With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the 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.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Adam McKay)
Yes, the rumors are true; the legend of Ron Burgundy continues, and if it’s not an unexpected journey, it not so unexpectedly utilizes some Journey songs along the road to victory. There’s certainly plenty of epic 80’s pop-rock to both commemorate and eulogize this titular titan of TV news and the era he and his cronies represent. In many ways, Adam McKay’s long-coming sequel is just as absurd, corny and pleasingly durable as any of the familiar tunes it drags back up on stage. Will Ferrell steps back into the character in a way that suggests possession more than habitation, and he and McKay return to their creation with a sense of affection that makes all the difference. – Nathan B. (full review)
Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
Exactly one year after completing his accomplished Before trilogy at Sundance, writer-director Richard Linklater returned with Boyhood, a film 12 years in the making and worth every minute of the wait. Shot one week at a time over the course of a decade or so, Linklater explores the formative years of a young man named Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane. Born into separated parents, played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke (doing some of the best work in their careers), Mason represents some part of a childhood all of us have known. This is a film of many small moments, all added together to make something quite wonderful. – Dan M (full review)
Calvary (John Michael McDonagh)
Calvary opens hard on Father James (Brendan Gleeson) sitting in his confessional, listening to his parishioners’ sins. In comes a scarily calm voice from the other side of the confessional, telling Father James he’s going to be killed in a week’s time in retribution for terrible sins committed by a terrible priest. It’s a memorable way to open a film, and Gleeson does well in wearing the threat on his face throughout the picture. A kindly priest with a long history of sin, Calvary is, in its best moments, a highlight reel of how impressive an actor Brendan Gleeson is and has been. The script and direction come from John Michael McDonagh, who found considerable Sundance success with the far broader, cop-out-of-water comedy The Guard. – Dan M. (full review)
Get On Up (Tate Taylor)
Biopics, especially musical biopics, are both an easy sell and a tough nut to crack. Like the most resilient of sub-genres, the formula is so tried and true that to stray from it is to avoid what is obvious. You have a storied, genius artist whose beginnings are (and have been constructed to be) the stuff Americana is built on: a poor child from a fractured family with God-given greatness. Through tragedy comes legend, and from fame comes tragedy all over again. And yet, at the end there is much to celebrate. And while Get On Up does not hide from the tropes of all of the relatively genial musical biopics that have come before, director Tate Taylor does his damnedest to find the flavor (or the funk) in the tale of musician James Brown, played winningly by Chadwick Boseman. – Dan M. (full review)
The Good Lie (Philippe Falardeau)
Directed by Philippe Falardeau (Monsieur Lazhar) with the sense of intimacy required for the material, The Good Lie is a fine film on its own. Its harrowing first act is rewarded by a feel-good third act, while its second act explores the bureaucratic, political and cultural entanglement felt by Sudanese refugees entering the US pre-9/11 as they adapt to live in Kansas City. What elevates the material and performances into something exceptional is the four young cast members at its core have been directly affected by the Sudanese Civil War, including two who previously served as child soldiers. – John F. (full review)
It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt)
If one recently tuned into The Simpsons then they were privy to the beautifully bizarre introduction provided by animator Don Hertzfeldt. In the works for a number of years, the the latest film from the Oscar-nominated artist, It’s Such a Beautiful Day, is now available to stream. The final part of a trilogy, this one looks at Bill, who “struggles to put together his shattered psyche.” – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: Netflix
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (Mami Sunada)
The fate of Studio Ghibli has remained uncertain since its co-founder Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement last August. Since then, rumors have swirled, with reports claiming that the Japanese animation giant will keep going, while others, including statements from Miyazaki himself, appear more skeptical. But when Mami Sunada first stepped inside Ghibli in the spring of 2012, the studio was very much alive and in the process of creating more of its signature hand-drawn work. Sunada’s documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness follows the parallel productions of Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and his partner Isao Takahata‘s The Tale of the Princess Kayuga, two films that would punctuate the end of an era, along with the forthcoming When Marnie Was There. – Amanda W. (full review)
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani)
You don’t have to be familiar with the films of Mario Bava, Sergio Martino, Paolo Cavara, or even Dario Argento to appreciate The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, the second giallo homage written and directed by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, the duo behind Amer. Giallo films are, by-and-large, proto-slashers, Italian horror/thriller films in the ‘60s and ‘70s featuring gory murders by psychopaths cloaked in shadows and trench-coats instead of masks; they often contain stylish camerawork and carefully determined colors, occasionally focus on ghosts and witches, and almost always showcase brilliant scores (which are recycled brilliantly in TSCoYBT). Cattet and Forzani retain many of these elements, but their film works just as well for the uninitiated, as many of the directing duo’s stylish editing patterns play with perceptions not just of giallo, but cinema as a whole. – Forrest C. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
The Trip to Italy (Michael Winterbottom)
If all one needs to make a movie if a girl and a gun, as per Godard, then perhaps all you need to make a good comedy is two guys in a restaurant, talking about nothing. That’s the basic gist of Michael Winterbottom‘s The Trip and the basic gist of his sequel, The Trip To Italy. Returning are comedian-actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, this time traveling around Italia to eat well and write well as a follow-up to the foodie piece they wrote (or rather Rob wrote) the first time around. – Dan M. (full review)
Where to Stream: iTunes
The Village (M. Night Shyamalan)
Many like to frame Shyamalan’s 2004 feature as a post-9/11 allegory — the Bush’s administration’s color-coded threat-levels being seen in the elder’s warnings of red as the forbidden color (yellow being a safe one). This is not at all invalid, but The Village has much more on its mind: cinema itself. While seemingly recycling one of The Sixth Sense’s key visual motifs, Shyamalan appears to be fully aware of his own belief in the power of color, the components of visual storytelling, or rather a “pure cinema.” This finds itself manifested in a simulation of a 19th-century setting. After all, words need images to compliment them; the village itself is the skeleton of a film, but colors are the mise-en-scène, so to speak. As storytelling was exemplified in his past films through school plays, comic books, and television broadcasts, it comes to its clearest point here, rendered through every step of a developing narrative. – Ethan V. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
The debate over Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece already feels tired. No, The Wolf of Wall Street does not glamorize the antics of Jordan Belfort. But it does revel in them, just like the bloodsuckers who loved him. Leonardo DiCaprio gives his best performance as one of cinema’s great irredeemable assholes, a Quaalude-popping destroyer who, in some ways, feels like the ultimate American businessman. When Wolf finally comes to a close, at nearly the three-hour-marker, this feeling crystallizes. We watch a post-prison Belfort work his magic to a new group of wannabes, and as Scorsese’s camera lingers on their wide-eyed expressions, realize why this film, the director’s later-period classic, is so important: because it captures the allure of money and power in a manner that feels fresh, vital, and now. Everyone involved — Scorsese, DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Thelma Schoonmaker — are at the top of their game. And the result is a film that will feel as relevant in 20 years as Goodfellas does today. What filmgoer could have hoped for more? – Chris S.
Also New to Streaming
What are you streaming this weekend?