Now Streaming: Decade decadence movies

[Streaming movies and TV shows—on services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Videos—are ephemeral: Here one day, gone the next. The purpose of the Now Streaming series is to alert you to what movies and shows are new to streaming, what you might want to watch before it disappears, and other treasures that are worth checking out.]

The Deep Blue Sea (coming 9/22)

★★★★☆

One of the best of all English filmmakers, Terence Davies makes quiet little masterpieces set in the past that reflect both memories and memories of movies. His newest, The Deep Blue Sea (2012), is one of the best movies of the year, a great, heartbreaking romance, based on a Terence Rattigan play (and already filmed in 1955, with Vivien Leigh). Rachel Weisz (above) stars, in perhaps her finest performance, as a married woman in love with another man (Tom Hiddleston). Eventually she must make a difficult decision. Davies dispenses with much of the play’s talk and uses lighting and editing to create a more powerful emotional mood.

The Innkeepers

The Innkeepers (coming 10/1)

★★★★☆

Another recent best, Ti West’s chilling The Innkeepers (2011) is about a potentially haunted hotel on the last day of business before the doors are shut for good. Two night clerks, balding, cynical, 40-ish Luke (Pat Healy), and cute, spunky 20-something Claire (Sara Paxton), work their final shifts and look for ghosts. West allows many scenes and moments to go by without necessarily advancing the plot or delivering scares, but he does create a vivid mood that recalls The Shining.

Jesus’ Son (coming 10/1)

★★★☆☆

If you like David Lynch, you may also like Alison Maclean’s Jesus’ Son (2000), a dreamy, strange, funny adaptation of Denis Johnson’s great collection of short stories. Billy Crudup stars as the clueless junkie hero, who wanders through various episodes, meeting oddball characters, and trying to scrounge up more money for drugs. The memorable supporting cast includes Samantha Morton, Denis Leary, Jack Black, Will Patton, Holly Hunter, Dennis Hopper, and Michael Shannon.

Mullholland Dr.

Mullholland Dr. (coming 10/1)

★★★★★

A classic from the turn of the century, David Lynch’s mind-bending mystery Mulholland Dr. (2001) was overwhelmingly voted the best picture of its decade, as well as one of the 30 best films of all time in the most recent Sight & Sound poll. Naomi Watts gives an impressive performance as Betty, a blonde, starstruck amateur actress who arrives in Hollywood and meets an amnesiac brunette (Laura Elena Harring) in Betty’s aunt’s house. While trying to solve that mystery, the mismatched pair uncovers an entirely new one as they suddenly change personalities. Watching this again and again uncovers new layers and new pleasures each time.

Enter the Dragon (coming 10/1)

★★★★☆

Moving back to the 1970s, we have the cult classic Enter the Dragon (1973), which was Bruce Lee’s final completed film before he died at age 32. In this film, he plays an undercover agent who enters a competition, along with John Saxon and Jim Kelly, in the hopes of digging up some intel on a mysterious crime lord. Director Robert Clouse brings high style to the beautifully choreographed violence, especially in the climactic showdown. The San Francisco-born Lee brought a new kind of charisma and energy to the martial arts film and changed it forever; for many years afterward, martial arts stars were discovered and cast with the primary goal of being “the next Bruce Lee.” One of them was Jackie Chan, who has a very small role in this movie.

From Russia with Love

From Russia with Love (coming 10/1)

★★★★☆

Action movies had a radically different look and feel ten years earlier as evidenced by the second James Bond film, From Russia with Love (1963). Many fans consider this the best of the series, thanks to Sean Connery’s no-nonsense performance and Terence Young’s tight direction. Bond girls on this one include the Italian-born Daniela Bianchi (playing a Russian) and Martine Beswick. Robert Shaw also stars. (Note: Several other Bond movies are also available streaming on 10/1, including Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Never Say Never Again.)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (coming 10/1)

★★★★★

At one time, cowboy heroes were more popular than super-spies in movies, and John Ford’s great masterpiece The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) is one late example that illustrates the movement away from one and toward the other. John Wayne plays the tough cowboy Tom Doniphon, but the main character is lawyer Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart), who angers the nasty bully Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). What actually happens and what gets recorded are not necessarily the same thing. To underline these themes, Ford dispenses with his usual wide vistas in favor of a more restrained, restricted look and feel.

Red River

Red River (coming 10/1)

★★★★★

Looking back a handful of years, we can see John Wayne at his peak in Howard Hawks’ glorious Western Red River (1948), featuring some of the most beautiful black-and-white cinematography in history. Wayne stars as a cattleman who faces a growing rift between himself and his adopted son (Montgomery Clift) during a particularly harrowing drive. Walter Brennan has one of his best roles as the cook.

Paths of Glory (coming 10/1)

★★★★★

Back in the 1950s, it was more common for war movies to be simple action-adventure tales, but Stanley Kubrick delivered Paths of Glory (1957), a scathing indictment of military priorities. Kirk Douglas plays a colonel in charge of a platoon that faces an impossible situation. When an attack is aborted, corrupt superior officers begin court-martial proceedings. Kubrick’s visionary style was in full effect here, with striking tracking shots, realistic battle footage, and a peculiar but moving finale.

Dial M for Murder (coming 10/1)

★★★★☆

At around the same time, nearly 60 years ago, Alfred Hitchcock decided to do something that isn’t out of the ordinary today: make a film in 3D. In Dial M for Murder (1954), Ray Milland plays a man who plots to kill his wife. His plan is flawless, except for all the stuff that eventually goes wrong. The film mostly takes place in a single apartment, where the main character must cover up his tracks under the nose of a police inspector. Of course, Netflix viewers will have to settle for 2D, but Hitchcock’s prickly brand of suspense still comes through in any dimension.

What’s new

  • We Have a Pope
  • The Grey
  • Detachment
  • Oslo, August 31st
  • Klown (9/25)
  • Amadeus (10/1)
  • Best in Show (10/1)
  • Code 46 (10/1)
  • Death Wish (10/1)
  • Diamonds Are Forever (10/1)
  • Diner (10/1)
  • Doc Hollywood (10/1)
  • Giant (10/1)
  • Howards End (10/1)
  • Kagemusha (10/1)
  • The Man with the Golden Gun (10/1)
  • March of the Penguins (10/1)
  • Monsoon Wedding (10/1)
  • Never Say Never Again (10/1)
  • The Omega Man (10/1)
  • Presumed Innocent (10/1)
  • Rain Man (10/1)
  • Revenge of the Pink Panther (10/1)
  • Space Cowboys (10/1)
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (10/1)
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (10/1)
  • Woman on Top (10/1)

Expiring soon

  • Dragons Forever (9/20)
  • (Untitled) (9/21)
  • No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (9/26)

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