The beginning of each month brings tons of new titles to instant streaming, and apparently August is action month over at Netflix HQ.
If the "Mad Max: Fury Road" Comic-Con trailer got anyone nostalgic for some good old-fashioned Max Rockatansky action – or for a time where Mel Gibson was known as a charismatic movie star rather than as a full-time horrible human being – the original "Mad Max" hits Netflix August 1. It’ll be joined in 70s/80s action glory by the first five "Rocky" movies and the original, John Milius-directed "Red Dawn" (the little-loved remake is already available).
Anyone looking for an action movie that’s a bit more operatic can watch John Woo’s "Face/Off," featuring one of the all-time great crazy Nicolas Cage performances. Or, if deliberately retro stuff is more your speed, the underrated "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" is also available. Both seem a better bet than 2007’s dud "Shooter," which is a reminder that Mark Wahlberg isn’t as good at strained serious faces as he is at comic belligerence.
On the non-explosions-and-punching front, Alan Parker’s Madonna-starring adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Evita" begins streaming as well, ready for a whole new crowd to hear the queen of pop’s inadequate musical theater voice. A better bet might be Ben Stiller’s black comedy "The Cable Guy," starring Jim Carrey in a darker twist on his rubber-faced persona. Or, for a different cult film, check out John Dahl’s poker crime drama "Rounders," featuring game performances from Matt Damon, Edward Norton, and John Malkovich, the last of which does one of the more strangely-appealing ridiculous accents in movie history.
Finally, on the indie circuit, there’s a pair of mid-2000s films worth checking out on Netflix Instant this weekend. First, there’s 2004’s solid thriller "Mean Creek," a film that takes the out-of-control youth genre and turns it into something more measured and thoughtful, and which features strong performances by Rory Culkin, Scott Mechlowitz and Josh Peck. From 2006, the affable comedy "Kinky Boots," which inspired a Tony Award-winning musical, is available as well. The film is a pretty formulaic film in the style of "The Full Monty," but Chiwetel Ejiofor’s game performance as a drag queen makes it worth a look.
"Mad Max" Capsule Review: Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Red Dawn" Capsule Review: Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Rocky" Review: Roger Ebert
"Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" Review: Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
"Evita" Review: Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"The Cable Guy" Capsule Review: Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Rounders" Review: Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Mean Creek" Review: Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly
"Kinky Boots" Review: Wesley Morris, Boston Globe