×
Back to IndieWire

The 7 Best Movies New to Netflix in July 2019, from ‘Taxi Driver’ to ‘Inglourious Basterds’

Four Martin Scorsese classics and Quentin Tarantino's best film lead a patriotic list of movies new to Netflix this July.

“Taxi Driver”

Shutterstock

Martin Scorsese may be one of the world’s most dedicated evangelists about film preservation and the theatrical experience, so it’s fascinating to find that the legendary auteur only seems to be getting deeper into the Netflix business. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that Netflix is doing its best to stay in the Martin Scorsese business. Whatever the case, the filmmaker and the streamer forged a partnership with the release of last month’s “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese,” and the upcoming “The Irishman” — a mega-budget crime epic that might just be finished by the end of the year — is perhaps the most anticipated movie of the fall.

And now, just to keep the wheels greased in the meantime, Netflix has dug into the archives and secured the streaming rights to four early Scorsese masterpieces, including some (“Who’s that Knocking at my Door” and “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”) that have not always been readily available to watch. These movies — rare coups for Netflix’s ridiculously small lineup of classic films — lead a random and somewhat patriotic slate of titles that are new to the streaming platform this July.

Other standouts include “The American” (directed by Anton Corbijn), “Road House” (definitely not directed by Anton Corbijn), and Quentin Tarantino’s rousing “Inglourious Basterds,” which arrives just in time for the big screen release of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” at the end of the month.

Here are the seven best movies new to Netflix this July.

7. “Cloverfield” (2008)

“Cloverfield” arrived rather early into J.J. Abrams’ Hollywood takeover, but none of his other projects — either before or since — have so perfectly embodied his strengths as a showman. Beginning with a surprise trailer before “Transformers,” Abrams’ greatest mystery box hatched a monster so compelling that we’re still wondering about it today, as the “Cloverfield” name alone proved enough to spawn an ongoing series of spinoffs. Of course, Matt Reeves deserves his own share of credit for directing the thing, the future “Apes” filmmaker tapping into post-9/11 trauma and the rise of digital video to create a found-footage masterpiece that’s resourceful and spectacular in equal measure. Sure, the human characters are kind of dumb, but the monster disposes of them all in due time, leaving behind only pixelated memories and the splash of something shiny in the distance. Shame about the Time Warner Center, though.

Available to stream July 1.

6. “The American” (2010)

A true diamond in the rough that was a low-key hit when it opened in theaters in 2010 (but would be almost unthinkable as a major theatrical release in 2019), Anton Corbijn’s “The American” is a movie that comes to Netflix in search of the cult fanbase that it’s always deserved. Corbijn’s best film by a country mile, and the one that most viscerally translates his sharp photographic eye into narrative tension, this poignant and immaculate little thriller combines the existential asceticism of Jean-Pierre Melville with the irrepressible star power of George Clooney. The future Nespresso spokesman plays a terse and troubled hitman who holes up in the beautiful Italian village of Castel del Monte after a job goes wrong.

Trouble will find him, as it always does, but anyone expecting a series of shoot-outs will be disappointed to find long scenes of Clooney silently assembling a gun, falling for a local prostitute (Violante Placido), and staring at butterflies as he waits for death to do its worst. While the film can be rather pulse-pounding, it’s best to think of “The American” as a purgatorial character study about a killer trying to eke a sliver of redemptive grace from his violent life. It’s a nearly perfect one at that — spare and soulful and as gorgeous as the Italian countryside that surrounds it.

Available to stream July 1.

5. “Road House” (1989)

“I want you to be nice, until it’s time not to be nice.”

Once upon a time, you had to sit by the TV and hope that the programming gods at TBS decided to grace you with this movie on a Sunday afternoon. Now, you just have to log-in to Netflix and know where to look. For those of you who haven’t seen “Road House” — you poor, unfortunate souls — this touching American masterpiece stars Patrick Swayze, Sam Elliott, and Patrick Swayze’s perfectly clenched buttcheeks (each of which deserved their own SAG card for this film) as bouncers at the rowdiest roadside bar in all of Missouri. It’s the kind of place where the bands play behind a chain-link fence so they don’t get pelted with the glass bottles the patrons throw at them, and where the men working the door keep their medical records on them at all times in order to save time at the E.R. And yet, there’s so much poetry and wisdom behind those well-guarded doors. “Nobody ever wins a fight,” Swayze says, after fighting literally every man in the country west of Ohio. Nobody, that is, except for the people watching from home.

Available to stream July 1.

4. “Sorry Angel” (2018)

An affecting, unshakeable standout from the Competition lineup at last year’s Cannes, Christope Honoré’s “Sorry Angel” comes to Netflix soon after its theatrical run, and with all of its raw tenderness still fully intact. Here is what IndieWire’s Chief Critic Eric Kohn had to say about the film after its premiere:

Sorry Angel” is about a sad, brilliant author struggling with AIDS, but it’s not a grim death drama. The most emotional and understated work from French director Christophe Honoré is a touching tribute to the art and culture of early ‘90s France, charting creative obsessions young and old, and strikes a note that’s life-affirming and melancholic. Set in 1993, the movie centers on Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps, the breakout star of erotic thriller “Stranger By the Lake”), an HIV-positive novelist of some note who has reached a crossroads. His life is transformed when he meets Arthur (Vincent LaCoste), an aspiring filmmaker in his early twenties keen on escaping that parochial seaside world of Brittany for the fast-paced metropolitan pleasures of Parisian life.

Not since 2007’s “Love Songs” has Honoré crafted so many absorbing moments, including one of the very best scenes of his career: a prolonged cruising sequence involving several men in a parking lot after dark that unfolds with the poetic language of a dance sequence. The filmmaker transforms the sordid circumstances into a collective statement on the relationship between desire and community that sits at the center of the movie’s compelling thesis.

Available to stream July 13.

3. “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

Never one to shy away from enshrining his own myth, Tarantino has publicly confessed that the opening scene of “Inglourious Basterds,” his career-topping 2009 masterpiece about a renegade group of Nazi hunters who kill Hitler and burn his corpse alive in a celluloid inferno (it’s more fun if you don’t fact-check it), is his favorite thing he’s ever written. And while artists aren’t always the best arbiters of their own work, Tarantino is the rare filmmaker who’s as famous for his taste in movies as he is for making them.

Mining incredible suspense from a mega-dose of exposition, Hans Landa’s conversation with a suspiciously tense French dairy farmer not only makes for one of the great villain introductions of all time, it also takes a familiar trope of Holocaust cinema — cutting between a calm Nazi and the petrified Jews hiding from him just a few feet away — and explodes it into a colorful world that’s less informed by World War II than it is the movies that have been made about. And so the stage is set for Tarantino’s greatest film, a bloody chunk of revisionist history that dares to suggest that pop art can be a form of revenge. Arriving on Netflix just in time for the release of Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Inglourious Basterds” is also a fun reminder that pastiche” is only a dirty word if you don’t know how to pronounce it properly.

Available to stream July 22.

2. “Mean Streets” (1973)

Both of the top slots on this month’s list are both reserved for Martin Scorsese movies, but that’s only because of an executive decision not to let one director hog the top four. While the edge goes to “Mean Streets” and “Taxi Driver” for their historical importance — and for the pronounced ways in which those two films improve Netflix’s anemic lineup of classic American cinema — we could just as easily have chosen to highlight other Scorsese gems like “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” and the auteur’s under-seen debut feature, “Who’s that Knocking at My Door” (which stars a 28-year-old Harvey Keitel, if you can imagine such a thing).

But Scorsese wouldn’t be Scorsese without “Mean Streets,” a raw and ruthless portrait of life on the streets of Little Italy in the early ’70s that established Scorsese’s peerless gift for underworld pathos and the violence through which it tends to express itself. The scrappiness required to tell the story of young Charlie Cappa (Keitel) and his even younger miscreant best friend (Robert De Niro as Johnny Boy) — the scrappiness that’s baked into the film’s tortured soul — has managed to remain intact over the decades of Scorsese’s ascendency. From his feverish documentary work to his stateliest big studio dramas, Scorsese is still fueled by the same energy that allowed him to cobble “Mean Streets” together.

Available to stream July 1.

1. “Taxi Driver” (1976)

It’s frustratingly ironic that Scorsese was accused of siding with “The Wolf of Wall Street” subject Jordan Belfort, as the filmmaker has always stood out for his steadfast refusal to pass judgement upon his characters, many (if not most) of whom have been difficult men under the thrall of their own moral turpitude. Writing about “Taxi Driver” in 1976, Pauline Kael observed that “This film doesn’t operate on the level of moral judgment of what Travis Bickle does. Rather, by drawing us into his vortex it makes us understand the psychic discharge of the quiet boys who go berserk. And it’s a real slap in the face for us when we see Travis at the end looking pacified. He’s got the rage out of his system—for the moment, at least—and he’s back at work, picking up passengers in front of the St. Regis. It’s not that he’s cured but that the city is crazier than he is.” The crazier things get, the easier it is to see Travis clearly. Revisiting the film in 2019, you might be surprised to find that he hasn’t changed, even as the world has continued to decay around him.

Available to stream July 1.

Popular on IndieWire

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , , ,


Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox

Newswire