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The Pamphleteer Spring Streaming Guide
Photo by Charlie Deets / Unsplash

The Pamphleteer Spring Streaming Guide

What to watch where this spring

Right when Hollywood looked like it was getting back to normal with the kickoff of the summer movie season, the Writers Guild of America authorized a strike vote. A few months into the last strike in 2007, NBC resorted to showing decades-old episodes of Leno while consumers thoroughly picked clean the shelves of the local Blockbuster in a matter of weeks.  Now, we have years worth of films and TV untouched in our queues as the masterminds behind recently announced TV versions of Fatal Attraction, Twilight, and Harry Potter drone on about their value. Whether or not a strike comes to fruition in the next few days, our spring streaming guide offers the best in new releases, international films, and classics so good they may inspire you to become a scab.


Its partnership with Turner Classic Movies and access to Warner Bros.’s catalog make it the essential streamer.

Spring Breakers (2013) No movie better captured the downward spiral of the Obama Era than Nashvillain Harmony Korine’s ode to shallow excess and millennial privilege. As David Fear wrote in Rolling Stone on the eve of the film’s 10th anniversary, this, “cinematic equivalent of a tramp-stamp tattoo of Godard’s face,” prophesied everything from the rise of Trump to debates about cultural appropriation. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Benson play Kentucky coeds hoping to let loose and find meaning during a weeklong jaunt to St. Pete’s. But their run-in with redneck hip hop gangsta, Alien (a career-best James Franco), shows them the limitations of the American Dream. Trashy and gorgeous, keen in its shallowness, it’s one of the last decade’s best.

Sergeant York (1941) Hollywood legend Howard Hawks directs Gary Cooper in the story of Fentress County native Alvin York’s rise from humble Tennessee farmer to WWI hero. Torn between faith and duty to country, York becomes one of the most decorated soldiers of all time. Hawks puts a personal face on war, unflinching in his meditations on the nature of combat and man’s universal search for meaning.

Rachel, Rachel (1968) Paul Newman made his directorial debut with this minimalist character piece featuring his wife, Joanne Woodward, as an unmarried New England schoolteacher who finds her footing when a friend who moved to New York City asks her on a date. Emotionally raw in its probing of smalltown life and stunted potential, it’s the gold standard of movies with strong female leads too dedicated to artistry to announce itself as such.

The Criterion Channel

Groundbreaking classics and tragically under-released contemporary cinema.

No Bears  (2022) The Iranian regime finally released filmmaker Jafar Panahi from prison in February, which brought much-deserved attention to this self-reflexive blend of fiction and documentary in which he plays himself immersed in local scandals on the borders of Iran and Turkey. What would end up as mere navel-gazing in the hands of most directors becomes one of the most pointed allegories about Iranian identity that cuts through Western assumptions about Panahi’s homeland.

Dressed to Kill (1980) Upon its release, Brian De Palma’s Psycho riff about a lonely housewife (Angie Dickinson) caught between the ennui she shares with her therapist (Michael Caine) and a murderer on the loose in NYC led to mass protests from gay activists due to its depiction of the trans community. However, that legacy is a testament to the visceral nature and impeccable craft of the director only rivaled by his work on Carrie. The less said, the better about what Quentin Tarantino called the greatest American Giallo. The crown jewel of  Criterion’s spring erotic thrillers series.

Eric Rohmer’s Tales of the Four Seasons (1990-1998) The elder statesman of the French New Wave, Rohmer developed a distinct approach to quiet, introspective movies about love’s moral quandaries. The recent restoration of a quartet of films he made in the 90s shows that his vision remained intact in his fifth decade as a director. Whether turning his attention to grad students falling in love on a summer idyll or a middle-aged widowed vineyard owner seeking connection through personal ads, Rohmer captures the sugar highs and gut punches of budding love.


Indie film releases from IFC and Sundance, television from AMC Networks and BBC America, and Shudder–a hub for classic, rare, and offbeat contemporary horror.

Magic (1978) Anthony Hopkins stars as a ventriloquist descending into madness whose dummy may or may not be carrying out a series of murders in the Catskills. Though grossly underseen, the film features one of Hopkins’ best turns backed up by direction from a pre-Gandhi Richard Attenborough and a firecracker of a script by legendary writer William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All The President’s Men).

Possession (1980) This unhinged hybrid of spy thriller and body horror finds Sam Neill as an agent in West Berlin coping with a wife who wants a divorce and may be in thrall to a demonic tentacled creature. Enfant terrible Andrzej Żuławski goes for broke in a genre mashup that links Cold War subterfuge, marital decline, and the abject to form the definitive portrait of Europe in the 1980s.

Corsage (2022) Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Vicky Krieps) transforms from second-rate ruler to fan-favorite royal in a punk-rock costume drama that escapes the trappings of both its genre and basic BookTok feminism.


Disney’s dumping ground for all things adult.

High Fidelity (2000) John Cusack stars as a Chicago indie record store owner mining his past failed relationships as he faces the future in this Americanized adaptation of Nick Hornby’s classic lad lit novel that also features Jack Black’s breakout role. The most perceptive romcom of all time.

Piggy (2022) The brightest spot of last year’s Nashville Film Festival, the Spanish horror comedy follows an overweight teenage girl who discovers the slasher killer tormenting her hometown seems intent on taking out those who abuse her. A dive into the pitfalls of restorative violence and revenge as fresh as it is funny.

Borgman (2013) This Dutch psychological thriller went largely unnoticed beyond the film festival circuit, but remains one of the most unsettling films of the 2010s. A mysterious vagrant who taps into demonic energy corrupts the upper-crust family that has taken him in after a brush with a vengeful priest in a film about the innate evil lurking under the service of Nordic secular society.

Amazon Prime

There’s great stuff buried underneath all that content.

Tender Mercies (1983) Robert Duvall plays a down-and-out alcoholic country singer who finds God and purpose in a rural Texas town when he becomes entangled with a single mother (Tess Harper) dealing with her husband’s death in Vietnam. One of the most profound spiritual experiences the movies have ever offered.

Tank Girl (1995) Though it eventually reached cult status, this mid-90s comic adaptation starring Lori Petti as a rebel fighting a power monopoly in a dystopia ravaged by drought flamed out as one of the decade’s biggest box-office disasters. But, it also features a meticulous world achieved through practical effects and an anti establishment subtext perfectly attuned to our current moment.

Good Will Hunting (1997) With Air primed as next year’s Oscar frontrunner, now seems a perfect time to revisit Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s first foray into brodrum. Damon pays a genius janitor working at MIT while balancing the trauma of his abusive South Boston upbringing with his intellectual ability. Robin Williams turns in his best work as the no-bullshit working class therapist who finally breaks through. Director Gus Van Sant may be one of America’s pioneering queer directors, but we’d do well to listen to the timeless ruminations on manhood he helped shepherd to screen.


If it was released before 2005, it doesn’t exist.

Crimson Peak (2015) Guillermo del Toro became a brand with his socially conscious monster movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water, but this Gothic haunted house tale ranks up there with his best. Mia Wasikowska plays an author traveling to England who falls in love with a mysterious aristocrat (Tom Hiddleston) against the wishes of his erratic sister (Jessica Chastain). As the spectre of Late Victorian imperial anxiety sets in, del Toro crafts a throwback to his 50s forebearers as resonant as it is beautiful.

Side Effects (2013) Steven Soderbergh’s legal thriller about a depressed housewife (Rooney Mara) accused of murder and the hapless husband (Channing Tatum) by her side went largely unremarked upon during its winter release ten years ago. However, it’s a tribute to the type of twisty 90s movies Hollywood has long abandoned with a Big Pharma indictment that seems all the more relevant with the unlikely rise of RFK.

Jerry Maguire (1996) Besides boasting Tom Cruise at the pinnacle of his fame, this blockbuster Best Picture nominee is also one of the few Hollywood movies to explore the ramifications of idealism in a winner-take-all world. Cruise’s successful sports agent has a crisis of conscience that his ego isn’t quite ready to handle. Left for dead with a third-string football player (Cuba Gooding Jr. in his Oscar-winning role) as his only client, Maguire tries to do good and find himself while beginning a relationship with a put-upon single mom (Renee Zelwegger) who seems to be the only one left that believes in him. Cameron Crowe’s pitch-perfect dramedy offers up a pragmatic version of love that savors minor victories on Cruise’s journey to sincerity while never sidestepping the pitfalls of companionship.


Rare arthouse hits, international classics, and well-curated American indies.

Little Men (2016) After his grandfather dies, Jake moves to an inherited apartment building in Brooklyn and bonds with Tony, the son of a local shopkeeper. But when is his failed actor father (Greg Kinnear) and mother (Jennifer Ehle) raise the rent on Tony’s mom to unaffordable levels, the boys find themselves navigating their friendship in Ira Sachs’s tender tale of lost innocence, parental missteps, and childhood subjectivity.

Luzzu (2021) A fisherman desperate to keep a generations-old family business afloat comes up against the capriciousness of the global economy in this Maltese working class drama that humanizes deplorables thanks to its nuanced focus on character.

Something, Anything (2014) Knoxville filmmaker Paul Harrill shot this story of a millennial housewife (Ashley Shelton) reeling from a miscarriage and searching for spiritual fulfillment in his hometown. The result is a deceptively simple interrogation of belief in the Bible Belt that obliterates its faith-based counterparts.

Paramount+ with Showtime

Skip the subscription fee with a matinee or two and a trip to WalMart’s value DVD section.

Scream VI (2023) The latest in the 90s’ quintessential horror series holds its own against its predecessors while remaining equally compelling. Fresh from the events of the last film, Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega lead a ragtag gang of Woodsboro’s finest to a NYC college campus as they confront their trauma. But Ghostface is back to drop some bodies and wax meta about the concept of franchises. A harrowing rooftop escape and some vintage Courteney Cox zingers make this the horror romp of the year thus far.

Marathon Man (1976) Laurence Olivier is a Nazi dentist hiding out in Brazil who just wants some diamonds returned to him after his brother’s death. The only thing between him and war criminal nirvana is Dustin Hoffman as a cross-country running history graduate student who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Midnight Cowboy director John Schlesinger blends the conspiracy thriller and low-key sci-fi for some top-shelf 70s urban paranoia.

Bacurau (2020) The Most Dangerous Game goes neocolonial in this Brazilian dystopian western about the titular village encountering a water shortage and a group of tourists who pay to hunt locals. It may seem like a half-baked allegory, but its deep-dives into rural politics and singular world building save it from ham-fistedness.


The struggle is real.

Blue Valentine (2010) Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star as a couple trying to save their flailing relationship in this wrenching drama by Derek Cianfrance that is uncomfortably intimate because it’s so familiar.

Popstar: Never Stop Popping (2016) Andy Samberg plays a megalomaniac Macklemore clone in a mockumentary that got lost in shuffle during the Summer of Trump. The most brutally fun music industry satire since Josie and the Pussycats.

Burning (2018) Bong Joon-ho and his Oscar winner Parasite may have become shorthand for South Korean film, but his contemporary Lee Chang-dong has also been churning out masterwork after masterwork since the early 90s. His first film after an eight-year hiatus follows an aspiring novelist working as a delivery driver who investigates the disappearance of a childhood friend when she becomes involved with an enigmatic rich boy obsessed with burning down greenhouses. Meticulously paced yet contemplative, the film probes its Hitchcockian legacy and the declining prospects of Korean youth with equal aplomb.


The best source of offbeat recent releases and 80s and 90s new classics.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) How many times does Nicholas Cage have to prove he’s more than a meme? Between his brilliant work in Pig and his turn as Dracula in this month’s Renfield, Cage played a version of himself on the edge of career oblivion. When a billionaire (Pedro Pascal) offers to pay Cage for a personal appearance at his compound, the actor finds the true confidant he’s been searching for all his life. However, his new bestie may also run one of the biggest illicit arms dealing operations in the world. Cage isn’t afraid to ape his own persona in the most original action flick in years.

Hail, Caesar! (2016) The Coen Brothers set their sights on Red Scare Hollywood in a film loosely based on the life of celebrity fixer, Eddie Mannix. Josh Brolin bounces around the studio lot attending to celebrity crises large and small as the golden age of Hollywood reaches its twilight. But when a group of rogue blacklisted screenwriters kidnap the studio’s leading man (George Clooney), he faces the greatest challenge of his career. Somehow the Coens balance a love letter to the movies with their trademark acerbic farce all the while offering up a potent critique of celebrities’ easy politics.

Leviathan (2014) The film Vladimir Putin didn’t want you to see finds a mechanic in a Russian seaside town fighting an endless battle against the petty politicians and bureaucrats that want to seize his family’s land. Why its under-the-radar allegory and genuine attempts at understanding its characters have’t become touchstones in culture war filmmaking is beyond comprehension.