Home Theater: ‘The Sandlot’ and ‘Sky’ are just a few of the new shows available on streaming devices and DVDs
Half of this week’s best bets feature strong performances by women. From Kate Beckinsale in “Love and Friendship” to Alicia Vikander in “A Royal Affair” to Essie Davis in “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries,” cue up these femme-centric must-sees.
Love and Friendship: Written and directed by Whit Stillman from an unfinished novella by Jane Austen, this tart treat of a movie centers on Lady Susan (pitch-perfect Kate Beckinsale), a widow with no means of support who shows up at the mansion of her in-laws with hopes of netting a rich husband for herself and her daughter. Much scheming ensues. Chloe Sevigny is heavenly as Lady Susan’s partner in manipulation but Tom Bennett steals the show playing a blundering fool who is practically begging to be parted from his fortune. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
The Phenom: After having a meltdown on the mound, a promising pitcher (Johnny Simmons) is sent to see a sports psychologist (Paul Giamatti) who tries to figure out how and why the wunderkind lost his mojo. Hint: it has a lot to do with the baseballer’s abusive father (Ethan Hawke). Writer/director Noah Buschel is lucky to have three very talented actors on his team, all of whom hit home runs, particularly Hawke who portrays Simmons’ macho dad as a charismatic creep. On Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change: For his follow-up to “Gasland” and “Gasland: Part II,” anti-fracking filmmaker Josh Fox ponders the effects of continued global warming on the world. In addition to interviewing experts, he monitors rising sea levels, record droughts, superstorms, dying coral reefs, species extinction, food insecurity and increased conflicts over limited resources. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
Chimes At Midnight: Newly restored for its Blu-ray debut, Orson Welles’ masterpiece finds the writer/director adapting portions of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” and “Richard II” for a tragic bromance between Falstaff (Welles) and his beloved protégé Prince Hall (Keith Baxter). Even though it was shot on a shoestring budget, the cast is superb and the harrowing Battle of Shrewsbury ranks as one of the most hellish depictions of war ever captured on film. On Blu-ray.
A Royal Affair: Who says they don’t make ‘em like they used to? This old-fashioned period epic from 2012 has a David Lean-esque grandeur as well as keen understanding of what makes powerful people tick. It begins with an English girl’s (Alicia Vikander) marriage to the King of Denmark, a clueless ruler who allows the religious establishment to run his country. Both the King and the Queen’s lives are upended by the appearance at court of a progressive, German-born physician (“Hannibal’s” Mads Mikkelsen). In no time, he’s captured the Queen’s heart and is manipulating the King into reforming Denmark. On Amazon.
Jane Wants A Boyfriend : If you’re in the mood for a movie that delivers plenty of emotional fireworks, check out this compelling indie about a struggling actress named Bianca (Eliza Dushku) who’s debating whether or not to ask her autistic sister Jane (Louisa Krause) to move in with her. At the same time, Jane takes a shine to one of Bianca’s womanizing friends (Gabriel Ebert), much to Bianca’s dismay. Deceptively simple, “Jane” cuts a direct path to your heart. On DVD, Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
Herzog – Ecstatic Fictions: Before checking out German visionary Werner Herzog’s latest movie “Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World,” click on a new retrospective of his best feature films, including “Nosferatu,” “Woyzeck,” “Stroszek,” “Heart of Glass” and “Fitzcarraldo.” All five features are challenging and worth a look. On Mubi.
Ash vs. Evil Dead : Three decades after surviving the Deadite plague, the chainsaw-handed, monster-bashing Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) is back to once again do battle with the beasts. Soaked in gore and spiked with humor, this demented series is a feast for “Evil Dead” fans. The lynchpin of the show is the underrated Campbell who’s adapt at playing both the bumbling buffoon and the determined Deadite-buster. See it before the second season bows in October on Starz. On Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
Captive: You could write this fact-based thriller off as a feature-length advertisement for Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” but there’s more to it than that. In fact, Kate Mara delivers a quietly powerful turn as a meth addict who’s held hostage in her apartment by a murderer (David Oyelowo) on the run from police. Over the course of a long night, the two lost souls bond not only over Warren’s book but also over discussions about their children and the losses they’ve suffered. The best thing about “Captive” is that it insists that no one is beyond forgiveness. On Hulu.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Series 1-3 Collection: Tired of brooding procedurals like “Wallander” and “The Killing”? Check out this whimsical delight which sends a swanky “lady detective” (Essie Davis) through back-alley jazz clubs and high society watering holes on a mission to solve the toughest cases 1920s Melbourne has to offer. On Blu-ray and Acorn.tv.
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