Making a Murderer, a true-crime documentary series filmed over the course of ten years, wades into the ordeal of a Steven Avery. Exonerated by DNA evidence after serving 18 years for a crime he didn’t commit, he was accused of yet another heinous crime on dubious evidence while pursuing a civil suit against the police and prosecutors.
“Even in the age of the high-quality limited series, it’s rare to come this close to the feeling of reading a book — immersive, compulsive and unpredictable, but also exhausting and sometimes mundane and repetitive,” writes Mike Hale in The New York Times. “For the most part, the series’s novelistic qualities carry the day.”
All ten episodes, running over ten hours all told, are now available. Fans of HBO’s The Jinx and the Serial podcast will surely want to check this one out.
Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand
In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the fifth film in the big screen spy movie franchise, Tom Cruise meets his equal in British agent Rebecca Ferguson. Cruise continues to do his own stunts and the opera house assassination is an elegant and thrilling piece of action cinema. PG-13. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.
He Named Me Malala is an inspirational portrait of Malala Yousafzai, the courageous Pakistani teenager who defied the Taliban to promote universal education and became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s on the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary. PG-13. Also on DVD.
Also new: the comedy Ted 2 with Mark Wahlberg and a foul-mouthed teddy bear (R and unrated versions), the lackluster superhero reboot Fantastic Four with Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan (PG-13), Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the second film in the young adult sci-fi action franchise PG-13), and the horror film Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, which arrives weeks before its disc release (R and unrated versions).
Available same day as select theaters nationwide is the horror film He Never Died (R) with Henry Rollins and the documentary The Emperor’s New Clothes with Russell Brand taking on economic inequities (not rated).
And on those cold dark nights, don’t forget that you can always turn on the holiday Yule Log and turn your screen into a virtual fireplace. No rental charge for this and other holiday videos on participating cable systems.
Also new: Trash (2014), a drama set in the garbage dumps outside of Rio de Janeiro co-starring Rooney Mara and Martin Sheen (R), the crime thriller Rob the Mob with Michael Pitt and Andy Garcia (R), the faith-based World War II drama Little Boy (2015) from the producers of the mini-series The Bible (PG-13), and The Da Vinci Code (2006) with Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou (PG-13).
Two more Netflix original shows debut this week: F is for Family: Season 1, an animated comedy about family life with an adult sensibility from comedian Bill Burr, and Glitter Force: Season 1, about a group of preteen girls who turn into anime fairies to defend the world.
Final seasons: you can now watch the end of Hart of Dixie: Season 4, the light romantic show starring Rachel Bilson as an urbanite doctor in a small southern town, and Helix: Season 2, the SyFy thriller about a virus that threatens to end human life as we know it.
And from CNN comes the docu-series High Profits: Season 1, about a business-minded couple starting a recreational marijuana business in Colorado.
Amazon Instant Prime
Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is clumsy human drama but conceptually ambitious science fiction (Neil deGrasse Tyson gave Nolan top marks for visualizing quantum physics). Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain star. PG-13. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.
New foreign cinema on Amazon: Climates (2006) from Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan (who also co-stars) and the German dramas Aimee and Jaguar (1999), a fictional thriller about two women in the underground resistance in World War II Germany, and Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005), about the real-life student whose was prosecuted for her anti-Nazi protests in The White Rose movement.
For an additional monthly fee, you can add Showtime Anytime, Acorn TV, Starz, and other select streaming services through Amazon Prime.
Deutschland 83: Complete Season 1, the German espionage series set before the fall of the Berlin Wall, played on the Sundance Channel in the U.S. It’s now available to stream. In German with English subtitles.
The original documentary Very Semi-Serious explores the cartoons and cartoonists of The New Yorker. No rating.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent (2015), the second film in yet another young adult dystopian epic, features Shailene Woodley leading the rebellion against control and conformity. PG-13.
Available Saturday, December 19 is The Longest Ride, a rodeo-themed romance adapted from the Nicholas Sparks novel. PG-13.
The season finales of Getting On: Season 3 and the Brazilian series Magnifica ’70: Season 1 just ran, which means the entire seasons are now available to stream.
Spring Breakers features one-time Disney Channel sweethearts Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens going bad in Fort Lauderdale as drug-dealing gangsters in bikinis. Harmony Korine directs the Day-Glo satire of girls gone wild cinema. It’s definitely rated R. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.
Gérard Depardieu is Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French politician indicted for assaulting a maid in a New York Hotel, in everything but name in Welcome to New York, Abel Ferrara’s scandalous take on notorious affair. Rated R (the bearish Gérard Depardieu bares all, which should come with its own warning), in French with English subtitles.
The Trials of Jimmy Rose, a three-part British mini-series starring Ray Winstone as an ex-con and Amanda Redman as his wary wife, makes its stateside debut as a streaming exclusive. The first episode now available, subsequent episodes debut on succeeding Mondays.
Also available: The British mini-series Injustice (2011), from Foyle’s War creator Anthony Horowitz, stars James Purefoy, Dervla Kirwan, and Nathaniel Parker.