Occasionally, I get free month-long trials for Netflix, which usually extend to two months because I forget to cancel them until I see the charge on my credit card, and then promptly kill that money-sucker. This month a free trial was occasioned by the release of the disappointing fourth season of Arrested Development. But usually, the free trial is activated so that I can re-watch the first five seasons of Buffy for the eleventyeth time. Whatever the initial purpose however, I use these free trials to watch as many movies as possible, in a storing up acorns for winter kind of way, since I normally see about three movies a year.
The problem with this strategy is that Netflix has a worse selection of instantly streaming movies than a small-town public library in Wyoming. I have watched the first 20 minutes of so many terrible movies, I can't even count them. Practically the only public service Netflix streaming performs beyond allowing you to watch all the episodes of Buffy in one surreal weekend is hosting the first movies of some subsequently good directors (Wes Anderson, Whit Stillman), some Monty Python movies, and the (incomplete) library of classic high school flicks of the 1980s.
So, as a service to others like me (should any such exist), here is a list of non-terrible movies available on Netflix instant, rated according to James Bowman's extremely useful simplified system of see/don't see, except there are no zero star films here because "don't see" is the Netflix baseline, so there are only 2 stars (good movie), and 1 star (decent movie). These are mostly limited-release movies, but since anything released before about 1995 is limited to me on account of my having been either unborn or pre-conscious then, you will have to pardon some older but more popular inclusions as well.
1. Metropolitan **
2. Lust, Caution **
3. Heathers *
4. Tiny Furniture **
5. Ping Pong Playa * (** for simple but effective jokes though)
6. Jesus Henry Christ *
7. Bottle Rocket *
8. The Lost Embrace * (there used to also be other Burman movies available, but apparently no longer)
If you can think of more, let me know. Because I will probably watch them.
ADDENDUM: Commenters and emailers reminded me of/suggested to me some more:
Paper Chase **
Life in a Day*