FlixWorthy: It's The End Of The World As We Know It

By David Wharton 2010-12-30 16:45:58
Welcome back to FlixWorthy, your weekly guide to Netflix streaming. Yet again we're bringing you a handful of new or notable selections from Netflix's streaming catalogue. Some will be classics, some will be little-seen gems, some will be shows you might have missed, and some...some will be crap so awful they simply has to be seen to be believed. Here's what's FlixWorthy this week, kids.

Rosemary's Baby
(1968, Rated R, 136 min.)

We're on the cusp of a new year, often portrayed in the form of an adorable baby wearing a dated sash and doomed to planned obsolescence a mere 365 days later. It's an image I can appreciate, having had a pair of such critters entire my life two months ago. Babies are all potential, flush with innumerable possibilities. Maybe they'll grow up to be president. Maybe they'll cure cancer. Or maybe, let's be honest, one of them is the Antichrist. It's a prospect every parent must be wary of, keeping an eye out for any sign that junior is commanding beasts through his sheer unholy will, bathing in the blood of the innocent, or offing the neighbors and babysitters through a string of unfortunate "accidents." Thankfully all my wife and I have to deal with right now is soy vomit and leaking diapers. Not so poor Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow), who mysteriously becomes pregnant with the spawn of Satan. That's what she gets for working with Roman Polanski.

Double-Feature It With:

The Omen
(1976, Rated R, 111 min., HD)

If you thought nine months with a devil child poisoning your womb was inconvenient, just wait till you have to raise the damn thing. Especially if you make things worse and name him "Damien." I mean, the window replacement bills alone...





Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
(2010, Rated PG-13, 75 min.)

This one tackles an entirely different type of Apokolips, with the World's Finest duo of Superman (voiced by Tim Daly) and Batman (v. Kevin Conroy) squaring off against notorious big bad Darkseid (v. Andre Braugher). A direct sequel to last year's Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Apocalypse again adapts a story arc from Jeph Loeb's Superman/Batman comic series. Along with Darkseid, this one introduces Kara Zor-El, the modern Supergirl, into this animated continuity, voiced by the lovely and multitalented Summer Glau. I was no great fan of the first Superman/Batman flick, and I was hoping they might get their ducks more properly in a row for this follow-up. Unfortunately, it didn't win over reviewer Ed, and his low score was echoed by many others around the internets. If you're a die-hard fan, it might be worth checking out, but approach with eyes open and standards appropriately floor-level.

Double-Feature It With...

Hellboy: Sword of Storms
(2007, Not Rated, 77 min.)

If you're in the mood with sticking with the doomsday theme we've pursued so far but would like something a little more entertaining than the above pick, this animated Hellboy tie-in is good fun. Designed to co-exist more or less comfortably with the two live-action films, it has many of the films' actors providing voices, including the definitive Hellboy, Ron Perlman, as well as John Hurt, Selma Blair, and Doug Jones. If you like the cut of their jib, also be sure to check out Hellboy: Blood & Iron.


The Long Kiss Goodnight
(1996, Rated R, 120 min.)

All right, that's enough with all the world-ending doom and gloom; it's time for something a little more fun. If only Netflix had added this in time, The Long Kiss Goodnight would definitely have made it into my Christmas suggestions last week, because, well, if you're not familiar with the long association between Christmas and screenwriter Shane Black, go read Eric's excellent piece on the subject right here. (Hell, it's worth clicking that link just for the picture of Michelle Monaghan in her yuletide get-up.) Long Kiss isn't the best Shane Black movie -- it's not even the best Shane Black movie that begins with the letter L -- but it is good fun nonetheless. And since neither Kiss Kiss Bang Bang nor the first Lethal Weapon are streaming, this will have to do. Geena Davis stars as amnesiac schoolteacher Samantha Caine, whose forgotten past comes back to haunt her in the form of violent, unexplainable impulses. She hires private dick Mitch Hennessey to figure out who she used to be, and from there things go pear shaped in a highly entertaining manner.

Double-Feature It With:

The Caveman's Valentine
(2001, Rated R, 105 min., HD)

Moving away from the pure popcorn fun of Long Kiss, I'm following the Sam Jackson tangent (also known in technical circles as the "Motherfucker Isthmus") to something a bit more eclectic. Based on a rather intriguing novel by George Dawes Green, The Caveman's Valentine casts bad mofo Jackson as Romulus Ledbetter, a homeless schizophrenic and former Julliard musical prodigy who now lives in a cave in a New York park. He also believes that a man named Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant is beaming out mind-control rays from the top of the Chrysler building. Needless to say, he's not the best suited person to solve a murder, but that's what he sets out to do after he finds the frozen body of a man outside his cave.


I'm Still Here
(2010, Not Rated, 107 min., HD)

As you can see from that box art up there, Sam Jackson sports quite the 'do in Caveman's Valentine, and everyone knows that one unfortunate hair choice deserves another. Thus, I give you Joaquin Phoenix in the Casey Affleck-directed sort-of-maybe documentary I'm Still Here. People were confused in 2008 when Phoenix started making surreal talk-show appearances and sporting a mountain-man beard; all the more so when he announced that he was retiring from acting to pursue a rap career. Was it a publicity stunt? Some sort of insane performance art? The outward evidence of a truly spectacular mental breakdown? Nobody knew for sure, and the fact that brother-in-law Casey Affleck was filming the whole mess only made things more interesting. Whether or not you'll come away from I'm Still Here with any satisfying answers remains to be seen, but the sheer train-wreck appeal cannot be denied. If only somebody had been following Crispin Glover around with a camera back when this was happening.

Double-Feature It With:

Paper Heart
(2009, Rated PG-13, 88 min.)

You can read Katey's thoughts on this pseudo-documentary right here, and it's bound to make an interesting double-feature with the Joaquin madness. Actress/comedian Charlyne Yi examines the nature of love in a tale that intertwines the real with the scripted. You might recognize her as the giggly girlfriend from Knocked Up, and she stars here with at-the-time supposed real-life sweetheart Michael Cera as fictionalized versions of themselves. Her screenplay for Paper Heart also won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, so it's got that going for it, which is nice.


Darkon
(2006, Not Rated, 106 min.)

From the realm of pseudo-documentaries, let's move on to some films that are more concrete in their identity. The first I heard of Darkon was when a screenplay by Daily Show staple John Hodgman landed on the Black List, which polls producers about the best-liked unproduced screenplays each year. The script itself is a lot of fun, wrapping Hodgman's wit around an exploration of the strange world of LARPing -- live action role playing. What I didn't realize at the time was that that script was apparently based on an already existing documentary on the same subject. The script covers territory similar to the Paul Rudd/Seann William Scott comedy Role Models, but does so in a funnier and somewhat less condescending manner. I'd love to see Hodgman's script make it to screen, but in the mean time I'm definitely looking forward to checking out the original source material.

Double-Feature It With...

Confessions of a Superhero
(2007, Rated R, 89 min., HD)

Speaking of peculiar subcultures, we move on to Confessions of a Superhero. If you've ever visited Mann's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, you've probably seen them: the costumed crazies posing for pictures with tourists while dressed as beloved superheroes. Confessions puts a human face on four of these characters, and finds them to be just like many of the rest of us: flawed, confused, and sometimes a little sad...but still chasing their dreams as best they can.






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