Are you overwhelmed by the massive catalog of Netflix Instant's available titles? No worries. With this biweekly column we'll help you parse through its streaming library to uncover enticing features with tie-ins to the latest theatrical releases.
This week, in the spirit of The Dark Knight Rises, Step Up Revolution, and Klown, we've collected some of the biggest action pics of last summer, three sensational dance flicks, and a few foreign comedies that take raunchy humor to a strange new place.
The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan completes his Batman trilogy with a new adventure that takes place 8 years after the death of Harvey Dent. Since then, Gotham has become a place of peace, but a growling new threat known as Bane is ready to rise, forcing the Dark Knight out of retirement. Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway co-star.
Summertime offers some of the biggest, most bombastic releases on the Hollywood calendar, and if The Dark Knight Rises has got you craving more summer-level thrills, treat yourself to these supped up action-adventures that hit theaters last summer.
Thor (2011) It was Marvel movies that dominated the box office last summer, thanks in part to the strong debut of Kenneth Branagh's bold comic book adaptation that brought plenty of Shakespearean-styled theatrics into the superhero genre. Chris Hemsworth stars as Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior from another planet whose rivalry with his jealous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) could bring destruction to Earth. Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins co-star.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) The third feature in Michael Bay's gigantic extraterrestrial robot saga rewrites history, beginning with Neil Armstrong discovering a downed Cybertronian spacecraft on the moon in 1969. Shia LaBeouf returns to team up once more to fight alongside Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots to save the world. Just go with it.
Conan the Barbarian (2011) Director Marcus Nispel attempted to give the brawny warrior of Robert E. Howard's pulp fiction a new life with this big budget reboot. Unfortunately for Nispel and budding action star Jason Momoa, the movie tanked at the box office. But with nimble fight choreography and splashy special effects, this tale of a barbarian defending his homeland against hostile forces is totally satisfying home entertainment.
Step Up Revolution
The fourth film in the step up franchise stars So You Think You Can Dance's Kathryn McCormick as an aspiring dancer who moves to Miami and falls for the leader of a dance troupe who hopes to use their choreography and flash mob tactics to protest the gentrification that threatens their neighborhood. Stephen "Twitch" Boss and Mia Michaels co-star.
There's something uniquely satisfying about watching truly gifted and passionate dancers at work. And in that vein, here are three features that revel in the glory of dance!
Royal Wedding (1951) The great and ever-dapper Fred Astaire plays one half of a brother-sister dancing duo in this winsome romantic comedy. Hired to hoof it at the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II, he and his sister (Jane Powell) are gearing up for their biggest performance to date. But when each finds love—with a Lord and a British dancer—it could prove the end of their act! This classic memorably features the iconic routine that sees Astaire dancing his way up around the walls and onto the ceiling. Peter Lawford co-stars; Stanley Donen directs.
Xanadu (1980) Olivia Newton-John stars Kira, a Greek Muse—with an Australian accent—who spurs a starving artist (Michael Beck) to his greatest creation: a disco rollerskating rink! There's just one problem, Kira is falling in love with this mortal, breaking the rules laid down by the gods. A sugary sweet musical, Xanadu also features the final film appearance of dance legend Gene Kelly. It's obliviously campy, but deeply delightful.
Billy Elliot (2000) Jamie Bell made his screen debut in this British 1984-set drama about a blue-collar boy with dreams of ballet stardom. Defying the his father, who preferred he take up boxing, Billy becomes the only boy in his local gym's ballet class. There his spontaneous and unstoppable self-created choreography is chiseled into a disciplined dance that draws awe, even from the hardened heart of his dad. Julie Walters and Gary Lewis co-star; Stephen Daldry directs.
Inspired by the Danish TV series, this raunchy comedy continues the adventures of Frank and Casper whose plans of a "Tour de Pussy" canoe trip would seem to be sidelined by the former's desire to prove a good father figure to his girlfriend's 12-year-old nephew…unless they take him along for the ride. Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen co-star; Mikkel Nørgaard directs.
Though dubbed a Danish version of The Hangover, Klown has its own distinct brand of comedy that's less loud but far bawdier. Blame it on our Puritan founders, but American comedies can't quite compete with daring of sex comedies from overseas.
Peep Show (2003) This British series takes viewers into the depraved minds of two friends who have nothing in common except for a complete lack of people skills. Mark is an uptight intellectual (David Mitchell) who panics in any attempt at flirting with women, while Jez (Robert Webb) is an unemployed ladies man and stoner with a totally inflated sense of self. This modern-day Odd Couple makes a mess of their lives in every episode with hilarious results. Seasons 1-7 now streaming.
Attenberg (2010) This dark comedy out of Greece won rave reviews for its unconventional take on a sexual awakening/coming-of-age story. Ariane Labed stars as a peculiar young woman obsessed with the nature documentaries of Sir David Attenborough and coping with the impending death of her ailing father. But with the help of her sexually savvy best friend (Evangelia Randou) she will not only pursue her first relationship with a man, but also find an unexpected form of solace to her dying dad. Athina Rachel Tsangari directs.
Happy Happy (2010) This cheeky and chipper sex comedy out of Scandinavia stars Agnes Kittelsen as a ever-upbeat wife and mother in rural Norway, who finally recognizes the flaws in her own marriage when a chic new family moves in next door. If you're a fan of the Coen Brothers, you'll adore this quirky bittersweet comedy. Anne Sewitsky directs.