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The 7 Best Movies Coming to Netflix in October 2018

From exciting Originals like "Private Life," to horror classics like "The Shining," Netflix is swinging for the fences this October.

"Shirkers"

“Shirkers”

Sundance

2018 has been a game-changing year for Netflix’s original film output, and its October release slate hammers that home in a big way. After months of festival hype, the streaming giant’s subscribers will finally get to see a handful of the very best movies the company has released thus far. From Tamara Jenkins’ tender and hilarious “Private Life,” to Sandi Tan’s unclassifiable meta-doc “Shirkers,” Sara Colangelo’s unnerving remake of “The Kindergarten Teacher” (featuring a career-best performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal), and Timo Tjahjanto’s brutal Indonesian beat-em-up “The Night Comes for Us,” Netflix is earning your $10.99 this month.

And that’s not all: In addition to that eclectic mix of exciting new films, the service is also bolstering their roster with a few certified classics, from the iconic ’90s comedy “Empire Records” to Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America” (a film that some say was the “Empire Records” of its day). There’s even a little something for all the horror fans who are counting down the days to Halloween, as no month-long celebration of the genre is complete without “The Shining.”

Here are the seven best movies coming to Netflix in October 2018.

Click here for a complete list of everything being added to Netflix this month.

7. “The Night Comes for Us” (2018)


In case you couldn’t guess from badass title (and all of the violence that it implies), “The Night Comes for Us” is the latest bone-breaking spectacular featuring Indonesian action star extraordinaire, Iko Uwais. And judging by the early word out of Fantastic Fest — one review called the film “a wonderfully creative look at how absolutely every single inanimate object in the room can be turned into a weapon” — Uwais’ latest vehicle is such an over-the-top bloodbath that it makes “The Raid 2” look like “The Raid.”

Written and directed by Timo Tjahjanto (“Headshot”), the movie casts Joe Taslim as a Jakartan hitman who goes rogue after his bosses ask him to murder a little girl. In response to that heartless request, our hero decides to find every corrupt gangster in his entire criminal organization and kick them to death. Alas, that’s not going to be as easy as it sounds, as his childhood friend — Uwais — has been dispatched to kill him. Lots and lots of pain is sure to ensue. It’s true that a film like “The Night Comes for Us” inevitably loses something when you don’t see it on the big screen, but the Netflix of it all at least gives us the power to pause and rewind all of the most brutal fight scenes, of which there should be many.

Available to stream on October 19th.

6. “Empire Records” (1995)


Damn the Man! Save the Empire!

Buried in theaters as though it were always intended to be an evocative time capsule of the mid-’90s, Allan Moyle’s “Empire Records” is a glorious throwback to a magical time when flannel ruled the land, the Gin Blossoms were the sound of a generation, and record stores were a thing that still existed. In fact, this entire anti-establishment studio comedy takes place in one of those forgotten temples of physical media, as a motley crew of young and attractive retail employees try to survive a very busy day at their home away from home, and also convince their manager (an iconic Anthony LaPaglia) not to sell out to The Man.

This movie has everything: Renée Zellweger blaring “Sugarhigh” at the top of her lungs, Ethan Embry as a GWAR-obsessed wasteoid, Liv Tyler playing a plaid-aholic schoolgirl who’s split between crushes, Robin Tunney as a suicidal pre-emo girl who memorably shaves her head on screen, and Johnny Whitworth doing everything in his power not to come off as the poor man’s Ethan Hawke. And then there’s the soundtrack — a genuine lifechanger if ever there was one. The Cranberries! Toad the Wet Sprocket!  Evan Dando! To this day, “Empire Records” still owns “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits (a vintage holdover that isn’t even on the soundtrack, but managed to catch fire all the same).

Available to stream on October 1st.

5. “The Kindergarten Teacher” (2018)


Kindergarten teacher Lisa Spinelli (a captivating Maggie Gyllenhaal) has spent the last 20 years of her life teaching kids the alphabet and shepherding them to the next stop on the assembly line of America’s school system, and she’s finally beginning to succumb to the banality of it all. Her coping mechanism: A nighttime poetry course she attends once a week in a dank university classroom somewhere along her commute back to Staten Island. The trouble is, she needs this just a little bit too much. Alas, Lisa’s poetry is awful — well, “awful” isn’t the right word, but the truth of the matter is even worse: her poetry is mundane. And she knows it.

So when one of Lisa’s five-year-old students starts walking around her classroom in a trance and reciting some very beautiful lines of original verse, the teacher is instantly both rapt and rattled. Little Jimmy Roy (Parker Sevak) has never stood out to her before, but it doesn’t take long for Lisa to believe that she has a young Mozart on her hands. Jimmy’s family isn’t interested in nurturing the boy’s genius, so Lisa decides to take matters into her own hands. Things only escalate from there, the butter sliding off the knife as she desperately tries to protect Jimmy’s remarkable gift before it’s snuffed out by a callous world that doesn’t know what to do with beautiful things.

An exceptionally acted (if exceedingly faithful) remake of Nadav Lapid’s 2014 Israeli film of the same name, “The Kindergarten Teacher” is a harrowing ride, packing the nail-biting moral panic of a great thriller into a tilted character study about a woman coming undone as she screams into the void. While Colangelo sorely lacks Lapid’s autobiographical insight and his formal virtuosity (the “Little Accidents” director opting for a straightforward approach that strips this version of the original’s roving and intimate camerawork), she understands every inch of Lisa’s situation, and mines a fiercely brilliant turn from Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Available to stream on October 12th.

4. “Shirkers” (2018)


Sandi Tan has always wanted to be a filmmaker, and she has never been willing to wait. As a teenager growing up in Singapore in the early ’90s, Tan’s imagination was so infectious that all of her friends rallied around the cause, helping her to create a wildly idiosyncratic coming-of-age movie that was suffused with the unique spirit of its cast and crew. That movie was called “Shirkers.” Maybe you’ve seen it? Trick question: Nobody’s seen it, because all of the footage was stolen by the strange American man who served as Tan’s mentor, and spent a little too much time helping these high school girls on their after-school project. The trauma of this betrayal would linger with Tan for decades; not only did this guy steal her story, it was as if he had also stolen her ability to tell stories at all.

But now, after a lifetime of doubt, Tan is ready to reclaim everything that was rightfully hers. A documentary that boasts the same title its maker once assigned to her feature debut, Tan’s new “Shirkers” finds the filmmaker piecing together memories of her formative years, and then trying to track down the man who walked out of her life with canisters full of her dreams; it’s a beguiling personal odyssey about a woman closing the distance between herself and her art. Combining the unbridled joy of DIY filmmaking with the morbid intrigue of a murder-mystery, “Shirkers” is as delightful and captivating as anything you’ll see this year (on Netflix or elsewhere).

Available to stream on October 26th.

3. “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984)


It’s hard to imagine that a movie this large could ever fall through the cracks, but the gargantuan “Once Upon a Time in America” — an engrossing period crime epic that features indelible performances from the likes of Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Tuesday Weld, and even James Woods, along with one of Ennio Morricone’s finest scores and luminously bronzed cinematography by Tonino Dell Colli — has never found the broad fanbase that it deserves. It feels like “The Godfather” plays on HBO more times in a single month than “Once Upon a Time in America” plays on all of cable television in an entire year. But now there’s something that might level the playing field.

Watching “Once Upon a Time in America” on your laptop is sort of like looking at the “Mona Lisa” on a postcard, but it’s hard to deny the upside of having Sergio Leone’s sprawling and tortured late-career masterpiece available to all six zillion of Netflix’s subscribers. Or, at least, a version of Leone’s sprawling and tortured late-career masterpiece: Mercifully, Netflix is streaming the 229-minute “European Cut,” and not the truncated American edition (the full, 269-minute version is still being restored with help from Martin Scorsese and his Film Foundation).

De Niro stars as a guy named Noodles… and that should be enough to convince you to give this movie a shot. But if you really need more: Stretching from the 1920s to 1968 and points beyond, the film chronicles Noodles from his time as a Lower East Side street kid, to his stunted rise through the local underworld during Prohibition, and then to his new life upstate where he assumes a fake identity. It’s a moving and monumental piece of work, with plenty of rewards for anyone who’s willing to set aside the time and devote their full attention.

Available to stream on October 1st.

2. “Private Life” (2018)


A hilarious, bougie, and crushingly honest story about a desperate couple trying something — anything — to have a baby before it’s too late, Tamara Jenkins’ first film since “The Savages” has been gestating for nine years, and it’s more than worth the wait.

Another acting showcase for a writer-director who’s previously mined new depths from talents like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei, “Private Life” stars Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as Richard and Rachel Grimes, 47 and 41 respectively. By the time the film kicks off, it’s clear the pair have been running themselves ragged on “the fertility treadmill” for quite a while. Maybe too long. Their story is sad and funny in equal measure, with all of the laughs are delicately layered atop a bedrock of scar tissue and disappointment. But things start to look up for the Grimes’ when they take in their stray 25-year-old niece, Sadie (spirited newcomer Kayli Carter), who might be willing to help them out.

And so begins a modern domestic rollercoaster, full of tempered highs, devastating lows, and a tenacity that blurs into the quixotic. At times feeling like an entire season of a Netflix series has been crunched down to 127 minutes, “Private Life” is a long and winding road, but the sheer gauntlet that Richard and Rachel put themselves through is best appreciated without interruption. Over time, as one cycle bleeds into another, “Private Life” grows into less of an epic about reproduction than one about resilience. It’s a beautiful modern love story, in a way.

Available to stream on October 5th.

1. “The Shining” (1980)


All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Available to stream on October 1st.

Read More:  Stanley Kubrick Films Ranked, From ‘The Shining’ to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

 

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