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[Now Streaming] Your ‘Pirates,’ Midnight in Paris,’ ’35 & Ticking’ and ‘Louder Than a Bomb’ Alternatives

Written by , on May 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm 

Each week within this column we strive to pair the latest in theatrical releases to the worthwhile titles currently available on Netflix Instant Watch.

This week Captain Jack returns to theaters to face off against – well, no one really…That’s right. Not one single studio feature wanted to do battle with Pirates 4 at the box office. Happily a trio of new features will be opening in limited release, including the latest from Woody Allen, an African-American ensemble dramedy, and documentary about the power of slam poetry. And as always, if  you’re keen to take the gasps, laughs, love, and real-world drama home – we’ve got you covered.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

In this high seas adventure, Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) joins forces with his old foe Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to uncover the legendary Fountain of Youth. But these unlikely allies find a new enemy in Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his black-hearted daughter (Penelope Cruz).

Take on adventure with this three classic swashbucklers:

The Black Pirate (1926) In the early days of Hollywood, Douglas Fairbanks was the swashbuckler of silent cinema. Get a taste of his old-school bravado in this adventure, which was nominated for AFI’s list of The Top 100 Thrills. In it, Fairbanks stars as a buccaneer seeking to avenge the death of his father while romancing a dainty damsel in distress!

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) In this classic swashbuckler, José Ferrer stars as the title character, a soldier with the soul of a poet but the nose of a falcon. Fearful the object of his affections, the fair Roxanne, would reject his attentions because of his horrendous honker, Cyrano convinces a friend to woo in his stead – with vexing results. Notably, Ferrer won an Oscar for his performance in this thrilling adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s classic tale of love and deception.

The Three Musketeers (1973) Acclaimed director Richard Lester breathed fresh life into Alexandre Dumas‘ dusty classic with this action-packed adaptation. Michael York stars as an eager young adventurer named D’Artagnan, who comes across a trio of troublemakers named Athos, Porthos and Aramis (Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay and Richard Chamberlain). Aside from action and slapstick, there’s also a dash of romance! Raquel Welch scored a Golden Globe for her of the spirited portrayal of Constance de Bonacieux.

Midnight in Paris

When an engaged couple (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams) travels to the City of Lights, the magic of the Paris leads them into strange adventures that make them wonder about their future together. Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Carla Bruni, and Gad Elmaleh co-star. Woody Allen writes and directs.

Fill your weekend with tales of love set in the City of Lights.

2 Days in Paris (2007) Adam Goldberg and Julie Delpy co-star in this bittersweet indie comedy that centers on a couple’s culture-clashing Parisian vacation. Delpy writes and directs this lively tale of love and fidelity, which earned her a César nod for Best Original Screenplay.

Charade (1963) For some old-school charm, try this comedy classic that blithely blends murder with romance. Audrey Hepburn stars as a recent window, who finds herself on a treacherous treasure hunt after finding her husband’s legacy included some missing riches and batch of dangerous men. Cary Grant emerges as a safe haven in the storm – but can he be trusted? Walter Matthau, Lames Coburn and George Kennedy star in this Stanley Donen-directed caper.

Micmacs (2009) For a modern take on romance with a whimsical sense of nostalgia, try Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s latest adventure set in the Parisian streets he’s shot so beautifully before. French funnyman Dany Boon heads up a troop of unlikely anti-heroes in this tale of romance and revenge. In keeping with Jeunet’s aesthetic, Micmacs balances dark elements with jubilant moments and fills its frame with colorful characters including a lovestruck contortionist, a mumbling mathematician, a silent sculptor, and a human cannonball. Yolande Moreau, Julie Ferrier, and Dominique Pinon co-star.

Louder Than a Bomb

Documentarians follow four Chicago teens as they compete in the world’s biggest youth poetry slam, revealing the truth of their rhymes and times.

There are a number of docs about urban youth bettering their lives through competition. Here are a few to fill up your queue:

Mad Hot Ballroom (2005) This award-winning doc centers on a dance competition that pits that best of NYC’s diminutive dancers against each other. Meringue, rumba, tango and swing are all on the dance card for these hot-to-foxtrot 11-year-olds as they two-step through the citywide championship, discovering their own tenacity along the way.

Pressure Cooker (2008) Wilma Stephenson is a committed educator who accepts no excuses. With a dogged determination she wills the best from the students of the Philadelphia high school where she teaches culinary arts. With her guidance, a class of kids at risk of falling through the cracks has a new crack at life if they can only learn to cook at the high level required to win the scholarship-awarding citywide competition.

Frontrunners (2008) The game here is politics. Students face off to win the role of student body president at Stuyvesant, arguably the most prestigious public high school in the United States. These teenaged politicos are startlingly quick to learn how race, gender, personality, platform, and appearance factor into campaign strategy.

35 and Ticking

Four friends are fast approaching age 35 and fear they have nothing to show for it. Meagan Good, Kevin Hart and Tamala Jones co-star.

Thirtysomethings strive to make it work in these star-studded dramedies:

The Big Chill (1983) An iconic thirtysomething tale that centers on a group of college pals reuniting to mourn the passing of a friend with whom they’d all fallen out of touch. Possibly the quintessential baby boomers movie, The Big Chill took on parenthood, friendship, marriage and substance abuse while cementing the stardom of many of its cast – which included Kevin Kline, William Hurt, JoBeth Williams, Mary Kay Place, and Glenn Close. It’s often imitated, but rarely surpassed. Lawrence Kasdan co-writes and directs.

Thirtysomething (1987) Inspired by the success of The Big Chill, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz created their own take on the struggle to mature with this award-winning drama series. At the center of the show are Hope and Michael (Mel Harris and Ken Olin), a happily married couple who are often the rock for their friends who struggle with fidelity, career, single life, and what it means to be an adult. Polly Draper, Timothy Busfield and Peter Horton co-star.

Grown Ups (2010) Adam Sandler’s modern imitation of The Big Chill plays up the slapstick and tones down the melodrama. After the death of their peewee basketball coach, five friends reunite to catch up and discover they are not where they’d hoped they’d be. Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello and Maya Rudolph co-star.

Wild Card Pick

12:08 East of Bucharest [A fost sau n-a fost? ](2007) The feature debut of writer/director Conreliu Porumboiu, this politically-driven comedy centers on a low-rent television talk show based in a small Romanian town. As Christmas sluggishly approaches, Jderescu (Ion Sapdaru) aims to create dynamic panel show detailing the town’s role in the Romanian Revolution that took place 16 years prior. However, his bumbling guests make a mockery of Jderescu’s ambitions, resulting in a climax that is as socially awkward as it is brilliantly funny. Despite having earned accolades at Cannes and the Independent Spirit Awards, this winsome satire has remained shamefully obscure. Whether your interests lie in history or not, this understated comedy is sure to delight.

Can you think of a connection/suggestion we missed? Share them in comments.


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