We movie fans love our Blu-ray and DVD collections, our shelves overflowing with the titles we love, but pretty soon they're going to be like vinyl records, premium product for the die-hard consumer. It's no big statement to point out that streaming video from services like NetFlix and Amazon are the way of the future, as the media we consume more and more comes primarily from the internet. My column, HomeVideodrome, will continue to cover the new releases coming to Blu-ray and DVD each week, however, in the interest of keeping up with the times in terms of how we imbibe our media, this feature will cover what's new that's available to stream out there every week. I'll be covering services like NetFlix and Amazon, primarily highlighting a few choice picks. Since this is a brand-new column, if you have any ideas or suggestions on other things to include, feel free to say so in the comments section.
New on NetFlix
The Fighter: Everyone loves a good boxing picture, and this here boxing picture is Mark Wahlberg's passion project that won Christian Bale and Melissa Leo an Oscar this past year. I detailed in HomeVideodrome column a few months back how the film seems to have a parallel with Wahlberg's personal life, as he grew up in the shadow of his then more-famous brother, Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on The Block, before breaking out and creating a big name for himself. Now that this prestige Hollywood offering is available, all the stragglers can catch up. It ain't Rocky, but few movies reach that level, it's good stuff all the same.
The Dirty Dozen: Robert Aldrich's World War II guys-on-a-mission flick sports a dream team of actors that are of the manly-as-Hell variety that we don't get anymore. Observe this pedigree of awesome: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, George Kennedy, and Mike Hammer himself, Ralph Meeker. Damn, I just got the urge to eat a steak and drink some straight whiskey while typing that out. Imagine what happens when you watch the movie. In the film, Marvin plays a no-nonsense Army major, who is saddled with the task of taking a group of disgraced soldiers slated for death row on a mission that spells certain death against Nazi bigwigs. This one comes to NetFlix hot off the heels of Captain America, another World War II flick featuring a motley crew of soldiers kicking evil's ass, so this classic serves as a delicious chaser while you're in the mood after seeing Cap throw his shield at the bad guys.
The Mummy: No, not the Brendan Frasier film, but the original Universal monster movie classic starring Boris Karloff, and directed by the great Karl Freund. Freund wasn't as known as a director, so much as he was as a cinematographer. He shot early silent classics in Germany like The Golem, Metropolis, and The Last Laugh, before moving to the United States and photographing classic Hollywood horror films like Dracula and Murders in the Rue Morgue. Strangely enough, Freund ended up being the primary cinematographer on I Love Lucy (which was beautifully shot for a TV show), and the three camera technique he employed while shooting the popular sitcom became the industry standard. Back to the film at hand, The Mummy, for my money, has the spookiest opening scene of any of the Universal monster classics, and the image of Karloff's piercing gaze remains iconic to this day. It's also shockingly violent for the time, the scenes of Egyptian slaves getting impaled being particularly disturbing. The film is slow in places, but in my opinion, is essential viewing for horror fans.
Sukiyaki Western Django: Takashi Miike decided to remake Sergio Corbucci's classic spaghetti western Django with a very Japanese twist, hence the pun in the title. Miike is a really hit-and-miss director, but the prospect of him doing a western was exciting to me, despite the fact that Quentin Tarantino is in the cast (love the man as a writer/director, but I can't stand him as an actor). The result is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's gorgeous to look at, with bright colors and production design that combines Japanese architecture with the classic western genre vibe. Plus, the action scenes kick all kinds of ass in that very Japanese way that involves lots of comic book posing. The problem is that the story is a bit of a mess (mostly because the stuff involving Tarantino makes no damn sense whatsoever), and the Japanese actors don't speak their native language, but instead try to speak English, and they don't do it very well. I file this one under "interesting failure," if you're a fan of westerns and Japanese movies, checking this one out won't cost you a dime.
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes: Don't get me wrong, I dug the Sherlock Holmes movie Guy Ritchie made. It's hard not to love Robert Downey Jr., and it's easily the best thing Ritchie's done since Snatch. But Guy Ritchie is no Billy Wilder. Wilder, the master filmmaker behind classics like Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd., Stalag 17, and Some Like it Hot, directed this take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective, starring Robert Stephens, as well as the great Christopher Lee. In this story, Holmes and Watson take on a case involving a missing person, leading them on a trail involving midgets, monks, the navy, and, who else, Nessie. Did the Guy Ritchie movie feature the Loch Ness Monster? Hell no.
3000 Miles to Graceland: I'm not going to pretend this movie isn't fifteen different kinds of stupid. The opening credits alone are utterly ridiculous. They roll in front of you while giant CGI scorpions sporting jagged teeth attack each other for some reason that has nothing to do with anything. The movie is about a bunch of Elvis impersonators performing a heist in Las Vegas during an Elvis impersonator convention. But they don't do it all subtle like Danny Ocean and the boys, they walk in guns blazing. Then it becomes a bit of a rockabilly chase movie, with Kevin Costner's dastardly character chasing Kurt Russell (who played The King in John Carpenter's Elvis biopic). This movie is loud, nutty, ridiculous, and a bit too long, but it's also fun action movie junk food. It's all worth it to see the great Bokeem Woodbine don an Elvis getup.
Also available on NetFlix this week:
Dead End: Bogart co-stars in this thirties gangster movie directed by Ben Shapiro's favorite director, William Wyler.
Fallen: A supernatural serial killer film starring Denzel Washington which has earned a bit of a cult following.
Gothika: Halle Berry continued to make the Academy question their decision to give her an Oscar in this film.
Henry V: Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of the Shakespeare play. I admit, I've never seen a Branagh Shakespeare movie, but I think that's definitely about to change.
I Love You, Phillip Morris: I never saw this one, I don't think I ever will, and I'm okay with that. I refer you to my buddy Chris Yogerst's review in case you're curious.
Lethal Weapon: As though I need to tell you this movie rules. If you haven't seen it, I'll forgive you if you use this opportunity to watch it. Right now. No, I don't care if you're at work. Feeding your family can wait.
Misery: Back when Rob Reiner made good movies, he directed this white-knuckle adaptation of Stephen King's novel. Kathy Bates and James Caan give brilliant performances.
Scream 3: The one Kevin Williamson didn't write, but they decided to make anyway. The weakest of the four films in the franchise, in my opinion.
Spaceballs: I'm still eagerly waiting for Mel Brooks to make Spaceballs 2: The Search For More Money.
New on Amazon
Whip It: I'm a sucker for roller derby, I go watch it here in Memphis every now and then and it's always a lot of fun. This Drew Barrymore-directed feature about the niche sport captures the spirit of it nicely. It's a fun female coming-of-age flick that feels like something you would've seen in the eighties, and I mean that as a total compliment. The movie features a fun cast, including Ellen Page (who sometimes gets on my nerves, but she's well cast here), Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Zoe Bell, Andrew Wilson, Jimmy Fallon, Alia "Maeby" Shawkat, Juliette Lewis, the great Daniel Stern, and of course, Drew Barrymore. I realize names like Fallon and Lewis may cause some people to turn up their noses, but they really do fit their roles nicely. I'm a fan.
Soul Surfer: This film also got its Blu-ray/DVD release this week, and was featured in this week's HomeVideodrome. Big Hollywood has been championing this one, so give it a shot if you're in need of an inspirational film that involves surfing that isn't Point Break.
The Exorcist 3: William Peter Blatty directs this adaptation of his novel, Legion, which had its title changed at the eleventh hour for marketing purposes, which kinda works anyway since it does feature characters from the original film. George C. Scott stars in what is one of the more underrated horror sequels out there. The Exorcist franchise had its good name tarnished when John Boorman directed the hilariously bad sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic. Thankfully, The Exorcist 3 pretends that one never happened, and actually delivers a freaky, skin-crawling experience that serves as the proper follow-up William Friedkin's classic film deserved.
Nightbreed: A flawed, yet incredibly entertaining Clive Barker film that served as his follow-up to Hellraiser. Like Exorcist 3, Nightbreed suffered from some meddling by the exact same studio, Morgan Creek. Another case of an author adapting his own novel, Barker serves up a fun eighties monster movie based on his book, Cabal. The film features director David Cronenberg as a potent villain wearing a freaky mask that haunted my dreams for days after I saw it. It's by no means a great film, but this movie is where it's at for crazy monster make-up and practical effects, plus Cronenberg's bad-guy performance is worth the price of admission alone.
Dead Ringers: Speaking of ol' David Cronenberg, his deranged movie about twin gynecologists starring Jeremy Irons is available. Let me speak to the males out there when I say this isn't one to watch with your significant other. It's kinda weird, kinda screwed up, and many ladies I know who have seen it get visibly disturbed when it comes up in conversation.
True Romance: This Tony Scott film features a Tarantino script that's as fun as it is delightfully dorky. Christian Slater plays the foil for Tarantino as a guy obsessed with movies, comic books, and Elvis. He falls head-over-heels for a call girl (Patricia Arquette), and one thing leads to another before it's love on the run from vicious gangsters and Hollywood scumbags. The legendary scene between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken is solid gold, and the Alan Silvestri score recalls Terrence Malick's masterpiece, Badlands. I love it.
Exporting Raymond: Again, this is one that also came out this week on DVD and Blu-ray, yet I repeat myself because it comes highly recommended. Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phillip Rosenthal chronicles his efforts to rework his beloved sitcom for a Russian audience in this documentary, and the culture clash proves to be interesting and hilarious.
Jane Eyre: The latest adaptation of the classic novel that came out earlier this year is now available to stream before it comes to DVD and Blu-ray, this one co-stars Mia Wasikowska and the always incredible Michael Fassbender.
Visit Amazon for more of this week's releases.
This article originally appeared over at Parcbench