The time has come once again for that most hallowed and accessible of online streaming services known as Netflix to cut a few titles from its voluminous selection of films and television shows while adding many more guaranteed to please its subscriber base.
Below youâ€™ll find my picks for the best of Netflixâ€™s new additions for the month of April 2016. As usual, most of the titles are available for viewing at the start of the month, but there are a few more set to premiere later in the month that those of us unable to get out to the movie theater much will find to be of great interest.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick‘s 1968 masterpiece deserves to be viewed on the biggest of movie screens, but if you have a great television set-up, then streaming it is the next best option. The film that presented to unprepared audiences a glimpse at a possible future of unbridled optimism and teased us with the mysteries of the universe’s many wonders also raised the bar for what science fiction storytelling could achieve in cinema.
A Clockwork Orange
Another Kubrick classic, this one an adaptation of Anthony Burgess‘ celebrated black comedy about another possible future where the government will go to any necessary length to destroy crime even if it means destroying free will through systematic brainwashing, as seen through the eyes of Malcolm McDowell‘s Alex, an uninhibited street thug with a thirst for senseless violence, milk drinks, and the majesty of Beethoven’s music that can never be quenched.
Before There Will Be Blood and Inherent Vice, filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson took us on a freewheeling epic journey through the 1970’s East Coast adult film scene with a young Mark Wahlberg, in one of his first major starring roles, as an impressionable new XXX star stud with an unimaginable talent he usually keeps tucked in his pants. Walhberg shares the screen with Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, and Burt Reynolds in what could very well be his last great performance.
Back in the day when every Stephen King novel was a hot property, we got this intense little yarn about a mother and son doing battle with a murderous Saint Bernard. Lewis Teague‘s film drips with claustrophobic intensity and packs plenty of nightmare-inducing imagery into a tight running time. It’s mid-level King cinema, but it still works.
Despite being hobbled prior to its release by some unwarranted studio meddling, Joe Dante‘s follow-up to his blockbuster hit Gremlins is a cutesy sci-fi yarn designed to appeal to kids of all ages, featuring River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke in early appearances as suburban kids who construct a homemade spacecraft that takes them to the stars and beyond.
Clint Eastwood‘s adaptation of Dennis Lehane‘s novel about a horrifying crime that reunites a group of friends broken apart decades earlier is a tough film to watch because it often defaults to cloying melodrama and acting that practically demands you shower it with Oscars (which it did in fact earn), but if you stick the ordeal out you’ll be rewarded with some haunting performances from Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Tim Robbins and a few noteworthy dramatic moments.
The legendary comic strip hero and scourge of evildoers around the world came to the big screen in 1996 and was promptly buried by the blockbuster success of Independence Day and the fact that modern audiences were not terribly familiar with the source material. They missed out on a rousing adventure suitable for the entire family that owes a stylistic debt to classic movie serials and sports a terrific cast including Kristy Swanson as the gutsy heroine, future Oscar-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones as a femme fatale, Treat Williams as the diabolical villain, and Billy Zane as the titular Ghost Who Walks.
The Princess Bride
I’m sure more than a few of us pressed Netflix to add Rob Reiner‘s charming, comical fairy tale to their online library, and naturally they said, “As you wish.”
The Right Stuff
Based on Tom Wolfe‘s bestselling book about the launch of America’s space program and the men chosen to be our outer space pioneers, Philip Kaufman‘s film is an epic with an unbelievable ensemble cast and a tone that perfectly balances drama, comedy, and adventure. It’s one of cinema’s greatest achievements, and it’s all true (though I’m sure some dramatic license was taken with the facts).
The Running Man
Stephen King fever was so high during the 1980’s (probably because of all that cocaine) that even the novels he wrote under his Richard Bachman pseudonym were earmarked for celluloid treatment. The Running Man was certainly one of the oddest King adaptations ever conceived, with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring as a wrongly-convicted man forced to compete in the most popular game show in America, a gladiatorial contest where winning is almost impossible and the only consolation prize is a violent death. Richard Dawson, the famous host of Family Feud, matches Arnold’s action heroics with lots of smarm and charm.
The Shawshank Redemption
More Stephen King! And it’s one of the most popular films ever made from his books. Now you don’t have to wait for Shawshank to be aired on TNT or AMC because that could take an entire day. Get busy streamin’, or get busy dyin’.
Bill Murray owns the screen as an unlovable fool learning to embrace the spirit of the holiday season in Richard Donner‘s darkly hilarious modern-day treatment of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that makes for great Xmas Day viewing but might scare the young’uns a little.
V for Vendetta
Alan Moore might have no love for it, but James McTeigue‘s film version of Moore and David Lloyd‘s groundbreaking graphic novel – adapted for the screen by The Wachowski Sisters – is one of the better works of comic book cinema that doesn’t involve superheroes and alien invasions and is an insightful and polarizing socio-political thriller with stunning star turns from Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman.
Bob’s Burgers: Season 5 (April 1)
Turn: Washington’s Spies: Season 2 (April 11)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 2 (April 15)
How to Get Away with Murder: Season 2 (April 16)
Lost Girl: Season 5 (April 17)
You can find a full list of this month’s Netflix additions here.
Among the titles that that left Netflix in March are 2 Fast 2 Furious, Flashdance, Hook, Hotel Rwanda, Pride & Prejudice, Rock Star, The Rundown, and Starship Troopers. You can find a complete list of March’s departures here.
That wraps up my choices for the best movies and TV to watch this month on Netflix. Having a subscription is one of the best investments that someone who is rarely away from their laptop for long like myself can make. I highly recommend getting one. Come back next time for more recommendations.