Last of the August Titles from Netflix

Here are the last of August’s titles for instant Netflix:

Anime: Spice and Wolf

Our Idiot Brother

Comedy: Our Idiot Brother

Documentary: Hellbound?, Life 2.0, One Lucky Elephant

Drama: Filly Brown, A Perfect Ending

Family: Bionicle: Mask of Light, Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui, Lego Atlantis, Lego Friends: New Girl in Town, Lego NinjaGo: King of Shadows, Lego Hero Factory: Breakout

Foreign: El Santos vs. La Tetona Mendoza, Hecho en Mexico, Tied

Scandal

Television: Lego NinjaGo: Masters of Spinjitzu and new episodes of Scandal

Thriller: Cat City

FREE Movies at The Carolina in September

Time for my monthly plug of FREE movies at Carolina Cinemas.

Carolina CinemasEvery Tuesday night at 8 p.m.. the Asheville Film Society puts on a FREE classic movie in the cinema lounge. Membership is not necessary to attend.

9/3 Be Kind Rewind (2008, Michel Gondry) – Jack Black, Mos Def

9/10 The Gangs of New York (2002, Martin Scorsese) – Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis

9/17 The Loved One (1965, Tony Richardson) – Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters

9/24 The Darjeeling Limited (2007, Wes Anderson) – Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody

Thursday Horror Picture ShowEvery Thursday night at 8, there is a FREE horror movie in the cinema lounge. Arrive early as Ken and Justin often show a serial before the movie at ~ 7:30. I can only guess that Ken is taking the month off as none of the choices are pre-1950.

9/5 The Faculty (1998, Robert Rodriguez) – Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood

9/12 Sunshine (2007, Danny Boyle) – Cillian Murphy, Chris Evas

9/19 The Exorcist III (1990, William Peter Blatty) – George C. Scott, Nicol Williamson

9/26 Blade II (2002, Guillermo del Toro) – Wesley Snipes, Ron Perlman

Also once a month, ActionFest puts on a movie. This month, the ActionFest feature is on Thursday September 19th at 7:30 and is…

Storm Surfers 3D

Like previous ActionFest films, there will be a donation of $10 that goes to benefit Homeward Bound and there will be FREE popcorn and drinks.

R.I.P. Karen Black (1939-2013)

Prolific actress Karen Black recently passed away from cancer. imdb clocks her at 194 roles but I’ll always remember her for her mid-70s run of Family Plot, Capricorn One, Burnt Offerings, Trilogy of Terror and Airport 1975. Netflix does not have her best work available but here is where you can see her on instant:

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby (1974) – Rated PG

Mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby is obsessed with Daisy Buchanan in this 1974 film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. Beyond Gatsby’s grasp, Daisy is married to unfaithful Tom, making for a love triangle that ends with broken hearts.”

AKA That other version of Gatsby that misfired. I can’t really recommend this but Black does give a good supporting performance here.

Crime and Passion

Crime and Passion (1976) – Rated R

To save his own skin, embattled financial advisor Andre (Omar Sharif) convinces his mistress, Susan (Karen Black), to marry his outraged client, Rolf (Bernhard Wicki), a wealthy businessman. But when Rolf targets them both for murder, the deceptive couple’s precarious plan backfires. With an intriguing premise and surprising supernatural developments, this movie co-stars Joseph Bottoms as a handsome ski instructor who attracts Susan’s attention.

Children of the Corn IV

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996) – Rated R

When the children of a small Midwestern town morph overnight into possessed murderers, it’s up to a young medical student to save her affected sister and her cornfield-surrounded neighbors from the evil child zombies.”

Obviously Black is the best thing about this. That’s not saying much so I’ll just say, actors need to eat, too.

Rest in Peace, Karen Black, you will be missed.

R.I.P. Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)

I was on another project for much of last week and am just now catching up on the news. Unfortunately we had a few passings, the most personal of which was that of criminal author Elmore Leonard. His writing was wonderfully wry and darkly comic, the majority of it focusing on criminal mischief and law enforcement, from the Old West to the New West.

Unfortunately there weren’t very many good adaptations of his work. Here are a few worth looking at on instant Netflix (Justified is Amazon Prime exclusive).

Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997) – Rated R

Jackie Brown is an aging flight attendant who smuggles cash on the side. But when she’s busted and pressured to help with an investigation, she plans to play the opposing forces against each other and walk away with the dough.

While this is, first and foremost, a Quentin Tarantino film, Jackie Brown is based on Leonard’s novel, Rum Punch. The humor in the film is a mix of Tarantino and Leonard.

Hombre

Hombre (1967) – Not rated

Paul Newman stars as a half-Indian shunned by his fellow stagecoach passengers until a holdup forces them to trust him as he finds a way out of the desert. More 1960s than 1860s, this Western takes a hard look at racial injustice in the Old West.

Paul Newman is great in this semi-classic western.

Stick (1985) – Rated R

Ex-con Ernest “Stick” Stickley walks a fine line in this gritty crime drama, which follows the former crook trying to reconnect with his daughter and start a new life, all while seeking to find and punish the drug dealers who killed a close friend.”

Burt Reynolds playing Burt Reynolds. This was neither one of Burt’s best nor one of Leonard’s best.

Justified

Justified (2010-14)

Old-school U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is reassigned from Miami to his childhood home in the poor, rural coal-mining towns in Eastern Kentucky.

Justified evolved from Leonard’s short story Fire in the Hole but his imprint is all over the series and Timothy Olyphant is excellent as Marshal Raylan Givens. Justified is an Amazon exclusive so those with Amazon Prime can watch the first three seasons for FREE. Sorry Netflix fans.

Rest in Peace, Elmore Leonard – you will be missed.

 

More Mid-August Netflix Updates

Some more new releases to Netflix. May I heartily recommend Dredd (not to be confused with the Sylvester Stallone/Rob Schneider dud Judge Dredd)?

Becket

Classic: Becket

Comedy: Harold’s Going Stiff, A Haunted House, Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Doug Stanhope: Beer Hall Putsch, Bear City, Another Gay Movie

Documentary: Miss Representation, Klitschko, Rhyme & Reason, The Other F Word, The Moo Man

Drama: This is Martin Bonner, Highland Park, Wreckers, Outlaw Country, Longhorns, Is It Just Me?, Into the White, Boy Culture

Family: The Phoenix and the Magic Carpet

Dredd

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Dredd, The Road, Battledogs

Foreign: Shun Li and the Poet, Tony Manero, Oh My God, The Women on the 6th Floor, 3, Un Amor

Horror: The Reef, Kiss of the Damned

CSI NY

Television: Serving Life and new episodes of Transformers Prime, My Fair Wedding and CSI: NY

Mid-August Netflix Updates

The usual assortment of mid-month instant NetFlix debuts:

The Rundown

Action & Adventure: The Rundown, 48 Hrs., The Boondocks, Shoot

Anime: The Dino King, Trigun Badlands, Ghost Hunt

Comedy: My Best Day, Greenberg, iSteve, Stark Raving Mad

Documentary: Miss Gulag, Samsara, Birdmen: The Original Dream of Flight

moviedonniedarko

Drama: Agora, Albino Alligator, Donnie Darko, See Girl Run, Stander

Family: The Dragon Pearl, 101 Dalmatians (live action), Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

Fantasy & Science Fiction: The Dinosaur Project, MST3K: Gamera, MST3K: Pod People

Foreign: High Tech – Low Life, Downfall, The Big Picture

Horror: MST3K: Soultaker, MST3K: The Touch of Satan

Television: MST3K: The Final Sacrifice, The Adventures of Fish ‘n Chips, Immortalized, Long Way Down, Long Way Round, Rita and new episodes of Wilfred, The Magic School Bus, Scholastic: Tall Tales and Goosebumps

Memento

Thriller: Memento, Love Sick Love

Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan

Axe Giant is currently available on instant Netflix.

One Line Review: Slightly better than an Asylum offering, funny if you are in a forgiving mood – slightly funny.

Axe GiantAxe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (2013) – Rated R

Axe Giant is a dark, contemporary take on the tall tale. Kids at a first-time offenders’ boot camp discover the legend of lumberjack Paul Bunyan is real, but is much more horrifying than they could have imagined.”

Yes, as you can guess, this movie is stupid. The Axe Giant looks nothing like the cover photo.The CGI is terrible. If you want to place blame here, it has to go to Gary Jones. Jones is credited with writing on the story and screenplay, directing, producing, and producing the visual effects. The background story is pretty good but the script is terrible.

Grizzly Adams himself, Dan Hagerty appears briefly in the movie but is dispatched before the credits even start. That is a shame because, in those few shining moments, he acts rings around the rest of the cast. Funny historical note: Dan Hagerty is the only actor to lose (and regain) a Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

To its credit, the script admits that the group of teenagers aren’t all actually teenagers. On the other hand, the young reprobates all have good reasons for their crimes. The person convicted of felony theft? Oh he’s a well-known superhacker. How many superhackers do you know?

The role of crazy old man in this slasher is played by Martin Sheen’s younger brother, Joe (San Franpsycho, Doctor Spine, Horrorween) Estevez. Joe has racked up an impressive list of two hundred and forty-five roles, two of which have been lampooned by Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Werewolf and Soultaker). My wife got to meet him at DragonCon one year and got me a signed VHS of Soultaker.

Redhead Jill Evyn is our requisite topless gal. Because her character assaulted a cop for looking at her rear and just being generally tough, she has a pierced nipple. It seems unfortunate that her previous imdb credit is Anal Break Up. One could say that her character – oh I can’t do it – suffice it to say that by fooling around she breaks one of the cardinal horror movie rules. Speaking of unfortunate credits, another actress in Axe Giant, Amber Connor appeared in Cornhole, the Movie.

Axe Giant is terrible but it had me chuckling at a few points. If you are looking for a good bad movie, you could do worse.

Hatfields Ring Bag of McCoys Fire Bones

When I was a kid, I loved miniseries. Of course when I was a kid there was no HBO, no VCRs, and you could play any TV series out of order as, other than soap operas, there was no sequential storytelling. How fares the TV miniseries now? Apart from the BBC and Ken Burns (both of whom do miniseries exceedingly well), we have:

Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire (2012) – Not Rated

Stemming from a small town, a volcanic eruption triggered by an oil rig ignites a domino effect of eruptions that extends across the world, dooming all of humanity if the devastating string of explosions can’t be stopped.

Ring of Fire isn’t awful. That’s about all I can say for it. They wisely hide their budgetary limitations but shying away from CGI as much as possible. Characters often talk of events that would be shown in a big budget blockbuster. Acting is better than an Asylum movie but not by much.

If they jettisoned a few unnecessary subplots, Ring of Fire would have easily fit in a single movie slot. Also, a note to filmmakers, you don’t have to make your catastrophe global if ALL of the action is local, it comes off very silly. Shaky cam is DEAD, please let it stay that way.

Hatfields & McCoys

Hatfields & McCoys (2012) – TV-14

Close friends Devil Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy return to their neighboring homes after the Civil War — Hatfield in West Virginia, McCoy across the river in Kentucky — to building tensions and resentments that soon explode into warfare.”

Hatfields & McCoys is a very good miniseries covering the highlights of the infamous feud. The Hatfields come off as the clear aggressors in the early stages but later the McCoys are unable to put the feud behind them, mostly because they don’t feel as though they’ve gotten even.

The general storyline is fairly factual though the miniseries does up the actual body count during several of the more celebrated incidents. Hatfields & McCoys does succeed at evoking rural life in the late nineteenth century, interfamily relations, and ultimately the pointlessness of the feud.

Bag of Bones

Bag of Bones (2011) – TV-14

Reeling from the sudden death of his wife, author Mike Noonan moves into his backwoods writing retreat, only to be swept up in a supernatural conspiracy that involves a custody battle over a young girl and a vengeful ghost that haunts his house.”

Although the miniseries is often the ideal format for Stephen King adaptations (It, The Stand), Bag of Bones does not work very well. It is not a bad miniseries and Pierce Brosnan is always welcome but there is not much here to recommend. Bag of Bones merely hits the highlights of the novel and we never get invested in the characters. It either needed to be three parts or have portions of the story trimmed and altered to make it more cohesive and coherent.

Nearly Instant Gratification – LG 60PN6550

TRS-80 Color Computer

I have wanted a large television for forever. When I was a teenager, I had a 19″ color TV and loved it. It doubled as a computer monitor for my TRS-80 Color Computer (that should show how old I am). I moved up to a 25″ when I got married. When we bought our house, the plan was to buy a 50″ HDTV but money ran out. We picked up a nice 40″ Westinghouse for $500 from Target several years ago. It has been a wonderful TV, particularly once we replaced the sound with a cheap soundbar. We sit close enough that it feels large.

I have been saving gradually for the TV I want, a 65″ Panasonic Plasma. Panasonic TC-P65S60 65-Inch 1080p 600Hz Plasma HDTV if you must know. It is currently $1300 at Amazon. Panasonic is the gold standard for Plasma TVs and Plasma TVs are the preferred choice for movie watchers (those who don’t have a projection system anyway).

Dell

Unfortunately I went to Sam’s Club recently at the behest of my daughter. There I spotted a 60″ LG Plasma TV for $750. Worse still, this started a chain of events that led my wife to discover that not only did Dell have it for $730 but they also gave you a $200 eGift card for purchasing it. If you look for it on Dell, you need to search on the model number, 60PN6550 as I actually didn’t see it in their normal catalog.

This meant that instead of getting the Panasonic I had picked out sometime next year (assuming things went well for us and that’s usually a pretty big assumption), I could have the LG now for about half the price AND use the gift card to pickup a new Blu-Ray player (ours is from the dawn of Blu-Ray). I simply cannot resist a bargain.

LG 6550

I spent one day last week cleaning and rearranging the living room to accommodate this beast. My movie room is finally getting the large TV I’ve always wanted i.e. an affordable one. Now to figure out how to clear time to re-watch all my favorite movies!

8 Things Movie Theaters Need

Looks like I’m on a movie theater things kick.

1. Unlimited refills on soda: Restaurants learned this decades ago – soda and tea cost nothing. Carolina Cinemas has FREE refills and the machine is outside of the register area so you can help yourself. Regal Cinemas has a single FREE refill on their large but their large is a 56 ounce bucket that I have to carry with two hands.

Coke Freestyle

2. A Coke Freestyle machine: I understand that most people will drink Coke, Diet Coke, or Sprite. I am not most people. I love Minute Maid’s low-calorie lemonade. No it doesn’t taste like real lemonade but neither does it have the calories. The Coke Freestyle machine lets me turn it into low-calorie orange-ade, raspberry-ade, cherry lemonade, etc. My wife gets Diet Barq’s Root Beer – try finding that anywhere else. The Coke Freestyle machines allow hundreds of drink choices from a single machine. AMC Disney has these and they are wonderful.

3. Cellular cutoff: Perhaps this is just me but I would love to attend a movie theater that was shielded from signals. This would mean that patrons would need to leave the theater to text, Facebook, tweet, and make phone calls. If you are one of those people that think texting doesn’t bother the other patrons, you are WRONG.

4. Unlimited points: Most theater chains have a rewards program, if only to prevent you from going to the other theater that has a rewards program. Almost all of them are the same with a point earned for every dollar spent and rewards every forty or fifty points. The problem is that they all have point cutoffs. At Epic, you can only earn twelve points a day – who spends only $12 going to the theater? Why do you cap points when you want patrons to spend more? Most do this by hiding the cap and explaining the rewards program in only the vaguest details.

Carolina Cinemas Wednesday

5. Discount days: Theaters have a difficult time getting patrons in Monday through Thursday. Studios have responded by allowing movies to premiere at 10 p.m. on Thursday, sometimes 8 p.m. Epic has $5 Tuesday and Carolina has $5 Wednesday but these programs are far from common.

6. Return old films: Yes, theaters are resistant to showing something you can watch in your living room but bringing back Star Trek (2009) for one showing before the premiere of Star Trek: Into Darkness seems a no-brainer. Showing Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz before the premiere of The World’s End makes for a fun marathon. Sadly my Regal Biltmore is not doing this but other Regals are.

7. Give out more promotional items: Promotional items abound and are very cheap to produce. Use these as an opportunity to get people in the seats. Arrange giveaways to promote films.

8. Use social media better: Get people interested in your Facebook by running promotions. Text them offers or coupons like Regal does. Don’t bombard them but don’t make them come to the theater to find out specials.