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.
Cinderella (Kenneth Branagh)
Disney is once again, after a reasonable hiatus, back in the business of princesses. Since the studio’s surprise success and subsequent exploitation of Frozen, the Mouse House seems destined to resurrect all their classic animated female characters in a manner resembling Marvel’s superhero line-up. After the empty and muddled special-effects spectacles that were Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent, the proposition of a new version of Cinderella wasn’t so enticing. – Nathan B. (full review)
The Connection (Cédric Jimenez)
If the gritty, excruciating milieu of William Friedkin’s The French Connection triggered a new direction in the career of lead actor Gene Hackman, then Cédric Jimenez’s The Connection—an extrapolation of the international side of the same story—should also ignite new possibilities for its star, Jean Dujardin. Dujardin, mostly known abroad for his comedic work in the likes of Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist and the OSS 117 films, leaps to dramatic center in The Connection as Jiminez’s French Popeye Doyle stand-in, magistrate Pierre Michel, a tough law-enforcer trying to take-out the heroin trade running through Marseille in the 1970’s. Dujardin takes on a meaty role and gives it some multi-faceted depth that utilizes his capacity for charm and ability to confound audience expectations when it comes to character behavior. – Nathan B. (full review)
Cooties (Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion)
After helping bring such films as A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Open Windows to the screens, Elijah Wood is getting more comedic with his next genre adventure, serving as both a producer and star. Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion from a screenplay by Leigh Whannell and Ian Brennan, Cooties follows a group of a elementary school kids and their teachers as a virus infects and spreads, causing widespread chaos. With a cast including Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, and more, it’s now available to stream.
Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve)
At this point, it should be obvious enough that we’re really quite fond of Mia Hansen-Løve‘s Eden, so I’ll save us some time by linking to my review — which, though several months old, in no way reflects a once-higher evaluation — and interviews with the director and co-writer / central inspiration. This is a film whose reputation will only grow in the years to come. If you slept on it while a big-screen experience was available, one can now stream. – Nick N.
Hellions (Bruce McDonald)
There’s a lot I like about Bruce McDonald‘s latest horror Hellions. Just as much also has me scratching my head, though. While this sometimes enhances the experience by cajoling you into wanting to watch it again to catch any little details you may have missed, I’m not sure this is one of those times. Unfortunately, right when the creepy factor breaks through its gauge to push me over the edge, it suddenly devolves into silliness. I don’t think it’s of the intentional kind either because screenwriter Pascal Trottier appears to hope it’ll continue down its hellish descent despite turning into what amounts to a warped but conventional psychological fantasy-filled afterschool special. It’s this result that tainted my journey, making me imagine what might have been if it were able to keep clenching my jugular to the end. – Jared M. (full review)
Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
Wes Anderson’s leap through the animated realm was a key moment that shifted his filmic characterization toward metaphysical poignancy, thus making way for Moonrise Kingdom, an impressionistically stylized portrait of a pre-Vietnam adolescent bliss. It’s not just Pierret Le Fou for children, but a story about the recreation of storytelling, appropriating aesthetics from low and high arts to burn memories of innocent times as a protection against the fears of adulthood, portrayed here as a melancholic, mid-life stasis (Norman Rockwell’s hard faces as imprints of immobility). What sympathizers to his visual language often miss is that his imperceptible framing not only engages a constant succession of spatial humor (cuts always matter), but, ultimately, a type of storybook visual prose that plays out into Anderson’s larger stakes of mixing brief penetrations of emotional honesty into carefully calculated pictoral surfaces, an update of Renoir’s A Day in the Country (the ending implied by the impressionistic image that is the final shot). The past is all prologue here, and it matters. – Peter L.
Where to Stream: Netflix
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon)
With the glut of shapeless and uninspired teenage dramas hitting the marketplace, a breath of fresh air arrives with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon with remarkable control, creativity and fervor, the film is equal parts a homage to classic cinema and a heart-wrenching romantic comedy with earned emotion. – Jordan R. (full review)
Reality (Quentin Dupieux)
This is what it’s like to go insane. Writer/director Quentin Dupieux loves the surreal and absurd, but Réalité [Reality] takes his penchant for humorous oddity to another level. With Philip Glass‘ “Music with Changing Parts” boring a hole into your temple and fluid sequences of characters meeting in real time or via some from of media projection (and sometimes both at once), the filmmaker revels in keeping his audience off balance and unsure. The beauty of it this time, though, is how he provides us something to look forward to besides any false hope for clarity. No matter how insane things become or how impossible, our only desire is to discover what’s printed on a blue VHS cassette found in the bowels of a boar. The suspense is authentic and the reveal as simple as it is obvious. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
Time Out of Mind (Oren Moverman)
Finding a link between the shared title of Oren Moverman‘s third feature film, Time Out of Mind, and Bob Dylan’s 1997 album took a little effort. Moverman co-wrote the script for Todd Haynes’ fantastic Dylan saga I’m Not There, and perhaps it was here that the title resonated and, to the writer-director’s mind, could be grafted onto his latest, Richard Gere-led drama. – Zade C. (full review)
Where to Stream: Cable VOD (check your listings)
Uncle John (Steven Piet)
Filmmaker Steven Piet has worn many hats over the course of his short career. He served as the cinematographer and editor for the documentary Girl Rising, a look at how education changes the lives of nine exploited girls from around the world. He also worked as a second unit crew member for the 2011 Mark Pellington ensemble drama I Melt With You. And that’s about it. Based on his directorial debut, Uncle John, you would think he would have far more credits to his name, as he has masterfully interwoven multiple genres into one tightly crafted, surprising little film. – Amanda W. (full review)
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