The end of the month is always a stressful period when it comes to streaming; some great films inevitably depart their streaming home. Perhaps a rival service will pick them up with a better deal, but it’s not a sure thing. Sometimes contracts aren’t renewed and movies simply disappear from subscription streaming services. I’ve selected some of the best films leaving Netflix on October 1, so get to it in case they disappear forever.
The Shining (1980)
We’re in the midst of a renaissance for Stephen King adaptations, with the just-all-right IT and well reviewed Netflix adaptations of Gerald’s Game and 1922 (one of King’s best yet least heralded novellas) debuting around the same time. But the greatest of all the King adaptations remains Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining. Kubrick doesn’t traffic in the jump scares that pervade modern horror films. Instead, his movie is a masterpiece of slowly building tension. It’s also a great primer on framing a shot—you may never have thought about the importance of where a director places something in the frame, but it’s impossible to ignore in The Shining. Kubrick sets the action directly in the center of most shots. It’s a subtle effect, but it creates a sense of unease—it’s an unnatural, uncommon way of framing, and a hint that something sinister is about to happen. Stream on Netflix, or rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, or Google Play.
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
David Lynch originally intended Mulholland Dr. to be a TV series for ABC, but after the network balked at the pilot Lynch produced, he reedited and shot additional footage to make the film we know today. It’s the greatest synthesis of his more humanist tendencies (as seen in Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks) and the darker currents of his mind that have been roiling ever since his debut with Eraserhead. Fans of the new Twin Peaks are advised to watch it as well—many of the storylines involving organized crime and shadowy associations seem like the fulfillment of storylines Lynch had to jettison when he decided to go with a single movie instead of a series. You can pretty easily tell what was shot for the TV version and what was made for the film (the earlier scenes have the kind of TV lighting found in Lost), but the film’s two halves benefit from the dichotomy. Stream on Netflix, or rent on Amazon, iTunes, or Vudu. Criterion also has an excellent Blu-ray/DVD edition.
Barton Fink (1991)
Since the election of Donald Trump, critics have been working double-time to find every work of art that presaged his rise to power. (I’m certainly guilty.) One that’s been forgotten is an early Coen brothers masterpiece, Barton Fink. John Turturro plays the eponymous character, a Clifford Odets-like playwright obsessed with the idea of the common man, but unfamiliar with the real deal. John Goodman is miraculous as the “everyman” with secrets Fink is too obtuse to perceive. Barton Fink is one of the Coens’ most playful and compelling films, and the best of their pre-Fargo movies. Winner of Best Actor, Best Director, and the grand prize at the Cannes film festival. Stream it on Netflix until 10/1, until 10/9 on Starz, or rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu or Google Play.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
“When people say, ‘I don’t like to go to movies about…’ and you fill in the blank, and my response is anyone who makes that statement is an idiot.”—Roger Ebert, in conversation with Martin Scorsese.
I have to confess that I was an idiot for years. Even though the above Ebert quotation was referring to Raging Bull, a movie I love dearly, I was never able to make myself watch Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. I hate boxing, a sport I find boring and morally repugnant, so I didn’t have any interest in a boxing film (despite Raging Bull having proved how flexible a boxing film could be). In my defense, I only came to understand Eastwood’s talents as a director in the last few years, and I feared he had made a by-the-numbers boxing movie. What a mistake. Turns out I had been ignoring Eastwood’s greatest film for years. Don’t make the same mistake. And have some tissues handy. Stream on Netflix, or rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, or Google Play.
Toward the end of the 1970s, Akira Kurosawa’s commercial potential had dried up and it was difficult for him to get financing for his films, particularly for the kind of samurai epic he was interested in, harkening back to his classic films from the 1950s and ’60s. Thanks to a cosign from Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas (who shamelessly ripped off The Hidden Fortress when making Star Wars), Kurosawa was able to create this late period treasure. The story is simple, the stuff of fairy tales and folklore: an idiot has been selected to be a warlord’s double (both played by Kurosawa regular Tatsuya Nakadai). When the warlord dies, the idiot is forced to lead his troops against warring factions. Kurosawa didn’t make his first color film until 1970, and because of that late start he viewed color more as a tool than a simple fact of filmmaking. His bright primary colors embolden this period epic and make it something wondrous to behold. Stream on Netflix, or rent on Amazon, iTunes, or Google Play. Criterion also has an excellent Blu-ray/DVD edition.