Home Theater: Fey and Poehler’s ‘Sister,’ ‘Two Broke Girls: The Fifth Season’ just some of the laughable comedies out on streaming devices
This week’s best bets demonstrate the incredible variety of what’s available at your fingertips, from docs to comedies to blood-drenched mysteries. Cue them up.
Transparent: Season 3: In the new season of this boundary-pushing dramedy, the transgendered Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) confronts her feelings of unhappiness despite getting almost everything she’s wanted out of life. Creator Jill Soloway says the latest batch of episodes offer a number of characters who are “attempting to become new versions of themselves.” Watch for cameos by Caitlyn Jenner and 12-year-old trans actress Sophia Grace Gianna as a young Maura. On Amazon Prime.
Twin Peaks: Newly re-priced ahead of Showtime’s 2017 relaunch of the series, this Blu-ray set collects the original thirty episodes of the show as well as the 1992 feature film “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” which served as both a prequel chronicling slain high-schooler Laura Palmer’s (Sheryl Lee) last week and a sequel involving Agent Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) and another murder investigation. In high-def, the spooky soap opera looks stunning, right down to the last cherry pie. On Blu-ray.
And Then There Were None: It’s been called “delectably sinister” and “perfectly cast.” Now the BBC and Lifetime adaptation of Agatha Christie’s most popular novel is streaming on Acorn TV. Veterans like Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson and Charles Dance are paired with younger actors such as Maeve Dermody, Aidan Turner and Douglas Booth for the saga of ten strangers who are invited to a lavish estate on a remote English island and then picked off one by one. On Acorn TV.
Patterns: Before “The Twilight Zone,” Rod Serling scripted this superb look at cutthroat Capitalism. Van Heflin stars as a businessman who arrives in New York City to begin a new job, not knowing he’s been hired to replace an aging V.P. (Ed Begley) whom the big boss (Everett Sloane) is trying to humiliate into quitting. Serling gets everything about corporate culture just right, particularly the stinging little slights which foster backstabbing and turn good guys like Begley and Heflin against each other. On Blu-ray.
Audrie & Daisy: In this harrowing documentary, two teenagers deal with the aftermath of a sexual assault. Comparing the film to the essential docs “The Invisible War” and “The Hunting Ground,” Variety praised “Audrie & Daisy” for indicting “a culture where sexual assault is rife, and where its perpetrators all too often escape any legal or other punitive consequences.” It’s a must-see. On Netflix
Blood Simple: More than three decades ago, the Coen Brothers made a splashy debut with this riveting film noir that’s so deliciously twisty, it practically leaves you dizzy. Dan Hedaya stars as a sleazy bar owner who hires a shifty private detective (M. Emmet Walsh) to kill his wife (Frances McDormand) and her boyfriend (John Getz). Of course, nothing turns out as expected thanks to a plot bubbling over with brutal double-crosses and tragic misunderstandings. Best of all, the Coens find a way to make these characters’ schemes darkly funny, all without sacrificing an iota of suspense. On Blu-ray.
Sisters: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are such a fun double act that watching them trying on too-tight clothes or reading their teenage diaries to each other is a real hoot. The pair play sisters who, after discovering that their parents have sold their childhood home, decide to throw one last bash at the place. Unlike the PG-13-rated “Baby Mama,” “Sisters” is a raunchy affair that finds Fey playing a wild child single mom and Poehler portraying a wallflower desperate for a little fun. Sure, the gags are hit-and-miss, but this is a movie that gives Fey and Poehler the chance to let it rip. On HBO Now.
The Member of the Wedding: Has there ever been a more poignant film about the passage of time than this 1951 stunner based on a play by Carson McCullers? Julie Harris is terrific as a misfit tomboy named Frankie who, following her brother’s announcement that he’s getting married, convinces herself she can accompany the couple on their honeymoon. Sadly, Frankie doesn’t realize that she’s surrounded by a pair of fellow eccentrics – maid Berenice (Ethel Waters, in an astonishing performance) and cousin John Henry (Brandon deWilde) – who adore her. Moving and memorable. On Blu-ray.
The Mechanic: Nobody does the slow burn better than Charles Bronson. Need proof? Check out three of his best action thrillers from the 1970s, when the Pennsylvania native was box-office gold. “Mr. Majestyk,”and “Breakheart Pass” are good and gritty but the real find is “The Mechanic,” a twisty tale full of fake-outs and double-crosses which pivots on Bronson’s friendship with Jan-Michael Vincent, a man he’s tutoring in the fine art of contract killing. On Hulu.
2 Broke Girls: The Complete Fifth Season : From “Sex and the City” mastermind – and Scranton native – Michael Patrick King comes this underrated sitcom about Max Black (Kat Dennings) and Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs), two opposites who become besties after they meet waitressing at the same Brooklyn diner. In supporting roles, Jonathan King, Garrett Morris, Matthew Moy and, especially, the priceless Jennifer Coolidge deliver plenty of laughs. On DVD, Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
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