Dec 28, 2013

The Great Netflix Expiry of 2013

movies expiring from Tyler Coe's Netflix Instant Watch Queue
Movies Expiring from My Netflix Instant Queue

My Netflix Instant Watch queue is out of control. Yours probably is, too. At the end of every year, the contracts Netflix has with various film companies expire and avid fans of Instant Watch scramble to see the movies expiring from their queue. [Don't pretend like you have a life and this doesn't affect you. Admitting you have a problem is the first step.] I got lucky this year and only have about 15 movies expiring from my queue, some of which I've seen before or don't really care if I do get to see. I'm still going to try to watch them all. [Here's an earlier piece on my love for cinema.] I'll be adding mini-reviews as I work my way through the list:

Richard Pryor on poster for movie Bustin Loose
Bustin' Loose
I love Richard Pryor. I have a Richard Pryor t-shirt. Do you even know anyone else who has t-shirts of standup comedians? Don't answer that because nobody cares. I'll watch anything with Richard Pryor in it. I even read his daughter's whiny book about him. So, I'm biased, but I like this movie. It's the typical Bad News Bears scenario of a fuckup adult dealing with a bunch of fuckup kids. Richard Pryor wrote the script. If you're familiar with his material, you know that, beyond being hilarious, his perspective is laden with poignancy. There is a scene between Richard and a pyromaniac kid that I can't imagine working with anyone else besides Richard Pryor. Anyway, I liked it. Paul Mooney has a bit part in the opening scenes, which is important because it's PAUL MOONEY!

Robert Duvall and Robert DeNiro on True Confessions DVD cover
True Confessions
This movie is kinda fraudulent. We (Lotus and I) had our interest piqued by the synopsis' reference to the Black Dahlia murder case. To be fair, it did say "loosely." This movie is basically nothing to do with Elizabeth Short and everything to do with the shadiness of Catholicism, with a twist of family struggle. Robert Duvall plays a cop and Robert DeNiro plays his brother, a priest. It's probably worth watching for the few bits of period dialogue. [I still haven't figured out if there's any meaning behind one cop's comment that a hooker looked like she had "two left tits" but I laughed.] Don't watch it for the Black Dahlia tie-in. The cadaver didn't even have a Glasgow Smile. Oh! Burgess Meredith has a bit part! I didn't know this going in and literally exclaimed "BURGESS MEREDITH!" when his name played in the opening credits. I love that dude.

William H. Macy Donald Sutherland and Neve Campbell on Panic movie poster
I have no idea why this movie is called Panic. It was really quite good, though. I'm gonna have to just stop reading the NF synopses before watching things. This movie is not a black comedy. There are a couple funny things, I guess, but it's mostly a family/romantic drama. My favorite scenes were the flashbacks of Donald Sutherland bringing William H. Macy's character, his son, into the family business: contract killing. Alternately, the scenes between Macy and Neve Campbell are engaging, though Neve's character development is fairly botched in a weird party scene. John Ritter is great in the "Lorraine Bracco" role.

Billy Zane and Cryptkeeper on Demon Knight poster
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight
While not usually a fan of gross-out horror, I did enjoy this. To digress a bit, I used to spend a lot of time on a tour bus and we watched A LOT of movies on that bus. Back in the day, we used to only have a VCR and we only had one movie, Tombstone. I've seen Tombstone more times than any other movie, except maybe The Sword in the Stone. So, I came for Billy Zane, without realizing that both Dick Miller (several Roger Corman movies) and Gary Farmer (Dead Man) would get way more screen time. This is not a bad thing.  If you're into horror special effects, don't miss your chance to see this. The plot is paper-thin and motheaten but in no way is this a dealbreaker.

Mia Sara on Black Day Blue Night movie poster
Black Day, Blue Night
I watched this because Love and a .45 is awesome and Gil Bellows is awesome in that movie. Watch that movie instead of this movie. This movie is the kind of movie they sold in truck stops before they started selling normal-budget movies in truck stops: double-crosses, a suitcase full of money, lingering nude scenes shot in soft focus, and a literal deus ex machina dead-ending. The only reason to see this is if you have an obsession with Mia Sara and want to see her naked...

My Little Eye movie poster
My Little Eye
Had to bail on this one after about fifteen minutes. As soon as the credits began I remembered that I'd seen it before, which isn't the reason I stopped watching, as I didn't remember what was going to happen. The reason I stopped watching this is that I didn't care. The characters are living in an isolated house in the middle of the woods because they're competing in a reality television show. They start hearing weird noises and getting scared about ten minutes into things. If you're making a serious horror movie, you need to develop the characters at least a little bit before you start fucking with them.

When you're trying to power through 10+ movies on a deadline, knowing when to cut bait and move on is crucial.

Altered movie poster
Every fucking other word in this fucking movie was "fuck" or "goddamn," which I normally don't have a motherfucking problem with but fucking sometimes that fucking shit can get pretty god damn annoying. I put off watching this movie for a long fucking time because we all remember that god damn piece of shit Dreamcatcher, which fucking really doesn't have any fucking thing to do with this motherfucking movie except the fucking synopsis fucking reminded me of the fucking thing. But this fucking movie gets started right the fuck away with a bunch of fucking rednecks capturing one king hell of a motherfucking alien and taking it the fuck home. Fucking everything goes to shit and there's a seriously god damn "gut-wrenching" scene halfway through the fucking movie. Oh, yeah, there's some fucking gore here and it looks super fucking real. This is another one for you god damn special effects motherfuckers. Fuckin aliens, man. Fuck.

Christian Slater and Milla Jovovich on Kuffs movie poster
I didn't make it through this one. Christian Slater breaks the fourth wall right after the opening credits end. Not a dealbreaker. You know what you're in for. Okay. Milla Jovovich is dancing around in her underwear. Okay. She tells him she's pregnant. Okay. His reaction is completely unrealistic and, I suspect, sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Some completely unrealistic and overly dramatic things happen and Slater some-crazy-how "inherits" a precinct of town, even though he's not a cop, or something. This movie just seemed confused. Slater's character wakes up one morning and opens his pajamas to address his dick but this is not The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. (I LOVE The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.) Oddly, considering my grievances with Altered, what made me stop watching this one was a scene in which Slater's new partner goes off on him in an expletive-filled rant, except every time he says "fuck" it's literally bleeped out with zany car horn sounds. It was unnatural, like maybe the MPAA was giving the studio a hard time getting their PG-13 rating and they just decided to cover up a bunch of F Bombs instead of doing a reshoot. I don't know. I gave up.

Daniel Stern Christian Slater Cameron Diaz Jon Favreau on Very Bad Things poster
Very Bad Things
I don't have a crush on Christian Slater. I did find out tonight that my girlfriend used to think he was hot but that's just funny/weird and has nothing to do with this. Okay. The Hangover was, well, hugely over-rated, but also definitely not the first "Vegas Disaster" movie. Very Bad Things is hard to pin down. It's definitely not a comedy. It's definitely not a drama. It's pretty much just sadistic. If you're watching it for the plot and having a good time, you might need to talk to someone. Do watch it for the performances. The ensemble cast (Daniel Stern, Jon Favreau, Leland Orser, Cameron Diaz, Rob Brownstein, Jeremy Piven, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Kobe Tai, etc.) sells this thing. Start with a little accidental necrophilia and pile gruesomely bad decisions on top of each other and you've got the gist of it. What's notable here is that you'll buy the whole plot. Great acting, mean movie.

Jack Nicholson on The Border poster
The Border
I thought I had seen this before but was confusing it with The Crossing Guard. This isn't as dreary as I remember The Crossing Guard being, though it is a drama. Of course, I've never seen a movie with Jack Nicholson in it that didn't have a few good laughs. That applies here. Nicholson and Harvey Keitel are Border Patrol agents, keeping Mexicans from illegally coming into America. At least that's what they're supposed to be doing. The inevitable corruption that piggybacks on power leads to the obvious dilemma of our protagonist being forced to confront his own ethics. Everything is done well here. Oh, did I mention that Warren Oates is in this movie? If you don't know who he was then I am very ashamed of you.

Joshua Leonard on poster for Bitter Feast
Bitter Feast
This is how you do a psychological horror. I don't want to spoil anything but I definitely recommend seeing this. James Le Gros is one of those actors-you-saw-in-that-one-movie-what's-his-name [Recommended: Thursday and The Pass (aka Highway Hitcher)] and Joshua Leonard is one of my recent favorite actors. [Recommended: In the Weeds] I think any fan of the genre will enjoy this. If your line of work involves dealing with the unqualified criticism of other people at all (whose doesn't?) then you owe it to yourself to watch this. Don't worry, there isn't any cannibalism.

Series 7 The Contenders movie poster
Series 7: The Contenders
The first scene depicts a shabbily dressed, pregnant woman walking into a gas station with a gun, shooting a customer standing in line, and asking the cashier where the bean dip is. This is a comedy, albeit extremely deadpan. None of the laughs are held up in front of your face. I'm unfamiliar with the entire cast, except Will Arnett making an appearance in the climactic scene. The entire thing is presented as reality television, complete with implied commercial breaks. This is the main failing of Series 7. As the film progresses, the "commercial" leads in/out seem to come more frequently and with less plot development between them. Perhaps this is a comment on actual television. Okay. But it's still really annoying. Series 7 is a decent movie, nothing great but clever.

Mr. T on DC Cab movie poster
D.C. Cab
I stopped watching this after half an hour. I'm all for watching a bad movie starring Mr. T but Mr. T isn't the star of this movie. Some white guy is the star of this movie. I've seen enough bad movies with some white guy in the lead. I did consider watching the rest of the movie to see who else made an appearance when I realized that Bill Mahr was on screen. Ultimately, the clunky attempts at off-color humor for the sake of itself were just lame. I tapped.

Dennis Hopper Gary Oldman on Chattahoochee movie poster
Dennis Hopper isn't in this all that much. That's okay, though. Chattahoochee is more of a prison movie than, say, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. However, it's more of a mental institution flick than The Shawshank Redemption. In tone it lies somewhere between the two, though slightly closer to Shawshank, being set in the 50's. Expect no comic relief. There is little to none, depending on what might make you laugh. Gary Oldman grabs hold of the worst Southern accent he can and doesn't let go. Through the second half of the movie he also rocks a beard that would make an Amish man cower with fear. Frances McDormand, Ned Beatty, M. Emmet Walsh, and whoever the guy is who played the sheriff in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me all have small parts. I liked it.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is curtains on this saga.

Thank you for your time. See you next year.


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