And the Award for the Next HBO Goes to…

The quirky little start-up that once printed money by mailing you DVDs is hell-bent on morphing into the HBO—and the network, and the any-show, any-time streaming service—of tomorrow. Can Netflix and its pathologically modest founder, Reed Hastings, pull it off? Who knows? But it’s going to be fun to watch, starting this month with David Fincher’s $100 million House of Cards. The only guaranteed winner in the bloody battle for the on-demand future? You.

Hell Yeah, Samurais Killing Evil Dudes in the Most Creative Ways Possible 

Thanks to Takashi Miike, the director responsible for movie scenes wherein tongues are cut out of mouths and piano wires chop through limbs. His latest film, 13 Assassins—which we mandate you add to your Netflix queue this weekend—has more of the same. But with Samurais. GQ's Eric Sullivan Elaborates: 

Set in the mid-19th Century, the story revolves around a small group of samurai, led by an old master named Shinzaemon, covertly sent to assassinate a sadistic successor to the Shogun leadership named Lord Naritsugu. The arc is simple really: Naritsugu commits heinous acts for which there is no justification; Shinzaemon gathers the best samurai he knows to track down the sadistic Lord; an epic battle ensues.

Miike’s creative energy shines brightest during scenes of violence: Watching the limbless girl that Naritsugu used as a plaything thrash about is the most haunting image of the film. And the final battle scene, which runs for 40 relentless minutes, is packed with so many clever contraptions of destruction that it never dulls.

The one means of killing that dominates all others is death by sword. Dozens of torsos are ribboned, stomachs lampooned, and blood spritzed through the air like so many blasts from a Super Soaker. There’s something deeply satisfying about hearing the shing of a blade as it cuts through the air, dropping disposable bad guys every half a second. Will honor win out in the end? You can probably guess. But it’s the journey getting there, filled with questions of duty and a steady pile-up of bodies, that makes it worthwhile.

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Stream This: Thin Red Line

Averaged out, a new Terrence Malick flick hits the silver screen every seven trips we take around the sun, each one a masterpiece in its own way. So today’s release of The Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn is cause for celebration (it’s already been celebrated, in fact, by winning top honors at Cannes). Go see it. But if you’re pinching pennies and all of this Malick hype has you jonesing, head over to Netflix and stream The Thin Red Line.

Malick’s third film, released in 1998 (and 25 years since his first), follows an Army unit fighting in the Pacific theater of World War II. An anti-war war movie (aren’t they all?), the movie follows a group of barely-adult soldiers running headlong into combat for the first time to take back a hilltop bunker occupied by the Japanese. Scared shitless, unsure of what to expect or if it’s all worth it, these men display an internal angst not often seen in a war film.