There’s been a lot of talk among film critics lately about how, while Netflix TV shows get a lot of attention, the original movies released every week seem to fall through the cracks. And that’s a shame given that Netflix has been busy buying up a lot of good indie movies at film festivals like Sundance and Toronto.
So, I want to contribute in my own small way to highlighting the original movies that Netflix (and, to a lesser extent, other sites like Hulu and Amazon Prime) premiere each week. The “Netflix Movie of the Week” will showcase a worthy original streaming film that could use your attention. The rest is up to you.
Although, you may have actually heard of this week’s Netflix Movie of the Week, “War Machine.” It is by far the biggest movie Netflix has ever released, a $60 million fact-based satire of the war in Afghanistan starring none other than Brad Pitt. It’s clearly Netflix’s attempt to show it can compete with the big studios, not just the indie distributors.
Netflix giveth, and Netflix taketh away. The start of a new month means a whole mess of new movies and TV shows premiering on the streaming service. And it inevitably means that a few movies and TV shows are leaving the service for unexplained reasons.
At least Netflix is starting to spread the pain out a little in June, yanking a few movies every week rather than ripping the Band-Aid off entirely on June 1. But, unless otherwise noted, you have 48 hours to watch or re-watch these movies before they leave Netflix.
Pick of the week: “Manchester by the Sea” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Kenneth Lonergan justifiably won Best Original Screenplay for this achingly sad, acutely observed drama about a blocked-off man (Casey Affleck) who returns to his hometown and the scene of an immense tragedy that he can’t get past. What saves the viewer from total despair is the humanity of the performances and Lonergan’s writing, which offers empathy and forgiveness even to those who don’t deserve it or can’t accept it.
The books look like a fortress. The Parisian home of philosophy teacher Nathalie Chazeaux’s home are filled almost wall-to-wall with shelves of books. It’s the sort of library you can tell has taken a lifetime for her and her husband to accumulate.
About halfway through Mia Hansen-Love’s “Things To Come,” the shelves are half-empty, a signifier for both the turmoil and the opportunity that Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) is dealing with. She has lost some of her favorite books. But now she has room to buy new ones.
Pick of the week: “Don’t Think Twice” — My full review is here. Comedian Mike Birbiglia’s second film as a writer-director is a painfully funny look at an improv comedy troupe, which for some members is a potentially jumping-off point to fame, and for others is as far as they’re going to go chasing their dreams. The tension between success and failure within the group makes for an engaging, Altman-esque comedy-drama.