Highlighting odd and off-beat new releases to watch instantly on Netflix
Hi, film freaks!
In case you haven’t been following along with my daily updates, here’s what the Netflix fairy brought us this week. Oddly, some of these titles have yet to show up on the highly informational, up-to-date and accurate Web site instantwatcher.com, my source for information about new Netflix Instant releases. So, just consider the films with “???”s in the place of expiration dates Instant Gratification exclusives.
If you want to know more on what this column’s about, read last week’s recap.
New for June 28, 2011
Tetsuo: The Bullet Man (2009), directed by Shinya Tsukamoto with Eric Bossick, Akiko Monou and Yuko Nakamura – All sequels inevitably face comparison with the original… (Click here to read the rest) (Available until March 28, 2013)
New for June 29, 2011
American: The Bill Hicks Story (2010), directed by Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas with Bill Hicks, his family, friends and peers – This is a phenomenally obvious understatement, but Bill Hicks was taken from us way too early. (Click here to read the rest) (Available until June 29, 2013)
New for July 1, 2011
The Big Combo (1955), directed by Joseph H. Lewis, with Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte and Jean Wallace – I’m not familiar with this film noir… (Click here to read the rest) (Available until May 1, 2013)
Night of the Comet (1984), directed by Thom Eberhardt, with Sharon Farrell, Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart – YES! (Click here to read the rest) (Available until May 1, 2013)
Big Bad Mama (1974), directed by Steve Carver, with William Shatner, Angie Dickenson, Tom Skerritt and Robbie Lee – Produced by Roger Corman, here’s an exploitation classic I’ve been meaning to see.. (Click here to read the rest) (Available until Dec. 31, 2011)
Foxy Brown (1974), directed by Jack Hill, with Pam Grier, Antonio Fargas, Peter Brown and Terry Carter – Netflix hits us up with a double dose of Jack Hill… (Click here to read the rest) (Available until ???)
The World of Drunken Master (1979), directed by Joseph Kuo, with Fei Lung, Jeanie Chang and Jack Lung – I know Drunken Master and its sequels… (Click here to read the rest) (Available until March 1, 2014)
Superfly (1972), directed by Gordon Parks, with Ron O’Neal, Carl Lee, Sheila Frazier and Julius Harris – Ron O’Neal is Youngblood Priest... (Click here to read the rest). (Available until ???)
200 Motels (1971), directed by Tony Palmer and Frank Zappa, with The Mothers of Invention, Ringo Starr, Theodore Bikel and Keith Moon – Early 1970s weirdness from Frank Zappa and Co… (Click here to read the rest) (Available until March 1, 2013)
Bad Batch (2010), directed by Abe Schwartz, with J.R. Lemon, Lionel Sam and Abe Schwartz – I don’t know much about this… (Click here to read the rest) (Available until ???)
Let Me In (2010), directed by Matt Reeves, with Kodi Smith-McPhee, Chloe Moretz and Richard Jenkins – I reviewed Let Me In as part of 50 Movies for 50 States. (Click here to read the rest) (Available until December 1, 2012)
Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), directed by Alan Gibson, with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Stephanie Beacham and Christopher Neame – Christopher Lee. Peter Cushing. Hippies. (Click here to read the rest) (Available until ???)
Rubber (2010), directed by Quentin Dupieux, with Stephen Spinella, Jack Plotnick, Wings Hauser and Roxane Mesquida – Inventive and absurd film about an anthropomorphic tire… (Click here to read the rest) (Available until July 14, 2014)
Commentary or “I need a new name for this section please help”
Aside from American: The Bill Hicks Story, which I already talked about at some length (and which I enjoyed immensely), another film I watched was Switchblade Sisters, which Netflix added to its instant library last week.
I went into Switchblade Sisters (aka The Jezebels) with the wrong attitude at first. Knowing that it was a favorite of Quentin Tarantino kind of turned me off. It’s hard to explain why. I love his films but I don’t like him much as a person. I’m well aware of his fetishistic obsession with the 1970s and grindhouse cinema, to the point where I’m not sure if I trust his ability to determine good trash from bad trash.
When Bill of the Outside the Cinema podcast tweeted that Switchblade Sisters was in his “all-time top ten”, I thought I’d give it a spin.
Despite its bad acting and laughable dialogue (because of its bad acting and laughable dialogue?), Switchblade Sisters is a hell of a good time that sets itself apart from other similar movies by maintaining that energy through its 91-minute run time. Robbie Lee, (of Big Bad Mama and the voice behind numerous Saturday Morning cartoon characters) gives a hilarious, over-the-top performance as Lace, one of the leaders of the girl gang at the center of the film. There’s even a moment or two where, playing the part of tough cookie/mushy filling gangster girl Lace, Lee makes you think she might have some real acting potential — although it’s doubtful any caliber of actor or actress could overcome screenwriter F.X. Maier’s ridiculous dialogue. Softcore film star Monica Gayle also gives a respectable performance as the aptly-named gang member Patch, playing a character similar to that of Macbeth’s Iago by driving a wedge between Lace and new-girl-on-the-block Maggie — she does this by spreading rumors that Maggie has the hots for Lace’s beau.
Maggie is played by Joanne “Juggs” Nail, who gives a… performance. I don’t know. She’s there. I wouldn’t call Nail the weak link — as a metaphor it just doesn’t work when the “chain” is already of such low quality. Nail’s performance just didn’t stand out, for better or worse.
In addition to the leads, Lenny Bruce’s chubby daughter Kitty plays a pretty substantial role in the part of a gang member named Donut. Bruce can’t act in the least, but her character does has some funny moments.
Switchblade Sisters is just a really fun movie. Practically everything you’d want in an exploitation flick, it delivers in spades. There’s really not a lot of filler — very little pointless exposition. Switchblade Sisters is a movie that gets right to the point and sticks to it. Ha! “Point!” “Sticks to it!” Completely unintentional wordplay.
The story is great. The action is fast and constant. It’s not realistic in the least, but that’s not a complaint. The gang life in Switchblade Sisters is more along the lines of The Warriors than anything at all that resembles reality, although the trivia section on Internet Movie Database claims that director Jack Hill researched girl gangs in preparing to make the movie, but decided to throw most of it out for the sake of making a more entertaining movie. It’s a good thing he did, because in the case of Switchblade Sisters, fantasy is better than reality. Will Switchblade Sisters ever make my all time top ten? Doubtful. But for what it is, Switchblade Sisters is just short of a masterpiece.
In addition to Switchblade Sisters, I also attempted to watch Bad Batch and The World of Drunken Master. The first was terrible and the second couldn’t really sustain my interest, although I always find it hilarious how all kung-fu movies have to have one or more characters whose dubbed dialogue sounds like someone doing a bad Cary Grant imitation. The World of Drunken Master has two lead characters and one has a Cary Grant voice. The other has what I think was a John Wayne voice. Too funny. Just not funny enough that I’d want to commit an hour and 1/2 of my life to it.
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