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 Al Pacino, Daniel Day Lewis, Brad Pitt, Emma Watson, Ellen Page, Woody Allen, Chris Rock, Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Farrow, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Sofia Coppola, Alfred Hitchcock, Paul Thomas Anderson, and more. Check them out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.

The Bling Ring

Sofia Coppola writes and directs this true account of a crew of young, hot, rich-ish, mostly female thieves who swiped cash and merchandise, with very little effort, from celebrities in the mid-2000s. Coppola gives the events a bubbly potency, seemingly and understandably drawn to the attractive, greedy foolishness of the characters. They are, when it comes down to it, horrible people, yet the film doesn’t view them purely as monsters, or as a sociological construct. Some are even figures of sympathy, and it’s difficult (in spite of every instinct to the contrary) not to be at least marginally seduced by this world of “beautiful, gorgeous things.” (Full review here; available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.)

The East

Zal Batmanglij’s Sound of My Voice follow-up begins working from the same thematic playbook, exploring the dynamics of leaders and followers through an anarchist group engaging in acts of “eco-terrorism,” again penetrated by an outside observer (Brit Marling flips sides this time, playing an agent for a private security firm lousy with corporate clients). But if the pictures are superficially similar, the comparison recalls Scorsese’s Who’s That Knocking at My Door and Mean Streets — a case of a filmmaker returning to a theme of interest, but on a bigger canvas and with more sophistication and precision. This is a gripping, challenging, brainy film. (Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.)

World War Z

Many observers — including, ha ha, us — predicted that this notoriously troubled production would translate into an onscreen train wreck. Instead, and perhaps thanks to the undeniable influence of low expectations, it turned out to be a surprise hit, and a pretty decent flick. Sure, there are flaws (chief among them its barely passing resemblance to the book it’s ostensibly based on), but this is a solid, sturdy entertainment, and its notoriously reworked third act quite successfully (and intriguingly) wraps up a global pandemic thriller in intensely personal terms. (Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.)

There Will Be Blood

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 effort is a big, epic, difficult piece of work, transposing Scorsese-esque psychological bruising onto an epic canvas that would’ve done John Ford proud. Anderson’s filmmaking has never been more idiosyncratic or confident; he tells the tale of two vile, stubborn men overwhelmed by greed, and, in the end, an unquenchable desire to put the other down. The parodies of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar-winning performance and his climactic “I drink your milkshake!” speech were ubiquitous; it speaks volume to the film’s skill that the power of both remain fully intact. (Newly streaming on Netflix — and, bonus, in its original aspect ratio.)

Dog Pound

A film of cutting brutality and searing intensity, Kim Chapiron’s Dog Pound examines the conditions of a youth correctional facility, and the boys who inhabit it, with stark, documentary-like precision and attentiveness to detail. There’s not too much happening plotwise (at least on the surface), and that’s for the best — the film functions, for most of its running time, as more a series of sketches, impressions of life on the inside. Nothing feels placed for plot, but it’s all there for a reason — pushing the picture towards the body blows of the tough, unforgiving climax, when the violence and brutality comes to a punishing head. (Newly streaming on Netflix.)

King Kelly

Andrew Neel’s sharp, thorny “found footage”-style comedy ruthlessly sends up the narcissism and shallowness of a generation bent on documenting themselves, even when they’re only being vapid and awful. There is a plot, of sorts, but Neel mostly careens on drug-and-booze-fueled momentum — and the charisma of leading lady Louisa Krause (Martha Marcy May Marlene), who absolutely nails her characterization of a young woman who knows exactly how sexy she is, and couldn’t be more obnoxious about it. Inventive yet believable, with some well-placed dark turns in its third act. (Newly streaming on Netflix.)

The Purple Rose of Cairo

One of the finest films in Woody Allen’s truly impressive run of 1980s comedy/dramas (which also included Zelig, Hannah and Her Sisters, Broadway Danny Rose, Radio Days, and Crimes and Misdemeanors). Mia Farrow plays a Depression-era New Jersey waitress, married to a louse, who finds solace in the neighborhood movie house. When she keeps returning to a sparkling, sophisticated comedy, one of the characters (Jeff Daniels, seldom better) takes notice — and steps off the screen to fall in love with her. The comic possibilities of the premise are beautifully worked out (particularly when the actor who plays that fictional character enters the picture), but this is also one of Allen’s most bittersweet movies, examining with a clear eye the jarring contrasts between fantasy and reality. (Newly streaming on Netflix.)

Frenzy

This 1972 thriller finds Alfred Hitchcock at the end of his career and all the way off the leash, reveling in the newfound freedom of the R rating to indulge explicitly in the kinkiness that he’d mostly buried in subtext throughout his career. Some of it was better left there (a rape scene is disturbing for all the wrong, lascivious reasons), but the storytelling is clean and efficient, and there are some great sequences (particularly the grisly yet perfectly executed potato truck scene). Also, he pulls a nice twist on his trademark “innocent man, wrongly accused” motif by making said innocent man a real jerk — he’s complicating our sympathies in a new and interesting way. (Newly streaming on Netflix.)

The Panic in Needle Park

Al Pacino has become such a screeching, scenery-chewing self parody that it’s easy to forget what a powerful, vibrant, stunningly natural screen presence he once was. You can’t go back any earlier than this potent 1971 drama — it was Pacino’s first starring role, appearing alongside the wonderful Kitty Winn as a pair of heroin addicts in love, and looking for a score, on the grimy streets of ‘70s-era NYC. (Newly streaming on Netflix.)

I’m Gonna Git You Sucka

Fresh from its inclusion on our 50 Funniest Movies list (I’m assuming that’s why it returned to Netflix’s streaming rotation), Keenen Ivory Wayans’s spot-on spoof of “blaxpoitation” tropes features several game participants from said era — including Jim Brown, Bernie Casey, Isaac Hayes, John Vernon, and Antonio Fargas — in addition to very funny turns from an impossibly young Chris Rock and Keenen’s brother Damon. (Newly streaming on Netflix.)