New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 2/25/2014

Quite a lot of good documentaries this week and the final episodes of Breaking Bad

Comedy: The Four-Faced Liar, Nick Thune: Folk Hero, Random Acts of Violence, Violet & Daisy, Bad Milo!, Christmas Bounty

Casino Jack

Documentary: The City Dark, Bigger Stronger Faster, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, Crazy Love, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Jesus Camp, A League of Ordinary Gentlemen, Mr. Untouchable, Surfwise, The Last White Knight

Drama: Best Man Down, Tyler Perry’s Temptation, The Gymnast, Petunia, The Wait

Family: Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Attila

Paris Countdown

Foreign: Paris Countdown, An Afghan Love Story, Blue is the Warmest Color, The Fish Child, Sword of the Assassin

Wishmaster

Horror: Wishmaster, Wishmaster 2, Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell, Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled, Dead Before Dawn

Television: Crossing Lines, Cult, Marriage Boot Camp: Bridezillas, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, The Returned, The Guild, and new seasons of Medium, Dance Academy, Breaking Bad, Kickin’ It, and Twilight Zone

Sightseers at an Alien Uprising

Sightseers and Alien Uprising are currently available on instant Netflix

Alien Uprising

 

Alien Uprising (2012) – Rated R

One night five friends are out drinking, the next they’re struggling to survive in a landscape controlled by alien invaders in this sci-fi chiller. Anarchy is in the air as an enormous spacecraft hovers overhead and order breaks down on the ground.”

One Line Review: Absolutely awful, abominable atrocity.

OMG. Writer/director/producer/actor Dominic Burns has a terrible case of Attention Deficit Disorder. He is unable to focus on a single scene for longer than a few seconds. Initially I thought it was because he was filming (badly) a montage of the dance club but he can’t even focus on that. He cuts back and forth from the incomprehensible past to the equally incomprehensible present. Burns is also a bit of an egomaniac, plastering posters of his Airborne movie throughout the film.

The camera jitters all over the place, particularly during the sex scenes. Speaking of which, he cuts back and forth during two simultaneous sex scenes, splicing in footage of another friend throwing up in a toilet.

There is much to be said about taking an intimate approach to a global problem. It worked really well in Signs. Here though you’ll want all the characters to die long before the aliens show up.

The actors are pretty terrible though I will say it was probably a smart move to cast Bianca Bree as the hottie. She is quite attractive but, more importantly, she is Jean Claude Van Damme’s daughter. My guess is that is why he is in it. Speaking of nepotism, Michael is played by Pierce Brosnan’s son, Sean.

I can’t really blame the actors though as it is the completely haphazard way the film is thrown together that is the worst offender. There are innumerable nonsensical flashbacks/dream sequences/visions, even the film isn’t sure what they are.

A note to whoever titled this piece of cinematic garbage: Uprising has a meaning (an act or instance of rising up) – try to at least have your title make sense.

People Watch: Julian Glover and Sean Pertwee show up as voices of doom, each for about half a minute. I have to think that they were sentenced to community service or something.

Sightseers

 

Sightseers (2012) – Not rated

Newly coupled Chris and Tina embark on an RV road trip to take in England’s unique sights and rolling countryside. But as events and people inadvertently raise Chris’s ire, the trip takes a gory wrong turn.

I think you’ve found your ouevre, Chris.”

I love Ben Wheatley. His first film, Down Terrace, was a hysterically funny sendup of the British crime film albeit in a very low-key, dry humor way. He wrote, directed, and edited both that and his second feature, Kill List. Kill List is a bit of a mash-up between a hit man film and a horror movie. It is very funny, though not as good as Down Terrace. Kill List is currently available on instant Netflix.

Ben Wheatley directs and edits here but Sightseers is actually written by the two lead actors, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram. Sightseers has the same sense of humor. Wheatley’s films are made on a very small budget with no big name actors, explosions, or special effects yet are very professional.

I do have to warn that they are quintessentially British. There is no effort to broaden the appeal of these movies for American audiences. Wheatley makes very personal, humorous films and I’m very much looking forward to his latest endeavor, A Field in England.

If I seem vague about Sightseers, I am. The film is very good but most of the fun are the turns the story takes and I don’t want to spoil those. The evolving relationship between Chris and Tina, both of whom have rather severe mental problems, is the other highlight of the film.

RoboNono & Elite Squad – The Enemy Within

I had a FREE ticket (my favorite kind of ticket) to go see the Robocop remake/reboot.

Robocop

 

Robocop (2014) – Rated PG-13

In 2028 Detroit, when Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) – a loving husband, father and good cop – is critically injured in the line of duty, the multinational conglomerate OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer.

One Line Review: Ho hum Robo redo is a RoboNono.

In spite of its arrival in the February movie dumping grounds, I was looking forward to the Robocop reboot. The director, Jose Padilha, made two police movies, Elite Squad and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within in his home country of Brazil. Both were exciting thrillers that were also indictments of the Brazilian justice system and the inherent corruption in government.

Obviously the first telling sign is Robocop’s February release. Clearly the studio did not believe in the film. The second telling sign is the teen-friendly PG-13 rating. Not only were the original’s dark humor and brutal violence prime selling points but the bad Robocop movie was Robocop 3, the only one not rated R.

There are a number of nods to the original film. Basil Poledouris’ bombastic score from the original is utilized in a couple scenes but is very toned down. The ED-209s do put in an appearance. A few of the original one-liners are present but lack any punch.

Some of the things that made Jose Padilha’s earlier movies fascinating are ultimately what doom Robocop. The Elite Squad films are a cross between police thrillers and documentaries. The documentary nature of the films helps bring the differences between Brazilian and U.S. justice systems to light.

Unfortunately the same approach is applied to Robocop. There is waaaaaaay too much exposition. The film holds your hand and carefully explains everything that is happening. Every time the film starts to get moving, another clunky bit of exposition grinds momentum to a halt.

I have to lay the vast majority of the blame at the feet of first-time writer Joshua Zetumer. He took a wonderfully interconnected original script that was not only exciting but full of incredible dark, albeit sometimes juvenile, humor and stripped out the excitement and humor. In place of the humor, he tried to update Robocop to the current drone age. There are some interesting ideas but he forgot one of the first rules of screenwriting, never state something when you can show it. He also dropped one of the core ideas from the original: that politics, business, and organized crime are all interconnected.

Joel Kinnamon is just fine as Alex Murphy but isn’t given much to do. Samuel L. Jackson’s angry news commentator schtick grows old quickly and is much too on the nose to be funny. Jackie Earle Haley provides the film’s only bit of comic relief via a song. Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman are completely wasted.

Robocop is not awful. It is just drearily by-the-numbers by people who had no understanding of what made the first one a wonderful film. Don’t buy that for a dollar!

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is currently available on instant Netflix. Go watch that instead (as long as you don’t mind subtitles).

Elite Squad Enemy Within

 

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010) – Not rated

Tenente-Coronel Nascimento, a hardened vet of Rio de Janeiro’s drug wars, is now head of a special police unit. With his new title comes new responsibilities and dangers, which the captain navigates with brashness and resolve.

R.I.P. Harold Ramis 1944-2014

Harold Ramis

 

Well, for me, it’s the relationship between comedy and life – that’s the edge I live on, and maybe it’s my protection against looking at the tragedy of it all. It’s seeing life in balance. Comedy and tragedy co-exist. You can’t have one without the other. I’m of the school that anything can be funny, if seen from a comedic point of view.

 

Harold Ramis, comedian extraordinaire, passed away February 24th at the age of 69. He wrote many of the best comedies from 1978-1993. Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Back to School, culminating in one of my very favorite movies, Groundhog Day. I count myself lucky to have caught Regal’s special showing of it just a few weeks ago.

Ghostbusters

Netflix has three of his movies available for streaming: Ghostbusters (writer and actor), Ice Harvest (director), and Baby Boom (actor). Ghostbusters is the obvious choice (of those) for remembering him.

Ghostbusters (1984) – Rated PG

After losing their academic posts at a prestigious college, a team of parapsychologists creates a business exterminating ghouls, hobgoblins and supernatural pests — and are soon hired by a cellist to purge her digs of a demon.

R.I.P. Harold Ramis – Thank you for making us laugh. You will be missed.

Netflix & Vudu & Regal & Godzilla Oh My

Netflix

 

* After binging on the wonderful season two of House of Cards, I am looking forward to the second season of Orange is the New Black on June 6th.

Vudu

 

* I love my Vudu account and their disc-to-digital program but they always try to start the movie in HDX. My internet can’t handle that load at night so I often have to poke it down to HD and occasionally SD. I’d really like for them to take a page out of Netflix’ book and adjust settings on the fly.

* On the other hand, I have to give Vudu props because none of the other UV services appear to be able to handle over a hundred personal movies. Vudu also has the best sorting methods and interface.

Godzilla

 

* The new Godzilla will be released on May 16th. In anticipation of this, Rialto will be releasing a restored version of the original Japanese film to tour theaters starting April 12th. So far it is just the big cities but I’ll keep my fingers crossed and my eyes open.

Regal Cinemas

 

* On Thursday, March 6th, at 5:30 p.m., select Regal Cinemas (no list as of post) will be playing a double feature of 300 and 300 Rise of an Empire. The double feature is $18-$22. Regal Crown Club members will receive the usual coupon for a $5 medium soda and popcorn combo. Fingers crossed for my area and not having to babysit that night. Woohoo!

The Return of Regal Classic Film Series

regalcinemas

Regal Cinemas no sooner finished their last series of classic films than they have brought out a new series starting this Sunday. Showings are Sundays at 2 p.m. and Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m. This set is dedicated to Oscar-winners.

2/23 & 2/26 – On the Waterfront

Rear Window

3/2 & 3/5 – Rear Window

Chicago

3/9 & 3/12 – Chicago

3/16 & 3/19 – The Grapes of Wrath

3/23 & 3/26 – The Shawshank Redemption

Silence of the Lambs

3/30 & 4/2 – The Silence of the Lambs

Regal Crown Club members who attend any three of the films will receive an extra 50 credits (essentially one perk – soda, popcorn, or ticket). Those who see all six will receive an extra 100 points (two perks).

Participating theaters can be found here. They also note that AARP members get a discounted rate. I only mention this as this year, I actually qualify for the aforementioned discount. /sigh.

 

 

Home Theater Mural and Popcorn Machine

Having devoted all of our living room to a home theater (because loving wife loves me) and plastering the walls with movie posters, we wondered what we could do to improve it. I’ve previously spoken of the wonderful arcade cocktail table we got. My wife thought we should hire one of our artistic friends to do a mural.

Mural

 

The central image is from the poster for Quatermass and the Pit (Five Million Years to Earth was the american title), one of my favorite Hammer movies. The mural isn’t complete and clearly Chupacabra (sitting on the arcade) is not impressed but I love it.

Popcorn Jenny

After much research on both our parts, Jenny bought a popcorn machine (Deluxe 4 oz. popcorn maker by Paramount) as well as a case each of 2.5 oz. (feeds 2) and 4 oz. popcorn (feeds 3-4) and 500 popcorn bags. The popcorn is from Great Northern and includes pre-measured amounts of popcorn, butter-flavored salt, and coconut oil. Each batch is absolutely delicious, though Jenny is our popcorn fanatic (she’s a salt junkie, I’m addicted to baked goods).

Dorothy Popcorn

 

My granddaughter Dorothy approves this message.

AMC Best Picture Showcase – AMC 3, Regal 0, Carolina Cinemas Yumm

AMC Oscar

 

AMC Theaters is doing their Oscar nominee marathon again this year. Participating theaters are in the link above.

On Saturday, February 22nd, you can see four movies (Philomena, Dallas Buyer’s Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, and 12 Years a Slave) for $30.

On Saturday, March 1st, you can watch the five remaining Best Picture nominees (Nebraska, Captain Phillips, Her, American Hustle, and Gravity) for $40.

If you want to go both days, the combo ticket is $60. Each day gives you $5 bonus bucks on your Stubs card. A few markets are doing a one-day blitz of all nine movies on March 1st. Of course, if you do that you are unlikely to be awake for the Oscars the next day.

We do not have an AMC theater in our area. Regal, which had an Oscar marathon last year, declined to do it this year, citing that most of the movies were still in theaters anyway (a rather weak excuse in my opinion, especially since we have two Regal theaters comprising 22 screens and only Philomena is playing at them – the other eight nominees having been and gone).

/sigh I love movie marathons. I’m hoping Regal has a marathon of Captain America, The Avengers, and Captain America: Winter Soldier like the one they did for Thor: Dark World.

Regal Cinemas

 

* Speaking of Regal Cinemas, I have a Regal Cinema Club card that I use every time I attend to earn the usual popcorn, soda, and movie tickets. They have a special Elite card that they can give out when you reach 10,000 points. I say can because they have to pick you for Elite status, you don’t automatically earn it at 10,000.

Searching the internet, I found several people who had gotten the card but none who talked about the swag package that supposedly comes with it. I won’t reach that lofty total any time soon because I split my time between Regal Biltmore Grande, Carolina Cinemas, and Epic in Hendersonville with occasional side trips when I’m out of town.

Carolina Cinemas

 

* Speaking of Carolina Cinemas, as if they weren’t already my number one choice, they have just introduced a new menu. This new menu includes locally sourced meats, vegetables, and cheeses as well as breads from Carolina Mountain Bakery. Many of the new options are Gluten-Free and/or Vegetarian (this is Asheville).

The one I’m looking forward to trying: Asheville Cheese Plate ($9) – 2 selected cheeses from local producers, fresh bread from Carolina Mountain Bakery, selected local fruit, and a rotating seasonal accompaniment.

R.I.P. Shirley Temple (1928-2014)

Shirley Temple

 

Shirley Temple passed away at the age of 85 on February 10th, 2014. She was the most famous child star of all time and was the reigning box office champ from 1935-8 beating out all the adult stars. She could sing, dance, and act. As if that weren’t enough, later in life she left Hollywood to become a U.S. Chief of Protocol, Delegate to the United Nations, and the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

In spite of ruling the box office for many years, she only had 61 roles. Of those, fourteen were shorts, two were for television, six were short enough to be uncredited, and in one, her scenes were deleted. Thus it is perhaps not surprising that Netflix only has one of her titles available for streaming.

Miss Annie Rooney

Miss Annie Rooney (1942) – Not rated.

Poor inventor’s daughter Annie Rooney is head over heels for Marty White, the son of a millionaire rubber magnate. But joining Marty’s daunting social circle proves difficult until Annie’s father comes through with a promising new product.

This is one of those oddities where Amazon Prime has a much better selection. Amazon Prime users can watch Miss Annie Rooney. Little Princess, Dora’s Dunkin’ Donuts, War Babies, Managed Money, and Pardon My Pups as well as a Shirley Temple documentary.

Rest in Peace, Shirley Temple – you will be missed.

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 2/18/2014

The easy recommendation is the second season of House of Cards. The opening episode is phenomenal.

Action/Adventure: Marvel’s Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, Ambushed, Force of Execution

Comedy: Were the World Mine, Ingenious, Chris Porter: Ugly and Angry, Rock and Roll Fantasy

The Summit

Documentary: Danland, The Motivation, The Network, The Summit

Cloudburst

Drama: Cloudburst, My Normal, Four, Inch’Allah, The Dynamiter, Somewhere

Foreign: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, The Haunting of Helena, Evil, Mercury Man

Haunter

Horror: Haunter

Television: Clifford the Big Red Dog, Clifford’s Puppy Days, and new seasons of Bridezillas, The Pitch, Burn Notice, House of Cards, and Lab Rats

Thriller: The Mystery of Spoon River, Passion