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.
Belgica (Felix van Groeningen)
Writer/director Felix van Groeningen based Belgica’s script on his father’s experiences running a nightclub in Ghent. How closely the story hews to the real events is anyone’s guess, though the boilerplate “though inspired by true events, all persons depicted are fictitious” title card which opens the film suggests that it might hit too close to home for more than a few real-life people. There are no bad guys in the movie, but no one comes off particularly well, either. A pair of brothers’ effort to build a successful disco pulls both of them into a draining swill of drugs and greed. That trajectory, and how the film goes through it, is disappointingly cliched — although maybe in this case, life was imitating (bland) art, and van Groeningen is just telling it as he saw it as a child. – Dan S. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
Colonia (Florian Gallenberger)
It’s amazing how many horrific acts mankind has initiated over the past century. With all the coups, wars, dictators, etc. it’s impossible to find a country devoid of at least one historically heinous blight. Chile under Augusto Pinochet certainly had its fair share, but I never heard of the prison camp/cult commune Colonia Dignidad. Run by a “godly” savior in Peter Schäfer (Michael Nyqvist), this community guarded by an electrified fence and segregated between men, women, and children became his state-run playground. He took in Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA)’s tortured and lobotomized, broke up families forced into captivity, and ensured no one could leave. Only five people in forty years ever escaped and we’re to believe Lena (Emma Watson) and Daniel (Daniel Bruhl) are two. – Jared M. (full review)
The Girlfriend Experience (Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan)
If one was also hesitant to see what could be expanded upon from Steven Soderbergh‘s 2009 feature, fear not, as the TV version of The Girlfriend Experience very much lays down its own path, all while keep the requisite dose of icy detachment. Coming from the talented duo of Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan, having recently binged all 13 episodes, its noirish approach to showing how a woman finds her identity has me all the more looking to a hopeful second season.
Where to Stream: Starz
Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)
At once Paul Thomas Anderson‘s loosest and densest film, Inherent Vice presents a world that’s easy to get lost in. Not because his adaptation of Thomas Pynchon‘s novel isn’t interested in hand-holding — it is a mystery from the point-of-view of a paranoid and confused pothead, mind you — but its melancholic tone, the Blake Edwards-like comedy, and array of endlessly eccentric characters, all of which add up to a transcendent two-and-a-half hours. This is a movie that washes over its viewers as long as they’re willing to go along for the trippie ride. It’s a strange, funny, and surprisingly sad story, almost more about a bad breakup than the mystery Doc has to unravel. Shasta Fay’s (Katherine Waterston) presence is almost always felt in Inherent Vice. Doc confronts equally confusing internal and external struggles in this dreamlike LA story. Despite a disappointing box-office, it’s up there with Anderson’s best work. – Jack G.
Where to Stream: HBO Go
Jane Got a Gun (Gavin O’Connor)
Gavin O’Connor, who’s built a sturdy reputation through elevated genre hits like Miracle and Warrior, was given the unenviable job to pick up the pieces. And while he’s created a fleet, nasty western that feels uncompromising in its violence, it’s also just as quick to jettison any of the themes that have the possibility to weigh down the story. In the last third, O’Connor isn’t so much tying up loose ends, as forcing the groundwork for the tidiest ending possible. – Michael S. (full review)
Krampus (Michael Dougherty)
Michael Dougherty’s Krampus — based around the German humanoid folklore figure who punishes naughty children — wants to be the White Elephant of the holiday movie season, a gleefully crude antidote to the saccharine holiday stories that crowd multiplexes this time of year. But Krampus doesn’t automatically succeed by existing. It can’t occasionally be subversive and weird, and then still rely on all of the same bad tropes of not only every other holiday movie, but the horror genre as well. – Michael S. (full review)
Lucy (Luc Besson)
Luc Besson’s Lucy may be the most daft and blissfully idiotic science-fiction movie you see this year. That, of course, shouldn’t prevent you from seeing it, because the truth is that this odd hodge-podge of the cerebral and sensational is one of the summer’s most purely entertaining experiences. There’s not a bit of the ridiculous science that makes any real-world sense, but Scarlett Johannson, playing the titular drug mule who gets a mental upgrade via synthetic CPH4, forms a demented partnership with Besson’s visceral styling to deliver a B-movie delirium the film’s trailers barely hint at. As much fun as breathlessly devouring a dime-store pulp novel on a lazy Sunday afternoon, Lucy is a delightfully eccentric addition to the crazy French director’s filmography. – Nathan B. (full review)
Where to Stream: HBO Go
Maggie (Henry Hobson)
A barren post-apocalyptic landscape with spare living humans and dilapidated cities seems to be the prerequisite for the standard zombie feature. It’s clear from the start that Henry Hobson‘s directorial debut, Maggie, has quite different interests. The emotionally dark drama favors a brooding mood and character-centered relationships over jump scares and gore-filled action. While it can often feel formally shapeless, a subdued performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger and an emotionally resonant leading turn from Abigail Breslin make Maggie a somewhat worthwhile genre offering. – Jordan R. (full review)
Where to Stream: Amazon Prime
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 2
After a delightful first season, the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has now arrived. Judging from early reviews, it’s just as a strong as hell.
Where to Stream: Netflix
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