Thursday, October 20, 2011

Expiring Soon: 8 1/2, Duck Soup, The Bicycle Thief

One of the most frustrating things about the world of online streaming is that you never know when contracts between Netflix and their content providers are going to expire, until it's too late and a film in your queue is gone.  As I've mentioned in the past, a helpful resource for new release and expiration dates for Netflix is InstantWatcher, although they'll be the first to admit that the API info that feeds their system is not always accurate.  Sometimes the information just doesn't seem to make sense, like the listing for Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye (which I recently wrote about) which states that it will be streaming from September 1 to November 1, 2011--a two month contract?  We already only have 11 days left?  It was just added?  (Let's hope this is an error, but watch it just in case.)

In any case there is a long list of titles expiring on November 1 or sooner, and you might want to check InstantWatcher to see if there are any that you want to see before their gone.  I think you'll find that quite a lot of them will not be missed.  But below I've listed a few worth looking at if you haven't already (some have been discussed in earlier posts).

We begin with Fellini's 8 1/2, which many of you know is my favorite film of all time.  It seems unlikely that this will return to Netflix, but at some point it should be part of the Criterion Collection package at Hulu.

8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, Italy, 1963, 138 minutes)
Netflix: Dog-tired movie director Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) retreats to thoughts of yesteryear when his producers, his wife (Anouk Aimee) and his mistress (Sandra Milo) all pressure him to start making another movie. Director Federico Fellini's semiautobiographical rumination on the joys and rigors of filmmaking -- as well as lovers past and present -- won two Oscars: Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design, Black-and-White.  Netflix link.  Expires November 1.

If you have 68 minutes to spare, and you have never seen Duck Soup, by all means do so before October 30.

Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, USA, 1933, 68 minutes)
Netflix: Thanks to the patronage of well-heeled widow Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) becomes dictator of the tiny country of Freedonia. But when the ambassador of the bordering nation of Sylvania declares his love for Mrs. Teasdale, Firefly declares war. The Marx Brothers are at their sidesplitting best in this raucous political satire, in which Chico, Harpo and Zeppo co-star as spies and counterspies.  Netflix link.  Expiring October 30.

And De Sica's The Bicycle Thief is simply a masterpiece of world cinema, so influential even to this day that you need to see it to understand where half of the inspiration for the international film festival circuit and American independent cinema comes from.

The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 1948, 89 minutes)
Netflix: Widely considered a landmark Italian film, Vittorio De Sica's tale of a man who relies on his bicycle to do his job during Rome's post-World War II depression earned a special Oscar for its devastating power. The same day Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) gets his vehicle back from the pawnshop, someone steals it, prompting him to search the city in vain with his young son, Bruno (Enzo Staiola). Increasingly, he confronts a looming desperation.  Netflix link.  Expires November 1.

Here's a short list of some other titles that jumped out at me on the expiration list (this is by no means exhaustive).

Broken Blossoms (D.W. Griffith, 1918)

The General (Buster Keaton, 1927)

October (Sergei Eisenstein, 1927)

Alexander Nevsky (Sergei Eisenstein, 1938)

The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges, 1942)

Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944)

Unfaithfully Yours (Preston Sturges, 1948)

Flesh (Paul Morrissey, 1969)

Putney Swope (Robert Downey, 1969)

Women in Revolt (Paul Morrissey, 1971)

Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)

Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski, 2005)

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