Now that summer’s over and kids are back at school. The days turn shorter, cooler and more brightly colored. What better way to relax after a long hard autumn day of raking leaves than camping out in front of the TV with some Netflix new releases? The Internet streaming giant has some great selections from a variety of genres for both streaming and DVD subscribers.
Netflix New Releases on DVD and Blu-ray
Let’s start with an adorable, feel-good little film called “The Sapphires.” This biographical story, about Australian aborigine sisters who form a “girl group” in the turbulent 1960’s, features Chris O’Dowd as their manager and beautiful performances of some of the greatest soul music ever recorded. The film also touches on the apartheid in both the U.S. and Australia of the time. It’s a comedy, it’s a romance, and a musical you can sing along with all in one.
“Star Trek: Into Darkness”
If you’re like me, you never got around to seeing “Star Trek: Into Darkness” when it was still in theaters. Well, now’s your chance to enjoy the second episode of the J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the franchise in the comfort of your own home.
If you still haven’t had enough supernatural love stories, “Beautiful Creatures” may be just the ticket. An all-star cast including Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, Eileen Atkins, Viola Davis, Margo Martindale and Pruitt Taylor Vince round out the tale of a young “caster” from a long line of witches who must choose between light and dark.
There is also the adorable “Warm Bodies” with Nicholas Hoult, Rob Corddry and the inimitable John Malkovich. Hoult is an undead young man, known only as R, who one morning discovers that he had been dreaming the night before. This, combined with the memories of a pretty girl he absorbed from the brains of his most recent victim, make him start to feel again – and to believe that maybe he can “come back.”
“Jack and the Giant Slayer”
If that isn’t enough Nick Hoult for one sitting, try a double-feature with the kiddies and watch “Jack the Giant Slayer” (PG-13), the colorful and brilliantly devised retelling of the famous fairy tale. Hoult is the title character who dares to rescue Princess Isabelle from the giants who kidnapped her, even though the king’s villainous chief counselor means to stop him.
“The Last Ride”
For more musical biography, “The Last Ride” stars Henry Thomas as Hank Williams, “music’s original bad boy” and Jesse James as the young man hired to get him to the Greek. A road movie, based on accounts of Williams’ final days, Thomas carries the film handily. Kaly Cuoco, of “The Big Bang Theory” fame, plays Jesse James’ wisecracking love interest.
Finally, please enjoy the Tina Fey-Paul Rudd romantic comedy “Admission.” It didn’t get the best reviews when it came out (but by no means the worst), but the two leads have fantastic chemistry and play well off one another, despite some flaws and weaknesses in the production. Fey plays Portia Nathan, a university admissions counselor who is contacted by John Pressman (Rudd) to come out to his unorthodox school and meet the boy he eventually admits he believes is the son Portia put up for adoption as a newborn. Lily Tomlin cameos as Portia’s gun-toting, overprotective mother.
New Netflix Releases via Streaming
When it comes to Netflix new releases on the streaming side of the subscription, the term “new” may be a bit relative. However, there are still a wide variety of offerings for your mobile device or TV app.
For those who miss it, or never got a chance to see it, all four series of Francis Ford Coppola’s “The 4400” are now available. There are 4400 alien abductees, of varying ages and backgrounds, who were taken over the last 50 years, are suddenly returned without having aged a single day. Some are happily reunited with loved ones, while others have been gone too long to reconnect. A thoughtful supposition on what might happen to such individuals and their families, and how they would cope – particularly when the returnees start to show supernatural abilities.
For more Paul Rudd, there is “Our Idiot Brother.” Rudd’s Ned grew up the only boy in a family of girls who all think he is an idiot, due to his apparent naïvete and good-natured, overly trusting outlook. In fact, Ned just wants to do the right thing, and others to do it too; eventually his sisters begin to see that and see the better part of themselves.
Netflix new releases of a much darker, less hospitable nature include Daniel Day-Lewis’s powerful performance in “There Will be Blood” and Viggo Mortenson’s in “The Road,” Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic vision of a world thrown into chaos and wandering.
“Parker” is the Jason Statham-Jennifer Lopez action-packed heist movie that has Statham’s Parker squaring off against his former, backstabbing crew who left him for dead. Lopez is the desperate real estate agent who helps him get revenge if he will help her get a commission. Also look for Michael Chiklis, Patti LuPone, Nick Nolte, Bobby Cannavale, and Wendell Pierce.
A few throwbacks for afficianados and film school students have also recently become available for streaming on Neflix. These may be considered classics, cult classics, or just part of a good film school education. For example, Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream,” which gave us a new understanding of how dynamic visuals make the characters’ interior story much more compelling. John Travolta’s breakout performance in “Saturday Night Fever,” a film that people forget also shed light on the class disparity of the 1970s. That same year also gave us “Quadrophenia,” based on The Who’s eponymous album. A cross between a musical and a music video montage, the film, about angry Mods and other marginalized social groups, was one that solidified the increasing expectation of independent film to a memorable soundtrack.
Whether streaming or DVD, from films to television series and eye-opening documentaries, Netflix new releases has a wide variety to choose from and something for just about everyone.