Sunday, January 12, 2014

This Week in DVD and Instant Watching Part 2

It was an active beginning to 2014 for Netflix as the company executed its usual first-of-the-month purge of titles, accompanied by its usual first-of-the-month addition of titles. Somehow the media decided to make a big deal out of it, though conveniently failing to mention that many of the disappearing movies are in fact the same MGM titles that rotate in and out every 3 months or so. Yeah, a lot of stuff went bye-bye, but a lot of interesting stuff came in, too.

In the certified 5-star classics category, we get The Apartment, The Grapes of Wrath, The Day the Earth Stood Still (note the smattering of Fox classics each month), and 1941's Dressed to Kill. OK, so that last one may not be a guaranteed 5-star classic, but it's Lloyd Nolan as Michael Shayne, and I think it's a great there. Breakfast at Tiffany's is also streaming, and though they are a tad more recent, I think it's worth mentioning when Raging Bull and Bull Durham show up. And they did, so I mention it.

People love complaining about the dearth of recent theatricals on the channel, but in the past few weeks we got Jack Reacher, Ah-Nuld's starring comeback in The Last Stand, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, the latest Texas Chainsaw reboot, Meryl Streep as The Iron Lady, and, Lord help me for mentioning this, The Guilt Trip. Joe Swnaberg's intriguing-looking Drinking Buddies is there, too, for the more independently inclined among you. Then again, if you gamble a few hours on Hansel and Gretel and find yourself enjoying it, you're probably as independent-minded as anyone else around here.

Some recent TV series adds include the latter seasons of Dexter--I'm not a watcher of the series, so I'll resist the temptation to assume they are the "sucky ones"--the whole run of Murder She Wrote--we know NONE of those is sucky, right--Maron Season 1, and supposedly House of Cards now has bonus commentary, though I could use the clever machinations of an operator like Frank just to help me figure out to access them. For the kids out there, new series Turbo Fast debuts, and if that one is a flop, well, you get Jake and the Neverland Pirates Season 2.

What's impressed me most is the continuing flow of new documentaries to Netflix. Recent highlights: longtime Beatles secretary is profiled in Good Ol' Freda; Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, Deceptive Practice, which is about the great Ricky Jay; and Greenwich Village, which is about the music scene back in the day and I think covers either the damned hippies or the damned folkies. Maybe both. In the "I'm almost afraid" category, Bronies looks at the cult of adult My Little Pony fanatics.

Warner Instant went nuts for the holidays. As I write this, the new arrivals row has over 80 movies, all coming in the last 3-4 weeks. For the sake of having something to write about next time I do this column, let me focus on the 60-some that came before this past Friday.

New movies include Lee Tracy in Blessed Event, several Gold Diggers movies, Broadway Melody of 1936, Garbo in Queen Christina, and another seemingly random Andy Hardy selection in You're Only Young Once. Other big-ticket old-school items: Five Star Final with Eddie G, Navy Blue and Gold with J-J-Jimmy STEWart and Lionel Barrymore, and Jimmy Cagney in Jimmy the Gent and Taxi. And how about a young Bob Young, Eleanor Parker, and Burns and Allen and Clarence Kolb  (hey, he was very good at what he did!) in Honolulu?

Some notable genre entries include the Earth 2 pilot with Gary Lockwood (not to be confused with the short-lived modern series with Rebecca Gayheart, though hilarity would surely ensue if someone were to confuse Gary Lockwood with Rebecca Gayheart), The Hypnotic Eye, and The Cyclops.

Hulu continued to crash my Roku every other time I launched it.

Meanwhile, Acorn's first Monday of the month brought on sitcoms Fresh Fields and follow-up French Fields, Poirot Series 12, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Series 2, Trial and Retribution (that one sounds familiar), Maigret, and non-fiction series Time Team (Series 3). Not a lot there that thrills me, but, hey, at least it's new.

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