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

By
Share:

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 Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Julianne Moore, James Franco, Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Mark Ruffalo, Jonah Hill, Paul Giamatti, Clive Owen, Annette Bening, Nick Offerman, Isaiah Washington, Jonathan Groff, Steven Soderbergh, Olivier Assayas, David Sedaris, and more. Check them out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.

Blue Caprice

Writer/director Alexandre Moors dramatizes and fictionalizes the story of the Beltway Snipers with uncommon sensitivity and grace. Moors confidently glides right past the Big Moments of the story, skipping their first sniper kill, the details of their arrest, their trials. The killers don’t even arrive in D.C. until the 71-minute mark of the 97-minute picture, and while there is a single, chilling scene in which the ritualistic process of selecting and eliminating victims from inside the titular vehicle is dramatized, it is brief and simple. This is a film that stubbornly refuses to sensationalize; it’s not interested in how these men killed, or in exploiting and fetishizing those acts. Instead, it explores their humanity — which is revealed to be even more terrifying. (full review here; available for rental on Amazon, iTunes, and Sundance Now.)

This Is the End

Seth Rogen and screenwriting pal Evan Goldberg (yes, the protagonists of their Superbad carried their names) make their directorial debut with this frisky, vulgar, energetic take on the Biblical apocalypse. It goes on a bit too long and careens all over the place comedically, but it’s got a good heart and some big laughs — particularly in the first act, which is heavier on self-skewering showbiz satire than end-of-the-world gags. The cast and their all-star friends are admirably up for sending up their own images (James Franco is, I’m afraid, pretty great in it), and Emma Watson steals the picture outright in a brief but memorable role. (available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.)

C.O.G.

At long last, the peculiar wit of David Sedaris makes it to the screen with this absorbing adaptation of an essay from his collection Naked. Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez has the distinctive Sedaris voice down cold: a little provocative, a little profane, a lot funny. His visual sense is appropriately droll, the shifts between comic and considerably more dramatic beats are nimbly executed, and, thankfully, there’s an anything-goes air to it — you don’t know where they’re going, and that raises our interest considerably. Strange, idiosyncratic, enjoyable comic filmmaking. (Full review here; available for rental or purchase on Amazon and iTunes.)

All Is Bright

Director Phil Morrison, helming his first feature since 2005’s Junebug, crafts a shambling, low-key comedy drama in the California Split mold. The timing is a little off in spots (particularly early on), but it’s got an off-the-cuff charm, and genuine affection for the losers at its center, played with appropriate comic desperation by Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd. (Sally Hawkins is also terrific in an odd, offbeat supporting turn.) It’s a slight but touching effort, and the stars — particularly Giamatti — get at the soul of these poor saps. (available for rental on Amazon and iTunes.)

Something in the Air

The latest from Olivier Assayas feels very much like an extension of his epic Carlos — it is in love with the fierceness of purpose, the camaraderie of being “us against them,” and the sparky electricity of being part of a movement. The filmmaker is as charged up by fence-jumping, poster-plastering, and spray-painting as his protagonist Gilles (Clement Metayar) is, but he doesn’t just treat him as an rebellious found object; he’s also a very typical teenage kid, falling in love and harboring crushes and sneaking into movies for a touch or a kiss in the dark. His semi-autobiographical tale has a free-floating, off-the-cuff spirit that can shift, without warning, into an intense immediacy. Think of it as The Portrait of the Anarchist as a Young Man, which goes past its politics and period into the story we all can tell, of finding one’s own place in the world. (Streaming free on Netflix.)

Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh’s final (for the time being) theatrical release is a fascinating oddity. Written with panache by Soderbergh’s frequent late-period collaborator Scott Z. Burns (The Informant!, Contagion) and photographed by the director (as usual, under the pseudonym Peter Andrews) in his customary cool, methodical style, Side Effects is a fascinating exercise in mood and dread. And if it’s not quite up to his best works, it’s still a sold, sturdy little mystery — sleek, and more than a little junk-foody. (Full review here; streaming free on Netflix.)

The Kids Are All Right

Lisa Cholodenko is an uncommonly gifted writer/director, skilled at crafting potentially shallow situations, then giving them life and depth with her perceptive dialogue and characterizations. In the hands of a lesser filmmaker — a Nancy Meyers, say, or a Brian Robbins — The Kids Are All Right and its story of a lesbian family shaken up by the presence of their long-ago sperm donor might not rise above the level of a slightly bawdy sitcom. But Cholodenko sees more layers than that; she understands these characters, knows their histories and their secrets. Some of these people are types, but — here’s the key — they don’t know that, and the ace ensemble cast (including Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, and Mark Ruffalo) never plays them that way. (Streaming free on Netflix.)

Somebody Up There Likes Me

Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman co-stars and co-produces this strange, prickly, and ultimately sublime absurdist comedy from writer/director Bob Byington. The story of an oddball friendship covering 35 years (in five-year increments) over the course of less than 90 minutes, Somebody moves fast, often grabbing moments rather than full scenes. But that’s the right format for Byington’s frisky comic voice; he’s got a dry sense of visual wit, filling his frames with unexplained jokes and little asides to match the non sequiturs of this dialogue. It’s an honest-to-God original, and while the descriptor “quirky” has been cheapened by marketers and junketeers, it’s about the only word that seems appropriate to summarize the weird world glimpsed here. (Streaming free on Netflix.)

Shadow Dancer

Man on Wire director James Marsh helms this finely crafted, intelligently acted political thriller/drama with a complexity, subtlety, and depth that recalls Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It doesn’t quite have that film’s skill and precision (or that of Marsh’s nonfiction work), but there’s much in it to admire; Marsh keeps creeping in closer to the action, working up a palpable sense of whispered tension and understated suspense. Marsh’s rhythms take some getting used to, but his direction is concise, forceful even, and actors Owen and Riseborough (most recently seen in Oblivion) turn in performances both controlled and urgent. (Streaming free on Netflix.)

Simon Killer

This drama from Afterschool director Antonio Campos, concerning a seedy American adrift in Paris, leaves moviegoers adrift for longer than most will tolerate, telling its story with a style and pace that could most kindly be called deliberate. But it’s got mood to burn, a fascinating visual strategy, and subtle performances (particularly by the two leads, who all but disappear into the scenery, so natural and unaffected is their work). Not for the impatient, but powerful and challenging all the same. (Streaming free on Netflix.)