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across the streaming-verse

The Best of Streaming: What Should You Watch on Netflix, Hulu, and Other Sites

It’s wild and wooly out there in the world of streaming video. As movies and TV shows become increasingly accessible through a variety of services, it has also become increasingly difficult to keep track of what is available where, what is expiring when, and what is actually worth watching. So every Friday, Vulture will have a list of recommendations of movies and TV shows that are new to Netflix (as well as Hulu; Amazon, On Demand; and other streaming sites), those that are expiring, and those that you should watch just because.

The Central Park Five
We all know Ken Burns from his multipart documentaries on topics of great American import — the Civil War, baseball, the national parks, prohibition, jazz music — but the filmmaker stepped into the present with this 2012 documentary. Working with his daughter, Sarah Burns (and third co-director David McMahon), Burns is in full “this is an injustice” mode here, presenting the tale of five New York City youths who were arrested in 1989 in the famous “Central Park jogger” rape case and, the film argues, railroaded through the system despite a lack of evidence. Not that it’s a hysterical film. Burns is incapable of being anything but deliberate, and he and his co-directors do a magnificent job of setting up the New York of the late eighties — it was a very dangerous place and a racially fraught one. It’s nigh on impossible not to watch this movie and get angry and sad and teary-eyed at the fates of these five boys. I’m getting pissed off again just writing about this movie. (Available on PBS.org until May 1.)

The Paper
One of the institutions that helped perpetuate the misinformation that led to the imprisonment of those five youths was the New York City tabloid media — the very newspapers that this 1994 dramedy starring Michael Keaton, Glenn Close, and Robert Duvall both mocks and worships. The Paper follows a day in the life of a metro rag — the zing-filled staff meetings, the adrenaline-filled reporting jags, and the brief moments of moral import. An editor at my first (and only) newspaper job used to say that Broadcast News was the movie that TV people loved and The Paper was the movie that print people loved. What will be the movie that bloggers and Internet reporters love? Who knows? It probably hasn’t been made yet. I thought about rewatching this movie shortly after the Boston bombings media madness — near the end, two of the main characters exchange these lines:

Keaton: “It’s wrong.”
Close:
“Not for today it’s not. Tomorrow it’s wrong. We only have to be right for a day.”

Also, being a New Yorker, I think of this scene at least once a month. (Available on Netflix and Amazon Instant.)

The Amazon Pilots
Amazon is getting into the original programming game, and it has put eight comedy pilots (as well as a bunch of kid show pilots) up for viewers to watch and then choose which should get a full run. Vulture’s Lindsey Weber went through them all and put together a guide on which are worth streaming.

A Canterbury Tale, Expires May 1
Probably the least well-known of Powell and Pressburger’s marvelous six-film run that started in 1943 with The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and ended in 1948 with The Red Shoes, A Canterbury Tale is an odd one. Set in the lush countryside of southeast England, the film takes place during World War II and centers on a British soldier, an American one, and a “landgirl” trying to find out who is pouring glue into the hair of local women. What starts off a pleasant mystery turns into a film about tradition, patriotism, and the brotherhood of man that all climaxes in an incredibly moving sequence involving the Canterbury Cathedral organ. (Available on Netflix until May 1.)

Also expiring on Netflix — the Bond movies and lots of other things.
I don’t understand Netflix sometimes. I feel like they put a bunch of James Bond movies up and then those same movies expire a few weeks later — this has happened at least twice. At any rate, the following Bond films are expiring May 1. (And I’ve thrown in some other movies, too, in case those are on your queue.)