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 Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Nick Offerman, Nathan Fillion, Alison Brie, Amy Acker, Clark Gregg, Frank Langella, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Sheen, Joss Whedon, Ron Howard, and more. Check them out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.

Much Ado About Nothing

Joss Whedon modernizes the dress, cranks up the slapstick, and fills his cast with regulars and friends who give Shakespeare’s dialogue a distinctively screwball snap. His reimagining of the Bard’s classic is respectful but not reverential; he fills the edges of the frames with goofy business and invests the entire affair with the feel of a party that won’t end (which, considering the off-the-cuff nature of the film’s production, it sort of was). We’re all invited, though, which is much of the picture’s charm — it’s sweet, coy, sexy fun. (Full review here; available for rental or purchase on Amazon)

Room 237

The best movie lover’s movie in years, this sometimes uproarious, sometimes ridiculous, entirely fascinating documentary examines the subtext of Kubrick’s The Shining, with various conspiracy theorists, critics, and enthusiasts claiming the horror picture to be everything from an apology to the American Indians to a confession of Kubrick’s involvement in the fakery of the moon landing. But it’s not just about King and Kubrick. In its home stretch, director Rodney Ascher shifts into a sly commentary on the entire act of criticism and analysis — of the line between the insightful and the insane. (Streaming on Netflix)

Double Take

Fans of Room 237 would be wise to click over to this bizarre, playful, intriguing film from director Johan Grimonprez. It’s a weirdo assemblage of archival footage, marginally connected text, reenactments of imagined events, and oddball flights of fancy, a free-form film essay on everything from Alfred Hitchcock, the Cold War, and doppelgangers to outer space, television, and coffee. It occasionally borders on inexplicability, but it’s also an enthralling exercise that too few cinephiles are even aware of. (Streaming on Netflix)

Muscle Shoals

Director Greg “Freddy” Camalier tells the fascinating story of how producer Rick Hall and a succession of (as Bono says in the film) “white guys that looked like they worked in the supermarket ‘round the corner” in Muscle Shoals, Alabama created some of the funkiest music of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Their recordings defined Wilson Pickett, helped Aretha Franklin find the sound that eluded her, and gave the Rolling Stones the American authenticity they strove for, and the stories of those sessions (and many others) are joyous and thrilling. But it’s also a story of heartbreak and sadness, of Hall’s personal tragedies and the hot temper that lost him countless deals and musicians — three of whom set up shop themselves across town, to great success of their own. Great music, riveting stories, terrific documentary filmmaking, and an ideal double-feature with 20 Feet From Stardom. (Available for rental on Amazon)

The Kings of Summer

There’s a wonderful, wistful way about Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s coming-of-age-in-the-woods story, which is an awfully likable movie — eager to please, even. It captures the irresistible appeal of making one’s own way, and the apocalyptic feeling of one’s first heartache, and the photography is lovely (even if there are a couple too many frolicking-to-music montages). If it’s all over the place, tonally speaking, it must be noted that the sidebars (like Nick Offerman and Alison Brie’s encounter with a food delivery man) make for some of its most memorable scenes. And if the whole thing is a bit unruly and undisciplined, well, that’s part of its charm. (Available for rental or purchase on Amazon)

Children of Men

With Alfonso Cuarón’s extraordinary Gravity hitting theaters Friday, it’s a fine time to revisit his last effort (released seven long years ago). Based on the novel by P.D. James, Children of Men is an uncommonly rich and fiercely intelligent “five minutes into the future” sci-fi film, a rare studio picture that thrills us and makes us think in equal, breathless measure. Its skill and efficiency are epic; from its literate script to its resonant performances to Emmanuel Lubezki’s stunning photography to Cuarón’s flawless direction, every last element works, and its closing passages are astonishingly moving. (Available for rental or purchase on Amazon)

Frost/Nixon

Rush director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan first teamed, five years back, for this invigorating, witty, and smart dramatization of British journalist David Frost’s famed 1977 interviews with former president Richard Nixon. Morgan adapts his hit play, which positioned its two larger-than-life protagonists in an exhilarating battle of wits and wills; Howard is not the first director you might think of for this kind of material, but he navigates it with skill and precision, turning up the flash when it’s called for and knocking down the theatrics at all the right moments. (Available for rental or purchase on Amazon or iTunes)

Brick

If you’re in one of the markets that hasn’t yet received Don Jon , that’s a good enough excuse to revisit one of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s best films — and the directorial debut of Rian Johnson, who recently helmed the epic-good Breaking Bad episode “Ozymandias.” JGL plays Brendan, a high-school kid who turns amateur gumshoe to investigate the disappearance of his troubled ex-girlfriend. Johnson utilizes the tropes and conventions of detective noir without giggling at them, while Gordon-Levitt’s commanding lead performance was one of our first indications that there was more to this kid than 3rd Rock from the Sun. (Streaming on Netflix)