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.
Burying the Ex (Joe Dante)
In the 12 years since Joe Dante’s last genuinely great release (Looney Tunes: Back in Action), Dante has only made two films. 2009’s The Hole was a movie completely in the director’s wheelhouse but still managed to miss the mark. His follow-up, and his newest film, Burying the Ex, is a modest return-to-form. – Jack G. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
Dear White People (Justin Simien)
One great aspect of the Sundance Film Festival is the occasional discovery of potential new and important voices in American cinema. Dear White People, the debut feature film from writer/director Justin Simien, heralds just that. It is a compelling, yet uneven scattershot of humor and commentary about racial conventions in the 21st century. Set in a fictitious Ivy League university, the film skewers the preconceptions of race in the modern era and how both sides of the coin can negatively reinforce stereotypes. The strength of the film is its razor-sharp dialogue brimming with quick-fire humor that would make Kevin Smith smile. Simien is a natural at creating flowing conversations that punch with intelligence and wit, but are also funny and entertaining. – Raffi A. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
Deep Web (Alex Winter)
Alex Winter‘s new documentary Deep Web provides many unanswered questions the future will certainly shed light on soon. This is its point. While also giving a layman’s education on its subject matter—the Dark Net within, Tor as a means to access it, Silk Road and other illegal marketplaces utilizing it, etc.—the driving thesis is to expose how crucial the trial of SR founder Ross Ulbricht is to understanding our basic human rights within a digital world. What happened in that courtroom at the beginning of 2015 is the genesis of precedence that will potentially allow our government to wield unlimited power over the changing social climate of our lives. Whereas the Constitution and Fourth Amendment protect privacy in the physical realm, US agencies are fighting hard to turn our digital existences into the Wild West. – Jared M. (full review)
Heaven Knows What (Ben Safdie and Joshua Safdie)
It’s hard not to fall in love with Arielle Holmes. Even when holding a close-up of a heroin daze (as seen on the poster) one gets the sense of the Safdie Brothers not prodding her and her real-life story for the sake of their own aesthetic interests, but rather a very complicated emotional need — one which the audience will understand within seconds. – Ethan V.
Where to Stream: iTunes
The Hunting Ground (Kirby Dick)
In the wake of Rolling Stone’s sloppy journalism chronicling a campus rape at UVA, a trend of defection has painfully occurred: slut-shaming, victim blaming and a culture of silence that seems to be rather pervasive. The story, nationally, is tragically the same and with their latest documentary, filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering focus on the largest academic brands in the country: Harvard, Stamford, Berkley, Florida State, and UNC Chapel Hill. A useful picture that should be required viewing amongst at freshman orientation, The Hunting Ground specializes in outrage of an epidemic that’s hidden, sparred on by certain fraternities with reputations. – John F. (full review)
Lawrence of Arabia: Restored Version (David Lean)
It’s not 70mm, but the restored version of David Lean‘s epic Lawrence of Arabia has now been added to Netflix’s streaming service. So, what are you waiting for? Grab the biggest TV screen possible and let one of the greatest films of all-time wash over you. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: Netflix
Miss Julie (Liv Ullmann)
It’s no great surprise that a screen legend’s latest behind-the-camera effort would result in one of 2014′s finest actor showcases. Miss Julie, as directed by Liv Ullmann, takes place almost entirely in one home — and about 80% of its time in that home is centered in a single room — and often consists of no more than Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell attempting to one-up each other in tantalizing games of cat and mouse. Someone who boasts a decades-long familiarity with dialogue-heavy movies can orchestrate strong performances? Again: no surprise. But while you might think this, alone, would make for a worthwhile time, her adaptation is also a triumph of staging and cutting, where Ullmann translates August Strindberg‘s classic play with a visual intelligence that makes the leads’ sparring as electrifying as anything that hit multiplexes this year. – Nick N.
Where to Stream: Netflix
Para Elisa (Juanra Fernandez)
The debut from Spanish filmmaker Juanra Fernandez presents a familiar horror setup, as the money-strapped student Ana (Ona Casamiquela) takes a babysitting job, unaware of the nightmare that awaits her. The gig lands her in the clutches of Diamantina (Luisa Gavasa), a nefarious old woman intent on turning Ana into a living doll for her deranged adult daughter Elisa (Ana Turpin). From there, Casamiquela and Turpin do little more than don baby girl fetish wear and accommodate an occasional upskirt shot as they mutilate each other for a mercifully short time (the film clocks in at just 74 minutes). Despite its sleazy objectives, the shoddy torture porn neither titillates nor terrifies, and by the final act, it doesn’t matter who lives or dies, only that the experience ends. – Amanda W.
Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google
Pitch Perfect 2 (Elizabeth Banks)
Part of the joy of the first Pitch Perfect was how unexpected it was. Every moment of heightened reality, every non sequitur, every cartoonish facet of each performers’ character was a blindsiding delight. Watching this zany group of misfits learn to work together, build up their strengths, and take down the competitions was a comedic romp that was highlighted by genuinely enjoyable music numbers. The movie as a whole was a strange, inventive, entertaining surprise that brought together a great group of comedic performers and let them loose in the most charming way possible. Needless to say, a sequel, while beside the point and utterly unwarranted, is not wholly unwelcome. – Brian R. (full review)
Spy (Paul Feig)
You never knew you wanted an R-rated comedic take on the action spy genre until halfway through Spy and you’re caught wondering why it has never been done quite this well before. Despite some rough patches peppered throughout, Paul Feig‘s latest film manages to continue rolling without much care for its missteps. Years after her break-out in Bridesmaids (also from Feig) and many films later, you’re going to either despise Melissa McCarthy’s wild antics or you’ll roll with the punches. McCarthy plays CIA agent and analyst Susan Cooper who spends her time at a desk with a mic in the ear of the Bond-like covert operative Bradley Fine (Jude Law), helping guide him with numerous technologies like thermal vision and layouts of buildings. “There are three men rapidly approaching the door up ahead,” and various other tips and commands are given by her, but things go wildly astray when Fine is murdered and the various agents in the field are exposed. – Bill G. (full review)
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
It’s not uncommon for a smaller distributor to be a bit behind on releasing press materials for a film, but when there’s radio silence the week of release, our eyebrows are raised. After picking up Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s The Young and Prodigious Spivet at Cannes well over two years ago, The Weinstein Company unceremoniously dumped the film into theaters just over a month ago, preceded by no formal announcement, zero press screenings, and not a single mention of it on their official site or anywhere else, for that matter — except for a trailer the night before. With the director has spoken out about the reasons, it’s now easily available to watch through the link below. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: Amazon Prime
Also New to Streaming
Beavis and Butt-head Do America
Black or White (review)
The Blair Witch Project
The Dead Lands (review)
Up in the Air (review)
The Weather Man
What are you streaming this weekend?