This week’s streaming and video on demand picks feature a little of everything, from comedy and action to foreign intrigue and documentaries. In fact, I included two documentaries on this list, because I’m just feeling so damned edgy this week. Some of these movies I have watched, others I have not. Some of them sucked, and some of them are awesome (hint: I really liked the first one), but whichever you shall watch is a choice to be made by only you.
Our Idiot Brother
Gabe the Cupid Dog
A Haunted House
The Last Tycoon
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Good Ol’ Freda
Man of Tai Chi
Want some help in picking which movies to watch this week? Great, that’s why I even do this thing in the first place. Let’s break these movies down, shall we?
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Langley Kirkwood
Plot: The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.
One Random Review Quote: “While not for the squeamish, Dredd 3D is an effectively gritty B movie accentuated by stylish visuals and irreverent humor.” – Claudia Puig, USA Today
Should You Watch It? Despite the fact that it has surprisingly great scores on Rotten Tomatoes, Dredd still had a lot of people on the fence earlier this year. My advice to them is to watch Sylvester Stallone in Judge Dredd first and then ask themselves again, “Should I watch this?” because the answer will almost certainly be, “F*ck it, anything must be terrific after that crap.”
Our Idiot Brother (Netflix)
Starring: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Steve Coogan
Plot: Every family has one: the sibling who is always just a little bit behind the curve when it comes to getting his life together. For sisters Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), that person is their perennially upbeat brother Ned (Paul Rudd), an erstwhile organic farmer whose willingness to rely on the honesty of mankind is a less-than-optimum strategy for a tidy, trouble-free existence. Ned may be utterly lacking in common sense, but he is their brother and so, after his girlfriend dumps him and boots him off the farm, his sisters once again come to his rescue. As Liz, Miranda and Natalie each take a turn at housing Ned, their brother’s unfailing commitment to honesty creates more than a few messes in their comfortable routines. But as each of their lives begins to unravel, Ned’s family comes to realize that maybe, in believing and trusting the people around him; Ned isn’t such an idiot after all.
One Random Review Quote: “The cast members, beginning with Rudd, have an improvisatory ease, and the director, Jesse Peretz, working from a script by Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall, doesn’t indulge in the sort of nail-on-the-head comedy that currently reigns.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
Should You Watch It? I think I need to watch this again, because I didn’t really care for it the first time around, and I refuse to believe I could dislike anything involving Paul Rudd.
Gabe the Cupid Dog (Netflix)
Starring: Boti Bliss, Brian Krause, Gabrielle Conforti, Linden Ashby
Plot: Gabe the dog’s happy life is turned upside down by his owner Eric’s plan to move to England. Facing six months in quarantine, Gabe plays “Cupid Dog” to make Eric fall in love with girl-next-door Sara to keep him in America. When his plan starts to unravel, Gabe must go to extraordinary lengths to get Eric and Sara to tie the “leash”.
One Random Review Quote: None. I don’t think anyone has ever actually watched this movie.
Should You Watch It? How could you not watch a movie based on that title alone?
A Haunted House (Netflix)
Starring: Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, Cedric the Entertainer, Nick Swardson (WTF, dude?), Affion Crockett
Plot: In an outrageous send up of the Paranormal Activity movies, The Devil Inside and other “found footage” movies, A HAUNTED HOUSE features young couple Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) and Kisha (Essence Atkins) who have just moved in to their dream house. As they settle in, they quickly find they’re not alone. But it’s not the house that’s haunted, it’s Malcolm’s girlfriend who is possessed by a demon. Malcolm hires everyone from a priest to modern day ghostbusters to rid her of this unwelcome intruder, determined not to let the evil spirit ruin his relationship… or, more importantly, his sex life.
One Random Review Quote: “Does it even qualify as a movie? Why did it take two people to write and cost $2.5 million to make?” – Sherilyn Connelly, Village Voice
Should You Watch It? Nope.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright
Plot: Set in an Australian seaside town of otherworldly beauty and shot in lush 35mm Cinemascope, ADORE establishes an aura of fable as it follows two women’s plunge into uncharted waters. Watts and Wright fearlessly engage with both the physical and psychological components of the story, capturing the complex emotions and powerful desires driving their characters. Strong performances from relative newcomers Xavier Samuel (THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE) and James Frecheville (ANIMAL KINGDOM) complement Watts and Wright’s and add another layer of intricacy to the story. Under the precise gaze of Fontaine’s camera, ADORE radiates with intoxicating sensuality while exploring the intricacies of love, family, morality and passion.
One Random Review Quote: “The movie slowly builds to a gut-punch of a finale that profoundly portrays how the characters’ paradise has become a prison.” – Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York
Should You Watch It? A movie about two moms who suddenly start sleeping with each other’s sons? I preferred it when it was a Saturday Night Live/Lonely Island Digital Short. At least then it was charming and not creepy as hell.
The Last Tycoon (VOD)
Starring: Yun-Fat Chow
Plot: It was 1917, China. CHEN was an innocent young man who worked in a grocery store and had no ambition, other than to be with his lovely neighbor, the Peking Opera student QIU. But a fateful night had changed Cheng’s life forever, as he literally walked right in the affair between his lady boss and the chief of police. To hide this secret, the chief decided to throw Cheng into prison, accusing him of raping his lady boss. Desolated, Cheng met a cellmate MAO, who happened to have an escape plan. The duo broke out, and Cheng had no choice but to leave his life, and his dream girl behind. Cheng found a job as a bouncer in the casino owned by the powerful inspector JIN. As Jin indulged himself in debauchery all day long, Cheng began to climb up the underworld ladder step by step. He soon won the affection of the famed songstress BO. Although Bo loved him deeply, but Cheng found his heart belonged only to the vanished Qiu. As Cheng became one of most powerful mob bosses in Shanghai in the late 1930s, fame took its toll when he found himself stuck between the looming Japanese army and the scheming local secret service. To make things worse, he bumped into the love of his life Qiu, along with her writer husband.
One Random Review Quote: “Well the trailer for “The Last Tycoon” caught my attention. It was being produced by Andy Lau and pairing up legends Chow-Yun Fat and Sammo Hung both actors that I like seeing. To bad the film doesn’t bother to do anything great with the talent given to them.” – Caesar Mendez, Some Dude on Rotten Tomatoes
Should You Watch It? I never know how to write this name – is it Yun-Fat Chow or Chow Yun-Fat? Why do names have to be so confusing? I’m just a simple man. Oh, and I’m interested in watching this.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (VOD)
Starring: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able
Plot: Starring Amber Heard and Anson Mount, ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE is about a group of high-schoolers who invite Mandy Lane, “a good girl” who becomes the object of everyone’s affection after returning from summer break, to a weekend party on a secluded ranch. While the festivities rage on, the number of revelers begins to mysteriously drop one at a time.
One Random Review Quote: “A partly smart, mostly dumb addition to the teen horror sweepstakes — smart in how it neatly catches the petty, hurtful, sexy and druggy aspects of high school life, dumb in how it makes absolutely no sense once its resolution is known.” – Todd McCarthy, Variety
Should You Watch It? I’m not sure. I’m afraid that if I watch it, I might also love Mandy Lane and then I’ll start killing people, too. Also, it really irritates me that Amber Heard is dating Johnny Depp.
Blue Caprice (VOD)
Starring: Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Joey Lauren Adams
Plot: The striking feature film debut of writer-director Alexandre Moors, BLUE CAPRICE is a harrowing yet restrained psychological thriller about an abandoned boy lured to America into the shadows of a dangerous father figure. Inspired by true events, BLUE CAPRICE investigates the notorious and horrific Beltway sniper attacks from the point of view of the two killers, whose distorted father-son relationship facilitated their long and bloody journey across America. Marked by captivating performances by Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond, lyrical camerawork, and a unique and bold structure, BLUE CAPRICE documents the mechanisms that lead its subjects to embrace physical violence. BLUE CAPRICE paints a riveting portrait of 21st-century America and a haunting depiction of two cold-blooded killers that will endure long after the lights come up.
One Random Review Quote: “The strongest film I’ve seen in the first couple of days at Sundance is the riveting thriller “Blue Caprice,” which should put first-time director Alexandre Moors on the map and win him some studio offers.” – Kyle Smith, New York Post
Should You Watch It? I typically hate movies that are based on horrible real-life events; however, I have been curious to find out what happened to Joey Lauren Adams.
Starring: Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Corey Stoll, Dean Stockwell, Casey Wilson
Plot: In the first ever film adaptation of David Sedaris’ work, a cocky young man travels to Oregon to work at an apple farm. Out of his element, his lifestyle and notions are picked apart by everyone who crosses his path.
One Random Review Quote: “The source material may be David Sedaris (this marks the first time the essayist has allowed one of his pieces to be adapted), but the tone couldn’t be more Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who once again steers auds to some gloriously uncomfortable places.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
Should You Watch It? If you enjoy David Sedaris’ work, then why not?
Good Ol’ Freda (VOD)
Starring: Freda Kelly
Plot: Freda Kelly was just a shy Liverpudlian teenager when she was asked to work for a local band hoping to make it big. Though she had no concept of how far they would go, Freda had faith in The Beatles from the beginning, and The Beatles had faith in her. History notes that The Beatles were together for 10 years, but Freda worked for them for 11. Many people came in and out of the band’s circle as they grew to international stardom, but Freda remained a staple because of her unfaltering loyalty and dedication. As the Beatles’ devoted secretary and friend, Freda was there as history unfolded; she was witness to the evolution – advances and setbacks, breakthroughs and challenges – of the greatest band in history. In GOOD OL’ FREDA, Freda tells her stories for the first time in 50 years. One of few films with the support of the living Beatles and featuring original Beatles music, the film offers an insider perspective on the beloved band that changed the music industry.
One Random Review Quote: “White’s film is a love letter not just to Kelly and the Beatles, but also to postwar working-class Liverpool.” – Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times
Should You Watch It? Yes. I can’t think of any reason why not, so yes.
Starring: Ivan Sergei, Joel David Moore, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Jon Lovitz
Plot: Inspired from the international smash hit play seen by over a million people, JEWTOPIA stars Ivan Sergei, Joel David Moore, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jon Lovitz, Rita Wilson, Tom Arnold, Peter Stormare, Camryn Manheim, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Wendie Malick, Nicollette Sheridan, Phil Rosenthal, Christine Lakin, Hayes MacArthur and Lin Shaye. The story is about Christian O’Connell (Sergei) and Adam Lipschitz (Moore) — two childhood friends who reunite as adults to help each other land the women of their dreams. Chris wants to marry Allison (Hewitt), a Jewish girl, so that he’ll never have to make another decision for as long as he lives. Adam is on the verge of getting married to Hannah (Sigler), a woman he is not content with. When Chris enlists Adam’s help in pretending to be Jewish so that Allison will date him, cultures collide and chaos ensues!
One Random Review Quote: “This movie is horrible. I walked out in 15minutes. This movie just seems so dated and ridiculous.” – Michele Martin, Some Woman on Netflix
Should You Watch It? It is the Jewish New Year right now. I think. Maybe it isn’t, I have no clue.
Man Of Tai Chi (VOD)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Tiger Chen
Plot: Set in modern Beijing, MAN OF TAI CHI marks Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut. The film, also starring Reeves, follows the spiritual journey of a young martial artist (played by Tiger Chen) whose unparalleled Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club. As the fights intensify, so does his will to survive.
One Random Review Quote: “A tediously repetitive film desperately looking for some heart and soul. Reeves is the Man of Concrete, grey and predictable behind the camera and an impassive mask of grunts in front of it. Definitely no excellent adventure.” – Simon Weaving, Screenwize
Should You Watch It? I don’t know. I always assumed that Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut would be something awesome like Bill & Ted’s Middle Aged Complacency.
Red Obsession (VOD)
Starring: Russell Crowe
Plot: Narrated by Russell Crowe, the film takes us on an extraordinary journey from Bordeaux to Beijing, from the passion and art of the vineyard to the notorious counterfeit wine markets of the Far East and into the homes of billionaire collectors. RED OBSESSION explores the unlikely love affair between the traditional West and the seductive but unpredictable East. The demand is unprecedented, but the product is finite and this new client wants it all. Will the China market be the bubble that never bursts or the biggest threat yet to Bordeaux’s centuries old reputation?
One Random Review Quote: “A concise portrait of not only the historic Bordeaux region of France, but also of the way its business has been impacted-for good and ill-by China’s emergence as a superpower.” – Nick Schager, AV Club
Should You Watch It? I’m just going to go ahead and say it – wine blows. It’s overrated. Give me a documentary about good bourbon and/or nickel beer night.