James Bond Week – Hulu

Hulu of course has nowhere near the depth or breadth of the movies available on Netflix. However someone in their programming and procurement office is pretty savvy.

Hulu

At the beginning of the month, just in time for Spectre, Hulu acquired the exclusive rights for a slew of Bond films. Connery is well-represented, with Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds are Forever – even the non-canon Never Say Never Again. Only his first, Dr. No, is not available. Goldfinger and From Russia With Love are justifiable classics. The others are worth watching just for Connery though Never Say Never Again is a very lazy remake of Thunderball.

From Russia With Love

All seven Bond entries from the Moore tongue-in-cheek era are here: The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, Moonraker, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Live and Let Die. Both Dalton’s The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill are available. Heck, they even have George Lazenby’s single outing as Bond, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. That one is worth watching for the absolutely radiant Diana Rigg.

The more recent Brosnan and Craig entries are not on Hulu but 16 movies of the franchise is 16 more than Netflix or Amazon Prime have.

Mockingjay Double

Unfortunately I will be missing the Mockingjay double feature but both Hulu and Amazon Prime have The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One streaming in time for the theatrical premiere of Mockingjay Part Two. Netflix has….umm…the not really a satire Starving Games so good luck with that.

Friday This ‘n’ That – FREE 3D & YouTube Red

Epic Theatre Hendersonville

  • Intriguingly, the Epic Theatre chain has dropped their surcharge for 3D movies. I’m not a big fan of 3D movies as I find that in most movies, it serves simply as a distraction. It is supposed to make things more immersive but I find it has the opposite effect. Having said that, it is nice for patrons to have a choice without the exorbitant upcharge. Bravo, Epic!

YouTube Red

  • Borrowing a page from Hulu’s book, YouTube has introduced YouTube Red, their new ad-free service. It is $10 a month unless purchased through ios (ios charges $13). I already pay for Hulu and Netflix as well as receiving Amazon Prime because of my wife’s joy at receiving packages quickly (you can see why I don’t need cable). I can’t see shelling out for this but I can see it being useful for others (my granddaughter really enjoys toy unboxing videos).
  • This does bring up the possibility of a troubling new trend. Start something for free, get people hooked on content, then crowd the site with ads, finally offer to remove the ads if they pay each month to remove them.
  • Which brings us to microtransactions. They were an anomaly until several companies proved that you could make a fortune giving your game away and then making progress nearly impossible without a tiny tiny purchase of some in-game commodity. Now even games that cost $60 will charge you for planned but not yet released expansions, variant costumes, etc.

Spectre

  • Please pardon me as I’m off to see Spectre!

Friday This ‘n’ That – FREE Monsters, Inc.

 

Inside Out

Please accept my apologies for the lack of posts this week. When I’m sick, I’m happy enough to plug away on the keyboard even in a fuzzy state. Unfortunately, my darling granddaughter has been sick all week so I have been taking car of her. She is very demanding and, when I haven’t been doing chores or taking care of things in general, I have been sitting on the couch with her watching Inside Out (Vudu), Monsters, Inc. (ditto), animated Batman (Amazon Prime), Octonauts (Netflix), The Simpsons (Hulu), and ugh play-doh toy videos on YouTube.

Contagion

Anyways, stay healthy folks and avoid this plague like it was the…well you get the idea. Speaking of Monsters, Inc., I got it FREE for connecting my Disney Movies Anywhere account to Amazon. You can too!

Marvel’s Deals with the Devil

Blame, blame is such an easy game. Why, with such an incredible universe to draw from, is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. such a bore? There is quite a lot of blame to go around but it lies rooted in Marvel’s financial woes in the 90s. There is a great article on Marvel’s trip from bankruptcy to billions here so I won’t go into too much depth.

The Incredible Hulk

Marvel had a big television hit with The Incredible Hulk. It was a wonderful formula: take a well liked actor (Bill Bixby), add a champion body builder (Lou Ferrigno), and simply retell The Fugitive, a popular television series from fifteen years earlier. It worked great. They then attempted to repeat this success with Captain America (painfully bad), Dr. Strange, and others. They didn’t pan out so Marvel tried to launch a few more from within The Incredible Hulk. The Incredible Hulk Returns featured Thor and The Trial of the Incredible Hulk featured Daredevil.

As part of the recovery from bankruptcy in the 90s, numerous licensing deals were made.  It is great that Marvel was able to climb back out of the hole but many of the terms on the deals were ridiculous.

X-Men

Twentieth Century Fox made a fantastic version of X-Men (2000) and the even better X-Men 2 (2003). Unfortunately, the deal allowed X-Men movies to be owned by Fox in perpetuity as long as the movies kept being made. That would be bad enough but the deal included all of the standard X-Men, their standard villains, and even extended to the term mutant.

Attempts had been made during the 90s to bring Spider-Man, Marvel’s most iconic character, to the big screen and while that failed, the rights were tied up for quite some time. Once the rights were untangled, Columbia (Sony) locked them up again, including a rogue’s gallery of Marvel’s best villains. Once again, a really good blockbuster was made, Spider-Man (2002) followed by an even better sequel, Spider-Man 2 (2004).

Daredevil

Apparently, it took a long time for Marvel to catch on that they were selling the cow instead of the milk. Essentially the same deal was made, again with Twentieth Century Fox, for Daredevil. Daredevil, Elektra, The Kingpin, and even Ben Urich were tied up. Ditto Lionsgate with The Punisher (2004) and The Punisher: War Zone (2008).

Finally, the Fantastic Four rights were locked up, again by Twentieth Century Fox. This wouldn’t be so bad as they were usually self-contained but it also included Doctor Doom and the Silver Surfer. Not just that but Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), and the reboot Fantastic Four (2015) have all been pretty dire.

Not only did Marvel practically give away their entire roster of characters but many others such as Iron Man were locked up in deals where the movie simply never came to fruition.

 

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?

R.I.P. Lizabeth Scott and Omar Sharif

Lizabeth Scott

Somehow I missed this news item from much earlier this year. Actress Lizabeth Scott passed away January 31st, 2015 at the age of 92. I came across her obituary as a result of the FREE TCM course on film noir (still available to all). She starred in 22 films across the span of film noir (40s and 50s).

Sadly, Netflix’ search engine doesn’t even know her (or Omar Sharif, who passed away recently). Hilariously, if you search on Bogart, you can look up Andrea, Dominic, or Keith but NOT Humphrey. Wow, that is quite the fail Netflix. Perhaps they disable the search term when no films from that actor are available.

Hulu has The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Pitfall, and an episode of The Colgate Comedy Hour. Amazon Prime has Pitfall, Dark City, and I Walk Alone. I don’t know about The Colgate Comedy Hour but the others are all good examples of her fabulous work.

Omar Sharif

Actor Omar Sharif passed away July 10th at the age of 83. Since Netflix doesn’t recognize Omar Sharif, we have to turn to Amazon Prime. Prime has five of his movies streaming: The iconic Lawrence of Arabia (always a good choice), Crime and Passion, Beyond Justice, Shaka Zulu, and We Are Egypt.

Rest in peace, Omar Sharif and, belatedly, Lizabeth Scott. You will be missed (but apparently not by Netflix).

Film Noir on Hulu – The Big Combo, D.O.A.

 

I haven’t really had much time to peruse Netflix lately. For the next month, I am still taking Canvas Network and Turner Classic Movies’ FREE course on film noir. Netflix’ offerings on noir are pretty much non-existent. Their content from the past quarter century is phenomenal but the further back you go, the fewer offerings Netflix has.

Hulu

 

Hulu, on the other hand, has been phenomenally helpful. Since the course started, I have watched The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, D.O.A., Kansas City Confidential, The Stranger, Pitfall, The Red House, The Big Combo. I still haven’t exhausted their supply of film noir. I also watched two of the most important precursors to noir: M and La Bete Humaine.

All of them are good but I would most recommend these two:

Strange Love of Martha Ivers

 

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

A ruthless, domineering woman is married to an alcoholic D.A., her childhood companion who is the only living witness to her murder of her rich aunt seventeen years earlier.”

“Don’t ever look back baby, don’t ever look back.” – The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

What a cast! Barbara Stanwyck is always fantastic. Lizabeth Scott was born to play in noir. Van Heflin and Kirk Douglas are the male leads.

The Big Combo

The Big Combo (1955)

A police lt. is ordered to stop investigating deadly crime boss Mr. Brown, because he hasn’t been able to get any hard evidence against him. He then goes after Brown’s girlfriend who despises him, for information instead.”

“It happens to be against two laws: God’s and Man’s. I’m booking her under the second.”

Look for a young Earl Holliman and a young Lee van Cleef as henchmen.

 

This ‘n’ That – Barnes, Noble, & Hulu

Hulu

 

* Hulu would really like to keep my interest through the summer. In addition to their heavily publicized acquisition of the entire run of Seinfeld (echoing Netflix’ wonderful success with Friends in January), they have also added Dr. Dimension Pants to their growing kids lineup of SpongeBob SquarePants, Adventure Time, Ben 10, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Little did they know that it is actually their substantial Noir offerings that I’m savoring.

Barnes & Noble

 

Barnes & Noble is running a series of pop culture events in July. All Thursdays are throwback Thursdays. The 9th is the 60s, the 16th is the 70s, the 23rd is the 80s, and the 30th is the 90s. There are Minions, Star Wars, and DC comics days as well. There will be events, sales, and giveaways. I hope this works out for them as I’d love to see more events like this.

Showtime, Netflix, Hulu This ‘n’ That

A little bit of this, a little bit of that from the pay services. Introducing even more options for cutting your cable and enjoying services a la carte. Admittedly I already have way too much to watch at any given moment. Now if only I could get TCM as a standalone…

Showtime

 

Not to be outdone by HBO Now, Showtime has a standalone service of its own for $11 a month (premiering in July). Of course, they are currently offering a 30-day FREE trial so definitely check it out. While you are at it, may I recommend Penny Dreadful. I thoroughly enjoyed the first season and look forward to seeing season 2 at some point.

Hulu

 

If you already pay for Hulu then you can add Showtime to your subscription for another $9 a month ($2 off the standalone price).

Netflix

 

Netflix just revamped its interface for quicker loading. I tried it and indeed it does load much faster.

Monday This n That – Hulu and AMC vs Regal

Hulu

 

* Hulu just sent me a notice that their subscription service will no longer be called Hulu Plus. Instead it will just be Hulu. No other changes, just a slight rebranding.

AMC Theater

 

* Since Regal is trying to come up with a rewards program that is more compelling than AMC Stubs (and presumably charge for it once it gets off the ground, again a la Stubs), AMC is upstaging Regal’s wonderful recliner program.

AMC Recliner

Introducing Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime: “Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime combines the most powerful image and sound technologies with cutting-edge, reserved recliners.” I loved the Regal recliners in Charlotte and enjoyed the reserved seating (you can buy tickets online and always save your favorite seat without waiting in huge lines). I haven’t had the opportunity to try the AMC power recliners but they are supposed to ‘pulsate with the action’ so a low bass effect, perhaps?

AMC has the program active at AMC North Point Mall 12 in Georgia, AMC BarryWoods 24 in Missouri, and AMC Deerbrook 24 in Texas. Additional rollouts are expected shortly in California, Kansas, New York, Texas, and Illinois.