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New to Streaming: ‘Blue is the Warmest Color,’ ‘Frozen,’ ‘Alan Partridge,’ Oscar Shorts & More

Written by on February 28, 2014 

With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we believe it’s our duty to highlight the recent, recommended titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below, and shoot over suggestions to @TheFilmStage.

After Tiller (Martha Shane, Lana Wilson)

Although documentaries often present real-life people working in risk-filled areas, the results can be quite banal. Half of reality television is filled with potentially exciting subjects: ER surgeons; truckers crossing thin sheets of ice; Alaskan crab fishers; or cops working some of world’s most dangerous streets. The problem with these shows is that, more often than not, their content boils down to one simple idea: “pretty crazy stuff!” In a breath of fresh air, After Tiller actually explores the psychology of four late-term abortion doctors, a group whose work is not inherently dangerous, but whose professional embroilment in political controversies have made them potential targets. Instead of gaping at this profession and the dangers surrounding it, directors Martha Shane and Lana Wilson have crafted a nuanced psychological portrait of why the set would fight for women on these front lines, as well as the ethical, political, and moral decisions they face every day. – Peter L. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Alan Partridge (Declan Lowney)

He may be getting attention for his acclaimed drama Philomena, as well as the recent Sundance debut of his entertaining sequel The Trip to Italy, but Steve Coogan also recently returned to perhaps his most iconic role, the fictional talk show host Alan Partridge. The new feature-length film was released in the U.K. last year and now it’s available on VOD ahead of a theatrical release. The project, coming from television director Declan Lowney (Little BritainFather Ted), follows hostage crisis of a disgruntled employee (Colm Meaney). Showing at NYFF, I actually got the chance to check it out last fall, and as my first introduction to the character, it was quite an entertaining time. – Jordan R. 

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Bottled Up (Enid Zentelis)

Bottled Up, the second feature from writer/director Enid Zentelis, is a noble piece of independent filmmaking, determined to explore oft-examined dramatic situations from a new perspective. The situations on display here, at their most basic, are drug addiction and environmentalism. Fay (Melissa Leo) is a quiet small business owner living in a quiet town in the Hudson River Valley, burdened with a pill-addicted daughter named Sylvie (the superb Marin Ireland) and a relatively uninteresting life. – Dan M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Blue Is The Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche)

Lovely as the title is, Blue is the Warmest Color ought to have been released under its French title, La Vie d’Adele Chapitres 1 & 2. The American title, in referencing Emma’s blue hair, emphasizes the love story that unfolds over the course of three hours, and that story is certainly one of the better ones to grace the screen in 2013, but the film’s real treasure, as suggested by the connection between the French title and an early scene in which Adele and her boyfriend discuss the unfinished novel The Life of Marianne, is in its depiction of life’s tendency to imitate art. It was a common theme in 2013, but none said it quite so elegantly. Oh, and it also has the best performance of 2013, courtesy the young Adele Exarchopoulos. – Forrest C.

Where to Stream: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes

Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee)

Disney’s Frozen probably didn’t need to break from the traditional princess mold to be a hit for the studio. So the fact that this long-coming interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen takes the time and patience to expertly turn that image on its head is both welcome and laudable — and directly opposite any marketing might suggest. Spinning a testament to true, unconditional love, unpacking the fool’s gold of ‘waiting for my prince to come,’ and asking big questions about the effect of fear on a young person’s sense of individuality and self wouldn’t count for much, if the package delivering it weren’t a strong story, passionately told. Fortunately for Disney and its fans—heck, even its critics can breathe easy this time—Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck have made one of the snappiest and most endearing Disney animated products in some time. – Nathan B.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

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