It's one of those weeks again; the beginning of the month was Tuesday, and this April, Netflix isn't foolin' around. (Get it? April? Foolin'? Okay, I'll stop). I tried my best to find some hidden gems you might not have noticed otherwise, but there are a lot of top-tier titles that I would be crazy not to mention, too. I will say this: despite the plethora of new stuff added, none of it is exciting enough to make you jump out of your seat. Just a lot of solid library additions and a few recent films and TV shows, a lot of which deserve a look. With that said, this is going to be INCREDIBLY long, so my comments are very short this week. Okay, here we go:
This is a weird first pick but, hey, I'm a weird guy. An independent movie that just hit theaters in limited release this past December, this one was absolutely mauled by the critics. But I love Liev Schrieber (seriously, if you aren't watching Ray Donovan on Showtime, you need to remedy that situation asap), and it's sci-fi, so I'm watching it.
An absolute classic. Cinema noir at its best. (And I'll recommend it despite my personal feelings about Mr. Roman Polanski).
This 2011 Cartoon Network series was held in better regard than the poorly received Ryan Reynolds movie version but was still cancelled after one season (reportedly due to poor toy sales).
Gods, I love these movies. The original Naked Gun has already been available for a few months now. (By the way, they're in the process of rebooting this series with Ed Helms taking over for the late, great Leslie Nielsen...)
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon at their absolute best. The movie that started it all (well, minus the Neil Simon play that it's based on). This is one is also getting a reboot, in the form of a new CBS series for next season with Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon.
(Yeah, I couldn't find a poster image for this one, but that magazine cover cracked me up). Are you loving FOX's Cosmos redo with the incomparable Neil deGrasse Tyson? Then check out this six-episode lecture series! But, I warn you, I'm told it's much, much dryer than Cosmos.
Also known as "The Film That Stole the Best Picture Oscar Away From Fargo and Jerry Maguire." Seriously, it's a decent film but it's sooooooooooo slow, and it's no where near as good as the other two films I mentioned. But some people like it, so here you go.
I'm a geek but even I was underwhelmed by this 2002 movie about two rival comic book shops. It's got a fantastic cast, though, and I know a lot of people like it. I think it's time I revisited it.
Yup, the biggest movie ever is finally on Netflix. Now you can ponder why two people couldn't fit on that raft any time you please...
I'm super-excited about this one. This series, hosted by Community's Jim Rash (himself an Academy Award-winning screenwriter for The Descendants) goes behind-the-scenes of popular television series, joining the writing staff for a roundtable discussion of their process. The first season includes six different shows: Breaking Bad, Parks and Recreation, Dexter, New Girl, Game of Thrones, and American Horror Story. Season 2 starts April 18th on Sundance.
Charles Bronson, the original bad ass, stars in these 4 classic tales of vigilante justice. Death Wish, Death Wish II, Death Wish 3, and Death Wish 4: The Crackdown are all available. Death Wish V: The Face of Death is not available, but I hear it's crap anyway.
"There's no crying in baseball!"
That's all I know about this movie, because I'm the one guy that never saw it.
A horror classic starring Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes), written by acclaimed novelist Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) based upon his own book. This one's been sampled, copied, and parodied for years.
My favorite animated series currently on TV. The Simpsons and Family Guy get all the attention, but this show knocks it out of the park every week. Hilarious.
An anti-Nazi WWII classic, directed by the legendary Fritz Lang. (Incidentally, this was Roddy McDowell's first movie — see The Legend of Hell House above).
Fair warning: I haven't seen this one, and couldn't find much about it. It's a documentary about the history of the environmental activist movement, narrated by Robert Redford. I know, it sounds dry as hell, but this is actually the kind of stuff I watch most often on Netflix.
One of those Steven Spielberg movies that everyone forgets about, Amistad managed to not even get nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. And I never saw it. Perhaps I should do something about that.
And now a Spielberg film that NO ONE forgets. Even if you've seen it before, this is the 30th anniversary "ultimate" edition, so I'd give it another go.
I can't tell you why I'd be interested in this documentary. I mean...I, uh....I don't even know who these people are...
Not the remake (which I thought wasn't all that bad, really), but the 1981 original in all its glory.
Along with the abysmal It's Pat, this is the movie that all but killed SNL movies. But, I'm sorry, I like it. And you know what? I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!
Before The Lord of the Rings trilogy, there was Braveheart. Before Mel Gibson went batshit crazy, there was Braveheart. Okay, enough joking. Seriously, despite the obvious anti-LGBT stuff, this is one of the best movies ever made. Period.
Speaking of "before The Lord of the Rings trilogy," way back in 1981 there was Dragonslayer. It's goofy but it holds a soft spot in my heart.
One of my favorite movies. It's just plain craziness, from beginning to end. It derails a bit toward the end (once Chris Tucker shows up), but it's still a solid action sci-fi flick.
Laugh at the title and premise all you want, this 1964 film is considered a classic by critics and audiences alike. The prestigious Criterion company even did an extensive restoration a few years back. Oh, and it has Adam West in it!
Another of my personal favorites. Beautiful imagery, amazing action, incredible story — it has it all. The Joel Siegel quote on the cover says it all: "One of the greatest movies ever made!" A sequel is set to begin production this year.
A darling of the 2007 film festival circuit, this French-film was technically produced by an American company, making it ineligible for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar that it would surely have won otherwise.
For some reason, A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly were added to Netflix a few months ago, but this middle chapter of the Man With No Name trilogy was not. All three are now available.
Classic Schwarzenegger. And based on a novel by Stephen King!
Speaking of Schwarzenegger classics, they don't get any more classic than this. A reboot of the series (with Arnold returning) is in the works.
This absolutely hilarious show (that is NOT just for kids, smartass), just finished its fifth season on Cartoon Network. But we're just now getting the complete second season on Netflix, so drink it up.
This is my second favorite animated show currently on TV. Seriously. I don't care if you think it's for kids — this show regularly brings me to tears from laughing. Like Adventure Time, it's also currently in its fifth season, but Netflix has just now decided to grace us with Season Two.
This independent movie about two former child beauty stars was written by co-stars June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson (recently departed from Saturday Night Live). Reviews were mixed, but I loved Wilson on SNL, and the rest of the cast is intriguing: Alicia Silverstone, Jon Cryer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Paul Scheer, and Bob Odenkirk.
Another show I just never got into. I like Hugh Laurie and the few episodes I caught were decent. I know a lot of you are fanatical about it, though, so you'll be pleased to know that every episode from all 8 seasons is now available to watch.
While we all eagerly await the premiere of Sharknado 2: The Second One this summer, why not check out this insane film from the same folks over at The Asylum? And hey, it stars Christopher Judge from Stargate: SG-1 and Debbie Gibson from...music.
Hey look! It's the 1000th zombie movie from former horror icon George A. Romero! Okay, technically it's the 6th in the series and it's just awful. But, hey, we all love zombies, and if you're a completist like me, you've gotta watch it.
I haven't enjoyed an Adam Sandler movie since Big Daddy in 1999 (not including Punch-Drunk Love or Funny People, neither of which are technically "Adam Sandler movies"), but I've been told this one is decent. Meh.
Not sure this one really counts as an "Adam Sandler movie" either, since it was written and directed by the wonderful James L. Brooks, but it didn't look very good to me and I never bothered. Maybe I'll give it a go now.
A musical classic, starring the still-hot Marilyn Monroe. This is the film where she sings the memorable song, "Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend." Good stuff.
Ali came out a few years ago at a time when sports movies were in vogue, and I was just plain tired of them. Between that and the fact that I could never buy Will Smith as Muhammad Ali, I skipped out on this one. I've heard it's actually pretty decent, and I generally like director Michael Mann's work, so I'll watch it at some point.
Another of my favorites. A classic in every sense of the word. Great performances from Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman, and unforgettable tunes from Simon and Garfunkel. I may watch it again as soon as I finish this blog post.
It's amazing how quickly Robin Williams went from being America's sweetheart to everyone's crazy uncle that they wish would just shut up and go away. Still, this 1995 film was a lot of fun and it's worth a revisit.
A weird mix of supernatural horror and swashbuckling action, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter was one of the last productions of the famous Hammer Films. Originally intended as a television pilot (but rated R), it's now a cult classic.
Every woman's fantasy, Ryan Gosling, starred in this 2007 dramedy about a loner who buys an anatomically-correct love doll and presents it to family and friends as his new girlfriend. (By the way, the doll is the film is a real thing — check out realdoll.com, if you dare. It's NSFW, though).
I've never been a fan of these white-bread generic USA Network shows, but I know a lot of people enjoy them. I watched the first season of Burn Notice just to see Bruce Campbell back in action and ended up just feeling sorry for him. Anyway, the first four seasons of Royal Pains are now available.
Based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë, this 1943 adaptation stars Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, with a short, uncredited appearance from a young Elizabeth Taylor.
Another classic adaptation, this one based on the book by Jane Austen, this 1995 film stars Emma Thompson (who won an Oscar for also writing its screenplay), Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, and Hugh Grant. Incidentally, it was directed by Ang Lee, who also directed the aforementioned Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Let's keep the literary adaptations going, shall we? This is a 1935 version of Victor Hugo's classic novel starring a lot of people whose names you would not recognize, so I won't bother to mention them.
Yet another one of Barry's faves. So glad to see it hit Netflix; I've already seen it a million times, now I'll be adding another mill or two. (If you're feeling brave, the completely unnecessary and unfunny direct-to-DVD sequel, Mean Girls 2, is also available).
A very-highly regarded 2002 film starring Kenneth Branagh, Rabbit-Proof Fence tells the true story of an Australian mother and her two mixed-race Aboriginal daughters, who escape an internment camp in the 1930's and set foot on a 1,500 mile journey home.
This one's near the top of my "must-watch" list this week. A rarely seen, 1988 adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, it was directed by Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer and features a mix of stop-motion animation and live action. Supposedly much darker than other adaptations.
Hard to believe it's been that long, but this 2002 film is the one that put Jesse Eisenberg on the map. Co-starring Campbell Scott (one of my favorites) as his uncle, the film follows the duo out on the town on the hunt for sex. Hilarity presumably ensues.
A groundbreaking, wonderfully made film. Spencer Tracey is fantastic. Katharine Hepburn (who won an Oscar) and Sidney Portier hold their own, as well. Great movie.
A seemingly forgotten classic, this 1972 pseudo-Western stars a young Jeff Bridges and Barry Brown as two young men who flee the Civil War draft and join a gang of outlaws. I've heard it described as "gritty" and "real," which are two things I like in a movie (besides "boobies," but that's neither here nor there).
A 1991 film by the Coen Brothers (Fargo, Blood Simple, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski), and one of many collaborations with the brilliant John Turturro and John Goodman, Barton Fink is often overlooked. It's a fantastic film, though, full of symbolism and odes to other filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Roman Polanski.
Okay, that's it for this week. So start watching or, if you're like me, just add them all to your queue and promise yourself that you'll watch them "eventually."
I need a nap.
For more recommendations, news, opinions, and random Foursquare check-ins, follow me on Twitter @barryerice.