I've come to terms with the fact that my queue will never end, as there are always things that seem interesting enough to put in it but that I may never get around to due to mood or timing, but still... this month hurts...
...thanks to the fact that I actually want to watch these movies/series not only for my own pleasure, but for the blog. Now that they're leaving, I lament that I spent so much time on other things, with other (subpar) films and shows, mainly because I wanted to be fair and not always go for the overly supportive fluff pieces that I know I'd write about them (as I've done it before).
Alright, let's get on with it. If they gotta go, they gotta go.
A upstairs/downstairs period piece about a flagging family of aristocrats in England, the series is filled with gossip, intrigue, propriety, and going against said propriety... which is, I think, the main draw for most folks.
Regardless of why people have flocked to the show, it's a veritable phenom... almost single-handedly revitalizing interest in PBS and Masterpiece Theatre.
Totally worth it... and, as of July 1, totally gone.
Where Wayne was a somewhat unbelievable grumpy old drunk, I was and ever shall be dazzled by Bridges' portrayal. The same could be said for Matt Damon (taking over for the buffoonery of Glen Campbell) and Hailee Steinfeld (who was certainly more believable than Kim Darby).
The film is so much more brutal and satisfying in portraying the "Grit" of the novel, giving the West not the rose-colored shading of Wayne's family adventure, but a real mean and utterly more believable feel and pathos.
So good... so worth getting to own (which I have), so sorry it's going away.
Death Race 2000eleven, Death Race 2000 (not to be confused with the 2008 remake that sucked all the satire out of it) is a truly odd, truly classic treatise on media violence, sex, and America as a whole.
Set in a dystopia where America is a fascist dictatorship, the government puts on a coast to coast road race where the drivers get more points for killing each other and however many pedestrians they can runover than for actually racing.
Starring Keith Caradine and Sylvester Stallone, this Corman film is so utterly bad that it's actually pretty darn good. With cheesy lines and confusing, superfluous interlude scenes to break up the horrifying violence, Death Race 2000 actually manages to successfully lampoon everything from post-Vietnam America to Spectator Sports, Healthcare and so much more.
I was introduced to Death Race 2000 by a very dear friend of mine almost a decade ago, having never, ever been exposed to it before. I don't know how I managed that, but I thank him for showing me the terrible, terrible light.
So long, Frankenstein... you deserved so much better than what Jason Statham did to you.
In this film he takes Michael Douglas on a joyride of conspiracy and existentialism where he can't trust anyone, not family or even seemingly unconnected strangers who couldn't possibly be tied to the network of identity-thieves trying to ruin his life.
Given an invitation to Consumer Recreation Services by his black sheep brother (Sean Penn), wealthy Nicholas Van Orten (Douglas) is put through the ringer as his world is turned upside-down as he approaches his 48th birthday... his own father having committed suicide at the same age.
The Game is a smart, creepy thriller that keeps you wondering right up until the very last moment. The lengths that CRS goes to in punishing Nicholas is insane and almost unbelievable, but there's never any doubt that what he is put through is vicious and full of meaning.
I love James Rebhorn as the bit player with so much to reveal... and Deborah Unger plays her part beautifully.
I own it on DVD... I just wish I could share it via Netflix. Alas, no longer.
Snow Falling On Cedars
It's a depressing tale, but the thing that really works for me about the film is the star-crossed love that Ishmael (Hawke) and Hatsue (Youki Kudoh) share before they are torn apart by duty, culture, and the War. It's a bitter story that mixes love and hate very freely. Perhaps its a little heavy handed, but the drama and quality are both there.
James Rebhorn is here again as the prosecutor, but we also have greats like Richard Jenkins and Max Von Sydow along for the ride.
On a personal note, back when VHS was still a thing, my Mother bought a copy of this film... and, by some strange factory mishap, we got the Spanish-language version. The cover was just the standard English-language copy that everyone else got, just that it was dubbed in Spanish.
This fact is relevant to absolutely nothing, but I just thought I'd mention it.
And, with that, I think I'm done. I love all of these films and I am so very sad to see them go. Hopefully their license-holders will negotiate them back onto Netflix in the near-future, but you never know. Granted, I own several of them (or know people who do) should I ever get the itch... but it's nice to have them on the stream, for convenience sake if nothing else.
Still, they're all quality, for one reason or another.
See you, Space Cowboys.