Each week within this column we strive to pair the latest in theatrical releases to the worthwhile titles currently available on Netflix Instant Watch.
Coming to theaters Friday is a time-traveling action star, a wrench-wielding superhero, a haunted house horror flick, and a circus-centered family drama. You can take the action home with a selection of streaming films that feature ghastly ghosts, colorful clowns, besotted baddies and courageous chrononauts!
Duncan Jones’ trippy time-traveling follow-up to his freaky sci-fi feature Moon stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier on a mission to stop the bombing on a Chicago commuter train that has already happened. How does he manage that? By stepping back into the past and into the body of a victim of the crash, obviously! Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga co-star.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) If you like your double-features weirdly specific, pair Source Code with this oddly cast offering that also features Gyllenhaal as a time-traversing hero. Ben Kingsley and Gemma Arterton co-star in this over the top action-adventure tale.
La jetée (1961) With it’s protagonist racing to change the past and get the girl, Source Code has reminded many of Terry Gilliam’s time-traveling mindbender 12 Monkeys. Sadly, that is not on Instant Watch, but its source material is! Haunting and inventive this 28-minute short will satisfy your cerebral side, and you can pair it with Gilliam’s dwarves-centered heist adventure Time Bandits for a surreal yet wonderful evening at home.
Quantum Leap (1989) This sci-fi series from the late ’80s centers on Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), a physicist who theorized that one could time-travel within his own lifetime. He famously walked into the quantum leap accelerator and vanished! Each episode he’s placed in a new person’s body, striving to put right what once went wrong! Dean Stockwell co-stars as Al, Sam’s only guide on his journey, who appears as a hologram only Sam can see and hear! I guarantee: it’s as awesome as you remember.
James Gunn‘s crass crime-fighter caper centers on a furious fry cook (Rainn Wilson) who delivers his own brand of justice as the Crimson Bolt. Ellen Page co-stars as his comics and carnage lovin’ sidekick, Boltie. Nathan Fillion appears as the Bible-preaching Holy Avenger.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2008) If tales of offbeat yet super-powered antiheroes are to your liking, try this Joss Whedon-directed web event. The online miniseries runs 42 minutes and stars Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible, as aspiring supervillain with a penchant for breaking into song. Nerd girls and fan boys rejoice! Super star Nathan Fillion and Guild starlet Felicia Day appear as the pompous Captain Hammer and Penny, the kind-hearted gal who completes this tricky love-triangle.
Tromeo & Juliet (1996) Gunn’s screenwriting debut gives Romeo & Juliet the Troma treatment, setting the lovers in a New York City full of goofiness and gore. Will Keenan and Stephen Blakehart co-star in this Lloyd Kaufman-directed cult hit.
The Toxic Avenger (1985) Make it a Troma double-feature by pairing Gunn’s Tromeo with Lloyd Kaufman’s most notorious B-movie. This cult classic horror-comedy centers on Melvin Ferd, who goes from helpless to heroic after a life-altering and skin-melting dip in some toxic sludge. Now this ghastly looking janitor is on a quest to clean up his town by toppling the crime ring run by Mayor Belgoody. I assure you, it’s just as insane as it sounds.
Saw director James Wan returns to terrify with this haunted house drama starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrnes. You can take the hauntings home this weekend with this trio of ghoulish delights!
The Shining (1980) Stanley Kubrick’s iconic horror thriller stars Jack Nicholson as a blocked writer who turns psychotic innkeeper when left to care for a haunted hotel. Ghost twins, elevators of blood, and a creepy kid on a big wheel roam the halls in this freaky feature. Shelley Duvall co-stars.
Paranormal Activity (2007) Directed by Insidious producer Oren Peli, this low-budget horror flick brought new life into the found footage genre, terrifying audiences worldwide with its subtle but deeply spooky thrills. Newcomer Katie Featherston stars as a young woman who is plagued by a demon once she moves in with her territorial boyfriend played by Micah Sloat. Not to be viewed before bedtime.
Poltergeist (1982) This horror classic garnered Oscar nods for its haunting score and deeply creepy visual effects. Centered on a happy family as they move into their freshly built suburban home, this flick turns dark when their darling flaxen haired daughter is abducted by angry spirits from the beyond! Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams co-star.
This visually lush documentary follows a touring Mexican family circus and reveals the joys and trials inherent in this tricky family business.
Circus (2010) If you’ve ever had the urge to run away with the circus, this compelling doc series should appeal. Taking viewers behind the scenes of the big top, Circus reveals how the Big Apple Circus is developed, and shows a personal side to its awe-inspiring tumblers, jugglers and clowns. Blending deft storytelling with sprightly music and striking cinematography, this reality-series is dazzling.
La Strada: Special Edition (1954) The circus’ allure has drawn in a number of noteworthy auteurs, but this classic by Federico Fellini may be the highest regarded. The circus-centered love-triangle tale won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1956 and co-stars Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, and Richard Basehart. Bonus: the special edition features an introduction by Martin Scorsese.
Shadows and Fog (1992) Woody Allen’s homage to German Expressionism is a dark comedy focused on a town’s winding attempt to track down the serial killer that stalks their streets. John Malkovich, Mia Farrow and Madonna co-star as circus performers who get caught in the fray.
Can you think of a connection/suggestion we missed? Share them in comments.