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, and shoot over suggestions to @TheFilmStage
Belle (Amma Asante)
Directed by Amma Asante, Belle quietly became one of the surprise hits of the summer, and now it’s available to stream. Featuring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (who has previously starred in a wealth of TV, along with Larry Crowne) as an illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral, the film has earned much acclaim since its Toronto International Film Festival last year. The top-notch ensemble also includes Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, James Norton, Matthew Goode and Emily Watson. – Jordan R.
Breathe In (Drake Doremus)
In nearly every possible way is Drake Doremus‘ Like Crazy follow-up, Breathe In, a more mature, confident and impressive piece of work. For the first hour at least. Featuring quietly devastating performances from Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan, who play a couple at the bitter end of a 17-year old marriage, Doremus allows his actors to act, slowly letting us into this family that is broken to pieces once foreign exchange student Sophie (Felicity Jones) comes to stay. He and cinematographer John Guleserian let the camera stay put for the most part, a welcome change of pace from the handheld shakery that consumed Like Crazy. It’s a handsomely shot film that makes the very most of its Upstate New York setting. At once dreary and serene, the color tone of the picture very succinctly meshes with the emotional pull going on inside this home. All is wrapped together with a beautiful score from Katie Byron. – Dan M. (full review)
Capital, accomplished filmmaker Costa-Gavras‘ new film set within the world of corporate finance, is a fast-paced, cynical piece of entertainment that serves as a surprisingly simple criticism of our uneven system of dollars and cents. The film opens with the CEO of Phenix, one of Europe’s largest banks, collapsing on a golf course. Marc Tourneil (Gad Elmaleh), the CEO’s heir apparent, then turns to the camera and explains to us what will happen next. – Dan M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
Dinosaur 13 (Todd Douglas Miller)
While production on Jurassic World recently wrapped, if one needs a dinosaur fix before next summer, this documentary might do the trick. Coming from director Todd Douglas Miller, Dinosaur 13 premiered at Sundance Film Festival and is now on VOD. The story focuses on paleontologist Peter Larson and his team who discovered the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found back in 1990. To their dismay, the U.S. government stepped in, confiscating their files and the dinosaur and the project chronicles their decade-long fight. – Jordan R.
Manakamana (Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez)
While it’ll easily end up being one of the lowest-grossing features on this list, the latest work from the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab is also one of the most powerful, transformative experiences one is bound to experience this year. Taking a different approach than Sweetgrass and Leviathan, Manakamana places us as a passenger on twelve separate trips to and from the titular sacred temple in Nepal. While some may consider it an endurance test, I found it to be a warm, vulnerable exploration of humanity, stripping down barriers which even the vast majority of documentaries can’t help but produce. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: iTunes
Muppets Most Wanted (James Bobin)
Is it a coincidence the Muppet renaissance follows the same trajectory as its subjects’ original cinematic saga? 2011′s The Muppets was enjoyable if not a tad overrated due to its story mirroring many of the beats that made 1979′s The Muppet Movie a classic. Revamping its road movie trope perfectly suited the need to reintroduce these iconic figures to a new audience ready to realize the troupe’s potential as they reunited for the common goal of putting on the greatest show in their history. You could sense the love and respect director James Bobin and screenwriters Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller held for Jim Henson‘s source material and it’s therefore unsurprising Bobin and Stoller would pilfer a bit of the magic from 1981′s The Great Muppet Caper for their own sequel Muppets Most Wanted. – Jared M. (full review)
Neighbors (Nicholas Stoller)
Feeling refreshed and shocked are durable signs that a comedy has delivered, but most of all, one wants laughs. As subjective as that factor may be, director Nicholas Stoller manages to deliver on all of these aspects in his latest film, Neighbors. The story starts in an ordinary fashion but sets itself up early to move into much raunchier territory with humorous hijinks. While there are plenty of laughs throughout, it’s Rose Byrne that shines the brightest — she’s both the unexpected standout and simply a joy to watch amongst the madness – Bill G. (full review)
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)
From its opening, woozy camera swirls and, even, the genre-satisfying final shot, Jim Jarmusch’s vampire film is unlike any you’ve ever seen, mostly because it can’t be bothered to take too deep an interest in the subject. Instead of human-hunting or castle-scouring, he asks us to spend a bit of time with two mouthpieces of his own snobby, cranky, ultimately affable personality as they… talk art. That’s the extent of it, event-wise, but there’s too much else to dismiss, most notably the trenchant commentary on why people are attracted to these sorts of things in the first place and why, unfortunately, it might not make us as happy as we feel. Yet, for all its elucidating on that point, few films from 2014 offer as much pleasure as Only Lovers Left Alive. – Nick N.
Proxy (Zack Parker)
I learned something while watching Zack Parker‘s horror (though psychological thriller is a more apt genre label) film Proxy: Richmond, Indiana is a hotbed for crazy. He and cowriter Kevin Donner inject a little Münchausen syndrome, Prenatal Depression, and some run-of-the-mill psychopathy to round out the quartet of main characters. Each seemingly normal on the surface until a chaotic mind or the potential for psychotic break under tragic circumstances is exposed thanks to carefully unfolding revelations, the people populating this tale are regular folk hiding dark secrets. The film latches onto the phenomenon that always finds the acquaintances of killers telling news reporters how he/she was “the nicest person.” I guess we all are until we’re not and Parker is admirably unafraid to admit it by letting his cast become unsuspecting monsters partaking in heinous crimes. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
You’re Next (Adam Wingard)
No matter how nice it starts, when a film is part of the Midnight Madness sidebar at TIFF, something twisted is almost guaranteed to occur. After premiering A Horrible Way to Die just a year ago here, Adam Wingard‘s newest horror/thriller You’re Next lets us know right off the bat what we are in for. The bloody opening scene reveals the brutal killers donning animal masks and hints at the fun ahead. The victims in the first few minutes are neighbors of the Davison family, who are celebrating a 35-year-wedding anniversary and a reunion with their four children. Crispian Davison (A.J. Bowen) and his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) are the first to arrive as their parents (Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton) are spooked, hearing noises in the house. – Jordan R. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
What are you streaming this weekend?