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New to Streaming: ‘Gravity,’ ‘Passion,’ ‘Wadjda,’ ‘House of Cards’ & More

Written by on February 14, 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.

Adult World (Scott Coffey)

Adult World is a likeable, boarding on loveable, comedy staring Emma Roberts as Amy, a recent college graduate with a degree in poetry. Not exactly a lucrative degree, she finds herself $90,000 in debt, living at home with her parents whom she asks for “Stamp Money” to send out her work to literary reviews. Letting her down easily, her parents tell her its time for a job and after hunting, she sees a sign and it brings to Adult World, a mom and pop porn and sex toy shop in downtown Syracuse. – John F. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Down and Dangerous (Zak Forsman)

If you’re familiar with writer/director Zak Forsman’s work you’ll know that it was only a matter of time before he branched out from subtle character pieces to the action genre. Whether the stoic performances, attractive compositions, or pulsing beats by composer Deklun, Forsman and his team at The Sabi Company have found the talent necessary to make Hollywood-caliber productions on a shoestring budget. And while the diptych of his Heart of Now and producerKevin K. Shah’s White Knuckles aligns more with that independent sensibility as far as subject matter and content, sometimes you need a sleek adrenaline rush to catch an audience’s attention and increase name recognition. Down and Dangerous proves to be just that—a high-octane thriller about a cocaine smuggler appealing to Drive lovers while still retaining the filmmaker’s devotion to character and emotion. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: iTunes

Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

Back in the ’90s, at the advent of IMAX technology, certain amusement parks would have a screen with some “experience” putting you “into the action.” Enter the 21st century, and director Alfonso Cuarón has made one of these with Gravity. While I admit such a description may seem like I’m putting the film in a bad light — simplifying it to the basest aesthetic traits — I honestly mean it as a compliment. Space has always been one place to which only a select few could boldly go; in this exhilarating look at its vast, empty expanse we truly get a sense of how beautiful and terrifying it truly is. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Inch’Allah (Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette)

You can only get pushed so far before breaking; it’s what you do to put yourself back together that’s significant. This is the message I got from Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette’s look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the eyes of a naively idealistic doctor attempting to coexist in both worlds. Inch’Allah shows how guilt, regret, and sorrow can change the very make-up of our character as rationality gets thrown out the window once we’ve experienced a deeply emotional connection to the tragedy at hand. Barbeau-Lavalette fearlessly puts a face to the horrors in the Middle East and shows how heavy the stakes truly are. We can pontificate all day from America about which side is right or how a solution can be found, but this tale shows us the crippling sense of helplessness felt on the frontlines. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

House of Cards: Season 2

Yes, we don’t normally cover television on the show but considering it’s a light week, this release may be the most notable new-to-Netflix selection of the batch. This Valentine’s Day, one can find some detached, cold love with the continuation of the dark political journey of Frank Underwood. And in the words of our president, no spoilers please. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: Netflix

Knights of Badassdom (Joe Lynch)

After being caught up in legal battles for the last few years, the LARP’ing film Knights of Badassdom is now available. If you liked the last forty minutes or so of 2008′s Role Models, featuring live action role players taking things quite seriously, than Joe Lynch’s latest — mixing comedy, horror, and heavy swordplay — should be up your alley. With a cast including Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, Summer Glau, Peter Dinklage, Margarita Levieva, Jimmi Simpson, Danny Pudi, Brett Gipson, and Michael Gladis, you can check it out at the links below. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Passion (Brian De Palma)

It’s De Palma to the extreme: cameras are constantly roving, investigating a room like a hungry detective; comedy, tragedy, and terror oscillate between one another faster than we’ve ever seen count; a character’s kinky interests are expected, barely requiring explanation; but for as fun as all this may be, Passion has a more significant position as the most “21st-century” picture to De Palma’s name. Though remaining slavishly faithful to the tics which came to define so much of his own cinema for so long, the filmmaker makes a massive extension into the world of digital images and digital economy. The results see old and new collide into something both familiar and enticingly different — all in all, an absolute treat for the director’s fans. – Nick N.

Where to Stream: Netflix

Wadjda (Haifaa al-Mansour)

Haifaa al-Mansour’s Wadjda is a small miracle of a film. The first Saudi Arabian feature directed by a woman, it’s a humorous but tremendously moving story, both universal in its larger themes and microcosmic when it comes to observing the lives of females within the male-dominated culture. The subversion is subtle, excluding the men from its inner circle of characters, while focusing on one of the community’s youngest, Wadjda, a little girl whose big act of rebellion is that she wants to buy and ride a bicycle. At first glance, the observational style of the film recalls fables like Bicycle Thieves and the Iranian gem Children of Heaven, but Mansour rises to the occasion of her film and makes it stand on its own as a sensitive and joyful portrait of these women. She shepherds an amazing child performance from Waad Mohammed, and through breathtaking compositions, generously turns the camera towards her female brethren, letting their lives speak for themselves. – Nathan B.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

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