What’s new for home viewing on video-on-demand and Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services.
“A Most Wanted Man,” the final film completed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a complex thriller of politics and intelligence in the post-9/11 world featuring one of the actor’s finest performances. He’s the head of a covert German intelligence team that monitors potential terrorist activity, a devoted patriot with a moral code in a culture of self-interest and power politics. Hoffman communicates the gravity of the stakes, in human as well as in political terms, by the mere force of his commitment and his loyalty to his team. It’s rated R for language. Now on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
“Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the fourth film in the blockbuster series based on the line of toys, is somewhat more juvenile. Mark Wahlberg takes over the human duties as a family man and freelance inventor who teams up with the transforming machines. Much destruction is delivered in a nearly three-hour onslaught of giant robot destruction, which was curiously a big hit in China. PG-13 for CGI mayhem and language. On Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand
Liam Neeson is back in action in the gritty crime thriller “Run All Night,” this time playing an alcoholic ex-mobster who sobers up to protect his estranged son from the vengeance of Irish mob Ed Harris. R for bloody violence and language. Reviewed here.
“Chappie,” a kind of “Robocop” in the crime-ridden future of Johannesburg, is a disappointing mix of science fiction fable, social commentary, and brutal spectacle built on sloppy writing and magical science. It is R for sadistic violence and not for kids, no matter how sweet the robot looks.
Much cleverer is “Wild Tales,” made up of short, punchy stories of frustration and rage in the modern world with witty twists and a streak of mordant humor. It’s from Argentina and was nominated for Best Foreign Language film. Also rated R. More on the film here.
All of these are available on Cable On Demand, Amazon Instant, Vudu, Xbox Video, and CinemaNow.
Not to be confused with the Dean Martin spy film of the sixties, “The Wrecking Crew” is a documentary about the Los Angeles studio musicians who played on thousands of recordings through the sixties and early seventies, almost always uncredited and utterly unknown to the general public. On VOD from Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Xbox Video, and CinemaNow.
“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” is a sweetly offbeat indie drama inspired by an urban legend about a young Japanese woman (Rinko Kikuchi) who went in search of the money buried in the snow at the end the movie “Fargo,” which she believes is a true story. Cable On Demand and DirecTV.
Available same day as theaters is “The Face of an Angel,” Michael Winterbottom’s fictionalized take on the Meredith Kercher murder and the Amanda Knox trial and media circus, starring Kate Beckinsale and Daniel Brühl. Cable On Demand.
Also debuting this week: “Manglehorn,” a romantic drama from David Gordon Green with Al Pacino and Holly Hunter; the horror comedy “Burying the Ex” from cult director Joe Dante starring Anton Yelchin and Ashley Greene; and “American Heist,” an action thriller with Adrien Brody and Hayden Christensen. All on Cable On Demand
Looking to keep the kids occupied? The 2006 animated film “Curious George,” featuring the voices of Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore, now joins the six seasons of the TV show, a favorite of the pre-school set. Queue it up. For older kids, there’s the live action series “Some Assembly Required,” a comedy about a toy company run by teenagers. Queue it up.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (2013) chronicles decades of American social politics through the life of a White House butler (Forest Whitaker). Whitaker is supported by all-star cast, including Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber and Robin Williams. Queue it up!
John Cusack (currently earning great reviews as Brian Wilson in “Love and Mercy”) co-wrote, produced, and starred in “High Fidelity” (2000). Adapted from the Nick Hornby novel and directed by Stephen Frears, it’s about a music junkie with commitment problems who tries to understand his latest break-up by examining his “top five” break-ups. It’s got a terrific supporting cast—Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Joelle Carter, Joan Cusack, Sara Gilbert, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso, Lili Taylor, and Catherine Zeta-Jones—and an authentic feeling for the way that popular music becomes such a defining part of our lives and our memories. Queue it up!
A new batch of documentaries are now available: “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer” profiles the activist punk band in the Soviet Union; “B.B. King: The Life of Riley” looks at the life and career of the legendary blues guitarist; “Little White Lie” is the story of a woman raised in a Jewish family whose sense of identity is overturned when discovers that her father was black; and “Antarctica: A Year on Ice” looks at the lives of the people who live and work at the research facilities at the end of the world.
“Catastrophe,” a six-episode series from Britain’s Channel 4, makes its American bow on Amazon Prime today. Created by and starring British sitcom veteran Sharon Horgan as schoolteacher Sharon and American comedian Rob Delaney as Yankee adman Rob, it’s a sitcom about virtual strangers who become unlikely partners after a one-night-stand leads to pregnancy and Rob moves to London to “do the right thing.” Mike Hale reviews the show for The New York Times: “it’s a romantic comedy, in which Sharon and Rob spar like prizefighters but must fall in love in time for the marriage, and it’s a fish-out-of-water comedy, in which Rob encounters a series of British eccentrics and worse.” Add it to your watchlist.
Google Play presents the six-part series “Thank You and Sorry,” a hybrid of documentary and rock and roll comedy with real-life musician Jack Antonoff dealing with personal crises while on tour with his band, Bleachers. Olivia Wilde, Colin Quinn, and Rosie Perez are among the guest stars in the fictional sections. You can find the show here.