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.
Accidental Love (Stephen Greene)
In early 2008, David O. Russell began production on a film called Nailed, a satire meant to dig into the hypocrisies of the American healthcare system. Two years and four production shut-downs later, O. Russell quit the movie, citing an unfinished key scene (in which star Jessica Biel gets a nail in the head) and a lack of money from the then-producer/now-bankrupt businessman David Bergstein. Five years later, it’s called Accidental Love, directed by Stephen Greene (an O. Russell-chosen pseudonym) and it’s been dumped on the VOD market by Millennium Entertainment. – Dan M. (full review)
Bad Turn Worse (Simon Hawkins and Zeke Hawkins)
Life for Sue (Mackenzie Davis) and Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) in their sleepy blue collar Texas town is at an end. They’ve been accepted to college and can’t wait for the transition in hopes it’s the first step towards never returning. But while neither is sad about leaving families behind, there is one person they can’t help feel conflicted about deserting. BJ (Logan Huffman) is her boyfriend, his best friend, and the kind of guy whose heart is always in the right place despite his head finding it hard to follow. Less mad about his inability to join them than their refusal to stay, BJ decides to throw his friends a going away party with love and a dash of bile. His acquisition of the necessary funds, however, may make it so no one ever leaves. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
The Better Angels (A.J. Edwards)
The best biopic of last year is also one of the most formally engrossing, two aspects that often clash. Yes, Terrence Malick‘s influence is felt in the debut of his protege, A.J. Edwards, but it’s the first film not from the renowned director to harness, not cheaply rip off, his style. With a fascinating historical approach (the voice-over dialogue comes directly from family writings regarding Abraham Lincoln) and despite never naming the iconic President-to-be, we get an intimate sense of both the harsh and tender side of his upbringing. It may not have received its proper due upon release, but I imagine few films from 2014 aging more gracefully than The Better Angels. – Jordan R.
Beyond the Lights (Gina Prince-Bythewood)
Beyond the Lights delights in being exactly what it is — which, unfortunately, is something most will dismiss as standard date-night fare without casting a second glance. Yes, at one level, it is a very good, albeit predictable film perfect for couples looking for something both heartening but intelligent. At another, it delivers to us one of the most compelling and endearing female characters we’ve seen this year, and it turns out she’s hiding right there, beneath the girl everyone has been looking at all along. This is another minor gem in Prince-Bythewood’s directorial crown. – Nathan B.
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: Netflix
Honeymoon (Leigh Janiak)
Honeymoon is a kind of Trojan horse; going in cold and not knowing that its playing in the “Midnighters” section of SXSW, you’d think you were in just another festival drama about 20-something hipsters venturing into the woods to discover themselves and something new about their relationship, family, etc. — it is that, and a great deal more. Initially we’re confronted with talking heads of our couple explaining a disastrous first date over Indian food in Brooklyn. – John F. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
Horrible Bosses 2 (Sean Anders)
Arriving to the cinematic Thanskgiving table like that chunky jello salad no one recalls asking for, Horrible Bosses 2 proves to be more of the same forced, unnecessary comic desperation we got a few weeks ago with Dumb and Dumber To — at least the Farrellys comitted to their farcical characters, no matter the stale shenanigans. Losing Seth Gordon as director for this go-round, as well as the trio of screenwriters (Seth Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan M. Goldstein), the new Bosses reassembles as much of the old cast as they can but don’t seem to remotely understand the original’s appeal. Here’s a comedy that recreates those feelings of bitterness and lack-of-control that come with a really horrible boss, but does so by subjecting the audience to a tumultuous, queasy buffet of antics that go on and on without relief. – Nathan B. (full review)
The Essential Jacques Demy
This past summer, the incredible Jacques Demy set from The Criterion Collection arrived, and while that comes with the highest recommendation, now much of it has recently been available on their Hulu Plus channel. Featuring Lola, Bay of Angels, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort, Donkey Skin, and Une chambre en ville, you won’t get the handful of documentaries, short films and interviews made available on the set, but the feature films will immerse you in the delightful world of one of cinema’s greatest directors. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: Hulu Plus
Kill the Messenger (Michael Cuesta)
Following the leads, pushing for the truth, and refusing to back down are the qualities that distinguish the great news journalists from everyone else. In Michael Cuesta’s Kill the Messenger, they are also the attributes that seemingly crash the life of its protagonist. Jeremy Renner, in his strongest, most nuanced role to date, plays Gary Webb, a San Jose reporter who uncovers government dalliances with the crack/cocaine trade and finds himself reduced from heroic, crusading underdog to vilified, conniving alarmist once his story breaks. Webb’s story is fascinating; sometimes infuriating, sometimes suspicious, ultimately tragic, but the movie itself lacks the kind of conviction and dogged insistence its subject seemingly embodies. – Nathan B. (full review)
The Last Five Years (Richard LaGravenese)
I wanted to blame The Last Five Years‘ failure on the original musical’s creator Jason Robert Brown since director Richard LaGravenese and cast can only do so much if the material is lacking. But then I learned about a huge structural detour that occurred during the adaptation process. Whereas the off-Broadway show consisted of solos—Cathy’s (Anna Kendrick) beginning with the end of their relationship intertwined with beau Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) from the start, meeting just once at the midpoint’s wedding—the film delivers each event as a duet. Then, out of the blue, the finale confusingly reinstates the dueling format. It, along with many awkward transitional jumps, could have made much better sense if LaGravenese kept Brown’s framework intact. However, while this alteration proves detrimental to the movie, I can’t imagine Brown’s misguided romance works onstage regardless. – Jared M. (full review)
Mood Indigo (Michel Gondry)
Whether it’s on account of the visual flair he showcases in this hyper-stylized alternative universe or, perhaps, through the frank manner some characters talk to each other, whimsical is the perfect adjective to describe Michel Gondry‘s latest film, Mood Indigo. Wild colors pepper the first half, and there’s an intense level of fun to be had throughout — but it’s not just visual flair. As we fall for our two leads, Chloe (Audrey Tatou) and Colin (Romain Duris), their profiles are intricately constructed. The latter, an extremely eligible bachelor, has a full-time lawyer who cooks for him in his wacky trailer apartment, never working because he has plenty of money. – Bill G. (full review)
Where to Stream: Amazon Prime
The Overnighters (Jesse Moss)
North America is the land of opportunity, but sometimes you have to travel to find it. The Overnighters revolves around the oil boom currently taking place in North Dakota and a small town that is flooded with people that tell stories reminiscent of the gold rush in California in 1849. Back then, towns sprung up as demand increased. However, in Williston, North Dakota, demand for housing in any form for the massive influx of workers has been heavily outstripped. Yet the tide of people continues to surge. Within this small town is a pastor that has opened up his church doors to the people seeking shelter, housing them for months at a time much to the chagrin of his own membership. This push and pull, the story of the film, becomes as powerful as any on the nature of complex issues such as religion, family, economics, and what it means to live in modern-day America. – Bill G.
The Rewrite (Marc Lawrence)
In the breezy rom-com The Rewrite, Hugh Grant plays Keith Michaels, an Oscar-winning screenwriter who’s rundown and washed-up enough to take a teaching job in upstate New York, much to his dismay. A bit of a fish out of water, the sub-genre’s perennial first son spends 90 light minutes learning the same kind of things his characters have learned since the early 90s: though he’s a bit of a cad not without his charms, our hero soon realizes this high-concept conflict is just what he needs to start his life over again. – Dan M. (full review)
Rosewater (Jon Stewart)
Contrary to early, perhaps reactionary, accounts, Rosewater is not entirely devoid of comedy. Of course those who think of Jon Stewart as a comedian first, journalist second will be surprised, but anyone more familiar with his work on The Daily Show will recognize that he does care deeply about the issues he raises. The comedy is how he captures the attention of the politically apathetic, and ultimately how he copes with the absurdities of what is happening in the world. And so it is with the humor in his directorial debut Rosewater – a coping mechanism for a man in a desperate situation. It’s adapted from a book by the real Maziar Bahari (here played by Gael Garcia Bernal) telling an account of his detention in Iran after covering the 2009 presidential elections and the following protests for Newsweek. – Martin J. (full review)
The Theory of Everything (James Marsh)
It’s almost become a given that those wishing to stand out must proclaim their biopic is an outside-the-box, innovative retelling of significant events in one’s life. Then again, few directors would outright state that theirs is one wading in conventional waters, content to merely provide an accurate, dry retelling of the figure they are exploring. Despite committed performances, The Theory of Everything falls more on the latter side, little more than an adequate, honorable portrayal of Stephen Hawking’s life thus far. – Jordan R. (full review)
The Two Faces of January (Hossein Amini)
Following a Berlin premiere around a year ago, The Two Faces of January is now available to stream on Netflix. The directorial debut of Hossein Amini, the screenwriter behind Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Drive, the story is centered on a con artist, his wife, and a stranger who try to flee a foreign country after one of them is caught up in the murder of a police officer. Led by Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac, the source material comes from a novel by Patricia Highsmith, the author behind The Talented Mr. Ripley, and it’s an engaging drama with strong performances. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: Netflix
Young Ones (Jake Paltrow)
Young Ones, from writer/director Jake Paltrow, opens with a bang, and spends the rest of the time trying to live up to its promise of smart and entertaining science fiction. Set in a future dystopia where water is near-extinct, a recovering alcoholic named Ernest Holm (Michael Shannon) is trying to survive on top of dry crops. His son, Jerome (Kodi Smit-McPhee), is his partner, while his daughter, Mary (Elle Fanning), wears a permanent scowl on her face. She’s got a crush on rebel Flem Lever (Nicholas Hoult), wayward son of the local fat cat. – Dan M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
Also New to Streaming
What are you streaming this weekend?