DVD & BLU-RAY
FlixWorthy: Mad Max, The Sundance Kid, and a Giant Peach
Author: David Wharton
published: 2010-06-09 14:09:42
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.
(1996, Rated PG, 79 min.)
Based on British author Roald Dahl's classic children's book, James and the Giant Peach tells the story of a young boy named James who finds himself orphaned after his parents are eaten by a rampaging rhinoceros. As is so often the case with orphans in children's stories, James is sent off to live with some less than desirable relatives -- in this case two abusive aunts -- and he dreams of something better. Said dreams probably don't include a magic bag of "crocodile tongues" from a mysterious stranger, but that's what he gets. On the way home, he spills the crocodile tongues near a peach tree and, as any right-thinking person would expect, one of the peaches soon grows to extraordinary size. Climbing inside the peach, James meets such embiggened insect inhabitants as Mr. Old Green Grasshopper, Mr. Centipede, and Mr. Earthworm. After the peach is snipped free from the tree, it begins rolling, and a truly strange road trip begins. Dahl's stories are timeless and dark and weird and wonderful, and Peach is brought to life in gorgeous stop-motion from Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick. I'd have preferred a giant nectarine, myself, but Peach is a tasty treat nonetheless.
Double-Feature It With...
(1996, Rated PG, 98 min.)
You can continue your Dahl-athon with Matilda, the story of a six-year-old who develops telekinetic powers but for some strange reason doesn't start fighting crime with them. Danny DeVito directs and stars as Matilda's father (alongside real-life wife Rhea Perlman as her mother). The movie isn't as well-known as some other Dahl adaptations, but it was well reviewed and deserves a look. Alternately, you can pair Peach with Willy Wonka, but that will just make you hungry.
(1969, Rated PG, 110 min.)
This one goes out to all my fellow John Marstons who've been sinking all their free time into Red Dead Redemption (check out Pete's review right here). Why not take a break from playing the best Western game ever made to watch one of the best Western movies ever made? Screenwriter William Goldman won an Oscar for his script, alongside three other wins and a list of nominations as long as a buffalo rifle. Paul Newman and Robert Redford give perhaps their best performances as the two infamous outlaws. After one heist too many, the duo flee to Bolivia seeking safe haven and easier pickings. Naturally, it's not that easy. Goldman's script is quotable and charming, and the two leads have never been more charismatic. If you've never seen it, do so ASAP. You'll be amazed how many references have been flying over your head all these years. Plus, it'll give your trigger finger time to uncramp for a while before you dive back into New Austin and Nuevo Paraiso.
Double-Feature It With...
3:10 to Yuma
(1957, Not Rated, 92 min.)
The high-profile remake starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale made surprisingly little impact at the box office in 2007, but even if you didn't like/see that one, you might want to check out the original. Based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, Yuma tells the story of a rancher roped into helping get a notorious outlaw (Glenn Ford) onto the titular train to justice.
(2008, Not Rated, 96 min., HD)
"Dinner and a movie" will never make you feel more guilty. Based on real events, Hunger stars potential Magneto Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, the leader of a six-week hunger strike by a group of IRA prisoners in Britain's Prison Maze in 1981. The film won a slew of awards and earned plenty of attention for artist-turned-director Steve McQueen (no, not that one). It's currently sitting at a 90% Fresh rating over on RottenTomatoes, with the general consensus being that it's an intense, affecting film that also happens to be disturbing and hard to watch. Fassbender gets particular praise his commitment to the role, which left him 40 pounds slimmer thanks to a medically supervised crash diet. He might not have lapped Machinist-era Christian Bale, but that's still bloody impressive for those of us who get cranky without an afternoon snack. Hunger ain't exactly feel-good entertainment, but it's a powerful film if you've got the stomach for it.
Double-Feature It With:
(1983, Rated R, 96 min.)
Well, I would have paired it with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but I did that a few weeks ago. Still, there's a sick little voice in my head that thinks that following up a dour historical hunger-strike drama with an erotic vampire thriller featuring David Bowie could be oddly compelling.
(1979, Rated R, 93 min., HD)
Mad Max was the first exposure most people had to Mel Gibson, and it's oddly appropriate that it was in the first of many roles playing a grizzled cop. Unlike your Martin Riggs and your Thomas Cravens, his Mad Max character patrols an even tougher beat -- the post-apocalyptic wastes of a near-future Australia. Gibson plays leather-clad cop Max Rockatansky, a skilled rider tasked with defending the crumbling remnants of society from violent motorcycle gangs. After his partner is killed by gang members, Max is shipped off on an enforced holiday with his family...who are then murdered by the very same gang. Naturally, at this point Max has no choice but to rely on due process to bring justice to those respon--just kidding. He goes on a vengeful killing spree, naturally. It's a spare, violent story that has almost single-handedly defined apocalyptic imagery for decades thereafter in everything from movies like The Book of Eli to games like the Fallout series. And it's always nice to remember Mel back when he was just a Movie Star, back before the Jesus snuff video and the anti-Semitism and the Sugar Tits incident.
Double-Feature It With:
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
(1985, Rated PG-13, 107 min.)
For some reason the second Max film, The Road Warrior, isn't available streaming, so you can either order up that disc to continue or you can skip right ahead to the Tina Turner-infused Thunderdome.
(1983, Rated R, 127 min.)
Based on Martin Cruz Smith's novel of the same name, Gorky Park stars William Hurt as Arkady Renko, a Moscow police inspector who becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue when called in to investigate a triple homicide. All three bodies have been mutilated and stripped of any identifying marks, suggesting this is more than just a drug deal gone bad. Renko's dogged determination to solve the crime puts him at odds with both his superiors and the KGB, and leads him around the world to New York and to a shady fur importer named Jack Osborne (no, not that one). The flick is rocking a 77% Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes, and was adapted by none other than Dennis Potter. If that name doesn't mean anything to you, think "Singing Detective." And if your brain just pictured Robert Downey Jr. rather than Michael Gambon, for the love of God, man, get some culture in ya! If the original Singing Detective series was available streaming, I would have already linked to it in this column, but trust me, it's worth the effort of tracking down.
Double-Feature It With:
(2004, Rated R, 107 min.)
Val Kilmer plays a secret agent who uncovers a wider conspiracy while trying to find and rescue the kidnapped daughter (a pre-Mars Kristen Bell) of a government official. Spartan would be notable even if only for the fact that it introduced Mamet to former Delta Force member Eric Haney and indirectly lead to The Unit, but it also happens to be a damn fine movie in and of itself.
Last Chance Theater -- Expiring Soon!
Lakeview Terrace (Expires 6/19)
Samuel L. Jackson is sick and tired of all this motherfuckin' miscegenation in his motherfuckin' neighborhood!
It's Alive (Expires 6/20)
Babies are evil.
Simon Says (Expires 6/23)
Crispin Glover wants to kill you. And he's twins.
The Jacket (Expires 6/26)
Adrian Brody travels through time so he can bang Keira Knightley.
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