Welcome to Flavorwire’s streaming movie guide, 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, there’s a ton of new and catalog titles streaming on Netflix — great flicks from Harrison Ford, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Ewan McGregor, Adam Scott, Stanley Tucci, Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, Martin Scorsese, Danny Boyle, and Leos Carax, plus two of last year’s best documentaries. Check them all out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.
Leos Carax’s first feature in 13 years was one of our favorites of 2012: a daring, vast, peculiar trip that functions (for this viewer, at least) in two parts. In the first half, you’re trying to figure out what the hell he’s doing and how on earth it fits together; in the second, it all snaps into place and everything seems irreplaceable. Let’s be clear: some of it is baffling, and the filmmaker is occasionally peculiar seemingly for the sake of being peculiar. But even when it seems far afield, it is still fascinating, and it all adds up. I think. Maybe?
Leslye Headland’s wedding-eve comedy was branded a Bridesmaids rip-off early on, and never quite shook the label, which is a shame — this is a fast, dirty, nasty little comedy with a style all its own. Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher are sheer perfection as a trio of wildly irresponsible (and endlessly bitter) bridesmaids, with Fisher particularly hilarious as the party girl who’s a little slow on the uptake. Bonus: a very funny Adam Scott is paired up with Lizzy Caplan, so this’ll do as a holdover while you’re waiting for that Party Down movie.
Sharp, funny, and likable, Neil Berkeley’s documentary profile of renaissance man Wayne White (art designer, painter, sculptor, puppeteer, banjo picker) is blessed with a truly entertaining character at its center. White’s got a great, cockeyed sense of bizarre verbal and visual humor, and one of the many pleasures of Berkeley’s giddily enjoyable film is the degree to which it works itself onto his wavelength — the style and pace of the picture capture (and, at their best, replicate) his dry, disarming wit. It’s a fun movie to watch, but it also carries an always welcome message of finding your voice and expressing it as best you can.
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s terrific examination of Detroit’s economic free-fall has much to talk about, argue over, and ruminate on. But this deceptively casual documentary is less advocacy or exposé than portraiture — a multifaceted, complicated observation that offers no easy answers and no easy outs. Ewing and Grady capture something of this crumbling metropolis, and let the images speak for themselves. The result is a beautiful, thoughtful, and indisputably difficult motion picture.
A day late for Easter, but oh well; with a click of a button, you can watch Martin Scorsese’s highly controversial Biblical epic, which religious watchdog groups managed to keep out of most theaters, Blockbuster video stores, and even off certain cable systems (in your film editor’s hometown, its Cinemax showings were blacked out and replaced with other, less challenging films) back in 1989 and 1990. What’s surprising about Scorsese’s film, all these years later, is how devout it is; this is a project he was trying to make for two decades, and it burns with that passion and intensity. It takes some liberties with the Gospels, sure, but for a noble purpose; as Roger Ebert wrote at the time of its release, “The film has offended those whose ideas about God and man it does not reflect. But then, so did Jesus.”
Audrey Hepburn won her only acting Oscar for this sweet, charming 1953 romantic comedy, newly streaming on Netflix. She stars as Princess Ann, determined to enjoy a vacation in Rome; Gregory Peck is the American reporter with whom she enjoys a brief flirtation. This was Hepburn’s first major role in an American film, and you can see how it made her a star. Peck (the much bigger name) was so impressed with her work that he insisted on equal billing in the credits.
It’s easy to forget, with all of his action roles and the increasing laziness of his film work lately, that Harrison Ford is one hell of a fine actor. Exhibit A: Peter Weir’s riveting 1985 mystery/drama, which landed Ford his only Oscar nomination to date. He plays John Book, a city cop in Amish country, protecting a young boy who’s witnessed a murder. The romance between Ford and Kelly McGillis (as the boy’s mother) is a little arbitrary, but that’s a minor infraction; Weir’s direction is tight, the mystery elements are effective, and the portrait of the Amish community is endlessly fascinating.
In 1996, actor Stanley Tucci made his directorial debut with Big Night, an indie smash and critical success (and still one of the most delicious food movies of all time). He co-directed that film with fellow actor and friend Campbell Scott, but Scott begged off doing another one, so Tucci went solo with The Impostors, an unfairly overlooked delight that’s about the closest thing you’re gonna get to a Laurel and Hardy or Marx Brothers movie these days. Set on a cruise ship (always an irresistible locale for classic comics), Tucci and Oliver Platt make a bang-up comedy team; Steve Buscemi, Alfred Molina, Tony Shalhoub, Lili Taylor, Billy Connolly, and an unbilled Woody Allen lend able support to this delightful little romp.
The much-ballyhooed remake is out this Friday, and word is that it diverges significantly from Sam Raimi’s 1983 original. But we’ll still take just about any excuse to revisit The Evil Dead, the breakthrough effort of director Raimi, star Bruce Campbell, and even friends Joel and Ethan Coen (who pitched in behind the scenes, and used Raimi’s clever financing structure to make their debut film, Blood Simple). Less overtly comic than its follow-ups Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, Evil Dead remains an effective horror effort, and an inspiration for filmmakers working with limited funds and meager means.
Also in theaters this week: Danny Boyle’s new erotic thriller Trance, the latest from the chameleonic filmmaker behind Slumdog Millionaire, Sunshine, Millions, 28 Days Later, and Shallow Grave. Oh, and Trainspotting, the 1996 international sensation that made a star of Ewan McGregor and a player of Boyle, and gave us the toilet scene to top all toilet scenes. (That’s this viewer’s takeaway bit of nightmare fuel; some go with the baby on the ceiling. Different strokes, etc.)