Newflix is our weekly look at notable new titles available on online streaming sites.
Life Itself (2014)
Directed by Steve James
Free for Netflix subscribers
It still irks me that Life Itself wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. The doc chronicles Roger Ebert's career and the end of his life with grace, humor, and insight, but it doesn’t just do that. Director Steve James meditates on, well, life itself, through the lens of Ebert, his adoration for film, and his gratitude for living. I knew the story of Ebert, for the most part, and was still in tears by the end. This is a rare and beautiful film, one that transcends itself, and a fitting tribute to a man who helped so many of us fall in love with movies.
Lost In Translation (2003)
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Free for HBO Go subscribers
Very little happens in Lost In Translation. Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray fall for each other, but hardly touch. The two are in a foreign country, but rarely venture outside their hotel. Much goes unsaid between them—the last line in the film is inaudible, for God’s sake. But it’s a testament to Sofia Coppola's script and direction that Lost In Translation is all the more moving and memorable for its relative lack of propulsion. This was another one that, by its end, had me in tears (hey, I have a lot of feelings); it’s hard to shake its subtle sense of ennui and heartbreak. Sometimes I think about the ending and get sad all over again. Dammit, Sofia!
Blade Runner (1982)
Directed by Ridley Scott
Free for HBO Go subscribers
Though the theatrical cut of Blade Runner isn’t exactly the hardcore fan favorite (that voiceover narration, though), it still stands as a great way to turn your standard Thursday night into a haunting rumination on man versus the machine. Based on sci-fi novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner stars the immortal Harrison Ford as an emotionless dude in 2019 Los Angeles hunting down and killing robot “replicants” who range from the uncannily human (Sean Young) to the simpler “basic pleasure model” (Daryl Hannah). Even in its expository studio format, the movie is more of a visual poem than anything else, a moody nightmarescape that chillingly depicts a dystopian future (apparently only four years away, so prepare yourselves) and the inherent loneliness and tragedy of the human condition. Even if you've already seen it, there’s no better time to reacquaint yourself—there’s a sequel, of course, in the works.
Four Weddings And A Funeral (1994)
Directed by Mike Newell
Free for Hulu Plus subscribers
Sometimes, when it’s winter, you just have to sit down and watch Four Weddings And A Funeral, even though you’ve already seen it multiple times. I adore this movie, so much so, in fact, that I attempted to rewatch it for this column even when I was so jet-lagged that I could barely walk straight. (Tragically, I did not make it through the entire film.) It’s got Hugh Grant at Full Hugh status/arguably at his most charming. It’s got a semi-wooden Andie MacDowell, but that’s okay, because she’s supposed to be “The American” who “worked at Vogue.” It’s unapologetically romantic and unapologetically English and unapologetically breezy and light. And it’s such a successful undertaking of the ensemble rom-com that it actually makes me depressed, because sometimes I have to think about it in relation to writer Richard Curtis’ Love Actually (which I do kind of like, sorry everyone, but nowhere near as much as this). It is a goddamn delight. Do yourself a favor and rewatch it after Blade Runner so you can sleep.
Also new to streaming: Heed Scott's advice and experience Spring cold ($6.99 to rent on Amazon)...Fall head over heels for a young Heath Ledger again in 10 Things I Hate About You (HBO Go)…James Gandolfini and Julia Louis Dreyfus are so damn charming in Enough Said (HBO Go)…Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney are also so damn charming in One Fine Day (HBO Go)…Things get a little bit bleaker for Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in Atonement (HBO Go)…Get your teen-dance-movie on with Bring It On and Center Stage (HBO Go)…Take an emo road trip with Bill Murray in Broken Flowers (HBO Go)…Get double your doctor-recommended Wes Anderson intake with The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom (HBO Go)…Shakespeare meets motorcycles in Cymbeline ($6.99 to rent on Amazon)…Terry Gilliam and Christoph Waltz join forces in The Zero Theorem ($.99 to rent on Amazon)…Don’t watch the Saw films back-to-back (Netflix)…Prep for the Netflix reboot with Wet Hot American Summer (HBO Go)…Adrien Brody is a ventriloquist in Dummy (Netflix)...Take a hike with Reese Witherspoon in Wild ($12.99 to buy on Amazon)...Get your Cumberbitch on with The Imitation Game ($12.99 to buy on Amazon)