March’s New Streaming Netflix Titles

In like a lion? I’ll let you decide.

Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels

Action/Adventure: Hot Boyz, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Number One With a Bullet, Platoon Leader, Top Gun

Anime: Bleach the Movie: Fade to Black, Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds

Three Days of the Condor

Classic: Taxi Driver, Three Days of the Condor, Wings

Comedy: Better Than Chocolate, Beverly Hills Cop, Billy Madison, Black Sheep (1996), Bridget Jones’ Diary, DeRay Davis: Power Play, Groundhog Day, Johnny Dangerously, Knock ‘Em Dead, Lewis Black: In God We Rust, Mean Machine, Patch Adams, The Prince & Me, Teen Witch, Ski Patrol, Two Hundred Thousand Dirty

Documentary: The Culture High, Harmontown, Levitated Mass, One Rogue Reporter, Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, The Sixth Man

Drama: Aleksandr’s Price, And God Created Woman (1988), Donnie Brasco, Evelyn, Finding Neverland, Frankie and Johnny, Half of a Yellow Sun, Jail Caesar, Last Summer, The Madness of King George, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, The Rules of Engagement, Shirley Valentine

Faith: Mercy Rule, The Story of Ruth

Family: Across the Great Divide, And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird, Bratz: Rock Angelz, Bratz the Movie, Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot, Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey!, Furry Vengeance, House Arrest, Lalaloopsy Babies: First Steps, Monster High 13 Wishes, Monster High Ghouls Rule, Mule-Tide Christmas, Mumfie’s White Christmas, Rumpelstiltskin, The Secret of Nimh

Fantasy & Science Fiction: The Brothers Grimm, K-Pax, Parallels, Paycheck, Tank Girl

Foreign: Bullett Raja, The Days to Come, Humshakals, Jealousy, Point Blank, Singham, You Will Be Mine

Event Horizon

Horror: Event Horizon, P2, Soul Survivors, Vampire in Brooklyn

Musical: Grease 2

Television: 30 for 30: Of Miracles and Men, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Red Road, Life Hack 2: The Next Level, Ella the Elephant, Ruby Gloom

Thriller: Best Seller, Bitter Moon, City of Ghosts, Dream Lover, Naked After Midnight, Switchback, Twilight (1998)

R.I.P. Dick Smith 1922-2014

Dick Smith

Makeup artist extraordinaire Dick Smith passed away last week (July 30th) at the age of 92. While not as recognized as the actors and directors he worked with, Dick Smith was a consummate professional. He won the Academy Award for Best Make-Up with Paul LeBlanc for their work on Amadeus (1984) and was nominated for Dad (1989). In 2012, he was presented with an honorary Oscar.

While I am especially aware of make-up because my daughter is a make-up artist, I was a fan of Dick Smith’s work from the moment I saw Dustin Hoffman’s old age makeup in Little Big Man (1970). Netflix does not have a way to look up make-up artists but I looked up individual movies of his (The Godfather, Midnight Cowboy, Taxi Driver, etc.). The only two I found streaming were Stephen King’s Golden Years and Starman.

Rest in Peace Dick Smith – you will be missed.

Taxi Driver – Robert De Niro week

Augh! Pardon the delay in posting this as we’ve been having a few internet issues over the weekend. This week I’d like to celebrate one of our great American actors – Robert De Niro. Netflix has a slew of instant movies featuring De Niro including the Martin Scorsese classic Taxi Driver.

Taxi Driver

WATCH: Taxi Driver (1976) – Rated R

“Martin Scorsese crafts a violently prophetic, gripping vision of urban decay and insanity in which mentally unstable Vietnam vet Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) drives a cab through the sleaziest streets of pregentrified New York City and befriends a child hooker (Jodie Foster). The groundbreaking film earned four Oscar nominations, including nods for Best Picture, Best Score, and for De Niro and Foster’s haunting performances.”

Thank God for the rain to wash the trash off the sidewalk.”

Martin Scorsese’s camerawork and composition here is not as polished as most of his later works. This actually works for the film as too much trickery would have detracted from the raw power of this descent into madness. There is still some great cinematography of 1970s New York and a nice interior building 360 early on in the film.

The performances are excellent. Robert De Niro carries the film and almost every scene in the movie is centered on him. Jodie Foster’s supporting performance as the 12-year-old prostitute, Iris is superb – particularly coming from a child actor. Both were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances. Cybil Shepherd is wonderful as Betsy as is Albert Brooks in a non-comedic role as her friend Tom. Harvey Keitel was offered the Albert Brooks role but turned it down in favor of the much smaller role as Sport the pimp and he is superb.

Paul Schrader’s script is wonderful and logical up until the climax. He is excellent with scripts involving the seedy side of life (Hardcore, Rolling Thunder, Light Sleeper). Scorsese changed the roles of the pimp, the hotel manager, and the Mafioso to white people. This was a very wise decision because otherwise it would have seemed that Travis was simply a racist which would have blunted the whole thrust of the film. Reportedly Travis’ famous monologue in front of the mirror was ad-libbed by De Niro.

This was brilliant composer Bernard Herrmann’s last score. It is mostly composed of soft jazz with some sad soulful saxophone mixed in. With the exception of some of the post-denouement music which is a bit too jarring, his score here is excellent (as befits an Oscar nomination). Bernard Herrmann’s first job as composer was on Citizen Kane for which he was nominated for an Oscar. He is perhaps best known for his Harryhausen and Hitchcock films. Taxi Driver was dedicated to him.

This film is an absolute classic. You can view it as a harrowing descent into madness or simply as a treatise on loneliness. If you haven’t seen it yet and want to see an actor’s showcase then by all means I highly recommend this film. As for the very odd ending – remember that the story is told from Travis Bickle’s point-of-view and that the events following the denouement may have a rather different explanation.

People Watch: Martin Scorsese has a brief  but pivotal role as a psychotic passenger. Scorsese’s parents portray Iris’ parents in a photograph.