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Watch These 12 Titles Before They Leave Netflix in May – The New York Times

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A ton of movies and TV shows are disappearing for U.S. Netflix subscribers next month. These are the ones worth catching before they’re gone.
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The erotic thriller, that bygone artifact of ’80s and ’90s sexual expression (and repression) is all the rage again — well, at least nostalgia for it is — and two prime examples of the form are leaving Netflix in the United States at the end of the month, so get them while you can. Also departing the service in May: two family favorites, a musical extravaganza, two beloved series and much, much more. (Dates reflect the final day a title is available.)
When this tightly wound political thriller hit theaters in 2015, it felt like a high-minded showcase for a handful of terrific actors (Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul) but not much more. Now it feels like a quintessential cinematic artifact of the Obama era, a thoughtful and knotty examination of the moral dilemma of drone warfare — and of 21st century military conflict in general. Mirren and Paul spar spiritedly as a no-nonsense colonel and the drone pilot who must execute her orders; Rickman, in one of his final performances, brings shading and nuance to his work as a military middle man.

Stream it here.
Amanda Seyfried is earning (deserved) praise for her astonishing work in “The Dropout,” but those in the know have been watching her shine for years, even in less-acclaimed films like this 2009 erotic thriller. She stars as the title character, a call girl hired by a suspicious wife (Julianne Moore) to entrap her husband (Liam Neeson), which gets complicated when the wife and would-be mistress begin an affair of their own. If the cast sounds high-caliber for such a story, that’s because the film is directed by the acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan (“The Sweet Hereafter”), who gives the story’s mind games and psychological ramifications as much attention as the breathy sexual encounters.

Stream it here.
In 1971, the director Mike Nichols scored one of his greatest critical and commercial successes with “Carnal Knowledge,” a savagely funny and brutally candid account of the war between the sexes, as seen through the broken relationships of two men and two women. In 2004, near the end of his career, Nichols revisited the subject matter with a similar cast makeup, adapting the play “Closer” by Patrick Marber into a tough four-hander of sexual desire and emotional betrayal. Jude Law, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman and Julia Roberts craft some of their best screen acting to date, playing a full range of ruthlessness, cruelty, sensitivity and brokenness. It’s a challenging movie, but a great one.

Stream it here.
This mash-up of Grisham-esque legal thriller and “Rosemary’s Baby”-style occult horror from Taylor Hackford was met mostly with snickers upon its 1997 release, as critics complained it was too ornate, too over-the-top, too much. But in these timid times, it feels like a welcome balm, a reminder of a time when mainstream studio movies were willing to just go for it, good taste be damned (pardon the pun). Keanu Reeves, sporting a less-than-convincing Southern accent, plays a hotshot young lawyer recruited (rather aggressively) by a top New York law firm led by Al Pacino as “John Milton,” and yes, the rest of the reveals are about as subtle. Pacino chews on the scenery with the ravenous appetite of a starving man, but the performance of note here is that of Charlize Theron, then still an up-and-comer, with an unexpectedly subtle turn as the young lawyer’s increasingly disturbed wife.

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Stream it here.
Bad movies have attracted ironic (and unironic) cult followings for decades, but few have attracted the fascination given to “The Room,” the bizarre psychosexual drama from the enigmatic writer-director-star Tommy Wiseau that plays less like a low-budget film than like a dispatch from another planet, filled with creatures who talk and act almost like actual humans. Greg Sestero, the film’s co-star, turned that strange experience into a memoir, which was then adapted into this hilarious chronicle of cinematic incompetence. James Franco directs and stars as Wiseau, his work focusing on — and blurring the line between — badness and brilliance; Dave Franco is charismatic and sympathetic as Sestero, while an all-star supporting cast (including Alison Brie, Zac Efron, Ari Graynor, Seth Rogen and Jacki Weaver) brightens up the edges.

Stream it here.
Sometimes Netflix is there for you in your time of need, and sometimes they yank away entertainment at exactly the moment it’s most necessary. Such is the case with the lapse of the full run of “Downton Abbey” barely two weeks after the release of “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” the latest feature film follow-up, to theaters. That means it’s time to begin that catch-up binge and to reacquaint yourself with the Crawley family and their various servants, interlopers and guests. The show’s origins lay in the creator Julian Fellowes’s Oscar-winning screenplay for Robert Altman’s “Gosford Park,” which found drama in the contrast between British aristocracy and those that serve them. He followed those contrasts and connections through six seasons with sharp wit and penetrating commentary.

Stream it here.
Everything was bigger in the ’90s, so while family entertainment of yore gave us countless stories of boys and their dogs, this 1993 hit from Simon Wincer told the story of a boy and his orca. Jason James Richter stars as an orphan boy headed down the wrong life path, whose probation period cleaning up graffiti at an amusement park leads him to strike up an unconventional friendship with the title character, a captive whale, whom he soon decides he should release into the wild. Lori Petty and Michael Madsen are likable as the stern (but swayable) grown-ups.

Stream it here.
The cult filmmaker John Waters made an unexpected (and unexpectedly successful) play for mainstream respectability with his 1988 film “Hairspray,” a PG-rated nostalgia comedy that was so family-friendly it was adapted into a Broadway musical comedy. And then it made its way back to the movies for the 2007 adaptation of the Broadway show, directed with theatrical flair by the choreographer-turned-director Adam Shankman. The musical numbers are inventively staged, the conventions of the form are slyly sabotaged, and the performances are top-notch — particularly John Travolta as the mother of the lead character, Tracy Turnblad (the terrific Nikki Blonsky), and Christopher Walken in fine, tender form as her father.

Stream it here.
It’s easy to get overly nostalgic for the good old days of network television, but you have to give them this: Networks were willing to give great but underseen sitcoms like “Seinfeld” and “Cheers” the time to build and find their audiences, resulting in record-high ratings. This uproariously funny and quietly inventive series (2011-13), by contrast, struggled mightily, barely surviving from season to season before getting the unceremonious boot after three seasons. This ensemble comedy, in which six friends (and sometimes lovers, and sometimes enemies) struggle to weather the storms of adulthood, is like a cross between “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” and the early, good years of “How I Met Your Mother.” And if it ended too soon, at least we got what we got.

Stream it here.
George Miller has one of the more fascinating dual filmographies in all of cinema. On one hand, he created and directed the four “Mad Max” films, fiercely visceral and unapologetically violent action epics for a decidedly adult audience. On the other, he has given us some of the most enjoyable family movies of the ’90s and beyond, including the “Babe” films and this enchanting animated musical comedy, which was nominated for best animated feature Oscar and spawned a 2011 sequel. Elijah Wood voices the leading role of Mumble, an emperor penguin unable to attract a mate with his song, who decides instead to take up tap dancing. Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Brittany Murphy and Robin Williams are among the impressive voice cast.

Stream it here.
The impressive 1990s run of erotic thrillers was nearly at its end when the director John McNaughton (“Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”) directed this 1998 entry into the subgenre, which gleefully revels in the sordidness of its story while also slyly winking at its conventions — he has his sleazy cake and eats it too. Denise Richards became a star via her hubba-hubba turn as a rich bad girl who accuses a teacher (Matt Dillon) of assault, a charge echoed by a tough young woman from the wrong side of the tracks (Neve Campbell, turning her “Scream” image inside out). But that’s just the setup; the clever script is filled with reverses, reveals and double-crosses, resulting in a trashy delight that is equal parts Hitchcock and Cinemax After Dark.

Stream it here.
Ben Stiller co-writes, directs and stars in this giddily goofy 2001 comedy as Derek Zoolander, a delightfully dim male model who is pulled into a hilariously convoluted story of spies, political assassination and fashion industry exploitation. Owen Wilson is his rival, a fellow male model who becomes his unlikely partner; Will Ferrell is the dastardly villain of the tale, and he does not underplay the role. Stiller’s influences aren’t subtle (he’s shouting out everything from Bond to the Pink Panther), but his unique directorial style and inside knowledge of celebrity culture makes “Zoolander” a surprisingly pointed social commentary that’s also very stupid and very funny.

Stream it here.
Also leaving:The Blind Side,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “Stardust,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Top Gun” (all May 31).
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