Tag Archives: Netflix

Netflix’s Newest Streaming Additions for September

Netflix provided a list of additions to their streaming catalog for September, complete with synopses and release dates. There are several titles you’ll likely recognize, from Cool Runnings to Crocodile Dundee to Silver Linings Playbook. But, personally I can’t wait to add The DoubleFilth, and Le Week-end to my list!

3 Days to Kill (2014)  After a terminally ill secret agent retires to spend his remaining time with his family, he’s asked to complete a dangerous last mission in exchange survive its hallucinatory side effects – Available 9/17

All is Lost (2013) Robert Redford  In this harrowing drama — which has no dialogue — Robert Redford portrays a man stranded alone at sea, courageously battling a ferocious storm as he struggles to survive with just a sextant and maritime maps to guide him. – Available 9/5

Bad Grandpa (2013) Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Greg Harris, Georgina Cates, Kamber Hejlik, Jill Kill, Madison Davis In-character encounters with real folks provide comic fodder in this franchise featuring Johnny Knoxville in lecherous-gramps disguise. With hidden cameras in tow, Irving Zisman (Knoxville) takes his grandson on an offbeat cross-country tour. – Available 9/27

Beginners (2011) Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller, Keegan Boos, China Shavers, Melissa Tang Oliver, a graphic artist, is coming to grips with the imminent death of his father, who, at 75, has one last secret: He’s gay. Inspired and confused by his father’s determination to find true love at last, Oliver tentatively pursues his own romance. – Available 9/16

The Believers (1987) Martin Sheen, Helen Shaver, Harley Cross, Robert Loggia, Elizabeth Wilson, Harris Yulin, Lee Richardson Mourning the accidental death of his wife and having just moved to New York with his young son, laconic police psychologist Cal Jamison is reluctantly drawn into a series of grisly, ritualistic murders involving the immolation of two youths. – Available 9/1

The Blue Lagoon (1980) Brooke Shields, Christopher Atkins, Leo McKern, William Daniels, Elva Josephson, Glenn Kohan Set in the lush environs of a deserted tropical island, this coming-of-age tale follows two shipwrecked children — Emmeline and Richard — who are stranded for years. As the cute kids turn into beautiful teenagers, nature takes its course. – Available 9/1

Cool Runnings (1993) John Candy, Leon, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis, Malik Yoba, Raymond J. Barry, Peter Outerbridge A fictionalized account of the unlikely story of Jamaica’s first bobsled team, Cool Runnings follows their journey to the 1988 Olympics. When Derice Bannock’s (Leon) chances of qualifying for Jamaica’s track team are dashed, he looks for another sport. Derice persuades U.S. bobsledding gold medalist Irv Blitzer (John Candy), who now lives in Jamaica, to coach him and his friends as they attempt to become a world-class bobsled team. – Available 9/1

Crocodile Dundee (1986) Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, John Meillon, David Gulpilil, Ritchie Singer, Terry Gilliam, Mark Blum When a New York reporter (Linda Kozlowski) plucks crocodile hunter Dundee (Paul Hogan) from the Australian Outback for a visit to the Big Apple, it’s a clash of cultures and a recipe for good-natured comedy as naïve Dundee negotiates the concrete jungle. Dundee proves that his instincts are quite useful in the city and adeptly handles everything from wily muggers to high-society snoots without breaking a sweat. Hogan’s script earned an Oscar nod. – Available 9/1

Deadly Code (2013) Arnas Fedaravicius, Vilius Tumalavicius, Eleanor Tomlinson, Jonas Trukanas, Vitalij Porshnev, Peter Stormare, John Malkovich Friends Kolyma and Gagarin come of age in a Siberian crime family where Kolyma’s iron-fisted grandfather enforces rules that keep the young men at odds. Their relationship is further tested when they both fall for the same beautiful woman. – Available 9/10

Dennis Miller: America 180 (2014) Five-time Emmy winner Dennis Miller takes a look at the state of the nation in a stand-up routine that touches on health care and climate change.  – Available 9/11

Detention (2011) Shanley Caswell, Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook, Spencer Locke, Aaron David Johnson, Jan Anderson In this genre-bending slasher flick, a high schooler gets slapped with detention on the same night as senior prom. But plenty of other kids will also be missing the big event when a past-her-prime prom queen shows up to slay them. – Available 9/1

The Double (2013) Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Yasmin Paige, James Fox Jesse Eisenberg plays the dual roles of a timid office worker and his charismatic doppelganger in this cinematic adaptation of a Dostoevsky tale. First spotted on the bus, then at work, Simon’s double may share his looks, but he’s no carbon copy. – Available 9/25

Filth (2014) James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell, Joanne Froggatt, Eddie Marsan, Jim Broadbent An arrogant, corrupt cop who believes he’s the only competent person in his department sees a recent murder case as a path to promotion. But the investigation brings the deluded officer into a rendezvous with reality that he’s wholly unprepared for. – Available 9/11

Flubber (1997) Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden, Christopher McDonald, Ted Levine, Clancy Brown On the verge of losing his girlfriend and his job, a scatterbrained college professor accidentally invents a bouncy material called Flubber. The substance stands to save the day — if the professor can defeat the many rivals who try to sabotage him. – Available 9/1

Girl Rising (2013) Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Liam Neeson, Priyanka Chopra, Chloë Grace Moretz, Freida Pinto, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys, Kerry Washington Nine filmmakers each profile a young girl from a different part of the world to weave a global tapestry of youth in the 21st century. From a 7-year-old Haitian earthquake survivor to an Afghani child bride, these stories inspire and captivate. – Available 9/1

Girlfight (2000) Michelle Rodriguez, Jaime Tirelli, Paul Calderon, Santiago Douglas, Ray Santiago, Víctor Sierra First-time director Karyn Kusama’s powerful film tells the story of Diana (Michelle Rodriguez), a Brooklyn high-schooler who gets little support from her dismissive single father and takes her frustrations out on her classmates. But when she wanders into a local boxing gym, she’s instantly drawn to the action. And though it’s a male-dominated world, boxing provides her a newfound discipline and sense of purpose, as well as a positive male role model. – Available 9/1

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Tung Thanh Tran, Chintara Sukapatana, Bruno Kirby, Robert Wuhl When his manic radio show proves a huge morale-booster, Armed Forces Radio disc jockey Adrian Cronauer gets sent to Vietnam, where his monkeyshines — lampooning any and all sacred cows — tickle the troops but land him in trouble with his superiors. – Available 9/1

Grace Unplugged (2013) AJ Michalka, James Denton, Kevin Pollak, Shawnee Smith, Michael Welch, Jamie Grace Every Sunday, 18-year-old Grace performs at church with her ex-rock star father, but she longs to share her talent with the rest of the world. Heading for the bright lights of Los Angeles, she soon must choose between stardom and faith. – Available 9/12

Guess Who (2005) Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher, Zoe Saldana, Judith Scott, Hal Williams, Kellee Stewart Ashton Kutcher stars in this remake of the 1967 classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? But the tables are turned this time around, as he plays the fiancé of an African American woman who’s met with skepticism and suspicion from her father. – Available 9/1

Hoodwinked (2005) Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, James Belushi, Patrick Warburton, Anthony Anderson, David Ogden Stiers In this nod to Little Red Riding Hood, investigators uncover a tangled web of events when they’re called to Granny’s cottage to look into a domestic disturbance involving a sardonic wolf, an axe and a crimson-caped girl. – Available 9/1

Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie (2013) Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Eliza Dushku, Tara Strong, Ralph Garman, Neil Gaiman, Ben Gleib After hitting the lottery jackpot, Jay and Silent Bob use their newfound cash to become crime-fighting superheroes Bluntman and Chronic. – Available 9/1

Justin and the Knights of Valor (2013) Antonio Banderas, James Cosmo, Rupert Everett, Freddie Highmore, Saoirse Ronan In this animated saga set in medieval times, a young boy slips away from his family home and begins a long journey to pursue his dream of becoming a knight. Seeking instruction from three wise monks, he makes his way to their remote abbey. – Available 9/13

Kid Cannabis (2014) Kenny Wormald, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Ron Perlman, Aaron Yoo, John C. McGinley, Corey Large Teaming with his best friend and a ragtag group of potheads, enterprising teen Nate Norman sets up a lucrative operation smuggling large amounts of marijuana from Canada to Idaho. But the young drug traffickers soon sow the seeds of their downfall. – Available 9/6

Killing Them Softly (2012) Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Vincent Curatola When a couple low-level crooks make a dumb move by robbing a Mob-protected poker game and unwittingly bringing a recession to the area’s criminal economy, a slick enforcer is hired to track down the offenders and take care of business. – Available 9/30

Le Week-End (2014) Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum, Olly Alexander, Judith Davis, Xavier De Guillebon Returning to Paris long after their honeymoon there, a British couple hopes to rediscover the magical feelings of their early years together. There, they meet an old friend whose perspectives on love and marriage help them recover what was lost. – Available 9/6

Lords of Dogtown (2005) Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk, John Robinson, Michael Angarano, Nikki Reed, Heath Ledger Stacy Peralta, one of the competitive skaters portrayed in the film. Known as the Z-Boys, the radical riders invent a brazen style of skating and deal with heartache when the sport they live for turns into big business. Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch and Rebecca De Mornay co-star. – Available 9/1

Lullaby (2014) Garrett Hedlund, Richard Jenkins, Jessica Brown Findlay, Anne Archer, Jennifer Hudson Long after breaking ties with his family, Jonathan learns that his long-ill father has elected to take himself off of life support in two days. Drawn in by the dire news, Jonathan returns to face his kin in an intense emotional encounter. – Available 9/29

Mirage Men (2012) Fascination and controversy regarding UFO sightings have been with us for centuries, but this absorbing documentary offers a disturbing new thesis: that the U.S. military has been distributing false information about them for decades.  – Available 9/1

The Moment (2013) Jennifer Jason Leigh, Martin Henderson, Alia Shawkat, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Meat Loaf After her lover vanishes, a photojournalist winds up in a psychiatric hospital, where she tries to make sense of her fragmented memories — and begins to uncover some unexpected and disturbing truths. – Available 9/11

One Day (2011) Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson, Romola Garai, Rafe Spall, Tom Mison, Jodie Whittaker, Joséphine de La Baume, Ken Stott After a romantic tryst on college graduation night, Emma and Dexter pursue separate dreams. This romantic drama based on a novel of the same name checks in with them each year on the same date, tracking their personal and professional progress. – Available 9/16

Refuge (2012) Krysten Ritter, Brian Geraghty, Logan Huffman, Madeleine Martin, Juliet Garrett, Joe Pallister, Chris Papavasiliou, Helen Rogers After Amy’s parents abandon her two younger siblings — one of them brain-damaged — she’s obliged to leave college to take care of them. While struggling to accept her dreary new existence, Amy meets a man who may change everything. – Available 9/6

School of Rock (2003) Jack Black, Adam Pascal, Lucas Papaelias, Chris Stack, Sarah Silverman, Mike White, Lucas Babin Fired from his band and hard up for cash, guitarist and vocalist Dewey Finn finagles his way into a job as a fourth-grade substitute teacher at a private school, where he secretly begins teaching his students the finer points of rock ‘n’ roll. – Available 9/1

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles, John Ortiz After a stint in a psychiatric hospital, bipolar Pat has no choice but to move back in with his football-obsessed parents. While he tries in vain to reconcile with his wife, Pat meets a woman who’s as unstable as he is — and she changes his life. – Available 9/16

A Simple Plan (1998) Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda, Billy Bob Thornton, Brent Briscoe, Jack Walsh, Chelcie Ross When brothers Hank and Jacob discover a dead body and millions of dollars in cash in a downed plane, they plot to hide the loot and split it later. It’s a simple plan — until things go murderously awry amid suspicion and mistrust. – Available 9/1

A Single Man (2009) Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode, Jon Kortajarena, Paulette Lamori, Ryan Simpkins, Ginnifer Goodwin, Teddy Sears, Paul Butler Set in 1962 Los Angeles, this stream-of-consciousness drama centers on a day in the life of George Falconer, a gay college professor who plans to commit suicide in the wake of his longtime lover’s recent death. – Available 9/11

Small Apartments (2012) Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, Juno Temple, James Caan, Peter Stormare, David Koechner Franklin Franklin has a dead landlord on the kitchen floor and an investigator (Billy Crystal) questioning him. But none of this fazes Franklin. He waits each day for a letter from his brother (James Marsden) who has the secret that can set him free. – Available 9/1

Swiss Family Robinson (1960) John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur, Janet Munro, Sessue Hayakawa, Tommy Kirk After being shipwrecked, the Robinson family is marooned on an island inhabited only by an impressive array of wildlife. In true pioneer spirit, they quickly make themselves at home but soon face a danger even greater than nature: dastardly pirates. A rousing adventure suitable for the whole family, this Disney adaptation of the classic Johann Wyss novel stars Dorothy McGuire and John Mills as Mother and Father Robinson. – Available 9/1

The Unbelievers (2013) Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Hawking, Ricky Gervais, Woody Allen, Cameron Diaz,  Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss — the dynamic duo of science — travel the globe seeking to promote a scientific worldview and the rational questioning of religious belief, with celebrities, professors and ordinary folks supporting their work. – Available 9/1

Who Is Dayani Cristal? (2013) Gael García Bernal In the oppressive desert heat, Arizona authorities find a man’s decomposing body with only one clue to his identity: a tattoo reading Dayani Cristal. Gael García Bernal portrays the unknown man in dramatic segments of this intriguing documentary. – Available 9/9

Your Sister’s Sister (2011) Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass, Mike Birbiglia Jack, who is mourning the death of his brother, has a complicated relationship with his best friend, Iris, who used to date his brother. Their chaotic situation becomes even more tangled when Jack has a drunken tryst with Iris’s flighty sister. – Available 9/6

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Canceling Cable, Part 2: Should You?

lg-tv-off-small-18634

(This is the second in a 2-part series. Part 1 was posted posted yesterday. Read it here.)

It’s the common wisdom that we are entering a Golden Age of Television, that the best quality filmmaking is now happening on the small screen more than the large. The most talented moviemakers are flocking to TV in droves. Steven Soderbergh gave a speech last year talking about the current crisis-state of the movie industry, and why he’s only going working in the TV sphere going forward. (Or so I have read; I haven’t actually had a chance to listen to the speech myself, yet.)

It’s worth noting that even in the face of all these feature filmmakers jumping ship, we have just had one of the greatest years in recent memory for outstanding quality films, and the spectacle that is Gravity has reminded us that the small screen still cannot compete with the scale of possibility that the big screen affords us.

But it’s true. There are far more options for excellent quality on TV than ever before. (There’s far more everything on TV than ever before.) Most of the best shows are on cable channels. So it would seem that for any lover of quality filmmaking, having cable TV would be a must. But I would consider myself part of that demographic, and I would argue the opposite.

The biggest problem with cable is that the decades old channel-package model just doesn’t make sense anymore. The multiple streaming options I listed yesterday, and countless others, let you pick and choose what you want and when you want it for a fraction of the cost. Cable companies and their channels need to go back to the drawing board to compete. They could start by letting people pick and choose channels a la carte. It would be absolutely the least they could do. They could even work that into the basic structure of their old package model.

But remember that one streaming service I use? The one for an unnamed premium channel that requires a cable subscription to use? That I can only use by borrowing a friend’s password? Well, despite the excellent quality of those shows, if I didn’t have those awesome friends, it still wouldn’t be worth it to pay for cable. Even if I could pick and choose my channels, I would just wait for the DVDs. Unless I could get that channel and only that channel, just for the use of their streaming service, I would be wasting my money.

To really meet the needs of the modern public, the channels need to move away from the idea of a schedule. Life doesn’t fit into perfect 30 minute blocks that begin and end at the same time. People don’t want to be tied to that. When TiVo and similar devices first came out, people first had the option of recording a show and then watching it whenever they wanted. Ever since, cable companies have offered renting similar recording devices with your cable box. But that’s just a fix to a woefully out-of-date structure. They need new ideas.

You know who has new ideas? Netflix. They have been leading the charge against the old guard. They were the first major streaming option for TV shows, and recently the first to create original programming exclusive to a streaming service. I’m not saying they’re perfect by any stretch, but they’re paying attention to what their customers want. Now Hulu and others are following suit. This is where cable companies need to look if they don’t want to get left in the dust.

The cable companies are getting old. They are run by the most deeply entrenched corporate capitalists. But suddenly their precious free-market is scaring them. People are beginning to move away from what they’re offering. Well? Let’s let that free-market do its thing. Cancel your cable. Support the companies who are actually giving you what you want, the way you want it. Maybe they’ll get the message. Maybe they’ll change. And maybe we’ll come back if they do.

I hope so, because there really are  some great shows to be seen.

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Canceling Cable, Part 1: Why I Did It

My bedroom TV at home

My bedroom TV at home

Let’s break for a moment from the glut of Awards Season news, and movies in general, and look at some other screens. This is The Screen Life after all, not Awards!Awards!Awards! There is broader scope to be explored. Today: Cable TV (or lack thereof).

(Never fear, however: Movie awards are fun and this is the season for them, so expect a lot more news and analysis to come.)

I don’t have cable TV. With the exception of one 6 month experiment early last year (more on that later), I’ve been without cable since 2006, one year after I left college. At first it was a conscious decision to help my time management. I would get easily addicted to TV and watch it for hours, to the detriment of my work and sleep. I preferred movies anyway and still blew through precious hours staring at screens. But at least it was directed, scheduled watching, instead of wasting half my life watching whatever happened to be on Cartoon Network even though I could care less about it.

It turned out that the only 2 shows I really cared about – The Daily Show and The Colbert Report – were becoming available online. I would watch them from my work computer during lunch. Everything else I was interested in was available on Netflix. This was before Netflix Streaming, but I would get the DVDs. Honestly I preferred that to traditional TV. I always used to hate shows with ongoing stories that you had to watch every week, because invariably I would miss a week and then be out of the story. I’d have to wait for the DVD anyway to pick it back up.  Watching those shows all at once is just easier.

Since then, as I’m sure you’re well aware, multiple streaming services have popped up. The Netflix boom, gave rise to Hulu, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, Vudu, and a host of others. My family gets all our TV shows from these, plus one other. I’ll leave it unnamed, because our use of it may not be, strictly speaking, entirely legal. It is owned by a cable channel and requires a premium cable TV account to get a password. Luckily, we have awesome friends.

Our own TV area is a tangle of wires and machines: Smart Blu-ray, Wii, Roku, our new Google Chromcast. Each of these connects to several streaming sites, and admittedly they’ve all got some serious drawbacks. The Wii doesn’t have high definition and uses my TV’s crappy sound rather than my surround system. The Roku is a little older and was only working intermittently, so I relegated it to our secondary TV in another room (seems to be a little better these days; I might move it back). The Blu-ray was great until it stopped streaming Neflix randomly. And the Chromecast, our current go-to, is a little glitchy and still doesn’t support very many services.

Still, all of that is preferable to dealing with and paying for cable TV. We proved that to ourselves last year. We decided to sign up for cable and try it out just for a month or two. We actually did this for network TV because our reception is terrible for some reason, despite living in the heart of St Louis. We usually host an Oscar party, so wanted to make sure we could actually watch the show without extra antenna interference from all the people. At the same time we thought we might enjoy some of the other perks.

We didn’t. There were so many options, all crap, that we couldn’t ever decide what to watch. We ended up streaming our same shows from our same other devices, all the while paying for a cable box that sat unused. The only time we turned it on was for sports and other one-off live shows, which were generally on the network stations anyway. We were throwing our money at nothing, so we cancelled. (Just cable TV, that is. Cable internet seems to be the only option strong enough to handle all our streaming, so Charter still gets our money, just less of it.)

Of course, everybody is different, and my situation may be unique. Check back tomorrow for Part 2, to examine the bigger picture and whether you should follow suit.

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Six Documentaries from Oscar’s Shortlist Available Online

Stories We Tell

The Academy has shortlisted 15 titles for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Thanks to Indiewire for finding six of them that are currently available for streaming online – even more if you have an HBO account. Check out the full list here.

This is a great find; it’s usually very hard for the average person to get a chance to see these films. Most of them opened in very limited release and didn’t stay in theaters long when they did. The only one I’ve seen so far is Blackfish – I highly recommend it to everyone – but I’ve also heard some really excellent things about The Act of Killing and Stories We Tell. The latter was directed by the extremely talented Sarah Polley. The former seems to be in the lead for the eventual Oscar win.

The six available titles are:
“The Act of Killing” (iTunes)
“Blackfish” (Netflix)
“Cutie and the Boxer” (Netflix)
“Dirty Wars” (Netflix)
“20 Feet from Stardom” (iTunes)
“Stories We Tell” (Amazon Instant Video)

All of them have a pretty good chance of making the final nominations, but especially The Act of Killing and Stories We Tell.

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