The Last of September’s Streaming Netflix Titles

 

Comedy: SMOSH: The Movie, Love Actually

Documentary: The Drop Box, Because I Was a Painter, Iris, Soul Boys of the Western World, The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, The Barefoot Artist

Philomena

Drama: Philomena, Finding Neighbors, Puncture, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The Duke of Burgundy

Family: Vampire Dog, Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls

Foreign: The Brainiac, Shootout at Lockhandwala

Zoo

Television: Zoo, Dark Matter, Monster High: Boo York, Boo York, and new episodes of The Walking Dead, Hawaii Five-O (new), VeggieTales in the House, Bones, and Blue Blood

The Loft

Thriller: The Loft, The Canyons, Intruders

Let’s All Go to the Lobby!

I have a tiny house. Our living room doubles as my movie room. The kids have grown up and moved out (for now) and we don’t really throw parties (except the occasional barbecue) so it isn’t too much of a problem.

Popcorn!

Unfortunately I have way too many posters and tchotchkes. Still that didn’t stop us from picking these up at a local flea market.

Hot Dog!

 

When I saw these, all I could hear in my head was the ‘Let’s All Go to the Lobby’ song.

Soda

We haven’t hung them yet. There is no wall space left but my dear wife is going to attach these to the curtain behind the television.

Finding the Grail – Woohoo! New Theater in Asheville!

The closing of Cinebarre left a bit of a movie void in Asheville. Asheville Pizza is now the only second-run theater and that’s way on the north side of town and has but a single screen. The Carmike and the fading Beaucatcher are out by the mall (ugh). Regal Biltmore Grande is out in the tony Biltmore Park area and is our fancy theater for the latest releases. Carolina Cinemas (south of Asheville) and the Fine Arts theater (downtown) are Asheville’s venues for art, foreign, and independent film.

Grail Moviehouse

 

Enter The Grail Moviehouse, a new two-screen, 250 seat theater in downtown Asheville.

THE GRAIL MOVIEHOUSE IS AN INDEPENDENT, LOCALLY OWNED THEATER,
SCREENING ART AND INDEPENDENT FILMS, LOCALLY PRODUCED CONTENT,
CLASSICS, AND A REGULAR ROTATION OF CINEMATIC SURPRISES.”

The Fine Arts theater downtown already shows art and foreign films but, with only two screens, there should be more than enough movies to go around. Of course I am most intrigued by The Grail Moviehouse’s intention to show classic movies. They have an ad for an old favorite on their website:

The Tingler

 

They have a nice two and a half minute sizzle reel showing the theater being built on their blog (accessible from the website). Concession-wise The Grail Moviehouse will have the necessary traditional favorites but they also plan to reach out to local venues to round out their menu.

I am very much looking forward to opening day sometime in 2016.

“Movies people love for people who love movies.”

That’s me!

 

Friday This ‘n’ That – Halloween

Well I finally had the chance to sit down and watch the Unrated Producer’s Cut of Halloween 6 – The Curse of Michael Myers.

Halloween 6

Halloween – The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) – Unrated Producer’s Cut

Six years after Michael Myers last terrorized Haddonfield, he returns there in pursuit of his niece, Jamie Lloyd, who has escaped with her newborn child, for which Michael and a mysterious cult have sinister plans.”

Initially I loved director’s cuts. Directors often have their creative works taken out of their hands and recut, often butchering them. While Aliens theatrical is more streamlined, Aliens director’s cut is significantly better and expounds upon the theme of motherhood that runs through it. The restored Touch of Evil is far superior to the theatrical cut.

Unfortunately Hollywood quickly saw the ‘director’s cut’  and the nebulous ‘unrated version’ as a profit center. This led to a slew of meaningless rereleases where essentially nothing was changed except an added scene or a few longer takes. For horror movies, it reached assembly line status: Release a movie with a teen friendly PG-13 rating then when it reaches home video, stick a little of the gore back in and call it ‘unrated’ even though it would likely still have been PG-13.

Sometimes a director’s cut can be overindulgent such as Apocalypse Now Redux. If you thought Apocalypse Now was a little bloated, try watching the new four hour cut. These problems put the kibosh on special editions for me.

Ok, a few weeks ago I wrote a bit about the mess that was Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers theatrical as well as the travesty that was Halloween Resurrection. I often find myself at a loss as to why I watch these films as there are now ten of them, eleven if you count this producer’s cut. Out of the ten movies, the first is an absolute classic and Halloween H20 is a lot of fun with some wonderful ideas, even if they pretend that 4, 5, and 6 didn’t happen.

Having now watched the unrated producer’s cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, I can say that it is significantly better than the theatrical version but it is still a mess. They have a much better explanation of the retconning of the end of Halloween 5 but that doesn’t mean it makes sense. The main problem is that it appears that the story someone wanted to tell actually begins about an hour and twenty minutes into an hour and thirty-six minute movie.

This is essentially a completely different movie and honestly one in which Michael Myers is merely a minor character. The cultists have ridiculous looking outfits which is why they are almost entirely cut out of the theatrical version. Dr. Loomis becomes a central character again. One of the characters meets a very un-Hollywoodlike fate in the middle of the movie that is different from the theatrical version.

If you are a fan of the Halloween series, by all means watch this fascinating misfire. If you aren’t a fan then this is not likely to interest you as it is not very good.

 

Black Mass – Whitey Bulger the Departed

24Black Mass is currently playing in theaters. There are some minor spoilers that follow as this is supposedly a true story. I don’t feel that it’s really a spoiler when we’re discussing public figures with public fates. Still, don’t read any further if for some reason you are unaware of how the story ends.

Black Mass

Black Mass (2015) – Rated R

The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.”

You were just saying? “Just saying” gets people sent away. “Just saying” got me a nine-year stretch in Alcatraz, you understand? So, “just saying” can get you buried real quick.

Black Mass is a good overview of the working relationship between childhood friends FBI agent John Connolly and mob boss/informant James “Whitey” Bulger. Director Scott Cooper jumps in after Bulger has served a stint in Alcatraz and Leavenworth (Atlanta too though that is not mentioned).

As is typical of Hollywood telling a ‘true’ story, Black Mass has the basic gist correct but a lot of the facts are wrong or omitted. In the movie, Bulger brings Flemmi in on the FBI arrangement whereas in reality Flemmi had been a FBI informant for almost a decade before Flemmi and Bulger worked together. Catherine Greig, a rather important part of the Whitey Bulger story, was to have been played by Sienna Miller but all of her scenes were cut. Bulger’s other brother is omitted as is Connolly’s brother in the DEA.

Cooper’s previous two films, Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace, were marked by star performances by Jeff Bridges and Christian Bale respectively. Black Mass is no different. For all of its pacing and factual flaws, Black Mass has an outstanding (and quite scary) performance by Johnny Depp as Bulger and a wonderfully underplayed one by Joel Edgerton as FBI agent out of his depth Connolly.

The character of Connolly in the film is quite simplified as is his movie fate. The real Connolly is quite a bit more complex (and brighter) and suffers a more complex fate. My guess is that because Connolly is still alive, the producers felt it necessary for legal reasons to ‘vague’ up his involvement in Bulger’s affairs. Certain things are able to be inferred as Connolly’s clothing improves and he has a flashy watch and so forth.

Cumberbatch is welcome but mostly wasted as Senator Billy Bulger as is Kevin Bacon playing frustrated FBI agent McGuire. Dakota Johnson appears briefly as Lindsey Cyr, Bulger’s common-law wife. Peter Sarsgaard adds Brian Halloran to his collection of well-played lowlifes. Finally, an always welcome Corey Stoll appears late in the game as a crusading attorney.

While the film is just pretty good, there is an absolutely chilling scene between Bulger (Depp) and Marianne Connolly (Julianne Nicholson). I think that one scene is the best work that Depp has done in a long time and I could certainly see a nomination come Academy Awards time.

While this is the supposedly true story, it has a healthy dose of fiction. If you want to see a completely fictionalized version, try Martin Scorsese’s The Departed with Jack Nicholson essentially playing Bulger as Frank Costello. The Departed is an absolute classic, itself based on the Chinese Infernal Affairs movies (though it is better than the source material). If you are more interested in Bulger, then go with Black Mass for Depp’s performance.

 

The Best of the Best of the Best on Netflix

Why not watch the best of the best? Netflix has ten of the American Film Institute’s top 50 films. I don’t recommend The Birth of a Nation except as a racist historical oddity but the others are all solid choices.

Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia (#5)

Follows a brilliant, flamboyant and controversial British military figure and his conflicted loyalties during wartime service.”

Sunset Boulevard (#12)

A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.”

All About Eve (#16)

An ingenue insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.

Chinatown

Chinatown (#19)

A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption and murder.”

Apocalypse Now (#28)

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

Annie Hall (#31)

Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall.”

High Noon

High Noon (#33)

A marshal, personally compelled to face a returning deadly enemy, finds that his own town refuses to help him.

To Kill a Mockingbird (#34)

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice.”

The Birth of a Nation (#44)

Two brothers, Phil and Ted Stoneman, visit their friends in Piedmont, South Carolina: the family Cameron. This friendship is affected by the Civil War, as the Stonemans and the Camerons must join up opposite armies. The consequences of the War in their lives are shown in connection to major historical events, like the development of the Civil War itself, Lincoln’s assassination, and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (#50)

Two Western bank/train robbers flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close.”

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 9/22/15

Here ya go:

Action & Adventure: Skin Trade

Closer to the Moon

Comedy: Closer to the Moon, Serendipity, From Prada to Nada, Matt Braunger: Big Dumb Animal, Vinyl Days, Moonrise Kingdom

Documentary: Cowspiracy, The Only Real Game, Rubble Kings, Keith Richards: Under the Influence

Drama: The Road Within, Last Hours in Suburbia, Reservation Road

Faith & Spirituality: Catching Faith

Foreign: The Beast, Immoral Tales, The Mugger, Reality, Aqui Entre Nos, Kung Fu Killer, Dedh Ishqiya, Goodbye Cruel World, Ishqiya, Red Eagle: The Movie

Call the Midwife

Television: How to Get Away with Murder, Gotham, Ax Men, Toobys (English and Spanish), Beyblade: Metal Fusion, Canimals, Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs, Kambu, Myth Hunters, Tweeny Witches, and new episodes of Call the Midwife, The Fosters, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

The Bank Job

Thriller: The Bank Job

Burying the Ex

Burying the Ex is currently available on instant Netflix

Burying the Ex

Burying the Ex (2014) – Rated R

When Max (Yelchin) learns that his new live-in girlfriend, Evelyn (Greene) is controlling and manipulative, he is afraid to end the relationship. However, fate occurs and Evelyn is killed in a freak accident. A couple months have passed and Max meets his dream girl, Olivia (Daddario). The new romance gets tricky when Evelyn comes back from the grave and insists on continuing their once relationship by all means.”

Joe Dante does not direct films very often. When he does, they often involve horror and comedy – two great tastes that don’t always work well together. He cut his teeth on making trailers back in the Roger Corman days and, together with John Landis, runs the wonderful Trailers from Hell website. New trailers with expert commentary arrive Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and each week is themed.

He directed the best Jaws ripoff, Piranha in 1978. He is probably best remembered today, among horror fans, for The Howling (1981)  and Gremlins 1 & 2 (1984, 1990). My favorite is his wonderful homage to entrepreneur William Castle, Matinee. I was really looking forward to Burying the Ex.

Burying the Ex stars Anton Yelchin as our likable boyfriend with a quandary. He has been in horror movies before – Only Lovers Left Alive and the Fright Night reboot. He played the titular Odd Thomas and helped anchor that quirky horror feature. He is certainly amiable here and very sympathetic.

Ashley Greene does a fine job as the proverbial girlfriend from hell, sexy yet horrifying. Alexandra Daddario is suitably winning as the new girl, Olivia. Essentially the only other cast member is Oliver Cooper as Max’s half-brother Travis. He’s a little annoying but bearable.

Unfortunately the writing here by Alan Trezza is not up to par. His only other writing credit is for the short of the same title. Therein lies the problem. Burying the Ex is cute but feels terribly padded out. The idea is good but honestly, in spite of the ‘R’ rating, they are afraid to go anywhere with it.

There are uncounted references to numerous horror movies. Sadly these are not homages nor are they plot important in any way so they quickly become tedious (and this is from a certified horror nut). As they don’t really feature in the plot other than to establish Max and Olivia’s cred, I am not sure if the fault belongs with Dante or Trezza.

Burying the Ex is pretty much completely inoffensive. It is mild fun but could have been so much more.

 

Friday This ‘n’ That – Hulu & Netflix

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Hulu

* In addition to their regular service and deluxe add-on of Showtime, Hulu now offers an ad-free service for $11.99.

* Season 4 of The Mindy Project is now streaming exclusively on Hulu

Netflix

* All the episodes of Netflix’s second Marvel series, Jessica Jones, premiere November 20th. I can only hope that they are as good as Daredevil. Soooo am I going to binge on them myself immediately or do I have the wherewithal to wait for my wife?

Oh Regal, You So Crazy! Spectre Ultimate Ticket

Regal Cinemas

I love Regal’s special offers and try to take as much advantage of them as I can. Their newest offer is hilarious. They are offering what they call the Regal Ultimate Ticket to Spectre. For $100 plus shipping (seriously, they aren’t even covering the shipping of a card!), you get an anodized steel collectible card that they will personalize with your name.

Spectre

 

So what does this card do? It allows you to see the new Bond movie at Regal Cinemas every single day. Of course they do specify only once a day and there is no mention of it being valid for RPX or IMAX. Of course as this is the only intrinsic value of the card and tickets run $8-10 in my area, I’d have to see Spectre at least ten times to get the value of the card (slightly less if they allow it to be used for RPX or IMAX).

I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie ten times in the theater. My guess would be that if I have, it would have been Star Wars or Grease when I was a kid. I’m not above seeing a movie two or three times but ten? Speaking of Star Wars, I could really see this being a hot item for that movie.

On the other hand, this might make a great collectible.