The San Juan Daily Star
Stream these 9 titles before they leave Netflix in April
By Jason Bailey
This month’s assortment of titles leaving Netflix in the United States includes three hysterically funny series, two must-see documentaries, two comic-book adaptations that buck expectations and one of the scariest movies the streamer has to offer. See them before they leave. (Dates reflect the last day a title is available.)
‘Hush’ (April 7)
Director Mike Flanagan has become the horror king of Netflix, with credits including “Gerald’s Game” “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Midnight Mass.” But before any of those high-profile projects, he co-wrote (with his star and spouse, Kate Siegel) this lean, mean, efficient little single-location slasher thriller. Siegel plays Maddie, a deaf and mute novelist who works and lives in an isolated country home and must fight for her life when she is targeted by a brutal killer (John Gallagher Jr.). The result is tense, frightening and wildly effective.
‘New Girl’: Seasons 1-7 (April 9)
On first sight, this Fox sitcom seemed tailored entirely (and narrowly) to spotlight the specific pixie-like charms of its star, Zooey Deschanel. But within a few episodes, “New Girl” became much more: a fast-paced, frequently quotable showcase for an ace comic ensemble. Deschanel remained at the center, but the uproarious characterizations and onscreen teamwork of Max Greenfield’s high-maintenance Schmidt, Lamorne Morris’s oddball Winston, Hannah Simone’s complicated Cece and (especially) Jake Johnson’s rough-edged-but-soft-centered Nick turned this into one of the freshest and funniest network comedies of the 2010s.
‘We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks’ (April 23)
Prolific documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney waded into one of the most complicated stories of his career when he took on the rise of Julian Assange’s organization — and the fall of Assange himself. It’s a story toward which neutrality is all but impossible — for a filmmaker or a viewer — but Gibney is admirably evenhanded, praising WikiLeaks’ high-minded mission and notable scoops while also asking pressing questions about its founder, his motives and his misdeeds. And the filmmaking unfolds with the tension and propulsion of a tightly-wound political thriller, which, in many ways, is exactly what it is.
‘Bill Nye: Science Guy’ (April 24)
As the (comparatively) science-friendly Obama administration gave way to the climate denialism of Donald Trump, 1990s-era children’s television personality Bill Nye reconsidered his mission and his audience, repositioning himself as an advocate and educator for older generations. Directors David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg document that tricky career shift as Nye changes from an innocuous fellow with a perpetual smile and bow tie into a surprisingly polarizing political lightning rod. The results are as enlightening, thought-provoking and frequently amusing as the man himself.
‘The IT Crowd’: Series 1-5 (April 25)
Several international comedy stars-to-be — including Chris O’Dowd (“Bridesmaids”), Matt Berry (“What We Do in the Shadows”) and Richard Ayoade (“Travel Man”) — made their first big splash in this unfailingly clever British office sitcom. O’Dowd and Ayoade star as Roy and Moss, socially inept, know-it-all IT technicians. Katherine Parkinson is Jen Barber, their manager, who is tech illiterate (much to their chagrin) but personally adept (much to their amazement). It sports a tone and style not unlike the original British version of “The Office,” and it accomplishes a similar duality: though unmistakably local in its details, it taps into universal truths about work, class and life.
‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’: Seasons 1-3 (April 28)
The new “Evil Dead” sequel, “Evil Dead Rise,” hits theaters April 21, though it continues in the grim, humorless vein of the series’ 2013 installment. Those who prefer the zany, slapstick-heavy, gore-and-grins iteration of the franchise, tweaked to perfection by director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell in “Evil Dead II” (1987) and “Army of Darkness” (1993), can direct their attention to this Starz Original series, codeveloped by Raimi, with Campbell reprising his role as the wisecracking, chain saw toting, Book-of-the-Dead-battling hero Ash Williams. The results are somewhat uneven (the early episodes, with which Raimi was most directly involved, are the highlights), but fans of the films will love it anyway.
‘Leap Year’ (April 30)
This light-as-a-soufflé romantic comedy was not exactly received with enthusiasm upon its release in 2010, but time has been kind to it for several reasons, among them the general dearth of theatrical rom-coms and the slow-burn charms of screenwriters Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (whose “Josie and the Pussycats” has undergone a spectacular popular and critical reappraisal). Perhaps most important, it’s an opportunity to see Amy Adams at her light and breezy best, in sharp contrast to her more recent spate of Serious Actor Oscar bids.
‘Road to Perdition’ (April 30)
This 2002 adaptation of the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins (itself inspired by the “Lone Wolf and Cub” manga and film series) was only the second feature film from director Sam Mendes. Yet it plays like an elegy, a film about endings, mortality and what we leave behind. It was the final film of award-winning cinematographer Conrad L. Hall, whose visions of Depression-era America here are staggeringly evocative, and one of the final onscreen appearances for Paul Newman. The actor nabbed one last Academy Award nomination for his work as the patriarch of a crime family, caught between his irresponsible biological son (a pre-Bond Daniel Craig) and his beloved surrogate son (Tom Hanks, in a rare and affecting non-hero turn).
‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’ (April 30)
Edgar Wright’s 2010 action-comedy, initially a box-office disappointment, has become a cult favorite in the intervening years, and for good reason: Its fizzy look and feel, energetic direction and spirited performances make it one of the most purely entertaining comic book adaptations of recent years, and Wright’s light touch keeps it from bogging down into the endless back stories and crossovers that have tended to burden such pictures. Michael Cera is a delight in the title role, and the stacked supporting cast includes such MVPs as Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as his dream girl and Jason Schwartzman, cast against type as a supervillain.