Film

New on Netflix in September 2017: Gangs of New York, Requiem For a Dream, and More

Image courtesy of Miramax.

Hellooo, loyal 3CR readers. Starting this month, I’ll be publishing “New on Netflix,” a regular column in which I highlight movies worth checking out from the large number of films Netflix acquires and releases every month. It’s my sincere hope that these lists help you dedicate your binge-watching endeavors towards movies you otherwise may not have heard much about. Feel free to let me know how I’m doing in the comments, too.

In any case, Netflix unveiled its list of acquisitions for this coming September about a week ago. In terms of movies, it’s full of obvious goodies like Pulp Fiction, Jaws, Angelina Jolie’s latest directorial effort, and several nostalgia-inducing Disney movies from the 90s. But there are other cool things on it as well. Here’s a look at a few releases that ought to be getting more hype; note that they’re listed from newest to oldest.

  1. Graduation (2016; out September 4)

    Image courtesy of Voodoo Films.

Romanian director Cristian Mungiu first came to fame in 2007 for 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, a searing, unforgettable portrait of two women’s attempts to arrange a black-market abortion in Communist Romania. In Mungiu’s latest movie, Graduation, he moves into post-Ceaucescu territory to recount one father’s (Adrian Titieni) desperate attempts to ensure his daughter (Maria-Victoria Dragus) can go to college in England – a story that also does double duty as an indictment of the inequalities that continue to beset the European Union. Graduation doesn’t work quite as well as 4 Months; it meanders in several places, and its visuals lack the simple, elegant austerity that made 4 Months so chilling. Yet thanks to Titieni’s compelling acting and Mungiu’s refusal to see his characters as all-good or all-evil, Graduation otherwise proves to be an extremely engrossing and thought-provoking watch. Moreover, in its depiction of helicopter parenting as little more than a means of assuaging a parent’s personal insecurities, the movie hits an uncomfortable truth that all fans of Amy Chua ought to take to heart.

  1. Carol (2015; out September 20)

    Image courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

Back in 2002, Todd Haynes’ Far from Heaven expertly depicted the difficulties a traditional family man faced when coming to terms with his sexuality in 1950s America. In Carol, Haynes goes one step further: the characters are still gay, but whether or not that’s acceptable proves to be the last thing on their minds. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara respectively play a middle-aged housewife and a young photographer who find themselves slowly, inexorably falling in love with each other, even as the men in their lives cry foul. Nothing in Carol carries the subversive irony of the way Heaven used a classical filmmaking style to treat decidedly contemporary subject matter. But Mara and Blanchett’s performances are master classes in subtlety, Edward Lachman’s cinematography skillfully evokes the elegant yet inhibitory atmosphere of the 50s – and the conclusion provides one of the most fulfilling endings to an LGBT-themed movie you’ll ever see.

  1. Gone Baby Gone (2007; out September 1)

    Image courtesy of Miramax.

Back when he was little more than a tabloid fixture, Ben Affleck decided to get started in directing with 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, a mystery that centers on two private detectives’ (Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan) attempts to find and rescue a kidnapped six-year old. The movie’s flaws are legion: Casey just isn’t cut out for any role that requires a lot of talking, Monaghan is little more than a good-looking prop, Ben’s portrayal of working-class Boston feels Hollywoodized, and the story’s attempted critiques of the media and the American conception of community don’t break much new ground. Still, the movie’s plot twists definitely catch you off guard; the ending takes a while to come around, but when it does, it hits you with the kind of message that would’ve been right at home in a 40s film noir. And in any case, the fact that Morgan Freeman plays someone who isn’t an all-knowing good guy – and does so fairly well – is enough on its own to make Gone worth a watch.

  1. The Squid and the Whale (2005; out September 1)

    Image courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Noah Baumbach’s latest movie, The Meyerowitz Stories, will be released on Netflix this coming October. Before then, it’s worth checking out The Squid and the Whale, an earlier work of his that deals with two kids’ (Owen Kline, Jesse Eisenberg) attempts to deal with their parents’ (Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney) divorce in 1980s Brooklyn. Interfamilial conflict has always been ripe fodder for unwanted melodrama, and the fact that Squid was shot with a handheld camera might make you think you’re in for something serious and “realistic.” Yet in Baumbach’s hands, Squid’s supposedly grim subject matter actually proves to be a painfully hilarious means of exploring just how far people are willing to go to protect their egos. Daniels in particular is perfect as a failing writer who criticizes his wife’s infidelities but happily has sex with his students, while Eisenberg is also exceptional as the son who subconsciously absorbs the jerkish qualities of the father. Together, the two of them make Squid that rare movie that can empathize with teen angst without getting bogged down in self-absorption.

  1. Requiem for a Dream (2000; out September 1)

    Image courtesy of Artisan Entertainment.

When it was first released, Darren Aronofsky’s portrait of four junkies in Requiem for a Dream was controversial enough to warrant an NC-17 rating. Since then, parts of the film have aged; in particular, Ellen Burstyn’s Oscar-nominated performance now feels a tad melodramatic. Yet in light of the opioid epidemic currently ravaging the US, Requiem’s examination of the economic and emotional conditions that can drive people to drugs only feels more cutting and relevant. Moreover, no matter how many cool music videos you’ve seen, the movie’s famous hip-hop editing style still feels fresh, while the wide variety of subjective camera techniques Aronofsky uses to depict his characters’ mental states easily makes Requiem more daring and disturbing than anything he’s made since. For those repulsed by the somewhat nihilistic tendencies of Fight Club – a better-known turn-of-the-century movie that also deals with drugs and plays with editing – Requiem is powerful proof that transgressive cinema need not be uncompassionate.

  1. Amores Perros (2000; out September 1)

    Image courtesy of Nu Vision.

Oscar-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu first achieved international recognition thanks to the strength of this debut feature, which chronicles the stories of three ordinary people (Gael García Bernal, Goya Toledo, and Emilio Echevarría) who are all involved in the same car accident. In this reviewer’s opinion, it’s still the best movie Iñárritu has ever made. Unlike 21 Grams, Babel, and Biutiful, Amores isn’t heavy-handed or repetitive. Unlike Birdman, it also has enough visceral action to avoid wandering into the realm of navel gazing. And unlike The Revenant, it doesn’t subscribe to the notion that more pain equals more profundity. Fans of Pulp Fiction often look askance at Amores because it “copies” the former’s preoccupations with plot structure and the idea of redemption. But whereas Pulp approaches these topics from a more intellectual, reference-laden standpoint, Amores is far grittier, and it’s more interested in telling a story you can relate to emotionally. Call that old-fashioned if you want – but in Iñárritu’s hands, it works quite well.

  1. The Redeeming Power of Acting – a.k.a. Gangs of New York and Dead Poets Society. (2002, 1989; both out September 1)

    Image courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures.

Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society are both fairly well-known movies that also have serious flaws. Gangs can never figure out whether it wants to be a grand historical epic or an intimate tale of revenge. And Dead Poets Society features a character dichotomy – you’re either a narrow-minded old dude with zero individuality or a pot-smoking bum full of “passion” and “life” – that does little more than romanticize laziness. Yet both movies have the fortune of being redeemed by exceptional acting. In Gangs, Daniel Day-Lewis’ vicious, ruthless interpretation of Bill the Butcher is one of the best performances he’s ever given. And in DPS, Robin Williams plays the kind of teacher you wish you could have had yourself. Williams is gone, and Day-Lewis is hanging up his hat – but in these two movies, we fortunately have a record of the remarkable things each of them did in his prime.

Those are our picks for some of the best movies to watch on Netflix during September. Their complete list of new acquisitions can be found below.

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 1
Amores Perros
City of God
Dead Poets Society
Deep Blue Sea
Disney’s Hercules
Disney’s Mulan
FINAL FANTASY XIV Dad of Light: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Fracture
Gangs of New York
Gone Baby Gone
High Risk
Hoodwinked
Hotel for Dogs
Jaws
Jaws 2
Jaws 3
Jaws: The Revenge
LEGO Elves: Secrets of Elvendale: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Little Evil — NETFLIX ORIGINAL FILM
Maniac: Season 1
Outside Man: Volume 2
Pulp Fiction
Requiem for a Dream
Shaq & Cedric the Entertainer Present: All Star Comedy Jam
Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam: Live from Atlanta
Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam: Live from Dallas
Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam: Live from Las Vegas
Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam: Live from Orlando
Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam: Live from South Beach
She’s Gotta Have It
The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography
The Last Shaman
The Lost Brother
The Rugrats Movie
The Secret Garden
The Squid and the Whale
West Coast Customs: Season 5
Who the F**K is that Guy

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 2
Vincent N Roxxy

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 4
Graduation

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 5
Carrie Pilby
Facing Darkness
Like Crazy
Marc Maron: Too Real — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Newsies: The Broadway Musical

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 6
A Good American
Hard Tide

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 7
The Blacklist: Season 4

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 8
#realityhigh —  NETFLIX ORIGINAL FILM
Apaches: Season 1
BoJack Horseman: Season 4 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Fabrizio Copano: Solo Pienso En Mi — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Fire Chasers: Season 1
Greenhouse Academy: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Joaquín Reyes: Una y no más — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Spirit: Riding Free: Season 2 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Confession Tapes: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Walking Dead: Season 7

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 9
Portlandia: Season 7

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 11
The Forgotten

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 12
Jeff Dunham: Relative Disaster — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 13
Offspring: Season 7
Ghost of the Mountains

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 14
Disney’s Pocahontas

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 15
American Vandal: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
First They Killed My Father — NETFLIX ORIGINAL FILM
Foo Fighters: Back and Forth
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Larceny
Project Mc²: Part 5 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Rumble
Strong Island — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
VeggieTales in the City: Season 2 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 18
Call the Midwife: Series 6
The Journey Is the Destination

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 19
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Jerry Before Seinfeld — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Love, Sweat and Tears

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 20
Carol

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 21
Gotham: Season 3

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 22
Fuller House: New Episodes — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Samaritan

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 23
Alien Arrival

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 25
Dark Matter: Season 3

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 26
Bachelorette
Night School
Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan
Terrace House: Aloha State: Part 4 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 27
Absolutely Anything

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 29
Big Mouth: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Club de Cuervos: Season 3 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Gerald’s Game — NETFLIX ORIGINAL FILM
Real Rob: Season 2 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Paul Hollywood’s Big Continental Road Trip: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Our Souls at Night — NETFLIX ORIGINAL FILM
The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 30
Murder Maps: Season 3

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