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New to Streaming: ‘Nymphomaniac: Volume II,’ ‘A Touch of Sin,’ ‘Wolf of Wall Street,’ ‘Gattaca,’ ‘Mud’ & More

Written by on March 21, 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

20 Feet From Stardom (Morgan Neville)

You wouldn’t expect a documentary film about thwarted back-up singers who never quite made the big time to be filled with this much infectious joy, but that’s exactly the quality that director Morgan Neville brings to the table. For music fans, this 90 minute spotlight on the unsung singers behind the big names is a must see movie event. Even when the lot of this particular career profession results in frustration, the film itself never stops soaring. You won’t discover the definitive history of backup singers here, but what you will find is a collection of women whose stories are compelling, poignant and, in cases like Merry Clayton talking the Stones Gimme Shelter, the stuff of legend. – Nathan B.

Where to Stream: Netflix

47 Ronin (Carl Rinsch)

There have been numerous iterations of Japan’s unofficial, national legend about forty-seven ronin who avenged their master’s death at the start of the eighteenth century spanning movies, ballets, television productions, operas, bunraku, and kabuki plays. Known as Chūshingura, the true story has been embellished over the centuries to ensure each new generation told about these brave warriors understood the themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and honor being a Japanese citizen entailed. Whether or not the first account some fifty years after the actual event or any subsequent version went as far into the fantastical realm of witches and giant monsters as Hollywood’s latest take is for someone much better versed in the lore than me. However, while such things create the potential for stunning visuals and a fresh voice, they don’t necessarily improve its chances for success. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke)

Jia Zhangke’s films often depict an easy overlap between politics and pop culture, whether it be the entertainers of Platform or The World, or the seeming overabundance of accessibility in Unknown Pleasures. This certainly holds true for A Touch of Sin, which — while loosely based on four real stories of violence fuelled by capitalism in contemporary China — plays with the tropes of past popular cinema as many characters come to embody modern Wuxia knights, the brandishing of Zhao Tao’s knife easily recalling the heightened sword strokes of King Hu. But as a public opera of one these classic Wuxia stories directly poses at the end, “Do you understand your sin?” As easy as it may sometimes prove to cheer on these acts of violence, every one comes with their own set of repercussions. – Ethan V.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes

Blood Ties (Guillaume Canet)

Guillaume Canet’s Blood Ties not only tells a story that’s been wrought so often, but, worse yet, in a manner that lacks the raw, rough, and ready energy of those films which influenced it. Anchored by several strong performances, the film stars Clive Owen as Chris Pierzynski, a criminal whose recently been released from jail while his brother, Frank (Billy Crudup), is, of course, a cop. (Noah Emmerich even plays his boss in a fitting bit of type casting.) The two fight like only brothers can, while the women in their lives – Marion Cotillard as Chris’ baby mama-turned business partner; Mila Kunis as his girlfriend, later wife; and Zoe Saldana as Frank’s wife — sit back and observe as the men’s father (James Caan) attempts to break it up. – John F. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Cheap Thrills (E.L. Katz)

Every now and then a film completely sideswipes your mental capacities and takes over. Since seeing Cheap Thrills at SXSW, I’ve hardly been able to get the film out of my head. It’s stuck there, jabbing me every dozen minutes and reminding me how much I was in its deathgrip for around 90 minutes. There is very little fat to this work, a good sign, considering I don’t know if I could have taken any more visceral punishment. The stakes, the violence and the intensity were constantly moving higher as each minute ticked away. – Bill G. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Gattaca (Andrew Niccol)

If one judged Andrew Niccol‘s career based solely on the last decade or so, it wouldn’t necessarily be a pretty sight. But before he gave us In Time and The Host, he delivered one of the finest science-fiction films we’ve ever seen with Gattaca. His slick, calculated, and engrossing directorial debut follows Ethan Hawke in a future where he’s seen as lesser due to his genetic make-up, so he takes the identity of someone else to fill his dreams. Now streaming on Netflix, it’s time for a revisit, or a first view if you’ve never seen it. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: Netflix

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