Quick! Before it Expires: Six for the Price of One

I have a trio of movies for you dear readers to watch.

One good, one bad, and one ugly.

The Good
The Dirty Dozen

Of all the super specific sub-gernes in film, one of my favorites is “soldiers on a mission.” In that super specific genre, The Dirty Dozen is one of the best.

Lee Marvin stars as a reluctant Major tasked with training a group of convicted soldiers to a suicide mission into a Nazi stronghold. The movie hits all the great beats, from the “recruitment” of the soldiers, to their training sequences, to the the actual execution of the mission.

Joining Marvin are a slew of grizzled character actors. Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, and Telly Savalas. While the action hasn’t quite aged that well, it’s definitely a fun movie to watch.

The Dirty Dozen expires on February 1st, 2012.

The Bad
Mortal Kombat

During the 8-bit heyday of games, an often used device was the palette swap. Basically there would be one character model with two different color schemes. The most famous example of that is Mario and Luigi from the first Super Mario Bros. game. They had the same character model. One’s clothes were red and blue; the other was green and white.

Mortal Kombat is often considered the best video game adaptation movie. In my opinion the movie largely succeeds because it is a palette swap of Enter the Dragon.

A man gets sucked into an old and dangerous fighting tournament along with a few friends. The tournament is run by a deliciously evil villain who has ties to the hero’s past.

While Mortal Kombat’s plot isn’t terribly original, all the actors show up and give it their all. Particularly Linden Ashby who plays the narcissistic Johnny Cage. Veteran B-movie actor Christopher Lambert gives good performance as the thunder god Raiden. The fight sequences are also largely effective and memorable. They have good choreography and style.

Mortal Kombat expires on January 30th, 2012.

The Ugly
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is not a good movie. It barely, and I do mean barely, qualifies as a “so bad it’s good” movie.

So why am I recommending that you watch it before it expires from Netflix? There are a few action sequences in the movie that are bat shit insane and worth your time. Particularly in the movie when the heroes test their exo-suits in Paris.

Also, this is one of the few movies where Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bad guy. So there’s that.

Finally, the film maker’s idea of an evil underwater lair is too ridiculous not to see.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra expires on February 1st, 2012.

-Harrison

The Crying Game
The Crying Game is an amazing film. It’s hard to summarize without giving away the good bits. It’s about a member of the Irish Republican army who moves to England to combat his grief about a death he inadvertently caused. Neil Jordan is overlooked as a filmmaker. The performances in this film err on the side of the overly dramatic but it works in this film. Stephen Rea and a young Forest Whitaker give awesome performances in this film. And the ending… Well if you don’t know it and you don’t figure it out, well watch out.

The Crying Game Expires in 5 days

Tetro

Tetro is a film by written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola; his first since 1974′s the Conversation, which we all know is my favorite Coppola film. It’s not his most successful film but I would argue it’s his most personal and most interesting film he made in a long time. It’s about Italian immigrants in Argentina and more specifically, about a weird Italian Nicholsonesque family in Argentina. If you don’t know what that means you should watch this film.

Tetro Expires in 5 Days.

The Golden Child
I love this movie. I know, I’m supposed to be the snob of this board and I’m picking this weird Eddie Murphy action film. But this one along with, Big Trouble in Little China seem to be a bit different from the action films of this period. They are ahead of their time in terms of genre: both films combine comedy, action, sci-fi/horror and to some degree a western influence. Both films also feature “heroes” that aren’t exactly skillful in their pursuit of the villain. Kurt Russell is more inept while Eddie Murphy is more sardonic. It’s visual effects are dated, but it’s an enjoyable film if you keep your expectations low.

The Golden Child Expires in 5 days.

As always check QueueNoodle for more expiring title.

-Josh E.

Quick! Before it Expires: Big Fan

It’s time for another edition of Quick Before it Expires. In an effort to be more consistent with the QBIE posts we plan on posting at least two a month, about a week before the 15th and the first of every month, when Netflix likes to take movies away from the instant queue. I’m going to be doing a lot of watching in the next week or so. Here are some of the films I (Josh E.) will be watching in the next week:

Brief Encounter
The Red Shoes
The Train
This Sporting Life

But enough of what I’m going to watch. I wanted to draw your attention that is expiring in two days, I repeat TWO DAYS (1/12/12). Sorry for the short notice, but it’s called Big Fan,  stars Patton Oswalt, and is written and directed by Robert Siegel. If that name sounds familiar it’s because Siegel also wrote the screenplay for the 2009 critical darling The Wrestler. It’s a quirky little film that excellently blends comedy and the “pathology” of a fan’s obsession.

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Quick! Before it Expires: Cronos, Crank 2

Cronos

I stumbled upon Cronos after winning a free copy on the internet, or so I thought. When I didn’t receive my free copy I didn’t think about it again, but remembered the title hoping to find it at the video store. I found a used copy at a DVD store, bought it on a whim, and discovered one of the most inventive and interesting vampire films I’ve ever seen. (And coincidentally one of the better $5 DVD purchases. I’ve ever made.)

Cronos DVD

Check out the Criterion Version

It’s the first film by Guillermo Del Toro. Since Pan’s Labyrinth, most film fans and even causal movie watchers are usually intrigued by watching a Del Toro film. It centers around an antiques collector who discover a scarab shaped device that attaches to his chest and gives him supernatural powers and a supernatural thirst.

The film is excellently written, directed, and has a great visual look. It stars Ron Perlman in a delightfully swarthy role and Federico Luppi who fans will recognize from Pan’s Labyrinth.

You should check it out immediately and if you like it, stop over to get the Criterion Collections Blu-Ray or DVD.

Cronos will expire in five days (12/7)

Crank 2

Harrison turned me onto the gem that is Crank 2, and I love it. I love its tongue-in-cheek style and outrageous set pieces. It’s an action/comedy with Jason Statham as Chev Chelios, a hitman who has had his heart removed and needs to continually power his artificial heart by unconventional means.

Yes, seeing Crank before Crank 2 would enhance your viewing experience but, don’t worry if you haven’t, you can still enjoy the ride.

Crank 2 will expire in six days (12/8)

-Josh E.

Not So Great Movies You Should Watch

All film fans and cinefiles know the canon — great films that are almost unanimously considered classics. Films such as The Godfather, Chinatown, and more recently family friendly hits such as Toy Story seem to be impenetrably popular and critical darlings. But, there are hundreds of films produced each year and we would like to help you sift through some of the, ahem, less successful and critically appreciated films. One of the goals of this blog is to move beyond the Manichaean review because there are redeeming qualities to almost every film.

So each month, Harrison and I will post a movie in the main genres (action, comedy, drama, horror, sci-fi) and note why you may want to spend some time watching them. We’ve also got some friends that may want to provide their own list of four not so great films that they will share in the future.

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Quick! Before it Expires: Blue Velvet

A few weeks after Harrison and I debated whether Cronenberg or Lynch was better, in an almost Lynchian twist of fate, one of David Lynch’s films is set to expire on Netflix. I write today to talk about Blue Velvet the film that solidified David Lynch as one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of his generation.

I encountered the work of David Lynch late, as a college film student, when a friend of mine, showed Eraserhead to me during my freshman year — I was immediately hooked. Lynch’s meso-length film (not a short not quite a feature) is not for everybody and I would say to the casual film fan or the beginning cinefile, start with either Blue Velvet or the Elephant Man if they want to dive into Lynch.

Velvet has become a hugely influential film that hundreds of filmmakers have quoted as an inspiration. Most don’t remember that Blue Velvet initially divided critics, most famously Siskel & Ebert. Here’s a link to Ebert’s original review of Blue Velvet, which includes a couple of nice clips.

Ebert has since changed his mind about the film

To the normal everyday filmgoer this film is strange. Helium, psychological and sexual domination, fetish, voyeurism, film noir, loss of innocence, and a pastiche of 50′s nostalgia mix into a wonderfully dark and complicated film where repeated viewings only enhance the films interpretations.

The film marks the return of Dennis Hopper after a long drug-rehab-caused break from acting. It also marks an early on screen appearance of Laura Dern, who went on to her marvelous career including repeated collaborations with Lynch. The film also stars many Lynch regulars including Kyle MacLachlan (Dune, Twin Peaks) Jack Nance (Eraserhead, Dune, Twin Peaks) and Brad Dourif (Dune).

This film is worth watching if only to so you can say you saw it and impress your film buff friends. It expires in 3 days. (Oct 31)

For more expiring titles check out QueueNoodle.

-Josh E.

Quick! Before it Expires: Audition

It’s getting near the end of October and that means my teenage obsession with horror films resurfaces for a few weeks. I’ll be trying to update with tv listings, netflix recommendations, and other Halloween themed posts.

I peaked at Queue Noodle today and noticed that Audition is expiring soon. If you’re into horror movies and have a strong stomach I recommend it highly. I repeat you need a strong stomach to watch this film. 

The film follows a man searching for a new wife who holds an audition process. The young woman he selects is not who she says she is. A good way to summarize what follows is the old phrase: “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” The film is directed by Takashi Miike, who is a wonderfully inventive, graphic, and extreme filmmaker who enjoys pushing buttons of critiques and audiences alike.

This is not for everybody. My brother and I, experienced and battle-tested horror fans, watched, shook our heads in dismay, jaws on the floor. I do think the film is an amazing example of J-Horror and for the right horror fan is an amazing viewer experience.

You can stream the movie here. It expires on October 20th.

For more expiring titles check queuenoodle

-Josh E.

Quick! Before it Expires: The Verdict (1982)

It’s been a busy week here at MovieDebaters. First, I was informed by some friends in the biz, that they’d like to produce a web-series from a pilot script I sent to them not too long ago. Then Thursday night, Harrison and I both received emails that our first script was selected as a comedy finalist for the Hollywood Screenwriting Contest. Hooray.

In the hullabaloo, I forgot to write my Friday blog. I apologize.

What better way to make it up to our wonderful readers than to recommend one of my favorite movies The Verdict.

The Verdict is a courtroom drama adapted by David Mamet, directed by Sidney Lumet, and starring Paul Newman in the leading role. As a film lover, if you can’t get around that tandem of talent then I can’t help you. Newman stars as Frank Galvin, a down on his luck, alcoholic lawyer who has resorted to chasing ambulances to get clients. Galvin is given a second chance when he takes a medical malpractice case and instead of settling for a large amount he decides to pursue those who have done wrong. He is given the opportunity to make a moral stand and fight for his client and Galvin rises to the occasion.

Newman’s performance is great (as usual) but also watch for James Mason who as the awesome antagonist Ed “the Prince of Darkness” Concannon. This was one movie I was forced to watch in screenwriting class that I can’t turn off when it appears on television.

The Verdict Expires in 10 days (October 11)

-Josh E.

For more expiring titles checkout QueueNoodle

Quick! Before it Expires: The Conversation 1974

This taut paranoiac thriller starring Gene Hackman is one of the greatest remakes of all time. (And also foreshadows my Friday post nicely.) The film revolves around Harry Caul, who thinks he overhears a plot to commit murder while surveilling an assignment. While wrestling with the decision to prevent the murder from happening, he thinks that he is being followed, or is he? This film is also important because its one of the few films that Francis Ford Coppola both wrote and directed. The Conversation won a ton of awards and has been completely brushed aside in the Coppola catalogue by the Godfather films. It’s sound design alone is worth the recommendation.

It expires in two days (Sept 15). 

-Josh E.

Quick! Before it Expires: 1969 (1988)

We’re not Luddites here at Movie Debaters and know that the cinema (however the optimal) isn’t the only way people watch movies today. Both Harrison and myself are both internet and Netflix users and wanted to introduce a new piece on the site called “Quick! Before it Expires.” Every so often Harrison and I will scour our Instant Queues for a soon to expire movie and offer it up as a recommendation. Maybe we can influence your instant queue(s?) and then you will become a MD minion…

The first film I recommend you watch “Quick! Before it Expires” is 1969. It is the directorial debut of Ernest Thompson, who wrote the play and the Academy Award winning adaptation of On Golden Pond. And while 1969 lacks the critical success of On Golden Pond, it still an interesting film that is written by a talented author and contains some good performances by a talented cast, including Kiefer Sutherland, Bruce Dern, Robert Downey Jr., and Winona Ryder.

1969 revolves around two young “hippies” (Sutherland and Downey Jr.) who are living their Beatnik dream: traveling around the United States in the summer while attending college to prevent their draft during the rest of the year. The plan backfires when Ralph (Downey Jr.) flunks out.

The movie has really good moments including the scene where Ralph overdoses on LCD and announces that he’s flunked out of college at Beth’s high school graduation. The film has some faults such as a cheesy ending, an underdeveloped romance between Downey Jr’s Ralph and Winona Ryder’s Beth, and it’s a bit frantic and whimsical, much like the year it is set in. However the bad is greatly overshadowed by a sense of nostalgia that comes close to never reaches sentimentality. Many who remember the year 1969 will enjoy the flashback, while those too young or too stoned will enjoy the early performances of some great young actors.

You have 9 days from now (8/19/11) before it leaves the Instant Queue

Enjoy,

And for more expiring titles check out QueueNoodle.