Welcome to Flavorwire’s streaming movie guide, in which we help you sift through the scores of movies streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other services to find the best of the recently available, freshly relevant, or soon to expire. This week, there’s good stuff from Al Pacino, Vince Vaughn, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Kirsten Dunst, Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Josh Harnett, Liev Schreiber, Sofia Coppola, Bryan Singer, Shane Carruth, and more. Check them out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.
Shane Carruth’s puzzle movie is a bit of a litmus test for filmgoers; some are all-in on its wildly experimental approach, while others find it baffling and unapproachable. Those in the former camp (and those of us perched somewhere in between) will no doubt appreciate its recent arrival on Netflix streaming, where multiple viewings should present plenty of opportunities to examine its abstractions, admire its aesthetics, and puzzle over its mysteries.
And let’s never miss an opportunity for a reminder that Carruth’s first and so far only other film (released nine years before Upstream Color) remains a Netflix Instant mainstay. While it’s a good deal less impenetrable than it’s follow-up, it ain’t exactly mainstream — this story of two young scientists who invent a time-traveling apparatus is full of jargon and mathematical theorizing, to say nothing of the kind of dense multi-timeline plotting that requires note cards, string, and an oversized bulletin board.
Last week, art editor Reid Singer told you about Art of Conflict, in which director Valeri Vaughn and her brother, narrator/producer Vince, look at the murals that dramatically encapsulate the conflicts of Northern Ireland. The documentary, which played the festival circuit last year, is currently streaming on Netflix, and it’s probably safe to assume that it’s a wiser investment of your viewing time than, say, The Internship .
We usually try to steer clear of streaming flicks that cost anything more than a membership, but we have to make an exception here — none of the Superman movies are currently streaming, and this one’s a bargain at only $1.99 for a rental at Amazon Instant Video. With Man of Steel hitting theaters this week, the time is right for reappraising Bryan Singer’s 2006 Superman flick, which was branded a disappointment upon its release, and has only gotten a worse rep in the years since. To be clear, it wasn’t the radical reinvention of, say, Nolan’s Batman Begins. But Singer’s homage to the Richard Donner/Richard Lester iteration of the Kryptonian hero is blessed with lovely cinematography, a quiet intimacy, and (contrary to its reputation) some real rah-rah superhero set pieces.
Also hitting a few theaters this week in limited release is The Bling Ring, the latest from Sofia Coppola, so it’s a fine time to return to her haunting, lyrical feature directorial debut. Adapting Jeffrey Eugenides’s debut novel, Coppola paints one of cinema’s most heartbreaking and accurate portraits of awkward adolescence, coaxing powerful performances out of a large cast (Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett have seldom been better, and there’s a whole world of angst happening in that James Woods turn) and making brilliant use of a period soundtrack and an unforgettable score by Air.
The big surprise of This Is the End — also out this week — is how much of the film is about Jay Baruschel, the frequent co-star of the Apatow gang whose strained friendship with co-star/co-director Seth Rogen gives the picture its emotional center. It’s a nice reminder of how Hollywood still hasn’t quite figured out what to do with the gangly, charismatic actor, but he’s wisely taking matters into his own hands, co-writing (with Rogen’s frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg) and co-starring in this very funny 2011 hockey comedy.
We’ve been talking a lot about Shakespeare adaptations lately, thanks to last week’s limited release of Joss Whedon’s wonderful take on Much Ado About Nothing. And few films have addressed the difficulty of making the Bard palpable to modern audiences with as much love, candor, and thoughtfulness as this 1996 documentary, directed by and starring Al Pacino. It’s a unique (and potent) mash-up of literary doc and performance film, in which his own interpretation and staging of Richard III is intercut with documentary sections on the difficulty of such translations. It’s a loving tribute to the language’s greatest playwright, and to the art of the theater itself.