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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ten movies you should watch instantly off of Netflix

Thanks to some clever synergy between TiVos, Xbox 360s and Roku boxes, Netflix's streaming features have become easier and easier to take advantage of if you have a subscription. The main issue however is that 95% of their films are throwaway direct-to-DVD comedy movies or pieces from the '80s that are best left forgotten. However, there are quite a few gems in their 30,000 or so movies that they have available and here are the ones you totally need to check out on a lazy sunday.

After seeing The Dark Knight, its pretty easy to forget the pitfalls that the Batman franchise has been through before the mature Christopher Nolan reboot of the franchise. The plot of the 1960s Batman movie involved around an exploding shark and The Penguin's plan to use a powder based dehydrated team of pirates to take on Batman and Robin after he snuck them into their lair and poured water on them. Its a horrible movie that hasn't passed the test of time at all...and that's why you should watch it.

On a more serious note, if you're an animation fanboy that's declared hand drawn is dead, you obviously haven't seen Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's adaptation of Persepolis. The film serves as both a coming of age story and a tale of the Iranian Revolution, all done in a beautiful hand inked style with the occasional scene in Adobe AfterEffects. The English dub with Iggy Pop was really well done too, but Netflix currently only offers it with subtitles in its original French form.

On the surface, this looks like your average beef-headed financial drama with montages set to hip hop music and an occasional appearance by Vin Diesel. While in one sense, this wouldn't be too far from the truth but on the other, Boiler Room is a fantastically stylized drama about the morally bankrupt and fast paced world of brokerage firms. Its an exciting movie, and the chances are you've never seen it.

If you have Netflix set up for an Xbox 360 or TiVo, you'd be able to catch this one in HD. This one follows the dreams and aspirations of costumed panhandlers on the Hollywood strip, its quirky and touchy at the same time and totally worth it if you're into strange documentaries.

This "western" film comes from none other than Takashi Miike, the director of the cult slasher film Ichi the Killer. The most interesting aspect of this Japanese film is that the entire movie is spoken in English despite none of the actors being particularly fluent in the language. Without subtitles, this movie will have an odd 1950s Godzilla vibe where unintentional humor arrises from the awkwardness of the movie. Yet, this would sell the movie short at the same time, Sukiyaki Western Django features a distinctly vivid color palette and features some really nice action scenes and over the top violence. Also, Quentin Tarantino's cameo in the first five minutes of the film makes it worth a viewing alone.

This is Hayao Miyazaki's first film but its also Steven Spielberg's favorite adventure movie. While the movie lacks a lot of the themes you'd expect judging on Miyazaki's later works such as Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, it still features the same token flight scenes and expressions most anime fanboys have come to expect. Its a really fun movie too.

Another HD streaming film, Outsourced is a culture-clash comedy and a love story centered around a cocky man whose sent to India on a job selling cheap American pride paraphernalia. If you haven't seen this I HIGHLY recommend you do, its satirical without being disrespectful of Indian culture. Worth seeing if you've already captured the Indian fever from Slumdog Millionaire and Sita Sings the Blues.

I've seriously seen this movie over thirty times and I'm still up for watching it when people are around. This documentary tells the story of a modest middle school science teacher who gets the world high score in the classic Arcade game Donkey Kong. Little did he know he'd get caught up in a controversy involving a porn star who calls himself "Mr. Awesome" and would ultimately get his score disqualified by possibly the closest you could come to a real life version of Ben Stiller from the Dodgeball movie. This is a hilarious and uplifting documentary that's sure to touch the 30 year old man child in all of us.

In the spirit of The Castle of Cagliostro being visionary director Hayao Miyazaki's first film, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure was the first movie from superstar director Tim Burton. This movie introduced Pee-Wee Herman to the masses and was quite a funny romp at the same time too and Danny Elfman's score is as good as ever.

Much of the buzz on Grindhouse died down after the film was a box office flop. Fanboys loved it but the decision to release both films separately on DVD sans the fake trailers from Edgar Wright and Eli Roth. With this the strength of the presentation was gone and you'd soon learn that Death Proof was no more than an "average" Quentin Tarantino film and Planet Terror was no where near the quality of the George Romero films it was inspired by. Luckily, thanks to Starz you can now finally watch the movie in the theatrical version that captured the hearts of a generation of fanboys.

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