TV gets real
By Devin D. O’Leary
For decades, summertime was the time for TV reruns. If you missed a few episodes of your favorite network sitcom in fall/spring, you could catch them in July. Or you could go out and play Frisbee. But these days—what with the proliferation of new cable TV stations and broadcast networks expending extra effort to create original summertime programming—reruns are hardly the hot topic. September is fast approaching, and summer is almost gone. We’re just weeks away from the debut of the fall 2011 TV season. What better time to ask the question, “What have we been watching all summer?” I’ll give you one big hint: There ain’t a lot of scripts involved.
I Like to Watch (Instantly): Heartbreaker, Welcome
Notable romantic French titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
By Ardee Napolitano [ Tue Aug 23 2011 4:44 PM ]
Romain Duris (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) and Vanessa Paradis (The Girl on the Bridge) star in director Pascal Chaumeil's feature directorial debut. Alex (Duris), an indebted con artist who breaks couples up for a living, is hired by a rich entrepreneur to prevent his daughter Juliette (Paradis) from marrying her fiance. The expert heartbreaker then struggles through the hardest challenge of his career, as he slowly realizes that he has already fallen in love with his subject.
I Like to Watch (Instantly): Eat Drink Man Woman, The Road Home
Notable romantic Chinese titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
By Ardee Napolitano [ Mon Aug 15 2011 4:07 PM ]
Long before Brokeback Mountain, Chinese director Ang Lee was making films that explore traditional society's norms and depict how people break away from them. In Eat Drink Man Woman, Lee tells the story of a Taiwanese master chef and his three daughters, and how they transcend conventional Chinese thinking through their unusual love life’s. Using food as a metaphor, the movie excels in delivering a deeply philosophical message in a fairly simple manner.
I Like to Watch (Instantly): Lovely, Still and Bonneville
Acting-powerhouse sentimental dramas from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
By Ardee Napolitano [ Wed Aug 10 2011 2:24 PM ]
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.
I Like to Watch (Instantly): Big, Stripes
Notable 1980s comedy titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
By Ardee Napolitano [ Sun Jul 31 2011 2:00 PM ]
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
By Ardee Napolitano [ Sun Jul 24 2011 2:00 PM ]
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
By Devin D. O’Leary [ Sun Jul 17 2011 2:00 PM ]
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
By Devin D. O’Leary [ Sun Jul 10 2011 2:00 PM ]
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
By Devin D. O’Leary [ Sun Jul 3 2011 2:00 PM ]
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
By Devin D. O’Leary [ Sun Jun 26 2011 11:00 AM ]
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.
Annual Winter Solstice Concert at First United Methodist Church
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