The first of the month is upon us, which means two things: 1) it’s time to sing some Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and 2) it’s time for the changing of the guard at the streaming subscription services. And we’ve curated the best of what’s coming in, so that you won’t be too bummed about Corpse Bride dropping off Netflix (though believe me, I hear you).
American Pie (available 2/1): The 1999 sex comedy is still kinda-sorta funny, though who’re we kidding, that’s mostly because of Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge. The quickie 2001 sequel is also hitting Netflix on the first, and it too isn’t half-bad; the straight-to-video sequels that are joining them (Band Camp, The Naked Mile, The Book of Love) are straight-up garbage.
Goodfellas (available 2/1): Why don’t you go home and get your fuckin’ shine box… and watch Martin Scorsese’s mesmerizing 1990 crime epic, which is returning to Netflix just in time to remind us that they’re also financing the forthcoming The Irishman, which reunites Scorsese and Goodfellas stars Robert De Nro and Joe Pesci, and throws Al Pacino into the mix.
Kill Bill Vol. 1/ Vol. 2 (available 2/1): The Kill Bill movies are usually streaming somewhere, but end up floating back and forth between Netflix, Prime, and Hulu every few months. Well, they’re on Netflix now. And yes, that really was a Hattori Hanzo sword.
Seeing Allred (available 2/9): This Netflix original documentary – fresh from a warm reception at Sundance – profiles superstar lawyer Gloria Allred, whose recent representation of Bill Cosby and Donald Trump’s accusers has made her one of the world’s most powerful and provocative legal eagles.
Mute (available 2/23): Duncan Jones’s debut film Moon was an absolute barn-burner, and his follow-up, Source Code, was an ingenious and enjoyable studio thriller. He was waylaid a bit by Warcraft – the less said on that one, the better – but he’s hopefully back to form with this futuristic Netflix original, starring Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux.
Glengarry Glen Ross (available 2/1): It’s fun to rewatch now, because you can hate Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey through new, higher-intensity lenses!
No Stone Unturned (available 2/10): Alex Gibney’s latest is a true-crime documentary investigating the still-unsolved murder of six innocent pub dwellers n the tiny village of Loughinisland, Northern Ireland in 1994. It begins as an elegy, and then becomes an inquiry; why is this case still unsolved, 20 years on?
Good Time (available 2/11): The Safdie Brothers’ gritty, grimy, old school one-crazy-night-in-New-York flick makes it streaming debut, full of twitchy energy and a livewire performance by Robert Pattinson, who should’t keep surprising us, but does.
Human Flow (available 2/16): Back in 2012, Alison Klayman’s documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry brought the story of the Chinese artist and activist’s imprisonment to a wider audience. Last year, he took up the mantle of filmmaker himself, directing and co-producing this heart-wrenching portrait of the world-wide refugee crisis.
Logan Lucky (available 2/16): Steven Soderbergh finally returned to feature filmmaking after a four year hiatus and the movie barely made a sound. It seems like the least you could do is stream it, because it’s funny and funky and wonderful.
Amelie (available 2/1): One of our favorite 21st century romances is streaming again, just in time for Valentine’s Day – and for us to all marvel at its clear influence on The Shape of Water, from the shared green-tinged color scheme to the personal look and style of their leading ladies.
Red Dawn (available 2/1): Oh, don’t get it twisted, this is Reagan Era, chest-beating, flag-waving propaganda. But it’s also hilarious.
Lucky (available 2/11): Not to be confused with Logan Lucky (above), or Logan (y’know, the X-Men movie where they say fuck a lot). No, this is the one that’s Harry Dean Stanton and David Lynch… but not to be confused with Twin Peaks: The Return. Ah, fuggit, I give up.
Fresh (available 2/15): This Miramax release had the misfortune of coming out in the fall of 1994, when the company was focusing all of its attention on the phenomenon that was Pulp Fiction, and presumably just didn’t have the bandwidth for a thoughtful, meditative action/drama about a 12-year-old drug dealer who outwits the neighborhood kingpin. But it’s a masterful little movie, featuring memorably performances by young Sean Nelson (later of The Wood and The Corner), a pre-Breaking Bad Giancarlo Esposito, and hey, a Pulp Fiction-era Samuel L. Jackson.
Detroit (available 2/23): Kathryn Bigelow’s dramatization of the 1967 Algiers Motel executions met with some controversy and resistance when it hit theaters last summer, and maybe it deserved some of that. But this is nonetheless a potent and powerful film, and worth seeing, chewing in, and talking out.
The Great Escape (available 2/1): The GOAT prison escape movie, tautly directed by the great John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven) and featuring, in order of ascending importance, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Donald Pleasance, Charlie Bronson, handsome young (no, really) James Garner, and Steve McQueen on a motorcycle.
Night of the Living Dead (available 2/13): Sure, it’s no big deal to stream Night of the Living Dead – thanks to its dodgy copyright, it’s been available for years, in everything from icky bootlegs on YouTube to good-enough transfers on Amazon Prime. But the version that’s hitting FilmStruck on the 13th (and Criterion Blu-ray and DVD the same day) is a gorgeous new 4K restoration, the best it’s looked since its original release (hell, maybe better). So that‘s the one to watch, the end.
Festival (available 2/21): Director/cinematographer Murray Lerner had the good luck of choosing to shoot at the Newport Folk Festival over three years, from 1963 to 1965, and ended up capturing he transformation of Bob Dylan: rising star in ’63, folk hero in ’64, and (most memorably) heretic in ’65. But his documentary isn’t just about Dylan; the wealth of performances from a wide range of musicians helps Lerner capture the scene Dylan first chased, and then, in many ways, left behind.
Bob le Flambeur (available 2/2) / Army of Shadows (available 2/3) / Le Cercle Rouge (available 2/4): Our favorite new-movie-every-day service is doing a lovely little mini-festival spotlighting the best of the great French master Jean-Pierre Melville, and they’ve plucked out three of his must-sees: a free-wheeling proto-New Wave character study that loosely inspired Neil Jordan’s The Good Thief; a French Resistance thriller that ended up topping many a year-end ten best list when it was belatedly, finally released in the States in 2006; and one of the all-time great heist pictures.
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (available 2/16) / Medicine for Melancholy (available 2/17): Last year’s Oscars ultimately came down to Damien Chazelle’s La La Land or Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight, and sides had to be taken, etc. etc. Ultimately, thankfully, both gifted filmmakers took home a big prize (Best Director and Best Picture, respectively); this year, MUBI is celebrating those filmmakers by putting their first features into the rotation.