With so many titles to choose from, Netflix Instant's library can be overwhelming. And so we offer this bi-weekly column as a tool to cut through the clutter by highlighting some now streaming titles that pair nicely with the latest theatrical releases.
This week, in honor of Looper, Pitch Perfect and V/H/S we've selected a trio of time travel tales, competition-fueled comedies and found footage frighteners for your home-viewing pleasure.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a hitman whose forte is mob targets sent to him from the future. But when his future self (Bruce Willis) shows up for execution, things get complicated. Emily Blunt co-stars; Rian Johnson writes and directs.
Inspired by Looper Katey and I recently discussed the allure of memorable time travel offerings as 12 Monkeys and The Terminator both of which were recent picks in this column. But if you can't get enough of this slippery subgenre, there's lots more in store, including a classic comedy, a mind-bending mystery, and the beloved Doctor.
Groundhog Day (1993) Bill Murray stars as a cantankerous weatherman who can't wait to get out Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania after its annual Groundhog Day celebration. But a mysterious wrinkle in time and space lands him in a loop that forces him to repeat the day over and over until he can learn to make it count. Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott co-star; Harold Ramis directs.
Timecrimes (2007) The less you know about this twisted thriller, the better for your enjoyment. Suffice to say this Spanish feature centers on one man's troubled traversing of time, and with its brisk pacing, dangerous atmosphere and rabbit hole of narrative, it drew plenty of critical praise including the Next Wave Award at Fantastic Fest. Karra Elejalde stars; Nacho Vigalondo directs.
Doctor Who (2005) You can't talk time travel without mentioning the good doctor, a humanoid alien who has traversed time and space in varying forms since the 1960s. After more than 30 years on British television, the original series took its final bow, only to be resurrected in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston becoming the ninth doctor, tasked with battling villainous extraterrestrial foes with the help of his dedicated companions. Netflix is now streaming seasons 1-6 of the reboot; David Tennant (pictured), then Matt Smith later star at the titular time traveler.
Anna Kendrick shows off her comedy chops and singing swagger in this music-fueled romp that centers on the rivalry between two college a capella groups, vying to be the best balladeers on campus. Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and Anna Camp co-star; Jason Moore directs.
The blind ambition that drives competition can be a great source for hilarious hijinks. And while the ladies of Pitch Perfect get laughs with their broad and brassy humor, the three funny features below offer their own distinct takes on competition and comedy, be it warm and relatable, crude yet endearing, or willfully rude and unsentimental.
A League of Their Own (1992) Geena Davis fronts this beloved baseball-centered comedy as no-nonsense catcher Dottie Hinson, the heart and soul of the Rockford Peaches, an all-woman baseball team formed when the demand of able-bodied men in World War II led to a standstill in professional sports. Faced with a drunken brute as a coach (Tom Hanks), and a team that includes a shameless flirt (Madonna), a tearful mother with bratty boy in tow, and her little sister (Lori Petty) hell-bent on making a name of her own, Dottie has her work ahead of her as the ladies drive for the World Series. Jon Lovitz, David Strathairn and Rosie O'Donnell co-star; Penny Marshall directs.
Goon (2012) One of the best releases of 2012 stars Seann William Scott as Doug 'The Thug' Glatt, a sweet-hearted bouncer with a special talent for brawling. After a fateful fight in the stands of a hockey game, Doug gets his chance at hockey glory, hired to guard a scoring phenom whose grown skittish after being bombarded by legendary enforcer Ross 'The Boss' Rhea. From his first step in the rink, this lovable goon is destined to square off against his idol, where only one man will be left standing. The blood on the ice narrative is made more palatable by a crass yet heartfelt sense of humor forged by screenwriters Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg. Liev Schreiber and Alison Pill co-star; Michael Dowse directs.
The Bad News Bears (1976) Most movies that feature a kids' sports offer a scrappy team and disillusioned coach that are rough around the edges, but destined for an inspiring victory after learning some hard-won lessons about sportsmanship. The Bad News Bears is not one of these movies. Walter Matthau stars as a growling alcoholic hired to coach a little league team made up of misfit minors with bad attitudes, foul mouths, and little to no athletic prowess. In short, it makes for an irreverent comedy that's hilarious, but probably not suitable for the whole family. Tatum O'Neal and Jackie Earle Haley co-star; Michael Ritchie directs.
When a band of bungling thieves are contracted to steal a peculiar videotape, they find themselves entranced by a collection of VHS tapes that each contain a terrifying tale. This omnibus horror offering is helmed by a collection of directors including, David Bruckner, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Adam Wingard, and Radio Silence.
Time and time again critics and audiences have decried the found footage genre as tired and in need of being put to rest. Cheaply produced, this subgenre is rife with poorly made messes. But when put in the hands of an able filmmaker, this devilish device can prove effectively terrifying. Be it evil spirits, a possessed girl, or towering trolls, sometimes the best way to capture the terror of being there is through this personal perspective.
Trollhunter (2010) This imaginative adventure out of Norway follows a trio of college students as their investigative reports on peculiar bear deaths lead them deep into the forests where they discover deadly beasts long thought to be legends. Following a secretive but beleaguered troll hunter, they rediscover their sense of wonder as he investigates some disturbances in standard troll behavior that’s leading to potentially society-shattering violence. You'll be stunned at the high quality effects and wry humor within this epic faux doc.
The Last Exorcism (2010) This indie chiller follows one Reverend Cotton Marcus, who after years of faking exorcism rituals decides to come clean and prove that there is nothing demonic—purely psychological—at play in these creepy cases. But his beliefs are challenged when he takes a film crew along to debunk the supposed possession of a shy country girl whose late night exploits defy reason. Notably, Ashley Bell earned a Spirit Award nod for her portrayal of the possibly possessed farm girl; Daniel Stamm directs.
Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)Strangely, the only of one the current trilogy that's streaming is its second entry. Taking place immediately before and after the disturbing events of Paranormal Activity, this sequel centers on the strange occurrences that plague a family of four once their latest addition—a baby boy named Hunter—is brought home. The household's security cameras capture strange sounds, slamming doors and more and more frightening phenomena. But when their teen daughter uncovers the cause of all this haunting, her father is urged to a drastic gambit to save his family. Sprague Grayden, Molly Ephraim, and Katue Featherston co-star; Tod Williams directs.