Is there anything greater than the Netflix Watch Instant service? No, the answer is no. But with great power comes great responsibility and you might be having trouble choosing from the literally thousands of options put in front of you. Well, fear not faithful Netflix subscriber and avid blog reader, your friendly neighborhood queue masters are here to tell you what’s new to stream this week and what’s worth your time. All of the picks below are available to watch right now on your computer, TV, game console, Bluray player, or mobile device. Seriously, right now. It’s Whatcha Gonna Queue INSTANT edition.
Highlander: The year is 1986. Ronald Reagan is president. The United States lost the Challenger shuttle. The Mets win the World Series. And Highlander sees its theatrical release. (Not in that order of course). In this modern fantasy hybrid, Christopher Lambert plays the the Highlander, Connor Macleod, an immortal Scottish warrior who must take down his final, also-immortal rival as played by Sean Connery. Together they convene with the remaining immortals in NY as they battle for the fabled “Prize.” Director Russell Mulcahy shot both on the rural countryside familiar to the fantasy genre and on location in modern day New York. The result is a truly unique, but typically 80s post modern journey from writer Gregory Widen. The film also gave us the classic tagline, “There can only be one.” That contribution to pop culture alone makes it all worth it.
Lambert was a relative newcomer, having just barely learned English, he spent time with a dialogue coach in which they developed a non-specific vaguely foreign sound for the character. This was one of the first films to shoot at New York’s Silvercup studios in Queens, at the time of production it had just been converted over from the recently out of business Silvercup bread company. The film is also famous for including several original Queen songs. Oh the ’80s. (Side note: If for some reason you don’t have Netflix (really?!) you can watch Highlander for free on Hulu).
Kiss of the Spider Woman: Kiss of the Spider Woman is somewhat of a forgotten drama of the 80s. Seeing release in 1985, it stars William Hurt and Raul Julia as prison cellmates in South American jail. Hurt plays Luis Molina a homosexual film buff who passes the time by inventing and retelling great romantic stories while Julia plays Valentin Arregui, a political prisoner dead set on his predicament. Over the course of the film the two grow to understand and respect each other. Written by Leonard Schrader, based on the novel by Manuel Puig, it was brought to life by director Hector Babenco. The film finds itself holding a strong 88% on RottenTomatoes with critics calling it “beautifully compelling”, “consistently mesmerizing”, “bold and touching.”
The Academy would agree awarding the flick 3 Oscar nominations – Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture – and one win – William Hurt, Best Actor in a Leading Role. Making it the first independent film to be nominated for Best Picture. Good thing too that Hurt got an Oscar out of it because according to the IMDb trivia facts he and Julia weren’t paid for the film, airfare and accommodations for the shoot were the only compensation provided. The movie was adapted into a Broadway musical in 1993 and while it couldn’t get the gold at the Oscars, it took Best Musical, Book, Score and lead actress (Chita Rivera) at the ’93 Tony Awards.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil: Directed by documentarian Sacha Gervasi, Anvil! The Story of Anvil is the official Whatcha Gonna Queue? documentary pick of the week. (That’s a thing now). The film tells the real life retrospective of the metal band and the two best friends who at 14 years old swore to rock together forever. Those 14 year olds were Robb Reiner (not to be confused with actor/writer/director Rob Reiner) and Steve “Lips” Kudlow, founding members of the “demi-gods of Canadian metal” Anvil. Despite never really hitting the big time, Anvil influenced the likes of Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax over the course of their 12 album career. Now in their 50s, the band sets off to make their 13th album, one last shot at fulfilling their dreams.
It’s almost like the real life version of Spinal Tap, it includes all the eccentricities, absurdities, and extravagancies of rock star life. But in many ways it can be tied to fellow 2008 release, The Wrestler, in its heart filled, almost depressing look back at a washed up act whose success is no longer present. Gervasi’s doc won a staggering 17 out of 21 Film festival and critics’ choice awards for best documentary.
30 Days: Morgan Spurlock gets a bit of flack around cine-circles for overstating the obvious in his documentaries. Yes, McDonald’s is bad for you. Yes, films have product placement. But it’s hard to deny the contributions he’s made to the genre and its current ability to find crossover mainstream success. 30 Days is FX’s TV series adaptation of his Super Size Me formula. Each episode features a fish out of water scenario, where someone is dropped into an alternate lifestyle from their own and left to deal for 30 days. Episode topics range from a wealthy person surviving on minimum wage, a Christian person living in a Muslim community, a hunter living with an animal rights activist, and so on.
Not long ago on the show we recommended Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!, if you were a fan of that program, you’ll be able to find something to like about 30 Days. It takes a similar social activist approach to television, which you don’t see that often these days.
Viacom shows: Young TV fans and young at heart TV fans have a lot of Netflixing to do this weekend as the Viacom networks have added many titles the growing Instant library. Here’s a smattering of new additions from Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon that went up this week: Bo Burnham Words Words Words, The Hard Times of RJ Burger, iCarly, John Oliver’s NY Stand Up Show, Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time, Spongebob, The Faily Odd Parents, The Hills, Important Things With Demetri Martin, Jersey Shore, The Sarah Silverman Program, The Benson Interruption, Celebrity Rehab, and more. Thanks Viacom!