Category Archives: Netflix Instant Streaming

Pop Bitez Netflix Picks 1/2014

All of the following titles are currently available on Netflix Instant Streaming, enjoy!

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♦ Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde

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In this true story of an inspirational cowboy we experience a cinematic adventure that examines the vibrant life of conservationist and award-winning writer, David O. Hyde, who through extreme perseverance and enormous grace and wisdom is preserving part of American history for generations to come. Running Wild combines breathtaking scenes underscored with original music and intimate conversations. One of America’s last remaining true cowboys, Dayton Hyde a bigger-than-life, dynamic man who lived through the final decades of the American West has found himself, his destiny and his personal freedom in the threatened indigenous horses he is protecting and the native land he is saving. In the end, this visually beautiful and powerful film will be an inspirational testament for anyone who needs motivation on their own personal journey and reassurance that each of us can truly make a difference if we try.

We first raved about this beautiful film last year after attending a screening at the Sedona International Film Festival, add it to your queue today, you’re going to love it!

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♦ Drew: The Man Behind the Poster

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You’ve seen the posters, now meet the artist! This insightful documentary profiles renowned artist Drew Struzan, who created the movie posters for some of the most popular and celebrated films of our time, not to mention iconic album covers for rock legends Alice Cooper and Iron Butterfly. Struzan’s work defined an era and forever changed the marketing of the Hollywood blockbusters.

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♦ Stuck in Love

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An acclaimed writer, (Greg Kinnear), his ex-wife, (Jennifer Connelly), and their teenaged children, (Lily Collins, Nat Wolff), come to terms with the complexities of love in all its forms over the course of one tumultuous year. 

This sweet and surprisingly solid indie features some excellent performances and smart writing, think Californication meets Crazy Stupid Love.

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♦ Talhotblonde

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Director Barbara Schroeder’s true-crime documentary follows a love triangle whose participants had never met beyond cyberspace — yet their passions ended up sending one member to prison and another to the grave.

The twist and turns of this riveting tale might give you nightmares, it’ll also have you rethinking everything you and your family members are doing online.

Half way through the film you’ll think you know and understand everything that’s going on and then, in an instant, you’ll realize you’re wrong.

 

 

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Pop Bitez Netflix Picks

It’s been awhile since we’ve offered our picks for the best of what may be flying under your radar on Netflix, but we’ve seen a few lately that truly deserve your attention. Going forward you can expect our Netflix Picks to become a more regular feature on Pop Bitez.

As always, all of these films are currently available for instant viewing and we suggest you add ’em to your queue today!

♦ Starbuck 

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As his lover announces her pregnancy, a forty-something slacker receives other life-changing news: 142 people, all of them the result of artificial insemination, have filed a class action lawsuit against him, their biological father.

By this point you’ve seen the commercials for the new Vince Vaughn film, Delivery Man, opening this coming Friday. What you might not know is Delivery Man is actually a remake of this Canadian indie hit, which was an international multiple award winner in 2011. 

The main reason this one might be missing from your queue very well may be the same reason we originally didn’t catch this flick in it’s initial release, unfortunately, it’s all about the title, which, if you’re asking us, sucks, and begs the question; what were the filmmakers  and producers thinking?

Starbuck? Really? Well, let’s see, if you’re of an older generation you might see this title and immediately think of Burt Lancaster in the classic film from 1956, The Rainmaker. If you’re a sci fi geek your mind will instantly jump to Battlestar Galactica and, if you don’t have a mind that retains character names from film and television, of course, you’re going to be thinking about the international coffee chain. There are so many arguments to be made against this title I can only assume no one ever challenged it while in production. That’s a real shame because, outside of the weak non de plume, this is a really charming, intelligent and heartwarming flick. 

To give you a ‘heads up’, the film is sub-titled in English, as the language featured in the film is French/Spanish, (yes, it’s from THAT part of Canada). If subtitles don’t bother you, (we love them but we also understand many don’t), give this flick a chance, we have no doubt it will win you over quickly.

On a side note, the only reason we’re holding out hope for the Vince Vaughn remake is the fact that they have wisely allowed Ken Scott and Martin Petit, the director and authors of Starbuck, to revisit their roles for this English version, (though we also have to admit, as far as titles go, Delivery Man almost sucks as bad, not quite, but almost). 

♦ The Whale

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The true story of Luna, a young, wild killer whale who tries to befriend people on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island.

While attending the 2012 Sedona International Film Festival I was lucky enough to catch a screening of this one and we gave it four out of 5 stars at the time, after a second viewing we firmly stand by that original rating.

There are some powerful debates at the center of The Whale, a smart, beautiful and heartbreaking examination of our interactions with the animal kingdom that asks all the right questions and challenges you to come up with your own decisions and answers.

Be warned, while The Whale isn’t nearly as hard of a watch as this year’s Blackfish or last year’s The Cove, it’s not necessarily going to leave you feeling too happy-go-lucky either, this ain’t Happy Feet folks. Still, this is a highly recommended must for you and your family and is as important as it is entertaining.

♦ The Sapphires 

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It’s 1968, and four young, talented Australian Aboriginal girls learn about love, friendship and war when their all girl group The Sapphires entertain the US troops in Vietnam.

We loved this flick and we’re absolutely certain you will too. The film was a HUGE hit in Australia last year which led to the Weinstein Company’s purchase of the film for distribution in the U.S. Sadly, the Weinsteins were more preoccupied with their big marquee titles during “Awards Season” and all but left this movie to collect dust on their golden shelf.

While the story may feel a little familiar it’s important to note the film is actually “based on a true story”.

We initially went into this film with a very skeptical eye but came out charmed and surprised.

♦ In Bruges

Film Title: In Bruges

Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hitman Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium, the last place in the world Ray wants to be.

Once again, with the title being what it is, it’s easy to see how you might be missing this flick while you’re scrolling and reviewing what’s currently available for instant streaming, but you simply need to trust us on this little gem. It’s everything you want a good indie to be, smart, funny, unnerving and even a little heartbreaking. As far as intimate character studies are concerned, this one is as good as it gets.

♦ Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan

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Before Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, The Terminator, Pirates of the Caribbean or The Lord of the Rings, we had the forefather of all those films, Ray Harryhausen.  

This is the definitive documentary about Ray and, aside from interviews with the great man himself, this film also features interviews and tributes from some serious Hollywood heavyweights including Terry Gilliam, Rick Baker, John Landis, Guillermo Del Toro, Robert Zemeckis, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.

This one is a definite must for fans of old school sci fi and fantasy movies!

♦ SOMM

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Four sommeliers attempt to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world.

Many have hailed this one as the “best movie ever made about wine”, personally, we can’t really make that claim as we’re not 100% certain we’ve seen ALL of them but, from what we have seen, we definitely would consider this ONE of the best!

Grab a glass, a bottle and your remote, you’re sure to enjoy SOMM, In Vino Veritas Popsters!

Disney Comes to Netflix

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Just in time for Christmas the three year exclusive deal Netflix recently signed with Disney has kicked into full gear! In the last 24 hours a major influx of Disney titles have made their way to Instant Streaming. This is great news if you’re looking to keep the kiddies occupied while you’re wrapping the gifts from “Santa” or if, like us, you’re just kids trapped in grownup bodies!

A few of the titles we’ve just now added to our queues include, The Aristocats, The Tigger Movie, Pocahontas, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, The Muppet Movie and The Fox & The Hound. Given Disney now owns Marvel, The Muppets and Star Wars, not to mention a vault filled with classic animated features, excellent wildlife documentaries and thousands of cartoon shorts starring the likes of Mickey, Donald and Goofy, the Netflix universe of Instant Streaming has just experienced the equivalent of a pop culture big bang and Amazon Instant Video just got more than a little smaller!

For now, Netflix members are the winners of the battle between the big guys fighting for control of the direct streaming market!

Happy Streaming Popsters!

Pop Bitez Netflix Pics

It’s time once again to offer up our recommendations for the titles that might be flying under your radar on Netflix, all of these films are currently available for instant viewing and we’re suggesting you add them to your queue today!  

 

• Her Master’s Voice

 

Internationally acclaimed ventriloquist Nina Conti, takes the bereaved puppets of her mentor and erstwhile lover Ken Campbell on a pilgrimage to ‘Venthaven‘ the resting place for puppets of dead ventriloquists. She gets to know her latex and wooden travelling partners along the way, and with them deconstructs herself and her lost love in this ventriloquial documentary requiem.

 Now, it’s important to note, on our shortlist of “things that creep us the hell out”, there are mimes, clowns, children’s’ programming and, of course, ventriloquists. If ventriloquists aren’t on your list, trust us, after spending an hour with Nina Conti, they will be. Seriously, this is the documentary that keeps on giving and just when you think your jaw can’t drop any further…well, you just have to see this one to fully appreciate what we’re talking about. Trust us when we tell you, it’s not a film you’re likely to forget anytime soon.

• Bernie

In small-town Texas, the local mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, though when he kills her, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she’s alive.

Bernie features some of the best work Jack Black and Shirley McClain have done in a very long time and was recently nominated for several Independent Spirit Awards, there is also a strong probability a few Oscar noms are still to come. Director Richard Linklater is the king of the quirky and offbeat film these days and this is one of his absolute best, part dark comedy, part docu-tragedy, Bernie is one of our favorite flicks of 2012.

 

• Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog

 

An aspiring supervillain must balance his career and his pursuit of a beautiful do-gooder.

Before Joss Whedon broughtThe Avengers” to the big screen have gave us Captain Hammer and Doctor Horrible on the smallest screen in your home. We have to assume most of you are familiar with this web-series but, in the slim off chance any of you have missed it, watch it now! It’s short, it’s sweet and, despite what the nerds say on the message boards, it ends EXACTLY like we think it should have. The tunes are pretty catchy as well, (and a little hard to get out of your head after you’ve heard them a few times!) There is a rumor a sequel will be going in front of the cameras in the Spring of 2013, with a release next summer, we can’t wait!

• Columbus Circle

 

An heiress who’s been shut inside her apartment building for nearly two decades is forced to confront her fears after one of her neighbors is killed and a detective arrives to begin the investigation.

This edgy little indie is definitely worth 90 minutes of your time, we particularly enjoyed the work of Jason Antoon, Kevin Pollock and Amy Smart. We predict this flick will have a long life on cable for years to come, check it out! 

• Circus Rosaire

 

Circus Rosaire is the story of the Rosaire family, a 9th generation family of circus performers known for their unique and respectful manner of performing with animals, as they struggle to maintain their family heritage and adapt to the modern world of entertainment.

We admit we’re a little torn when it comes to animals in show business or zoos but this doc about a family circus struggling to adjust to our modern times is definitely an entertaining and melancholy look at the way we are as well as the way we were. We highly recommend this one for you and your family.

• Abel Raises Cain

Filmmaker Jenny Abel explores the life and career of her father Alan Abel, known to many as “the world’s greatest hoaxer.”

Long before we had a 24 hour news cycle and the “age of information” began on the web, Alan Abel was out there proving to the world something we had long suspected; the major media is full of shit. No, it’s not a revelation but it sure is a blast watching Abel expose the idiocy that is the modern reporter. On a side note, this documentary features a lot of discussion and clips from Abel’s Is There Sex After Death“, a comedic mockumentary he made in the 70s, we will save you some time and tell you no, it is not on Netflix currently, but it is online and it is HILARIOUS and WAY ahead of it’s time, watch it here, but keep in mind it is definitely R rated.

Pop Bitez Netflix Pics

• America in Primetime

America in Primetime is a series that takes a look at the creative forces behind television’s modern golden age as writers, producers and performers discuss key elements of acclaimed TV shows.

Unlike similar programs I’ve seen regarding the history of television this series spends a surprising amount of time discussing the most popular shows from the last decade, which makes this one a must if you’re a regular viewer of shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter, House, etc. America in Primetime is as illuminating as it is entertaining and definitely worth a little of your time.

• Janie Jones

Has-been rock star Ethan Brand is attempting a comeback when a former groupie tells him he has a 13-year-old daughter, Janie, and leaves her in his care. Janie must then convince the hedonistic Ethan to reform and accept his responsibilities.

Janie Jones is a well made indie gem, at turns frustrating, bittersweet and occasionally hopeful. The film features some very solid performances from Alessandro Nivola (Junebug, Jurassic Park IIIAbigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Zombieland) and Elizabeth Shue (Back to the Future, Leaving Las Vegas). The premiss itself is loaded with potential traps for cliche’ and sugary sentiment but director David M. Rosenthal does a nice job of avoiding most of them. 

• Roadie

In this taut drama, middle-aged Jimmy Testagross loses his gig as roadie for a has-been rock band and moves back in with his ailing mother. With no job or skills, Jimmy must find a way to let go of his overextended adolescence and become his own man.

Ron Eldard, (Super 8, Black Hawk Down) delivers one of the best performances of his career as the roadie without a home or band and there are some excellent supporting performances from Jill Hennessy, (Law & Order, Wild Hogs) and  Bobby Cannavale, (The Other Guys, The Station Agent).  

Like the above mentioned Janie Jones this is another excellent flick that didn’t find it’s audience during it’s very limited run in theaters but I suspect will do well on Netflix and cable.

• Buskers

In his directorial debut, Mad Chad Taylor, the renowned Venice Beach chainsaw juggler, has created a one-of-a-kind documentary that goes deep inside the hidden world of street performers.

If you’ve ever found yourself stopped dead in your tracks in the heart of any major city, amazed and confused by a troupe of street performers or a talented juggler who seems like he might have escaped a mental hospital a few hours prior to showtime, this one’s for you! It’s wacky and weird and a whole lot of fun!

• The Yellow Handkerchief

Recently released from jail, convict Brett Hanson (William Hurt) grows close to a young couple, Martine (Kristen Stewart) and Gordy (Eddie Redmayne), while journeying back home to his wife, May (Maria Bello). Set in Louisiana, this romantic road trip drama explores the loneliness everyone carries. Director Udayan Prasad remakes Yôji Yamada’s acclaimed 1977 Japanese film, which was adapted from a column by American novelist Pete Hamill.

This dark and sad tale more than delivers on it’s promise and the conclusion makes the journey well worth the trip. It’s great to see William Hurt in a role worthy of his talents once again and I can honestly say I’m relieved the hideous Twilight series is almost finished as Kristen Stewart has much better things to do with her as of yet under appreciated abilities. I should also mention Eddie Redmayne, the star of last year’s  excellent My Week with Marilyn, is also quite good in this one, can’t wait to see what he does with the role of Marius this Christmas when Les Miserables finally comes to the big screen. 

• Hachi: a Dog’s Tale

When his master dies, a loyal pooch named Hachiko keeps a regular vigil — for more than a decade — at the train station where he once greeted his owner every day in this touching drama based on a true story.

This film features one of  the best performances I’ve seen from Richard Gere in quite awhile and is also a good watch for the whole family. Based on the premiss I know I don’t have to tell you, but I will just in case, have some tissues handy…like an entire box.

Pop Bitez Netflix Pics

Pop Bitez Best of Netflix Instant Streaming

 

It’s time one again to give you our bi-weekly recommendations for the best of what’s currently available on Netflix Instant Streaming, we’re sure you’re going to love ’em, so get ready to “Watch Now”!!

• Warrior

Regular Pop Bitez readers will remember I had this one at #2 on our Best Films of 2011 list. I still for the life of me don’t understand how this flick didn’t become a major hit based on word of mouth alone, I can only guess there just weren’t enough people seeing it initially to be talking about it. If you were one of those people who missed it at the theaters you will want to add this to your instant streaming queue immediately.

Set in the violent world of mixed martial arts combat, this gritty drama follows two brothers at war with each other, who have pursued separate lives. But preparation for a championship bout soon leads the siblings back into each other’s paths.

Now, understand, I have never watched a mixed martial arts contest in my life, I don’t even watch boxing matches all that often, and yet I LOVED this movie! Tom Hardy, currently tearing up Gotham City as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, gives his best performance to date and Joel Edgerton, currently playing daddy to the kid from the garden in The Odd Life of Timothy Green, delivers what I believe is one of the best performances of 2011. It should also be noted, Nick Nolte was nominated for an Academy Award for his heartbreaking work in this flick.

Invite the manliest man you know over to watch this one with you and watch him blubber like a baby when the credits begin to roll. I honestly put this film up there with the first Rocky film, I believe it is that great!

• The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

This documentary has been available for awhile but might be traveling a bit under your radar. I actually saw this flick during it’s original theatrical release in 2003 and fell in love with these birds and their sweet story instantly.

This poignant film chronicles the true story of a modern-day St. Francis of Assisi, a homeless San Francisco street musician by the name of Mark Bittner who adopts a flock of wild parrots as he searches for meaning in his life. With a surprise ending that left festival audiences cheering, director Judy Irving’s film celebrates urban wildness — human and avian — and links parrot antics to human behavior.

• Ladies and Gentleman, Mr.Leonard Cohen

 

Long before Leonard Cohen gained fame as a singer-songwriter, (best known perhaps as the author of the oft covered tune “Hallelujah“), he was a hit poet and novelist in Montreal, as this jazzy 1965 documentary illustrates. The artist is shown at the top of his literary game as he thrills a packed house during a reading. The informal portrait follows Cohen around for a few days, observing him as a poet and burgeoning musician.

This funny and enlightening doc is a great time capsule from the days when everything was hip and groovy and is a definite must see for fans of Cohen’s tunes. I couldn’t get over how much Leonard looked like a young Dustin Hoffman back in the day, there are moments when you’ll believe they must have been twins separated at birth.

• The Hunter

This dark and haunting film is one that really gets under your skin and will stay with you long after you’ve seen it. The Film Critics Circle of Australia chose The Hunter as the Best Picture of 2011.

Willem Dafoe stars as a mercenary sent to Tasmania to track down the last living Tasmanian tiger and obtain its genetic material. Once he reaches the tiger’s wild habitat, the hunter poses as a scientist to begin his search.

• How to Live Forever

 

 

On a mission to live forever, director Mark Wexler explores the boundaries of modern medicine, the wisdom of fitness gurus, a chain-smoking marathoner, an elderly porn star and other extraordinary centenarians. Forever may be sooner than you think.

Trust me, your brain will be swimming after this one! Like the best documentaries this is both funny and thought provoking and is bound to inspire a few conversations you might not have been expecting to have at this point in your life. 

 

Pop Bitez Netflix Picks

We’re debuting a new bi-weekly feature today on Pop Bitez! As a special service for all of our readers who also happen to be Netflix Instant Streaming subscribers we thought it might be fun to occasionally offer up some suggestions that might be traveling under your radar, here are our picks for this week!

• The Swell Season

This poignant documentary shadows indie folk artists Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová on a whirlwind tour following their Oscar win for the instant love song classic “Falling Slowly” (from the film Once). I actually had a chance to speak with Hansard about this documentary recently and, interestingly enough, he told me he couldn’t endorse it. He explained that, while his relationship with the filmmakers was pleasant enough, he felt they made the whole thing seem a lot sadder than it really was. Creative editing aside, it’s also quite possible the filmmakers may have caught a moment or two that Glen and Markéta would have preferred they’d missed. I’ll let you be the judge, add this one to your queue today, I’ve got a feeling you’re going to love it, I did!

Under The Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story

Director Kevin Tostado takes a look at the incredibly fascinating history of the most successful board game of all time with his film Under The Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story. If you missed my interview with the director last year you can check it out here. For pop culture fans like myself, this one is a must! Enjoy!

• The Idolmaker

The Idolmaker marked the directorial debut of Oscar winner Taylor Hackford, (An Officer and a Gentlemen, Against All Odds, Ray) and is one of those small films that never really received the full attention it actually deserved. The story is loosely based on the life of rock promoter Bob Marucci, a charismatic music fan who became a successful record producer in the 1950’s. The impresario’s tenacity pays off when he discovers the Fabian-like singer Caesare. The film features the big screen debuts of both Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix, Risky Business, Memento) and Peter Gallagher (American Beauty, Sex, Lives and Videotape, Mr. Deeds) not to mention the breakout performance from the late, great Ray Sharkey. It was rumored recently that Ryan Gosling is planning to make his directorial debut with a remake of this 80s classic sometime in the near future. If you’ve never seen this one, add it now, if you it saw it, like myself, many years ago, it’s time to revisit this one, I think you’ll be surprised at how well it still holds up.

Smash His Camera

Someday, when we have more time, (and I’ve had a few drinks), I’ll tell you about the time I met one of the most famous paparazzi’s in history while on vacation with my parents in New England. That chance meeting nearly lead me to a career chasing celebrities with a Nikon, I think we’re all very thankful I didn’t end up choosing that particular path.

While profiling the controversial life and career of pioneering paparazzo Ron Galella, Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Leon Gast raises intriguing questions about the freedom of the press, the right to privacy and our celebrity-obsessed culture. A great risk taker who never backed down, Galella suffered a broken jaw at the hands of Marlon Brando and fought two major lawsuits filed by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Galella is really the forefather of the modern day paparazzi and this is probably the most definitive documentary you’re ever going to see on the subject. Add it now, thank me later!

• The Rebound

A beautiful single mother living in New York City surprises everyone, including herself, when she becomes romantically involved with her 20-something neighbor who’s many years her junior.

Yes, there is an odd irony with this one, given the film’s star, Catherine Zeta-Jones is married to Michael Douglas who, let’s be honest, is old enough to be HER daddy. What fun the press junket must have been for her when she was out promoting this one.

I honestly had never heard of this little gem before stumbling on it by way of Netflix but I’m certainly glad I did. Romantic comedies are one of the toughest genres there is today and most miss their intended targets by a country mile. This flick restored my faith in both love stories on film and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I can’t recommend it enough, so, as they say, “watch it now!”