Welcome to Flavorpill’s streaming movie guide, a new feature in which we help you sift through the scores of movies streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and other services to find the best of the recently available, freshly relevant, or soon to expire. This week, we’ve got some newly streaming indies, recent favorites soon to be remade and sequelized, and a couple of classics that have been on our minds as of late. Check them all out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.
Chan-wook Park’s harrowing, masterful 2003 revenge story is newly streaming this week — just as Spike Lee’s English-language remake (starring Josh Brolin and, maybe/hopefully, Elizabeth Olsen) is gearing up for a summer shoot. All sorts of people we trust are involved in said remake, but Park’s original is going to be a tough act to follow; this is brutal, powerful, masterful filmmaking, filled with evocative imagery and knockout set pieces, and it takes a turn at the end that’s like a kick in the head. (Bonus: you can also stream the two other films in Park’s “Vengeance Trilogy”: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance .)
Also newly streaming on Netflix this week is this disarmingly enjoyable story of young — and not entirely healthy — romance from writer/director Richard Ayoade (co-star of The IT Crowd and the forthcoming Neighborhood Watch), which never quite found its audience in theaters last summer. That’s a shame; seldom has a film more astutely captured the experience of being a young man in something resembling love, and trying to negotiate those tricky waters for the first time. It’s a hard memory to get at, an emotional shoebox you may very well have hidden far, far away. But Submarine is so knowing and so evocative that it brings all of those moments back, in a flood of anxiety and regret and excitement. It’s a wonderful film.
Al Pacino, between Godfather I and II. Sidney Lumet at his mid-’70s peak. Dirty cops and institutional corruption, based on a true story. Vintage New York locations. Inspiration to Max Fischer. Newly streaming this week. Seriously, there’s no excuse for not seeing Serpico. None.
The Muppets is newly available on DVD and Blu-ray for your crying needs (oh, like it’s just us.) Also new on DVD (and Netflix streaming) is the only movie last year with comparable love for Jim Henson: this wonderful documentary profile of Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash. Kevin, who operates and voices the character of Elmo, started building puppets in his home as a child; he idolized Jim Henson and never missed a Sesame Street or Muppet Show. Those shows and those creatures brought him joy, and now he brings that joy to others. The reason Elmo worked in Kevin’s hands was simple — according to a fellow performer, the character tapped into the “pure innocence part of Kevin.” Elmo was the accumulation of Clash’s life and experiences, and that is the principle strength of director Constance Marks’ work: we better understand the work because we better understand the man. Kevin Clash is a captivating and genial figure, and Being Elmo is a thoroughly charming documentary.
People seem pretty excited over the recent announcement of production for the long-gestating sequel to this 1994 gross-out comedy, in spite of the fact that directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly haven’t made a funny movie in at least a decade (and star Jim Carrey’s had a comparable dry spell). For that matter, your film editor was never a huge fan of the original, though I’m also not one of those who finds diarrhea irresistibly amusing. At any rate, the original started streaming on Netflix this week, so enjoy, if you’re so inclined. (And whatever reservations I may have about this one, it does have a few big laughs — and certainly looks preferable to the Farrellys’ forthcoming Three Stooges movie.)
Tarsem Singh’s latest, Mirror Mirror, underperformed at the box office last weekend, but that’s okay; his earlier film The Fall is on Netflix, and it is some kind of a weirdo masterpiece. It’s a bit of a mess, narratively speaking, but who cares — it’s visually stunning (as all of his films are, really), its dark story a clothesline upon which Singh hangs a series of mind-blowing fantasy sequences. Watch this one on the biggest screen you can find.
Last fall, when somebody insisted on releasing a 3D, Orlando Bloom-fronted version of The Three Musketeers from the director of Resident Evil (remember when that happened?), we simply asked the same question as when they put out that misbegotten 1993 version with Charlie Sheen and Chris O’Donnell: why do people keep insisting on reanimating this story, when Richard Lester made the definitive film version of it clear back in 1973? Lester (the gifted director of A Hard Days Night, Help, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) gathered up an all-star cast — including Richard Chamberlain, Oliver Reed, Michael York, Faye Dunaway, Charlton Heston, Raquel Welch, and Christopher Lee — for this fast, funny, ridiculously entertaining swashbuckler. Move fast on this one, though; you’ve only got a couple more days to watch it before it expires from Netflix Instant.
We’ve been talking a lot about Metropolis lately, from our discussion of great movies the critics got wrong to our rundown of the most influential sci-fi flicks to our peek behind the scenes of Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic. So, yeah, it’s a movie we like — and one that you can check out on Netflix in its recent, painstakingly restored re-release. Or, as an alternate choice, may we suggest Giorgio Moroder’s 1984 version, scored entirely with ’80s pop music?
Yesterday, we took you on a tour of 3D films that are actually worth watching — but don’t let the dearth of opportunities to see Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 mystery in its original 3D form keep you from checking it out on Netflix. It’s a sharp and smart thriller, with Grace Kelly sympathetic (and gorgeous, duh) as a not-entirely-faithful wife and Ray Milland in fine, sleazy form as her husband. Unlike many of today’s 3D filmmakers, Hitch knew his film had to work whether in flat or stereoscopic form; seen in 2D, it’s still a crackerjack picture.
Also on our 3D list was this recent documentary from the great Werner Herzog, which has been a big hit on Netflix since it appeared there last year. Sure, you lose some of the visual majesty of the film when viewing it in 2D (and on your computer screen), but it’s still an astonishing film, and even in flat form, you still get the film’s best “special effect”: Herzog’s inimitable narration.