicable Me at Target to watch with my granddaughter (it was cheap and had a FREE ticket to Despicable Me 2). She loved it and calls it the Minion movie. We then had to collect the McDonald’s kids meal toys (the tiny one was a Target freebie).

MinionsNot to be outdone, my ever creative wife made a Minion shirt for our darling.

Dorothy MinionWe finally went to see Despicable Me 2 last weekend (Jenny, my daughter Els, my granddaughter Dorothy, and I). A fun time was had by all. Despicable Me 2 was not as good as the first but we all enjoyed it – Dorothy was rapt!

E & DSadly the Biltmore Grande had gotten rid of their awesome promotional display: a whack-a-mole with minions! I really wanted to buy it from them and put it in the movie room, even if it was cardboard. The Regal Biltmore gets the best displays.

Despicable Me 2

Watch the Bard Week – Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love is currently available on instant Netflix

One-Line Review: Overrated by the Academy, Shakespeare in Love is still quite good.

Shakespeare in LoveShakespeare in Love (1998) – Rated R

Young Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is forced to stage his latest comedy, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter,” before it’s even written. When a lovely noblewoman (Gwyneth Paltrow) auditions for a role, they fall into forbidden love — and his play finds a new life (and title). As their relationship progresses, Shakespeare’s comedy soon transforms into tragedy. This bittersweet romance won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress.”

While Shakespeare in Love may not have deserved all of the accolades it received, it is undeniably good. Shakespeare in Love won seven Oscars and was nominated for six others. Gwyneth Paltrow took home the gold as the romantic lead as did Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth. Geoffrey Rush was delightful as Philip Henslowe and received a nomination but had to content himself with his statue for Shine.

Joseph Fiennes (Ralph’s brother) is the titular Shakespeare. Future Oscar Winner Colin Firth plays Lord Wessex. Ben Affleck plays Ned Alleyn. An uncredited Rupert Everett is Christopher Marlowe.

The greatest feat Shakespeare in Love pulls off is how neatly everything fits together and most of the credit must go to the writers. The movie was written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. They won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Stoppard had previously dabbled in Shakespeare when he wrote Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.

While Shakespeare in Love is a lot of fun, I thought that year’s Elizabeth and Saving Private Ryan were much more serious and, more importantly, better films but second-guessing the Oscars is a national pastime.

People Watch: Once again look for a younger Jim Carter (Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson), this time as Ralph Bashford.

Watch the Bard Week: Coriolanus

Coriolanus is currently available on instant Netflix

One-Line Review: Excellent updating of Shakespeare’s play.

CoriolanusCoriolanus (2011) – Rated R

Actor Ralph Fiennes makes his directorial debut with this modern update of Shakespeare’s tale about the arrogant general who is banished by the republic he has protected at all costs, provoking him to ally with former foes and wreck a bloody revenge.”

He that will give good words to thee will flatter beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs that like nor peace nor war? The one affrights you, the other makes you proud. He that trusts to you where he should find you lions, finds you hares; where foxes, geese. Who deserves greatness, deserves your hate.”

We initially started to watch Coriolanus some time ago but had to quickly stop it because of our granddaughter. We had not noticed the R rating when it came on – be assured this movie is quite violent and not for the kiddies. We finally got a chance to watch it recently, sans child.

During the 90s, Ralph Fiennes quickly shot up the acting charts, landing the romantic lead in Wuthering Heights and being nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. He received a Best Actor nomination as the romantic lead in The English Patient and this would normally have cemented him as a leading man. Unfortunately the science fiction epic Strange Days and attempted blockbuster The Avengers (1998) were complete bombs at the box office and Fiennes was relegated to smaller films, smaller roles, and voiceover work.

In 2005, he landed the plum role of Voldemoort in the Harry Potter series. Unfortunately, when he was cast as Hades in Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans, they essentially made him redo Voldemoort. Perhaps this is what caused him to move into directing with Coriolanus.

Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays. Fiennes updates it, making it a modern conflict and using the play to say a lot of things about politics and the media. In this it succeeds quite well, once again showing the Bard as relevant as ever. The combat is handled impressively, albeit on a small scale. Coriolanus has a nice crowd-turning scene a la Mark Antony’s speech in Julius Caesar.

Ralph Fiennes is quite impressive as the arrogant Caius Martius Coriolanus. Gerard Butler acquits himself nicely as his foe, Tullus Aufidius, in both the action sequences and the dialogue. Brian Cox, James Nesbitt, and Paul Jesson engage as politicians. Vanessa Redgrave shines as Volumnia, mother to Coriolanus. Jessica Chastain has less to do as Virgilia, Coriolanus’ wife.

The majority of Coriolanus was filmed in Serbia. If you read the credits, most of the non-speaking roles are filled with names ending in ‘vic’. It is somewhat ironic as Coriolanus details strife between the Romans and the Volsces. The industrial look found in most Serbian films is found here as well but it works quite well in context.

Fiennes’ direction is assured. Cinematography is excellent. Action sequences are exciting and Shakespeare’s marvelous language survives intact. This is the counterpoint to Taymor’s dreadfully campy Titus Andronicus.

Coriolanus has been on Netflix for a while so catch it before it disappears.

 

Watch the Bard Week: Richard III

Richard III is currently available on instant Netflix.

 

Richard IIIRichard III (1995) – Rated R

One-Line Review: Watch this outstanding movie now – the DVD is out of print.

“Ian McKellen stars in the title role in this visually inventive adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic drama, which is set in 1930s England after a civil war has torn the country apart and left the people under fascist rule.”

This version of Richard III is my favorite cinematic adaptation of the Bard. The alternate reality director Richard Loncraine creates for Richard III is inventive and fun. It was nominated, with good reason, for Oscars in the art direction and costuming categories. There is a wonderfully visual artistic sequence that I don’t want to spoil, save to say that Captain America appropriated it to good effect.

Ian McKellan gives a bravura, impish performance as the titular monarch. Even with later signature roles such as Gandalf and Magneto and a wonderful turn in Apt Pupil, I think this is his best performance. McKellan dominates every scene and single-handedly carries the film. He doesn’t need to though as he is supported by a stellar cast.

The cast is simply amazing. On the distaff side, Richard III stars Annette Bening, Kristin Scott Thomas, and the always wonderful Maggie Smith in juicy roles. Robert Downey Jr. is Lord Rivers and a veritable who’s who of British character actors are in support (Jim Broadbent, Nigel Hawthorne, John Wood, Edward Hardwicke, and even comedian Tim McInnerny as Catesby).

People Watch: Look for a young (okay, younger) Jim Carter as Lord William Hastings though you will recognize him as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey.

 

More New July Netflix Movies

More new offerings on instant Netflix

Anime: Eden of the East: Paradise Lost, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040

Intolerable Cruelty

Comedy: The Ice Harvest, Intolerable Cruelty, Venus and Vegas, Red Flag

Documentary: Eco Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson, Amare Stoudemire: In the Moment, Walking on Water, Traces of Dragon: Jackie Chan & Lost Family, I Want My Name Back

Drama: Morgan, Unfinished Sky, Somebody’s Child

Intouchables

Foreign: Deficit, Golmaal Returns, The Intouchables, Come Out and Play, Xanda, Nightfall, Lucky

Horror: Last Kind Words, The Surge (2002)

Musical: Lovestruck: The Musical

Ripper Street

Television: Bonnie Bear, Color Crew, Numbers Around the Globe, Ripper Street, The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Trailer Park Boys

Thriller: Rubberneck, Apartment 4E

Watch the Bard Week – Much Ado About Nothing

We love our local Montford Park Players. They put on Shakespeare in the park every weekend from May through September. Jason Williams’ marvelous production of The Merchant of Venice just ended its four week run and this weekend starts Ken Knight’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, which he is presenting as an 80s John Hughes movie. If you are ever in Asheville, you would be remiss if you did not attend.

Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing (2013) – Rated PG-13

“A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.”

One Line Review: Enjoyable but for fans of the Whedonverse or Shakespeare only.

We also caught Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing in its short run. We found it quite enjoyable but a little on the slight side. He did a wonderful job with a twelve-day shoot in his backyard. The black and white cinematography is excellent.

It was really nice to see Whedon’s supporting players Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker get starring roles and I found them delightful. Clark Gregg was wonderful as Leonato. Strangely the biggest name in the cast, Nathan Fillion, severely underplayed the role of Dogberry. Our local actor Matt Tavener did a better job on Montford’s last go around of Much Ado.

I am making this week – Watch the Bard, with several tempting offerings on instant Netflix.