“The Boxtrolls,” which was one of the five nominees for animated feature in this year’s Oscar race, is a delightfully oddball stop-motion fantasy about mischievous trolls who scavenge discarded objects from the streets of a storybook town. It’s a junkyard fantasy, whimsical and inventive and crammed full of playful details and visual gags, and while the voice cast and comedic sensibility comes with British accents, it’s actually from the Oregon-based animation studio Laika, the same folks who created “Coraline” and “Paranorman.” These trolls are more cute than scary and the PG is for “rude humor.” Queue it up.
Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand
“The Loft,” a thriller about a murder in a secret love nest, stars Karl Urban, James Marsden, and Wentworth Miller as friends who quickly become suspicious of one another. Belgian director Eric Van Looy remakes his own thriller with an American cast and setting, but apparently he lost something in translation. Peter Sobczynski, writing for RogerEbert.com, says “this long-delayed would-be erotic thriller is a shabby bore that promises viewers any number of kinky thrills and then proceeds to deflate those expectations,” and it’s not a minority opinion. Which is likely why the film came and went with barely a ripple. The R-rated film is also on Blu-ray and DVD.
Available on cable pay-per-view and Video On Demand same day as theaters is the comedy “Barely Lethal,” a mix of John Hughes teen romance and spy movie with Hailee Steinfeld as a teenage spy in high school and Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark on “Game of Thrones) as her rival. Jessica Alba and Sam Jackson co-star in the PG-13 spoof.
“Results” is a more grown-up romantic comedy, with Cobie Smulders and Guy Pearce as personal trainers at a gym and Kevin Corrigan as their gentle schlub of a new client. It’s the first film from American indie director Andrew Bujalski with real screen stars and it’s rated R.
James McAvoy gets nasty as a corrupt cop in “Welcome to the Punch,” a gritty British crime thriller with Mark Strong a career criminal who has to joins forces with his nemesis when they’re both targeted. Queue it up. Strong also stars in the psychological thriller “Before I Go to Sleep” with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. Queue it up. Both are rated R.
The sixties romantic drama “Love and Honor” stars Liam Hemsworth (the hunk of the “Hunger Games” movies) as solder on leave from Vietnam who heads home with a buddy and fall in love with Theresa Palmer. PG-13. Queue it up.
Netflix picked up the acclaimed documentary “Hot Girls Wanted,” about the exploitation of young women in the pornography industry, after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. It was co-produced by Rashida Jones and made with the collaboration of the Kinsey Institute. Queue it up.
TV on Netflix: “Graceland: Seasons 1-2,” a USA original series about undercover agents who work out of a beachside manor in Los Angeles, takes a grittier approach than the usual colorful USA series. It’s actually kind of addicting, though you’ll never mistake their reckless, law-breaking stunts for best practices law enforcement. No actual R-rated content but plenty of sex, drugs, and cop-show violence. Reviewed at Stream on Demand here. Queue it up.
From France comes the six-part crime drama “Witnesses,” starring Marie Dompnier as cop in a small coastal town and Thierry Lhermitte as her new partner, a veteran with a past. It’s in French with English subtitles. Queue it up.
For the tweener set is “Mako Mermaids: Season 3,” with more adventures of the three Australian schoolgirls who transform into mermaids whenever they get wet. Queue it up. This sequel series to “H2O: Just Add Water” is a Netflix exclusive, and of course Netflix has a complete run of the original show too (queue it up). Both play like Disney Channel originals from Down Under.
Amazon Instant Prime
Sundance 2014 winner “Low Down” stars John Hawkes as a drug-addicted jazz pianist and Elle Fanning as his teenage daughter watching his spiral of self-destruction. Based on a true story, and rated R for language and drug use. On Amazon Instant Video.
“Suits: Season 4” is the kind of show that USA does well, a slick, soapy legal drama with lots of sexy flirtations and flamboyant characters and cases that are mostly negotiated out of court in dramatic boardroom showdowns. Plus a lawyer who never went to law school breaking the law every time he represents his high-powered New York firm. Good times. Gabriel Macht is lots of fun as the alpha lawyer who treats the law like a sporting event and Rick Hoffman brings his social square peg but genius numbers man Louis Litt back from the brink over the course of the season. 16 episodes, free for Prime subscribers.