Home (2014) is a busy, colorful, rapid-paced animated comedy about a misfit alien helping a human girl searching for her mother after an interstellar invasion. It’s a good one to distract the younger kids during the holidays but may be a little too annoying for adults, depending on your tolerance for Jim Parson’s voice for extended periods. PG for some rude humor.
A Hard Day, a sneaky, sly crime drama from South Korea, gives us a corrupt cop who hides the body of a hit-and-run victim and is then tormented by a blackmailer who seems to know his every move. This is one twisty, tension-filled thriller. Korean with English subtitles, unrated.
More foreign cinema with less violence: Marie’s Story (2014), from France, is the inspirational true story of a young nun who commits herself to breaking through the defenses of a girl born deaf and blind (French with English subtitles), and Princess of France (2014), from Argentina, is a riff on Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost reworked as the story of young actors staging a radio play (Spanish with English subtitles).
Streaming TV: The Red Road: Season 2, originally made for the Sundance Channel, builds on the complicated relations between the citizens of a New Jersey town and the Native Americans on the nearby reservation. It’s smart, nuanced adult programming. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.
More family friendly is the ABC Family series Switched at Birth: Season 4, about two families brought together when a hospital mix-up is discovered years later. For teens and tween there’s The Disney Channel Liv and Maddie: Season 2, and for the little ones there is Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu: Season 3 and Ultimate Spider-Man: Season 3.
Amazon Prime Video
Only God Forgives (2013) reunites Ryan Gosling with his Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn who goes all pulp fiction revenge fantasy in a cross-cultural collision of American criminals in the Thailand underworld. Refn pits underworld hitmen against an avenging street cop who exacts holy vengeance with a sword he pulls out of his back collar, like a diminutive samurai superhero, and casts it all like an abstract passion play bathed in intense greens and reds with webs of shadows like lace across their faces, an acid beauty in the slums of Bangkok that turns the obscene into the sublime, at least visually. The rest is Refn’s brand of crime fantasy dosed with tiger blood and put into a trance. This is definitely R-rated for extreme violence and explicit adult material.
Kate & Leopold (2001) is a time travel romance with Meg Ryan as a modern businesswoman in New York and Hugh Jackman as a 19th century gentleman who ends up in her world. PG-13. It’s also on Netflix.
Teen Wolf: Season 5, Part 1 – Alpha wolf Scott and his pack of shapeshifters and humans become test subjects in an insidious experiment in MTV’s hit young adult supernatural show.
For fans of international classics, Claude Chabrol’s Les Bonnes Femmes (1960) is one of the underrated greats of the French New Wave and A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929), a British silent film from Anthony Asquith, is as Hitchcockian as they come.
And here’s a film noir oddity that has never been on home video before: Repeat Performance (1947), a low budget mystery that begins with a woman (Joan Leslie), a smoking gun, and a wish to relive the last year. And so she does…. Louis Hayward, Tom Conway, and Richard Basehart co-star.
Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand
American Ultra turns the “Bourne Identity” into a violent black comedy when amiable stoner Jesse Eisenberg is attacked by a hit squad and discovers he’s a sleeper agent with a killer instinct. Kristin Stewart co-stars. Rated R for extreme violence, drug use, and language. Reviewed on Stream on Demand here.
Meryl Streep stars in Ricki and the Flash as a mom who ran off to live out her rock and roll dreams and returns for her daughter’s wedding. Kevin Kline and Rick Springfield co-star in the comic drama written by Diablo Cody (Juno). PG-13.
Shaun the Sheep Movie comes from Aardman Animation, the folks behind Wallace and Gromit, and is rated PG for “rude humor.” Baa!
Fifty Shades of Grey, the big screen version of the bestselling bondage romance, is available in R-rated theatrical and unrated versions. Arriving Saturday night is the R-rated spy thriller Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014).