Each week within this column we strive to pair the latest in theatrical releases to worthwhile titles currently available on Netflix Instant Watch. This week we offer alternatives to Hunger Games, The Raid, and The Deep Blue Sea.
This week the hotly anticipated tale of Katniss Everdeen hits screens, and its only competition in theaters is an Indonesian action-extravaganza and a star-studded romance. If you want more action and tales of love and heartbreak, we’ve got you covered with some of the best titles Now Streaming.
Based on Suzanne Collins’s wildly popular YA novel of a dystopian future, this teen-centered drama stars Jennifer Lawrence as a girl forced into a life or death battle on a nationally televised competition known as The Hunger Games. Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson co-star; Gary Ross directs.
For more tales of fierce heroines:
Winter’s Bone (2010) This gritty indie not only scored Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar nod, but also made her a serious contender for the coveted role of Katniss. Here she plays, Ree Dolly, a teen girl who learns some harsh truths about life in the Ozarks and her own family when her meth-cooking father goes missing. John Hawkes co-stars; Debra Granik directs.
Kick-Ass (2010) Chloe Moretz was an early favorite for portraying Katniss, thanks in no small part to her take-no-prisoners performance as the merciless tween killer Hit-Girl in this baroque superhero flick. Though not the title character, Moretz steals the show as the foul-mouthed, pint-sized girl with a serious thirst for violence and vengeance. Nic Cage co-stars; Matthew Vaughn directs.
Chocolate (2008) For something off the beaten path, check out this Thai offering that stars JeeJa Yanin as an autistic young woman who discovers she has the extraordinary ability to pick up incredible martial arts moves from watching action movies. Her newly acquired fighting savvy allows to her fight back against the gangsters who’ve cheated her cancer-stricken mother. While the other girls are serious badasses, Chocolate’s trailer boasts “No wires. No stunt doubles.” Prachya Pinkaew directs.
In this buzzed-about feature out Indonesia, a SWAT team invades a mobster-ruled tenement, resulting in waves of wild action sequences. Gareth Evans directs.
Indulge in action-packed tales from the East:
Outrage (2010) At the center of visionary writer-director Takeshi “Beat” Kitano’s explosive crime-thriller is a brutal yakuza rivalry. The plot’s simple, but the violence and action sequences are sleek and stunning.
13 Assassins (2011) Japanese auteur Takashi Miike has built a reputation for onscreen brutality and jaw-dropping violence with films like Audition and Ichi the Killer. His samurai-centered thriller won’t disappoint on those counts, but offers a more straightforward tale than he’s known for. Here a group of honorable warriors take face off against villainous hordes en route to taking down the fearsome tyrant whose terrorizing the locals.
The Man from Nowhere (2010) Jeong-beom Lee helms the Korean thriller that’s getting an American remake. It centers on a special agent whose friendship with a young girl helps pull him out of the grief of his wife’s death. So, when she’s kidnapped by a vicious gang, he reeks a brutal vengeance on their ranks.
Rachel Weisz stars as the lonely wife of a British judge, who discovers love and passion within an ill-fated affair with a Royal Air Force pilot, played by Tom Hiddleston. Terence Davies writes and directs.
Looking for love riddled by taboos?
People Will Talk (1951) Cary Grant stars in a surprisingly progressive plot line for the 195r0s. Here he plays a respected college professor who finds himself in uncharted territory when he falls for a woman who is single and pregnant. Rather than being repulsed by her single mom-to-be status, he pursues her, ultimately offering to raise the child as his own. Jeanne Crain co-stars; Joseph L. Mankiewicz directs.
Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) Shot on location in Hong Kong, this heralded feature centers on the forbidden romance between a Eurasian doctor (Jennifer Jones) and a married—though separated—American war correspondent (William Holden), who fall for each other in the midst of China’s Communist Revolution. Despite the country’s laws that prohibit interracial marriage, these two star-crossed lovers cannot deny their feelings. Henry King directs.
Doctor Zhivago (1965) In this iconic Oscar-winner, Omar Sharif stars as a respected Russian doctor whose life is through into spin when he falls for a passionate activist—played by Julie Christie—during the bloody Bolshevik Revolution. Geraldine Chaplin co-stars as Zhivago’s betrayed wife; David Lean directs.
Mighty B! (2008) For something lighter and wonderfully wacky, check out Amy Poehler’s short-lived yet heralded animated series. The Nickelodeon cartoon centers on an ambitious Honeybee scout named Bessie Higgenbottom, who dreams of collecting every achievement badges and transforming into a burly superhero called the Mighty B! With a lisp, buck teeth, and big glasses, Bessie a scrappy, socially awkward underdog, but her can-do attitude pulls her through—as do her loyal friends, a passive-aggressive dog named Happy, her pudgy kid brother (Andy Richter) who aspires to be her sidekick, and her dopey gal pal Penny. Set in San Francisco, Mighty B! is filled with colorful characters and positive messages that’ll appeal to kids, then stuffed with allusions and sharp comedy that’ll delight more mature audiences. But ultimately, Bessie, with her hard-headed yet always upbeat attitude is at her core a little Leslie Knope, making Mighty B! a must-see for Parks and Recreation devotees.
For more picks, check our Now Streaming archive.
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