Jason Momoa, still best known as Khal Drago in Game of Thrones but soon to be the big screen Aquaman, stars in Frontier as a trapper battling the British Hudson’s Bay Company monopoly on the 18th century fur trade. His character, Declan Harp, is part-Irish, part-Native American, all furious renegade ready to declare war on the British soldiers and company men (Alun Armstrong plays the head of Hudson’s Bay) attempting to sweep away the competition.
“As with many of these series, lawlessness prevails; violence is frequent and graphic; most of the main characters are male; and too many of the female ones are there only for their cleavage,” writes Neil Genzlinger for The New York Times. “The sexism aside, Frontier is an enjoyable representative of the genre if you can embrace its ambiguity.” And, he continues, it “is refreshingly free of pretension, unlike some in the genre. Yes, there are serious themes to be drawn from it if you’re so inclined — it’s about greed, and empire-building, and exploitation of a land and its native inhabitants — but you can also feel free to take it as simply an action-packed, rather bloody tale from those frothy preindustrial days.”
The co-production between Discovery Channel and Netflix has already played in Canada. It debuts on Netflix today. Six episodes, and a second season has been announced.
Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand
Christine stars Rebecca Hall as Christine Chubbuck, the Florida TV reporter who committed suicide on live TV in the 1970s. Hall’s intense performance of a woman spiraling into depression highlights this troubling true-life story directed by Antonio Campos. Michael C. Hall and Tracy Letts co-star (R).
Emily Blunt is almost as troubled in The Girl on the Train, a thriller based on the bestselling novel by Paula Hawkins. Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, and Luke Evans co-star and Tate Taylor (The Help) directs (R).
Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher have a tough time Keeping Up with the Joneses, aka their glamorous neighbors Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot, in the spy comedy in suburbia (PG-13).
Also new: the horror sequel Ouija: Origin of Evil with Elizabeth Reaser (PG-13), the inspirational drama A Street Cat Named Bob with Luke Treadaway from the best-selling book by James Bowen (not rated), Eadweard with Michael Eklund as photography and cinema pioneer Eadweard Muybridge (not rated), and documentary Huntwatch about the efforts to save the seals from the hunting industry, narrated by Ryan Reynolds (not rated).
Available same day as select theaters nationwide is the British crime drama Trespass Against Us starring Michael Fassbender as a thief trying break away from career criminal father Brendan Gleeson (R).
Roger Corman produces the direct-to-video Death Race 2050 (2016), a remake of Death Race 2000 with the same impudent spirit, cartoonish satire, and trashy action spectacle (R). Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.
Cardboard Boxer (2016) stars Thomas Haden Church as a homeless men recruited for brutal illegal fights by Terrence Howard (not rated).
Papa (2015) stars Giovanni Ribisi, Joely Richardson, Minka Kelly, and Adrian Sparks as Ernest Hemingway in Cuba in 1959 (R).
Camp X-Ray (2014) stars Kristen Stewart as a soldier at Guantanamo Bay who befriends a prisoner of war (R).
Jerry Lewis took a rare dramatic lead as a retired jazzman in the indie drama Max Rose (2013), co-starring Kerry Bishé, Kevin Pollak, Claire Bloom, and Dean Stockwell (not rated).
Foreign affairs: Sonja Braga stars in Aquarius (2016) from Brazil (not rated, with subtitles).
Also new: Roman Polanski’s Hitchcockian thriller The Ghost Writer (2010) with Ewan McGregor (PG-13) (reviewed on Stream On Demand here), the survival drama The Impossible (2012) with an Oscar-nominated performance by Naomi Watts (PG-13), Flash of Genius (2008) with Greg Kinnear batting Detroit automakers (PG-13), and the Netflix original comedy Take the 10 with Andy Samberg and Josh Peck (not rated).
True stories: Casablancas: The Man Who Loved Women (2016) profiles John Casablancas, the Elite modeling agency founder who invented the supermodel (not rated). Also new: the horse racing documentary Harry and Snowman (2015, not rated), the Oscar-winning Inside Job (2010) about the 2008 market crash (PG-13), and Steve James’s Stevie (2002, R).
Stand-up: Neal Brennan: 3 Mics (2017).
Filmmaker Kristen Johnson transforms twenty years of documentary outtakes into a portrait of privileged moments and brief connections in Cameraperson (2016), a non-fiction scrapbook that reveals (among other things) the powerful connection that documentary filmmakers can have with the people they interview and observe (not
Foreign affairs: the aging impressionist master Renoir (France, 2013) is rejuvenated by a young model that is also romanced by his son Jean (R, with subtitles) and a single mother is haunted in the original Dark Water (Japan, 2002), a horror film with a melancholy heart (not rated, with subtitles).
Streaming TV: the Irish soap opera / crime drama Red Rock: Season 2 continues the feud.
Stand-up: Craig Ferguson: Does This Need to be Said? (2011)
Streaming TV: Please Like Me: Season 4 continues the popular coming-out comedy from Australia, from Bravo comes the reality show Real Housewives of Potomac: Complete Season 1, and from the Cartoon Network comes the animated Clarence: Season 2 and Amazing World of Gumball: Season 4.
Stand-up: What Happened… Ms. Sykes? (2016)
Jude Law is The Young Pope, the first American pontiff who proceeds to remake the Church according to his own designs, in the strange and surreal HBO original series from Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino. Diane Keaton, Cécile De France, Ludivine Sagnier, and James Cromwell co-star. New episodes arrive every Sunday.
Real Time with Bill Maher returns for 2017, with new episodes live on HBO Friday nights and streaming on HBO Now and HBO GO the next day.
Now You See Me 2 (2016) reunites the Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and Lizzy Caplan taking over from Isla Fisher) with Mark Ruffalo for a new caper. Daniel Radcliffe, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan co-star and Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman return for support (PG-13).
Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies (2015) stars Tom Hanks as a civilian negotiating a prisoner swap with the Soviet Union for captured U-2 pilot Gary Powers (PG-13). Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.
The animated feature Bunyan & Babe, featuring the voices of John Goodman, Kelsey Grammer, Jeff Foxworthy, and Mark Hamill, is free to view and download exclusively from Google Play until February 16.