I Like to Watch (Instantly): Lovely, Still and Bonneville
Acting-powerhouse sentimental dramas from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
Lovely, Still (2008)
Directed by Nicholas Fackler
Cast: Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn, Adam Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Mark Booker, Candice Rose, Har Mar Superstar
Lovely, Still follows the life of eighty-something grocery store employee Robert (Martin Landau) as he strives to get through another Christmas by himself. Luckily, he meets Mary (Ellen Burstyn), a white-haired woman of the same age, and as they embark on a bumpy relationship, Robert learns—or rather, remembers—secrets about his past.
The film has a genuinely touching vibe, and Landau and Burstyn produce performances that are both tear-jerking an believable. The script has a few moments of awkward misdirection, but the simplistic dialogue also adds a nice sentimental touch and transcends the thin line between drama and reality on which the film sits. Not to mention the must-see ending. Overall, a one-of-a-kind cinematic treat.
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I Like to Watch (Instantly): Big, Stripes
Notable 1980s comedy titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
Directed by Penny Marshall
Cast: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard, Jon Lovitz, Mercedes Ruehl, Jared Rushton, David Moscow, Josh Clark, Kimberlee M. Davis, Oliver Block
A less flabby Tom Hanks stars in this lighthearted comedy about Josh Baskin, an unappreciative teenager turned into a 30-year-old man by a devilish Zoltar machine in a carnival one night, and the misadventures that befall him in his newfound maturity. With no one believing his transformation and with nowhere else to go, Josh seeks help from his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) to find the machine again and reclaim his body. Yet, it's not going to be easy. In his journey, Josh has to learn how to live alone, to find a job, to act like an adult and to fall in love. Overall, Big is a pure and sincere tale with a heartwarming feel, hilarious antics and, hard as it can be found in modern-day flicks, moral lessons. And as always, Hanks does a marvelous job of portraying his bizarre role, making this film a must-see for audiences, young and old alike.
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I Like to Watch (Instantly): Heavenly Creatures, Dead Alive
Notable Peter Jackson titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Directed by Peter Jackson
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent, Clive Merrison, Simon O'Connor, Jed Brophy, Peter Elliott, Gilbert Goldie, Geoffrey Heath, Kirsti Ferry, Ben Skjellerup, Darien Takle, Elizabeth Moody, Liz Mullane, Moreen Eason, P
Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson directs this bold tale about two girls' obsessive friendship. When introvert schoolgirl Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) meets the beautiful and self-confident Juliet (Kate Winslet, in her big-screen debut), the two form a deep emotional relationship— so deep, their parents plot a plan to separate them. Juliet's father will send her to South Africa "for the good of her health," and Pauline's folks won't let her come. Pauline needs to counteract, and soon, she knows just what to do: kill her mother. Set in the 1950s, the film exudes a creepy yet classy feel that makes the story seem so unbelievably real. The homosexual implications add a gripping touch, and may have possibly gotten it nominated for an Oscar in 1995.
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I Like to Watch (Instantly): Ponyo, The Secret of Kells
Notable animated titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Noah Cyrus, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Frankie Jonas, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, Betty White
From My Neighbor Totoro to Princess Mononoke to Spirited Away to Howl's Moving Castle, the release of a new animated masterpiece from Hayao Miyazaki is cause for major celebration. This cartoon fantasy centers on the adventures of a 5-year-old boy who befriends a goldfish princess name Ponyo who dreams of becoming human. This adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid is clearly aimed at younger audiences, but the visuals are a trippy treat for all ages.
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I Like to Watch (Instantly): Ashes of Time Redux, Death Trance
Notable martial arts titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
Ashes of Time Redux (2008)
Directed by Kar Wai Wong
Cast: Brigitte Lin, Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Li Bai, Carina Lau, Charlie Yeung
Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai takes another crack at his mostly misunderstood new wave martial arts film from 1994. Jacky Cheung, Leslie Cheung and Maggie Cheung (no relation) star in this ultra-stylized story of a brokenhearted hit man who lives in a desert and uses skilled swordsmen to carry out his contract killings. Wong's editorial tinkering (five or so minutes worth of cuts) attempts to alter what was already a radical condensation of Louis Cha's classic wuxia novel The Eagle-Shooting Heroes. But it's still a gorgeous film and deserves a second look. HD Available.
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I Like to Watch (Instantly): The Overture, Heading South
Notable international dramas from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
The Overture (2004)
Directed by Ittisoontorn Vichailak
Cast: Anuchit Sapanpong, Adul Dulyarat, Pongpat Wachirabunjong, Narongrit Tosa-nga, Phoovarit Phumpuang, Arratee Tanmahapran, Sumeth Ong-ard, Chumphorn Thepphithak
This acclaimed Thai film is based on the life of Luang Paradit Pairoh, Thailand's most revered traditional musician. The elegant and sensitive narrative shifts back and forth in time, presenting our musical genius' life story and—by extension—the history of Thailand. The tale stretches from the Golden Era of King Rama V through to the ’30s when classical music was banned by the country's "modern" government. In Thai with English subtitles.
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I Like to Watch (Instantly): Mesrine: Killer Instinct, Mesrine: Public Enemy #1
Notable French thriller titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
Devin D. O’Leary delves into the Netflix “Watch Instantly” feature and previews the two-part Gallic gangster saga Mesrine. Vincent Cassel (Irreversible, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Black Swan) stars as a middle-class French soldier who returns home to the neon glamor of '60s Paris and is soon mentored by a criminal kingpin (Frenchy superstar Gérard Depardieu). Jacques Mesrine was a real dude whose life in crime became the stuff of legend. Like Scarface but real. And with an accent. I mean, a French accent. In French with English subtitles. HD Available.
I Like to Watch (Instantly): How I Killed My Father, Sin Nombre
Notable father-drama titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
How I Killed My Father (2001)
Directed by Anne Fontaine
Cast: Natacha Régnier, Hubert Koundé, Karole Rocher, Amira Casar, Michel Bouquet, Charles Berling, Stephane Guillon
In this oh-so-French psychodrama, a successful, middle-aged gerontologist in the wealthy suburb of Versailles realizes that his happy life is a carefully constructed facade when his long lost father arrives, seemingly out of nowhere. Daddy apparently abandoned his wife and two young boys decades ago and ran off to Africa to become a rural physician. Charming, detatched and honest to a fault, dad's glad to point out the flaws in his son's chosen lifestyle (including a mistress and a clientele of vain rich folk). Director Anne Fontaine (Dry Cleaning) pulls some tricky slight-of-hand, making the whole thing darker and more mysterious than the average family drama. In French with English subtitles.
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I Like to Watch (Instantly): Before Sunset, P.S.
Notable high-def romantic titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
Before Sunset (2004)
Directed by Richard Linklater
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Vernon Dobtcheff, Albert Delpy, Rodolphe Pauly, Louise Lemoine Torres, Marianne Plasteig, Diabolo, Marie Pillet
Remember the 1995 Gen X romance Before Sunrise, which hooked up Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for an all-night chat-a-thon on the train from Budapest to Vienna? Well, it's nine years later, and our boy Ethan is on the French leg of his book tour. Who should he run into but the lovely Ms. Delpy? Shot in real time, this minimalist film manages to build an intimate story from just dialogue. HD available.
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I Like to Watch (Instantly): Jack Goes Boating, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Notable Philip Seymour Hoffman titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
Jack Goes Boating (2010)
Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Ortiz, Richard Petrocelli, Thomas McCarthy, Amy Ryan, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Lola Glaudini, Rafael Osorio, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Mason Pettit
Philip Seymour Hoffman directs and stars in this downbeat romantic dramedy about two working-class New York couples. Hoffman is a lonely limo driver set up on a date with a funeral home worker (Amy Ryan) by his best friends. As usual for these slice-of-life indie character dramas, everybody is unhappy, uncomfortable and awkward around one another. But the writing is sensitive and the acting is solid.
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