Flavorwire’s Guide to Movies You Need to Stream This Week

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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 great stuff from Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Denzel Washington, Matthew McConaughey, Michelle Williams, Reese Witherspoon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Claire Danes, Catherine Keener, Susan Sarandon, Emma Thompson, Kate Beckinsale, Kenneth Branagh, Samatha Morton, Emily Watson, Eva Mendes, Michael Shannon, and more. Check them out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.

Mud

Jeff Nichols’s previous effort, the overwhelming Take Shelter, was one of the more intense experiences of my recent movie-going life. His latest, a freewheeling coming-of-age story with a dash of Southern Gothic, is much looser and (at first glance) more laid back, in what seems a deliberate attempt to avoid repetition. He assembles the story subtly, gingerly, and leisurely, soaking in the small-town details, and enjoying yet another masterful Matthew McConaughey performance, here engaged as a cagey character and fascinating enigma. But it’s all tremendously absorbing, in its own particular way, and in its remarkable third act, the seemingly disparate secondary elements fold in, tightly, and become the primary focus. Everything adds up, which is perhaps the nicest surprise about this very fine film. (Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes; full review here.)

The Place Beyond the Pines

Ryan Gosling and his Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance reunite for this very different story of a daredevil-turned-thief, a good cop in a dirty department (nicely underplayed by Bradley Cooper), and the unexpected ways in which their lives intersect. The result is a big, bold, long, and ambitious picture — a bit too much for some viewers, it seemed. But this is haunting, moody filmmaking, the kind of risky and operatic movie that big stars like Gosling and Cooper don’t always have the temerity to take on. (Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes; full review here.)

Drinking Buddies

Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson play co-workers and best friends who start to feel the pang of something more, but Joe Swanberg’s ensemble comedy/drama isn’t just a mumblecore When Harry Met Sally; in fact, what at first seems an obvious narrative with too-tidy schematics becomes something messier, more inhabited, and more interesting. The relationships are thoroughly convincing — not just Wilde and Johnson, but Johnson and Anna Kendrick (who put across the ease and comfort of long-timers with real warmth) and Wilde and Ron Livingston (whose entire performance is filled with inspired physical comedy of the subtlest form). And this is the best work I’ve seen from Wilde: her performance is simple, lived-in, and just plain good. Same goes for the movie. (Available for rental on Amazon and iTunes.)

Shut Up and Play the Hits

On April 2, 2011, LCD Soundsystem played their final show, a giant farewell concert at Madison Square Garden, with guest appearances by everyone from Reggie Watts to Juan McLean to the Dewaele Brothers to Win Butler. Directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace (Blur: No Distance Left to Run) track frontman James Murphy for about 48 hours surrounding the show, capturing not only the performance but also interviews with Chuck Klosterman and glimpses of Murphy’s daily routine. Some fans complain that the film is too short on songs (echoing the title), but those peculiarly fascinating scenes are what sets this apart from the average concert movie. (Streaming on Netflix.)

Igby Goes Down

Burr Steers’ unjustly ignored 2002 comedy/drama (recently added to Amazon Prime Instant) features a wonderful Kieran Culkin as a rich little shit who gets kicked out of school, again, and decides to hang out in New York and see what happens. It’s a story that’s probably been told too many times, but its screenplay doesn’t know that, and Igby’s got a loosey-goosey charm, its ramshackle structure allowing several fine supporting players (Claire Danes, Ryan Phillipe, Jeff Goldblum, a pre-Mad Men Jared Harris, Bill Pullman, Susan Sarandon, and the wonderful Amanda Peet) to do their thing. (Newly streaming on Amazon Instant Video, free to Prime members.)

Synecdoche, New York

When writing up Charlie Kaufman’s bizarro 2008 masterpiece in our roundup of essential indie films, your film editor played up its pedigree and reputation without mentioning perhaps its biggest sell point: the cast. Kaufman cast Philip Seymour Hoffman in the leading (and presumably somewhat autobiographical) role, and then surrounded him with some of the best actresses of our generation: Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Hope Davis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dianne Weist, and — so you can finally stop confusing them — Samantha Morton and Emily Watson. Just watch it. Trust me. (Streaming on Amazon Instant Video, free to Prime members.)

Much Ado About Nothing

Denzel Washington’s 2 Guns hits theaters this Friday, and it looks… well, like pretty much the same old thing from Denzel, who remains one of our favorite actors in spite of the fact that his interesting films are fewer and further between. Remember when he was doing Spike Lee flicks? Directing serious dramas? Doing Shakespeare, for God’s sake? With the current (well-deserved) love for Joss Whedon’s contemporary take on Much Ado About Nothing, it’s a fine time to revisit Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 adaptation of the Bard’s classic comedy, in which Washington, Branagh, his then-wife Emma Thompson, Robert Sean Leonard, Michael Keaton, and ridiculously young Kate Beckinsale are not only capable but inspired Shakespearean performers. Keanu Reeves, on the other hand… (Streaming on Amazon Instant Video, free to Prime members.)