Amazon's partnership with HBO drives the new arrivals this month, with past seasons of four HBO shows coming into the rotation. Amazon also releases another "original" movie through its purchase of the sci-fi farce Creative Control, which won the special Jury for Visual Excellence award at the South by Southwest film festival. That's it for Amazon's own content, but it brings a delightful selection of offbeat film classics and cult favorites, including Benny & Joon, Ghost World, and Sex, Lies and Videotape.
Boardwalk Empire, Season 4 (May 21)
Steve Buscemi breaks out of his stereotype as the oddball, often creepy character to become a captivating antihero in this historical fiction based on the book of the same name. Buscemi plays Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, who, as treasurer of Atlantic County, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era, becomes the most powerful man in ultracorrupt Atlantic City. Through graft and control of the illegal booze trade, Nucky has made a fortune, but he's also made enemies. (His character is based on the real Atlantic City political boss Enoch "Nucky" Johnson.) Kelly Macdonald plays the fierce Margaret Thompson, a widow who makes the transition from a leader of the temperance movement to Nucky's moll and, eventually, his wife.
Humans, Season 1 (May 16)
Based on the award-winning Swedish sci-fi drama, this Anglo-American collaboration is yet another exploration of whether we can one day create machines smart enough to be considered human. In a slightly futurist society that's otherwise a lot like our own, humanoid robots, called synths, have become a domestic-help staple. The show explores how people relate to the machines, and even develop affection for them (of course the lead robot is a beautiful woman), and whether these almost-human creations are worthy of human rights. The casting of William Hurt, who starred in the somewhat similar film A.I., is a nice touch.
Lucky Louie, Season 1 (May 21)
Credit: HBOComedian Louis C.K.'s current show, Louie, is a masterful balance of absurdity and subtlety. Before that, there was Lucky Louie, a more traditional sitcom shot before a live audience that ran for just one season on HBO in 2006. A muffler repairman, Louie navigates the life of a working schlub, with a cute but cheeky little girl, a wife who (rightfully) chides him for eating too much junk food, and an oddball cast of friends played by fellow comedians, including the foul-mouthed Jim Norton. Lucky Louie is not a masterpiece; the characters and jokes are pretty predictable. But it has some very funny moments based on C.K.'s signature self-deprecating humor and is an enjoyable early look at the concepts that would come to fruition in C.K.'s current show.
Mr. Show with Bob and David, Seasons 1-4 (May 21)
Bob Odenkirk is best known for playing the blessed bit of comic relief in dark drama Breaking Bad, while David Cross will forever be connected with his creepy man-child character Tobias Fünke from Arrested Development. Before all that, in the late '90s, the two helmed this very offbeat HBO sketch comedy show. One example: a fake news story about a rash of Biggie Smalls-style assassinations between the East Coast and West Coast schools of ventriloquism. In budget and style, it's more like Mad TV than Saturday Night Live. If you like what you see and want more, head over to Netflix for their revival sketch comedy show, W/ Bob & David.
Strike Back, Season 3 (May 21)
Another Anglo-American collaboration, this action series centers on an elite division of Britain's MI6 tasked with breaking a terrorist enterprise led by a villain known only as Latif. The plotline is fictional, but the series is based on the novel of the same name by former Special Air Service (SAS) soldier Chris Ryan.
True Blood, Season 6 (May 21)
Amazon brings out the penultimate season of HBO's sexy vampire show this month. True Blood is gorgeously produced and packed with top-notch talent, including Alexander Skarsgård, Academy Award winner Anna Paquin and a sprawling cast of character actors. But let's be honest: It is filled with insane amounts of sex and gore. (This is HBO, after all.) Not that there's anything wrong with that. True Blood is a great campy romp, filled with action, suspense and gorgeous characters. In Season 6, full war breaks out between the humans and the vampires as the state of Louisiana launches a program to eradicate the undead. But they are in for quite a fight, as Vampire Bill now seems to be possessed by Lilith, the vampire's god.
Benny & Joon (May 1)
This very offbeat 1993 film is a romance between a mentally ill young woman, Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson) and her illiterate caretaker Sam (Johnny Depp). Joon's older brother Benny (Aidan Quinn) tries to protect his sister, but he isn't quite sure how to do it. Should she live with him, in a group home or on her own? He also doesn't know if Sam is good or bad for Joon. Always one to create oddball characters, Depp portrays Sam in the style of silent-era comedians like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, from the physical comedy down to the suspenders and hat.
Creative Control (May 12)
Amazon purchased this satirical indie movie — a hit from the South by Southwest film festival — about the (perhaps) emerging world of augmented reality (although nowadays, virtual reality seems to be a much hotter and influential tech trend). The film is set in a trendy Brooklyn marketing firm experimenting with what Google Glass wanted to be: a completely traditional-looking pair of hipster specs called Augmenta that somehow squeeze in the technology to project anything in front of the viewer's eyes. One of the surprising uses of the technology is an augmented-reality affair between the ad exec and his best friend's girlfriend. Creative Control is the latest entry in the tradition of sci-fi movies that explore how technology can not only alter our sense of reality but perhaps divorce us from our humanity.
Ghost World (May 1)
Before she was a mainstream superstar in hits like The Avengers, Scarlett Johansson played Rebecca, the cranky sidekick to Thora Birch (American Beauty) in this dystopian coming-of-age story by director Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa). In the film, based on the comic book by Daniel Clowes, the two play recent high-school grads struggling to find a life as adults, though they sorely lack the maturity and strategy. Birch is the center of the story as Enid, who falls unexpectedly into a relationship with sweet schlub Seymour, a much older man played by Steve Buscemi. The unlikely affair challenges Enid's simplistic cynical view of the world.
Goldfinger (May 1)
If you could watch just one James Bond film, make it this 1964 classic. It has a fortune in gold, a nuclear bomb, nerve gas, a killer hat, deadly lasers and the nastiest end to a Bond villain. Goldfinger also features the best of the Bond girls: the villain's personal pilot named — ahem — Pussy Galore.
Leaving Las Vegas (May 1)
Don't expect a moment of reprieve in this ultragrim but mesmerizing anti-romance. Nicholas Cage plays Ben, a Hollywood screenwriter who loses everything due to his rampant alcoholism. Feeling his life is over anyway, he decides to end it on his terms by literally drinking himself to death in Las Vegas. Along the way, he meets high-end prostitute Sera (Elisabeth Shue), and the two form a bizarre relationship that isn't quite sexual and isn't quite platonic. Spoiler alert: No matter how hard you try, it may not be possible to steer someone off their destructive path.
Sex, Lies and Videotape (May 1)
James Spader (The Blacklist) portrays the sexiest impotent man ever in the first feature by director Steven Soderbergh. In the film, which won the Palme d'Or award at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival, Spader's drifter character, Graham, arrives in Baton Rouge as a houseguest of philanderer John (Peter Gallagher) and his repressed wife, Ann (Andie MacDowell). Unable to enjoy traditional sex, Graham finds his pleasure in taping women's accounts of their sex lives and fantasies. Though Ann is horrified at first, Graham's frank desires and fetish prompt her to probe her own sexuality and her loveless marriage to John.
The Spy Who Loved Me (May 1)
One of the better Roger Moore Bond films, this 1977 flick features the franchise's quintessential title track, "Nobody Does It Better," sung by Carly Simon. The West and the Soviets join up — intimately, in the case of Bond and Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) — to take on evil genius Karl Stromberg, played by German film legend Curd Jürgens. If nothing else, the movie is worth watching for the ridiculous battle between Bond and Stromberg's metal-mouthed monster of a henchman, Jaws.
When Harry Met Sally (May 1)
Before "Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus," screenwriter Nora Ephron showed how truly fraught relationships between men and women can be in this 1989 comedy. A young Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan live out a multiyear love-hate friendship — with long dialogs full of zingers about the fundamental disconnect between the sexes. Ryan plays her classic role as the overly cheery romantic, while Crystal's character is the emotional cynic. As the two characters age and mature in 1980s New York City, they evolve into increasingly compatible characters. It's no surprise where they ultimately end up, but the journey there is very rocky and often hilarious.
What Else to Stream
Keep making the most of your Amazon Prime membership by using it to the fullest. When you're done with all these shows, check out our list of the best shows to binge watch.