Instant Gratification Quick Takes: September 3, 2010

All of the following titles are available for Netflix subscribers to watch streaming online through their computer, Iphone and Ipad, as well as on certain Blu Ray DVD players and game consoles.

Total number of streaming titles added Sept. 1, 2010 – 633

* Made for Each Other (2009) — Screwball indie sex comedy about a corporate drone (Christopher Masterson of Malcolm in the Middle) in a sexless marriage who has an affair with his boss (Lauren German of A Walk to Remember), who also happens to be his sister-in-law. Said corporate drone does what any self-respecting man would do — recruits someone to have an affair with his wife (Bijou Phillips of Bully and Hostel: Part II). The idea is, of course, if his wife is also sleeping around it’ll make it easier for him to break the news about his own philandering. A juvenile and misogynistic plot that’s really just an excuse for a series of gags. About 25 percent of the time the gags are pretty funny — and I’m sure some people would say I’m being generous with that estimate. Really drags toward the end when it tries to make a point. If you’re anything like me and a have a low tolerance for crap, you won’t make it that far. The two characters in this film are so unlikable, they really are — Made for Each Other. My recommendation is to skip this altogether. You can thank me later. On the other hand, fans of Kevin Smith might find this entertaining — and I feel sorry for you. (Click here to add this to your Netflix instant queue!)

* Valley Girl (1983) — Romeo and Juliet-inspired tale about a valley girl (Deborah Foreman of My Chauffeur) who meets and falls in love with a streetwise punk (Nicholas Cage). A decade-defining movies that I never got around to watching when I was younger, but now have the chance thanks to Netflix Instant Watch. Features a fairly pedestrian plot bolstered by a kick-ass soundtrack of early 1980s tunes and footage of Hollywood circa 1983 — a shot of a theater marquee advertising The Empire Strikes Back at one point had me giddy. There’s a sweet love story for the romantics and generous amounts of nudity for the pervs. Elizabeth Daily (Dottie from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) goes topless. Her nipples are freakish and pink. There really is something for everyone here.  Recommended for fans of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (Click here to add this to your Netflix instant queue!)

* Drum (1976) — Of all the movies I never thought I’d see released through Netflix instant watch, this has got to be one of the most unexpected. The sequel to 1975 big-budget slavesploitation epic Mandingo, it’s the story of a half-white, half-black slave played by professional boxer Ken Norton who’s raised to be a pit fighter despite being a pacifist. Sleazy as hell. About as accurate a portrayal of slavery in the pre-Civil War South as Bob Guccioni produced Caligula was a portrait of life in Ancient Rome. Slaves and slave-owners alike use slang that wouldn’t even be invented for another 100 years to describe various human anatomy and anatomical functions. Brothels stage bare-knuckle brawls between large black men while every several minutes women flash their breasts. Definitely a movie that could have only come out of the 1970s and really has to be seen to be believed. Too offensive to be consistently entertaining. The most racist part of the whole thing? While the movie is clearly made for black audiences with its demonizing of whites, it was written, directed and produced by whites to benefit whites — call me a cynic, but I’m pretty sure no money made from the production of Drum went toward rebuilding urban neighborhoods or sending young black men and women to college. Featuring appearances by Pam Grier (Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown) and soft-core and exploitation movie fixture Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith (Caged Heat). Recommended to avoid for most decent-minded people, although fans of Fight For Your Life and Farewell, Uncle Tom might get something out of it. (Click here to add this to your Netflix instant queue!)

Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith = Web site hits

* The Last House on the Left (1972) — A classic of 1970s exploitation cinema that even has Roger Ebert’s seal of approval. It’s the re-imagining of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, in which a pair of teenage girls are kidnapped by a gang of escaped convicts, tortured and murdered. Next, the gang just happens to hole up in the home of one of the dead girls. When the girl’s parents find out about the murder, they take revenge on the killers. The debut film of horror director Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street). At times it’s unnerving, although moments of serious tension are often disrupted by Craven’s odd directorial choice of cutting away to scenes of slapstick comedy. Most of this comedy involves a pair of bumbling small-town cops attempting to locate the missing girls. In one scene, they hitch a ride on the roof of a truck full of chickens. Before you can begin to laugh, the film cuts back to the teenagers being tortured by their captors. I’m not sure what to think of that. Still, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. Recommended for any and all horror fans and fans of 1970s cinema.  (Click here to add this to your Netflix instant queue!)

* Capturing Reality: The Art of the Documentary (2008) — Fascinating documentary featuring interviews from filmmakers like Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man) and Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line). My favorite part: A discussion about truth in documentary film making that, while calling filmmaker Michael Moore to task, includes Herzog and Morris — probably two of the greatest documentary filmmakers every — admitting to occasionally staging shots. You have filmmakers like Morris, who argue that truth is objective and that his goal as a documentary filmmaker is to bring that truth across to the viewer, even if that means occasional staging. Then you have a filmmaker like Nick Broomfield (Kurt and Courtney), who wants viewers to discover their own truths and tries to keep the camera rolling at all times in order to preserve the whole of what’s going on. If philosophical discussions about the nature of truth and film making interest you, check this out. (Click here to add this to your Netflix instant queue!)

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