Good Movies on Starz

Friday, April 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Good Movies on Starz

The Starz movie channel debuted on February 1st, 1994, and they now boast over 18 million subscribers. With the cable rights to films from Walt Disney Studios, Sony, and more, Starz has established itself as one of the most respected places to watch first-run movies and beloved classics. They used to have a partnership with Netflix, but the leading online rental company refused to pay them $200 million to continue the relationship. I can’t blame them, really.

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In order to meet a diverse demand for movie programming, Starz offers a video-on-demand service, as well as six multiplex channels. These include:

In order to demonstrate the wide variety of titles available, I’ve put together this list of some of the good movies on Starz. Their selection will admittedly change from time to time, but the high level of quality will always remain the same.

The Crazies (2010) – A remake of the George Romero horror flick, The Crazies stars Timothy Olyphant as a small-town sheriff who must contend with an outbreak of murder and madness when the locals fall prey to a man-made virus introduced into the water supply. Much better than the original, the film received surprisingly solid reviews from the critical community. Co-starring Radha Mitchell and Joe Anderson (who’s a standout as a redneck deputy).

Jackie Brown (1997) – Director Quentin Tarantino shows off his love of the blaxploitation genre with this adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel, Rum Punch. Pam Grier stars as a middle-aged flight attendant caught between the ATF and a murderous gun runner (Samuel L. Jackson). Luckily, she gets some help from the savvy bail bondsman (Robert Forster is a role that revived his career) who falls for her. The supporting cast includes a number of recognizable faces (Chris Tucker, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda), and the diverse soundtrack is filled with music ranging from Bobby Womack and Johnny Cash to Slash’s Snakepit.

Coco Before Chanel (2009) – Audrey Tautou stars as Coco Chanel in this film detailing the early life of the famed French fashion designer. Nominated for Best Costume Design at the Academy Awards, it was also nominated for six Cesar Awards, three European Film Awards, and four BAFTA Awards. A must-see for those who love fashion.

A League of Their Own (1992) – Men who are fans of baseball and/or Tom Hanks should enjoy this film, but there’s little doubt that the primary audience was intended to be members of the female gender. Set during World War II, this Penny Marshall comedy-drama follows the exploits of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a sports gimmick meant to satisfy the public’s demand for the national pastime while the men are off fighting the powers of the Axis. Geena Davis stars as the league’s best player, Hanks is the drunken former major league player turned coach, and the excellent cast is rounded out by Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, David Strathairn, Garry Marshall, and Bill Pullman.

Series 7: The Contenders (2001) – A brilliant satire of reality TV, this film revolves around a lethal competition where contestants are chosen at random by a national lottery, given a gun, and then sent out to kill or be killed by fellow players while cameras capture the action. The reluctant contestant include a nurse, an artist dying of testicular cancer, a senior citizen, a teenage student, an unemployed man, and the reigning champ from the previous season.

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The Chase (1994) – Back before he developed tiger blood and Adonis DNA, Charlie Sheen starred in this clever satire that actually predated the O.J. Simpson freeway chase by several months. Sheen plays Jackson Hammond, a young man convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. After escaping from jail and running across a pair of cops in a convenience store, he winds up taking the spoiled daughter (hottie Kristy Swanson) of a California millionaire hostage. A high speed chase ensues, and the mismatched duo slowly bond while dodging cops and overenthusiastic news reporters. Henry Rollins co-stars, as do Ray Wise, Claudia Christian, Flea, Anthony Kiedis, and Josh Mostel. Even Ron “The Hedgehog” Jeremy has a cameo.

Of Mice and Men (1992) – The heartbreaking tale of two migrant workers during the Great Depression, based on the novel by John Steinbeck. Gary Sinise stars as kind-hearted George Milton, while John Malkovich steals the show as the mentally challenged Lennie Small. When the duo get work on a ranch, they begin to dream of earning enough money to buy a place of their own and settle down. But that dream is shattered when Lennie becomes fascinated with the soft skin and hair of the wife (Sherilyn Fenn) of the ranch owner’s son. Ray Walston delivers a memorable performance as a one-handed ranch worker, and dog lovers will be moved to tears by the fate of his ancient canine pet. A brilliant film, but one that’s difficult to watch without choking up.

Cyborg (1989) – I’ll be the first to admit that Jean-Claude Van Damme isn’t the world’s greatest actor, but this Albert Pyun film about a mercenary (Van Damme) trying to escort a female cyborg with a plague cure across a post-apocalyptic landscape is filled to the brim with martial-arts action. Most of the characters are oddly named after guitars, but the dialogue is kept to a minimum in favor of one fight scene after another. The villain, Fender Tremolo (Vincent Klyn), is also a standout with his crazy eyes and chainmail armor. The sequel, the aptly named Cyborg 2, would star Elias Koteas and a young Angelina Jolie.

The Mask (1994) – The comic book that inspired the movie was far more violent, but this Jim Carrey comedy opted to keep the tone light and breezy. It’s still a lot of fun, though, as Carrey gets to demonstrate his famous talent for voices, exaggerated facial expressions, and physical comedy. He plays Stanley Ipkiss, a repressed bank teller who finds a magical mask which allows him to act out his deepest desires. When he falls for the girlfriend (the debuting Cameron Diaz) of a local mobster (the always creepy Peter Greene), Stanley is soon being pursued by both the cops and the mob. The performance of Cuban Pete is a musical highlight, Stanley’s dog Milo is as cute as a button, and Diaz would never look hotter. It’s also appropriate for the whole family, which is always a plus.

Casino (1995) – After the success of Goodfellas, director Martin Scorsese returned to the genre with another mob movie based on a novel by Nicholas Pileggi. Robert De Niro plays against type as Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a talented sports handicapper who’s hand-picked by the mob to run the Tangiers casino in Las Vegas. Everything goes well at first, but when he hooks up with a female con-artist (Sharon Stone) and his violent mob pal (Joe Pesci) moves to town, things begin to spiral out of control. Those who enjoyed Pesci’s role as a madman in Goodfellas will love him here, and Stone turns in the best performance of her career.

The next time you’re looking for something to watch on television, be sure to check out these good movies from Starz. You can also become a member of Netflix. Even though they no longer offer the latest Starz releases right on your PC, they still have hundreds of thousands of titles to choose from. We do receive a commission if you sign up, but it doesn’t cost you one penny extra.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2011 at 1:37 pm and is filed under Good Movies, Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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