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New to Streaming: ‘Nostalghia,’ ‘Enough Said,’ ‘You’re Next,’ ‘Fruitvale Station’ & More

Written by on January 3, 2014 

Drinking Buddies (Joe Swanberg)

Best known for his fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants filmmaking technique that has slowly grown in popularity under the “mumblecore” moniker, Joe Swanberg‘s latest project boasts his most notable ensemble yet, with Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson and Ron Livingston in tow. And though this style of filmmaking can sometimes have a negative connotation, here is a project that simply works well under that guise. One starts to fall for these characters and their naturalistic dialogue and connect to their drama. With a relatable scale, the plot focuses on two friends that have never explored the possibility of a relationship together – even in just a physical sense – but have sexual tension following them like a fog. – Bill G.

Where to Stream: Netflix

Enough Said (Nicole Holofcener)

There is a (debatable?) rule, in the field of film assessment, which states that a critic should be wary of reaching beyond the text or the frame of a given film when evaluating its merits. Sometimes the situation is black-and-white: if I watched Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said after not eating a single food item for three days, and then wrote a review claiming that the movie was so excruciating that all I could do while watching it was fantasize about my next meal, I would probably have a hard time justifying that statement to a sane reader. However, there are situations in which some leeway is welcome, perhaps even necessary, and it’s simply impossible to watch, write, and/or think about Enough Said without being aware of the fact that James Gandolfini died months ago at the age of 51. – Danny K. (full review)

Where to Stream: AmazoniTunes, Google

Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)

What could have been an exploitative look at an instance of police brutality and the unfathomable outcome wrought from fear and abuse of authority in an incident more complex than simple racial undertones might describe, writer/director Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station decides instead to show how integral each life on this earth is to those he/she loves. It isn’t about vilifying the white murderer or turning the black victim into a hero; it’s about showing the life of a complicated man with faults and a checkered past finally understanding what matters above selfish wants and desires. And with some of the year’s best performances—Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz—we’re made to understand both the good and bad results of our actions and that things are never as cut and dry as we’d like to believe.

Where to Stream: AmazoniTunes, Google

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Lee Daniels)

Yours truly has struggled to understand how much Lee Daniels, the eponymous director of / possessor in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, is playing his new film as a wink and nod. The true story of the White House’s black butler gaining a head-on view of the changing social landscape sounds, if only on paper, somewhat familiar — akin to the likes of The Help or Driving Miss Daisy, perhaps; what your older relatives especially enjoy — and notwithstanding the fact that action glides in this register for roughly half a total runtime, something altogether stranger seems to be happening at the margins. Even if Daniels and scribe Danny Strong (a fit, considering his credits on the HBO political movies Game Change and Recount) fall short of a historical picture with more to say about the genre and our conceptions of passing ages, the path which we follow comes tantalizingly close — a picture that emerges unexpectedly worthwhile, in equal part because of its palpable strengths and more peculiar flaws. – Nick N. (full review)

Where to Stream: AmazoniTunes, Google

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