Whether you need a good laugh, some sci-fi thrills, or a zombie scare, we’ve got you covered with this week’s choices, which also include a few smaller Certified Fresh choices you might have missed, the final season of a popular supernatural drama that just ended, and even an Oscar nominee. Read on for details.


New on Netflix

 

Dave Chappelle: Collection 1 (2017) 92%

The first two comedy specials Netflix picked up from Dave Chappelle, filmed separately in Hollywood and at Austin City Limits, cover topics on race, celebrity, fatherhood, and his own brushes with controversy.

Available now on: Netflix


The Vampire Diaries: Season 8 (2016) 100%

The popular supernatural CW drama just ended its series run a week and a half ago, but Netflix already has its final season available to stream for those who might have missed out. Now you can watch the entire series in your jammies.

Available now on: Netflix


Train to Busan (2016) 94%

This apocalyptic action-horror film from South Korea follows a group of passengers on a commuter train fighting to survive a zombie outbreak.

Available now on: Netflix


Fire at Sea (2016) 95%

This Italian documentary, which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Oscars, centers on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in and around the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.

Available now on: Netflix


Howards End (1992) 94%

Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson star in this adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel about a couple whose love affair blooms against the backdrop of upheaval in the British class system during the early 20th century.

Available now on: Netflix


Evolution (2015) 83%

This French drama-thriller follows a young boy who discovers that the matriarchal society on the island where he lives may hide deep secrets after he discovers a body floating in the ocean.

Available now on: Netflix


5 to 7 (2014) 70%

Anton Yelchin, Bérénice Marlohe, Olivia Thirlby, Glenn Close, Eric Stoltz, and Frank Langella star in a romantic comedy about a passionate affair between a married woman and an aspiring writer.

Available now on: Netflix


Batched (2014) 67%

Max Irons, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, and Natalie Dormer star in this drama about an exclusive Oxford University fraternity for the super wealthy.

Available now on: Netflix


New on Amazon Prime

 

Orphan Black: Season 4 (2016) 97%

Tatiana Maslany stars in this sci-fi drama series about a group of clones who fall into a conspiratorial whirlwind of mystery and deception.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) 87%

Richard Linklater‘s latest is a nearly plotless, freewheeling comedy about a party-hearty college baseball team in the early 1980s.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Big Ass Spider! (2013) 78%

This gleeful throwback to creature features of old is the story of two guys trying to stop a huge arachnid from destroying Los Angeles.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


New on FandangoNOW

 

Paterson (2016) 96%

Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani star in Jim Jarmusch’s slice-of-life tale about a bus driver and aspiring poet whose daily routine brings him into contact with his town’s colorful characters.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


Neruda (2016) 93%

The first of director Pablo Larraín’s acclaimed biopics last year, this homage to the Nobel Prize-winning poet focuses on a search for him during the 1940s after his Communist leanings made him a fugitive in Chile.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


The Secret of NIMH (1982) 93%

Based on an acclaimed children’s book by Robert C. O’Brien, this animated tale follows a widowed mouse trying to save her home who encounters a secret society of ultra-intelligent lab rats who have escaped from a nearby facility.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


What's Up, Doc? (1972) 89%

Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal star in Peter Bogdanovich’s homage to classic screwball comedies, about a young woman whose efforts to attract the attention of a timid musicologist lead to a series of misunderstandings.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


The Club (2015) 88%

This drama from Chile — another treat from Pablo Larraín — is the story of four exiled priests and a nun who are confronted by their past secrets when another priest appears and causes a stir.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009) 85%

Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace star in the the original Swedish trilogy, based upon Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novels. All three are available on FandangoNOW.

Available now on FandangoNOW: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest


Francofonia (2015) 87%

This Certified Fresh documentary is a meditation on art that offers a unique tour of Paris’s famous Louvre museum through the lens of historical events.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


Julieta (2016) 83%

The great writer-director Pedro Almodóvar‘s latest is a drama about a woman whose life is upended after her estranged daughter returns.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


The Brand New Testament (2015) 82%

This dark comedy imagines that God is a petulant Belgian slacker with a rebellious young daughter.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (2002) 75%

Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino star in this follow-up to Robert Rodriguez’s popular kid-friendly action film, about a family of super spies who take on a double agent and a mad scientist.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


Last House on the Left (1972) 62%

Wes Craven’s original horror exploitation classic follows a band of rapists and murderers who are hunted by the parents of one of their victims.

Available now on: FandangoNOW


Office Christmas Party (2016) 41%

Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, and Jennifer Aniston star in this comedy about a company CTO and branch manager who set out to throw an epic holiday party in hopes of impressing a big client.

Available now on: FandangoNOW

The 2010 Best Foreign Language Film winner The Secret in Their Eyes is being remade…as Secret in Their Eyes,  a murder mystery starring Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. As Americans, we don’t need definite articles in our movie titles, but we do occasionally need help thinking up stories to shoot, prompting this week’s 24 Frames gallery of foreign thrillers versus their Hollywood counterparts.

This week’s Ketchup brings you ten stories from the realm of film development news, covering the latest about movies that Hollywood is working on for the years to come.  Included in the mix this time around are headlines about such movies as the video game adaptations Call of Duty and The Witcher, and new roles for Anne Hathaway, Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Rudd, and the comedy team of Key & Peele.


This Week’s Top Story

NOOMI RAPACE TO STAR IN AMY WINEHOUSE BIOPIC

WinehouseRapace

British singer Amy Winehouse had only been 20 for a few weeks when her first album was released, but her path to stardom took her to the top quickly. As the world learned in 2011, however, Winehouse’s struggles with substance abuse would eventually lead to her tragic death at the age of 27. Negotiations are now underway with Winehouse’s father Mitch Winehouse for the rights to produce a feature film biopic about the meteoric rise and fall of Amy Winehouse. The currently untitled project was written and will be directed by Kirsten Sheridan, who wrote her father’s film In America (for which she was nominated for an Academy Award), and directed the 2007 film August Rush. These plans follow the recent box office success of the documentary Amy, which Winehouse’s father has “distanced himself from.” For the lead role, the producers are negotiating with Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who has been an in-demand actress in Hollywood since she first came to attention in 2009 as the star of the three Swedish films adapting Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy “nordic noir” novels as the gothic hacker Lisbeth Salander. Sony Pictures and director David Fincher followed those films with their own English-language adaptation of the first novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. There had been an expectation that Sony would continue the franchise with an adaptation of The Girl Who Played with Fire, but this week, we learned that the studio is skipping Larsson’s remaining novels entirely. Instead, Sony Pictures is now developing an adaptation of The Girl in the Spider’s Web, which was written by David Lagercrantz, continuing the Millennium series following Stieg Larsson’s death in 2004. Fincher, Craig, and Mara are all expected to not be involved with this film. Sony is reportedly considering another Swedish actress, Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), to take over the role originated by Noomi Rapace (but still in English instead of Swedish). British screenwriter Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Pawn Sacrifice) is now in talks to adapt The Girl in the Spider’s Web.


Fresh Developments This Week

1. ARE YOU READY THE ANSWER TO THE CALL OF DUTY CINEMATIC UNIVERSE?

CallOfDuty

One of the biggest trends in film development the last several years (but especially since the success of Marvel’s The Avengers) has been the notion of the “cinematic universe,” connecting various movies and characters together in one franchise. In addition to the comic book franchises from Marvel and WB/DC (in the works), there are also cinematic universe plans for Transformers, LEGO, the Universal Monsters, Godzilla and King Kong, and the various members of the Robin Hood supporting cast. And today, at their annual BlizzCon convention, the video game company Activision Blizzard announced plans for their own such universe, namely for their popular Call of Duty first-person-shooter franchise. The plan is for the first Call of Duty movie to be released in 2018 or 2019 and to be connected to TV shows set within the same world. The company is also working on a Skylanders TV series. It’s unclear if this new studio will be actively involved with the Warcraft movie franchise that is just beginning at Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures. There were also no details as to whether the Call of Duty movies will be set in World War II or in the contemporary settings of the Modern Warfare games.


2. PAUL RUDD AND ALEXANDER SKARSGARD WILL BE MUTE

AlexanderSkarsgard

On June 10, 2016, Universal Pictures will release the video game adaptation Warcraft, which is also the third feature film from director Duncan Jones (after Moon and Source Code). In something of a “one for them, one for me,” Duncan Jones has long planned for his fourth film after Warcraft to be one of his own, a “science fiction Casablanca” futuristic drama called Mute. At one time, Jones had expected to reunite with Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role, but this week, we found out that the role will instead go to Alexander Skarsgard (HBO’s True Blood). Skarsgard will play a mute bartender in the Berlin of forty years from now, who must search for his missing love in the city’s strange “underbelly.” Paul Rudd will play an American surgeon who is (or appears to be) part of the disappearance mystery. By the time Mute is released, Alexander Skarsgard will have starred in his biggest movie to date, Warner Bros’ ambitious reboot of Tarzan (7/1/16).


3. KEY & PEELE TO WORK WITH STOP-MOTION ANIMATOR HENRY SELICK AS WENDELL & WILD

KeyPeele

Now that their Comedy Central show Key & Peele has wrapped (the final episode of 53 aired on September 9, 2015), comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are continuing to expand their presence into feature films. This includes their upcoming comedy Keanu (4/22/16), and Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, the horror film Get Out. Their next big project together will unite them with director Henry Selick in a movie called Wendell &  Wild. Selick is best known for his work in stop-motion animation movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Coraline. Key and Peele will play the title characters, “scheming demon brothers who must face their arch-nemesis, the demon-dusting nun Sister Helly, and her two acolytes, the goth teens Kat and Raoul.” Wendell & Wild is just one of the projects Selick is currently working on, and given the time needed to deliver stop-motion animation, we’re probably several years from its release. A movie that we are much closer to seeing in theaters is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, the horror thriller Get Out, which this week cast its female lead, Allison Williams (HBO’s Girls), in what is being described as her feature film debut.  (Allison Williams did costar in the 2014 indie musical College Musical).


4. STARS LINE UP FOR PRIMER DIRECTOR’S NEXT, THE MODERN OCEAN

KeanuHathaway

Director Shane Carruth made his debut in 2004 with the indie sci-fi time travel drama Primer (on a budget of just $7,000!), and followed it up in 2013 with Upstream Color. In addition to complex storylines, both films lacked any traditional “name stars.” That’s all set to change with Shane Carruth’s third film, The Modern Ocean. The impressive names that are now attached to star in The Modern Ocean include Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Radcliffe, Asa Butterfield, Jeff Goldblum, Chloe Grace Moretz, Abraham Attah, and Tom Holland. In other words, Shane Carruth is going from working with unknowns to casting Harry Potter, Catwoman, Neo from The Matrix, the next Spider-Man, one of the stars of Jurassic Park, and the two young stars of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (one of whom was also “Hit-Girl”). Described as a “nautical thriller,” The Modern Ocean promises to “draw audiences in to a secretive world filled with mysterious technologies and bitter rivalries.” The Modern Ocean is currently being shopped to distributors at the American Film Market (like many of the movies reported on this week).


5. NICOLE KIDMAN CAST AS AN AMAZON IN WONDER WOMAN

NicoleKidman

Warner Bros’ next big DC Comics movie after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (3/25/16) and Suicide Squad (8/5/16) will be Wonder Woman (6/23/17), so it’s going to be time soon for that film to start production. We’ve known for a while that Gal Gadot and Chris Pine would star in Wonder Woman as the title character and her romantic interest Steve Trevor. This week, however, we learned that Nicole Kidman is also in talks to join the cast as “a high-ranking Amazonian warrior.” There have been a lot of Amazons among Wonder Woman’s supporting cast in the last 70+ years of her publication, but the character that has inspired the most speculation from that hint is Hippolyta. In addition to being the Queen of the Amazons of Themiscyra, Hippolyta is also the mother of Prince Diana (AKA Wonder Woman). Hippolyta has even been depicted as herself being the original Wonder Woman during her World War II adventures, though it’s unclear if that could also happen in this live action film. We don’t know yet who the villain of the Wonder Woman movie will be, and there are candidates from the realm of Greek Mythology (like Ares, but also other Amazons). When we learn more about the story, that may give us more information about Nicole Kidman’s character. Wonder Woman will be director Patty Jenkins’ second feature film after making her debut 11 years ago with 2004’s Monster.


6. LIAM NEESON TO STAR AS “DEEP THROAT” IN THE WATERGATE BIOPIC FELT

LiamNeeson

The next movie from director Peter Landesman (Parkland, Kill the Messenger), the football injury drama Concussion (starring Will Smith) doesn’t open until December 25th, but Landesman is already lining up his next fact-based film. (Parkland was about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Kill the Messenger was about journalist Gary Webb.) Liam Neeson is in talks to star in the biopic Felt as Watergate informant Mark Felt, who for decades was best known to the public by the codename “Deep Throat.” Diane Lane is also in talks to join Liam Neeson as Felt’s wife Audrey. During the years 1972 to 1974, Mark Felt was the Assistant Director of the FBI, and provided information to Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl BernsteinFilming is scheduled to start in March, 2016 on what is being described as a “spy thriller.” Felt is being backed by an impressive array of producers who include Ridley Scott, Tom Hanks, and Jay Roach.  Liam Neeson also recently signed to star in another thriller called The Commuter, which will be distributed by Lionsgate.


7. VIDEO GAME ADAPTATION THE WITCHER ON THE HUNT FOR 2017 RELEASE

Witcher

This is indeed a big week for news about video game adaptation movies. Plans for an adaptation of the Polish fantasy RPG series The Witcher were also announced this week. Itself an adaptation of a series of fantasy novels, The Witcher (and its sequel games) follows the adventures of Gerald of Rivia, a genetically altered agent who works between and with the various factions of the fantasy world he lives in. The Witcher will be produced by the Sean Daniel Company, which has in the past worked with Universal Pictures on The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, and The Best Man Holiday, and also is currently producing the Ben-Hur reboot and The Best Man Wedding for 2016. The Witcher will be directed by newcomer Polish director Tomasz Baginski, with a release target set for sometime in 2017.


8. MEL BROOKS AND FRIENDS TO VOICE ANIMATED SPOOF BLAZING SAMURAI

SamuelLJackson

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the groundbreaking cowboy spoof comedy Blazing SaddlesIn the decades since, the spoof comedy as a sub-genre went on to great success, and then sort of faded away again. Earlier this year, Open Road Films acquired the rights to an animated family film called Blazing Samurai, which will loosely be based on Blazing Saddles, and is now scheduled for April 14, 2017. This week, we learned about some of the actors and celebrities who will be contributing their voices to Blazing Samurai. The lead character will be a dog voiced by Michael Cera, who “longs to become a great warrior and fights to save the town of Kakamucho from becoming the litter box of a nefarious feline warlord, transforming society and himself on his quest to become a true samurai.” Samuel L. Jackson will voice “a cat who once was a great warrior who now lives life hitting the cat-nip a bit too hard” who becomes a mentor for Cera’s dog character. Ricky Gervais will provide the voice of that aforementioned feline warlord, named Ika Chu. Mel Brooks, who directed and cowrote Blazing Saddles, will also voice a character. Other voice actors will include Djimon Hounsou, Gabriel Iglesias, Aasif Mandvi, George Takei, and Michelle Yeoh. Blazing Samurai will mark the feature film directorial debuts of animators Chris Bailey and Mark Koetsier, who previously worked on such films as The Lion King (Koetsier was Scar’s animator), Pocahontas, Tarzan, and Kung Fu PandaBlazing Samurai is being produced by Rob Minkoff, whose filmography as director includes such films as The Lion King, Stuart Little, and Mr. Peabody & Sherman.


Rotten Idea of The Week

1. ICE CUBE REPLACES CHRIS PRATT IN VACATION FRIENDS

IceCube

In March, 2014, 20th Century Fox acquired a comedy spec script called Vacation Friends, with the idea that the married couple team of Chris Pratt and Anna Faris would play one of the movie’s two couples. Vacation Friends is about two couples that meet while vacationing in Mexico, and the What About Bob? situation that happens when one of the pairs wants to keep being friends after they all get home. That, however, was 4 months before Guardians of the Galaxy became the #3 movie of 2014, and 15 months before Jurassic World became the #1 movie of 2015 (so far). Since then, Mr. and Mrs. Pratt have moved on to other projects. So, 20th Century Fox is now looking to retool Vacation Friends, and the way they are doing that is by having writer/director Steve Pink do a rewrite. Chris Pratt’s replacement will now be Ice Cube, and the studio is still looking for a female costar to play his wife. It’s not Ice Cube’s involvement, however, that is why we’re calling this a “Rotten Idea.” It’s because two of director Steve Pink’s three movies to date have Rotten Tomatometer scores (Accepted and Hot Tub Time Machine 2), while the only Fresh credit he has is the first Hot Tub Time Machine.

This week on streaming video, we’ve got a lot of popular TV shows, including a couple of DC superheroes, a Golden Globe-winning dramedy series, a CW fantasy/sci-fi show, and Ryan Murphy’s horror-themed anthology series on FX. Then we’ve got a selection of decent films to check out, including a Roman Polanski classic and an oft-referenced social satire starring Christian Bale. And lastly, we’ve got a few recent hits available to purchase, including the most recent Pixar success. Read on for details.


New on Netflix:

 

Jane The Virgin: Season 1 (2015) 100%

Twenty-something virgin Jane has her life turned upside-down when she is accidentally inseminated with her boss’s sperm in this Certified Fresh dramedy with telenovela twists and a strong ensemble cast.

Available now on: Netflix


Arrow: Season 3 (2015) 89%

Arrow‘s third season finds its titular hero (Stephen Amell) embraced by Starling City, only to be faced by more adversaries and a tragic loss with far-reaching consequences.

Available now on: Netflix


Supernatural: Season 10 (2014) 100%

The Winchester brothers (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) battle vampires, werewolves, demons, ghosts and other monsters from the supernatural world in the CW’s long-running fantasy series.

Available now on: Netflix


Glen Campbell... I'll Be Me (2014) 100%

Suffering from Alzheimer’s, the country music icon embarks on a grueling farewell tour in this heartfelt documentary.

Available now on: Netflix


The Flash: Season 1 (2014) 92%

With a Certified Fresh debut season, The Flash successfully introduced audiences to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), a forensic investigator who’s struck by irradiated lightning and becomes the fastest man alive.

Available now on: Netflix


iZombie: Season 1 (2015) 91%

Rose McIver stars as Liv, a zombie who helps police solve murders by eating dead victims’ brains and absorbing their memories. Based on a DC comic, this may sound like high concept spoofery, but according to critics, it’s pretty good!

Available now on: Netflix


American Horror Story: Freak Show (2014) 77%

The fourth season of FX’s horror anthology series focuses on a troupe of traveling carnival performers in the 1950s who arrive in Jupiter, Florida, and face an unknown entity who begins terrorizing the community. Also, there’s a pretty scary clown in it.

Available now on: Netflix


New on Hulu

 

Arrow: Season 4 (2015) 85%

Four seasons in, and the DC comic-inspired show is going strong. Keep up with this season of Arrow by catching episodes of the show on Hulu after they air.

Available now on: Hulu


The Flash: Season 2 (2016) 94%

He’s the fastest man alive, so you’d be forgiven if you were to miss him when he actually aired on TV. That’s okay, though, because Hulu has your back, and you can watch Barry Allen run circles around bad guys online.

Available now on: Hulu


Jane The Virgin: Season 2 (2015) 100%

So far, season two of Jane the Virgin is a success with the critics, so it looks like we’ll get another great season of telenovela-style drama and comedy. Tune in weekly to stay updated.

Available now on: Hulu


The Vampire Diaries: Season 7 (2015) 77%

Curious to know how The Vampire Diaries will deal with the departure of Nina Dobrev? Catch the season premiere on Hulu now, and stream the show every week to find out.

Available now on: Hulu


New on Amazon Prime

 

American Psycho (2000) 69%

You like Huey Lewis and the News? Their early work was a little too new wave for my taste, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


New on Fandor

 

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009) 85%

Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace star in the the original Swedish trilogy, based upon Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novels.

Available now on Fandor: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest


Knife in the Water (1962) 100%

Roman Polanski’s psychological drama centers on a married couple who invite a teenage hitchhiker on a sailing excursion, where tensions rise when the husband and the teen engage in a game of alpha male one-upmanship.

Available now on: Fandor


1001 Grams (2014) 82%

This drama from Norway follows a scientist who attends a seminar in Paris and comes to grips with the disappointments in her own life.

Available now on: Fandor


Richard III (1955) 84%

Laurence Olivier directs and stars in this adaptation as the titular Shakespearean figure, who systematically schemes his way to the throne and soon finds his reign under threat from the Tudors.

Available now on: Fandor


Available for Purchase

 

Inside Out (2015) 98%

Riley is an 11-year-old girl whose family has relocated from Minnesota to San Francisco, and she’s struggling with her emotions, which are personified by a group of colorful avatars that live and work in her brain in Pixar’s latest.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Southpaw (2015) 60%

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Billy Hope, a boxing champ who’s blindsided by personal tragedy, losing his title and his family in the process. But with the help of a committed trainer, Billy seeks redemption in the ring.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Vacation (2015) 27%

Ed Helms is the latest actor to portray Rusty Griswold, and the plot is basically the same as the original: the family hits the road for Walley World, and is met with wacky characters and bizarre humiliations along the way.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

This week on streaming video, we’ve got an Academy Award-nominated thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, a feelgood story from the UK, and the controversial James Franco-Seth Rogen comedy that irked North Korea, plus more. Read on for details:


Nightcrawler
95%

In this Certified Fresh thriller, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a freelance TV journalist who sells lurid crime footage to a local station. But as his career progresses, and his scoops become ever more explosive, Bloom’s shaky ethics threaten to overwhelm him.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play


One Chance
63%

This inspirational drama is based on the true story of the amateur opera singer who became an overnight sensation on Britain’s Got Talent.

Available now on: iTunes


Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League

In the latest animated collaboration between Lego and DC Comics, Bizarro returns to Earth when Bizarro World is threatened by Darkseid, and he clones the Justice League to create the Bizarro League.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes


The Interview
51%

Dave Skylark (James Franco), the host of a trashy talk show, and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) land the biggest interview of their careers: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). But before they journey to Pyongyang, the CIA recruits them to assassinate the Dear Leader. The film became newly available to stream on Netflix on Saturday, January 24.

Available now on: Netflix


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
85%

Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace star in the first part of the original Swedish trilogy, based upon Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novel.

Available now on: Netflix

It’s an erratic selection of new releases this week, from the semi-arthouse (international sleeper hit The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) to the unashamedly broad (gross-out nostalgia romp Hot Tub Time Machine )and the outright shameful (the unauthorised sequel to Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko). Plus, a really quite overlooked movie from Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess — if your taste runs in that direction, of course.



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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Tapped by David Fincher for a 2011 remake (starring Daniel Craig), Swedish director Niels Arden Oplev’s adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s posthumously published 2005 book proved a sleeper hit with Australian audiences when released earlier this year. The story revolves around a 40-year-old unsolved murder, and the uncle of its victim who is convinced the murder was perpetrated by someone within the family. In order to help research his hunch, he joins forces with a disgraced journalist and a tattooed computer hacker to discover the truth behind the crime. Though the length and brutal violence were poison to some reviewers, the film was as a whole favourably received, with an 86% “Fresh” rating. “This is a capable, engaging thriller,” wrote Craig Matheison at SBS, “which ties up one mystery even as it asks another.” Alas, the local DVD and Blu-ray only arrives with minimal extras.



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Hot Tub Time Machine

The promise of seeing John Cusack shake off his recent sad-sack funk and have some fun riffing on his classic ’80s teen persona set many movie fans’ expectations alight, especially with a concept as agreeably absurd as a bunch of middle-age guys who go though the titular bubbly time portal to confront their youthful selves. As the mixed response shows, however, Hot Tub Time Machine was only sporadically successful, with equal parts scatological humour and gross-out comedy but arguably not enough done with the potential of the idea. Certainly there are laughs to be had, especially from the always amusing Rob Corddry, but Cusack is again the straight man and really, couldn’t they have used Crispin Glover a little better? At the Movies’ David Stratton captured the consensus in suggesting the film is “an amiable time-waster but, given the concept, it could have been rather more than that.”



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S. Darko

Hands up who’d be intrigued by the notion of a sequel to Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly’s dimension-tripping 2001 cult favourite? Sure, our hero was — spoiler alert — dead and all, but with that whole parallel universe thing going on, they could do anything with the plot, no? Well, the news that there would indeed be a sequel to the film was met with justifiable scorn, considering that Kelly, who did not own the rights to the property, was not going to be involved at all (and graciously declined to pass judgement on the producers). Finally materialising from the fog of who-cares, the straight-to-DVD S. Darko chronicles the further adventures of Donnie’s little sister, Sparkle Motion star Samantha (Davleigh Chase) — as though we needed to see them. The result, though largely unreviewed, has still earned damning responses: “The entire project seems to sweat from the exertion of its writer Nathan Atkins and director Chris Fisher,” wrote CinemaBlend’s Brian Holcomb,
“to do something — anything — to make the film worthwhile.” Ouch.



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Gentlemen Broncos

Finally this week, something of an oddity — the critically-lashed film that your editor just so happens to dearly love, Jared Hess’ sci-fi comedy Gentlemen Broncos. This third feature from the Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre director was theatrically released almost a year ago in the US, where it bombed and swiftly disappeared, skipping local cinemas altogether. That’s something of a shame. Although definitely not to all tastes, those who appreciate genuine oddity in character — as opposed to irony and mocking — may want to have a look at this film. Chronicling the misadventures of a young fantasy novelist (Michael Angarano) who gets plagiarised by a self-absorbed, creatively bereft superstar (Flight of the Conchords‘ Jemaine Clement), Broncos is a very Hess cocktail of sci-fi allusion, curious sartorial choices and unexpectedly genuine heart. Plus, Sam Rockwell gets to dress like a ’70s sci-fi Jesus and ride a taxidermy deer spacecraft. You didn’t see that in Moon.


Whether because of the Fourth of July holiday here in the States, or by some other random circumstance, there just weren’t very many choice releases this week on home video. to give you an idea, on a good week, Amazon’s list of new releases will feature some “adult” videos somewhere around page 15 or so, far after the most viable choices have been listed; this week, they showed up on page 6. Having said that, we’ve put together a short list for you anyway, and there are a couple here that we’re sure some of you have been waiting for. So take a look at what’s out, and keep your fingers crossed for a better selection next week!



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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson was a Swedish journalist and writer who died in 2004 of a heart attack, but three novels he wrote were posthumously published, beginning with 2005’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The first part of a trilogy, “Dragon Tattoo” became an instant bestseller, and based on the popularity of the book, a film adaptation was made and released in 2009. The film was also a great success, and it was released in the US in March this year. Despite the critical acclaim it received, the film itself failed to generate much heat at the box office, so now we find it hitting home video shelves this week. The story revolves around a forty-year-old unsolved murder, and the uncle of its victim who is convinced the murder was perpetrated by someone within the family. In order to help research his hunch, he joins forces with a disgraced journalist and a tattooed computer hacker to discover the truth behind the crime. Though the film’s length and brutal violence might turn some viewers off, critics felt that actress Noomi Rapace’s performance as the titular character was gripping enough to make the film worth checking out, and at 86% on the Tomatometer, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is Certified Fresh. If you didn’t get the chance to catch this when it was in theaters, now’s your chance to check it out, as it hits shelves in DVD and Blu-Ray this week.



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A Single Man

Tom Ford is probably better known by fashionistas as the American designer who turned Gucci around and subsequently became an icon in his own right, but in 2009, he ventured into the realm of cinema by financing and directing an adaptation of the 1964 novel “A Single Man” by Christopher Isherwood. The film version stars Colin Firth in the title role, a homosexual British professor named George Falconer working and living in Southern California and dealing with the recent death of his partner in a car accident. The audience is treated to one day in the life of Professor Falconer as he mulls over the events of his life and contemplates committing suicide that evening. As one might expect, A Single Man faithfully recreates the style of the era (1960s America) with impeccable flourish, and Ford’s attention to period detail is outstanding. But it’s more than a pretty movie, as critics felt there was enough depth in the examination of life, love, and death to make it a film worth watching. For his part in the film, Firth won a Best Actor Golden Globe and secured a nomination for the Best Actor Oscar, and his performance is one of the strongest reasons to see A Single Man.



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Brooklyn’s Finest

Antoine Fuqua has had success in the realm of gritty, urban crime dramas with Training Day, and working with a cast as distinguished as Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, and Ethan Hawke, one would be quick to assume that he had a winner in Brooklyn’s Finest. And one would be partially correct. Shifting between three storylines, Brooklyn’s Finest alternately focuses on a veteran cop on the verge of retirement, an undercover cop struggling to reconcile his loyalties, and a narcotics officer trying to do right by his family. The bad news here is that the film makes use of common clichés we’ve come to expect of police thrillers like this, even including Fuqua’s own Training Day, which also starred Hawke. The good news is that the cast is so good, it’s almost worth watching them operate within the confines of the rehashed plot and all too familiar intrigue. Brooklyn’s Finest only managed a 43% on the Tomatometer, but it can still serve as a decent crime thriller… if you haven’t seen too many of them before.



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Jason and the Argonauts

Now here’s something for those of you into old school special effects. For those unfamiliar with Ray Harryhausen, he’s the special effects guru who put the “clash” in the original Clash of the Titans, the one who animated the swordfight between Kali and Sinbad in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, the one who brought the dinosaurs to life that would chase Raquel Welch throughout One Million Years B.C.. Harryhausen isn’t the father of stop-motion animation, but he certainly made sure the technique was utilized for several decades in some of the most memorable epics on film. One such film was 1963’s Jason and the Argonauts, a retelling of the story of the mythical Greek hero and his quest for the Golden Fleece. Of particular note here are the sequences that Harryhausen oversaw, which include a battle with a six-headed Hydra and a swordfight with seven animated skeletons. This was before the era of CGI, but there is a definite charm to effects seen here, and Argonauts is a bona fide cult classic because of them. This week, it arrives for the first time on Blu-Ray, and you can pick it up and enjoy those effects in high definition, even it sort of takes away from the atmosphere a little bit.


Lost Keaton: 16 Comedy Shorts

Buster Keaton is best known for his phenomenal work during the Silent Film era of the 1920s, and his 1927 film The General is widely regarded as one of the best films ever made, period. When the Silent Era ended, however, Keaton continued his career, working with MGM and Columbia Pictures in differing capacities. After some stormy years working within the studio system that left him utterly drained, Keaton made a couple of films in Europe, then came back to Hollywood during the 1930s for a series of comedic shorts he made for a company called Educational Pictures. These films, made from 1934-1937, marked a return for Keaton to the rapid-fire comedies he was famous for, this time with sound incorporated. Fourteen of the sixteen collected here have never been available on DVD before, and the two-disc set contains over five hours of material and special features like a stills gallery and film notes. This could be a must-have for fans of Keaton and the early days of filmmaking, and it’s available this week.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a scheming tween (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, starring Zachary Gordon and Steve Zahn); squabbling exes (The Bounty Hunter, starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler); and hazardous healthcare (Repo Men, starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker). What do the critics have to say?



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Diary of a Wimpy Kid

It’s a (debatable) maxim that the book is always better than the movie. That certainly seems to be the case with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which critics say contains moments of insight and humor but never fleshes out its middle school characters with the same empathy as Jeff Kinney’s books. The movie stars Zachary Gordon as a kid who can’t catch a break with the popular crowd, so he tries out various activities in order to climb the social ladder — all the while chronicling his life in a journal. The pundits say Wimpy Kid accurately captures the uncertainties of the junior high years, but also features abrupt tonal shifts and a story that apes others of its ilk.



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The Bounty Hunter

Given the right material, Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler are charming folks. Unfortunately, critics say The Bounty Hunter is decidedly the wrong material — clichéd, shrill, and lacking an ounce of chemistry between its usually winning leads. Butler plays a former cop who’s now a bounty hunter, and his latest assignment is bringing in his bail-jumping ex-wife. Will these crazy kids bicker? Will they relight the spark that brought them together in the first place? Can we expect a little of both, perhaps? Yes, say pundits, along with a shortage of laughs and smarts. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Aniston’s best-reviewed films.)



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Repo Men

Alex Cox’s Repo Man is one of the 1980s’ wildest cult classics, mixing punk rock, aliens, and… Wait, wrong movie. Repo Men, critics say, is a satirical misfire that mixes slasher and sci-fi tropes but never makes the most of its unhinged premise. The plot: a corporation called the Union manufactures perfect artificial organs, but if transplant recipients get behind on their payments, “repo men” reclaim the organs by force. One such repo man is Jude Law, is Jude Law, who has trouble making his payments when he gets his own artificial heart… and… you can see where this is going. The pundits say Repo Men shows flashes of perverse wit, but ultimately squanders its cast on generic chase sequences and oodles of gore.


Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Vincere, a drama about the little-known first marriage of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, is at 100 percent.

  • Neil Young Trunk Show, a live document of the legendary rocker, is at 88 percent.

  • Mid-August Lunch, an Italian comedy about a middle-aged man tasked with entertaining his grandmother and her feisty friends, is at 86 percent.

  • Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg, starring Ben Stiller as a fortysomething looking to break out of a midlife crisis, is at 83 percent.

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a dark thriller based upon Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novel, is Certified Fresh at 79 percent.

  • IMAX Hubble 3D, which showcases some stunning images from the space telescope, is at 67 percent.

  • The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning in a biopic of the pioneering girl band, is at 64 percent.

  • Red Baron, a biopic of the famous World War I flying ace, is at 28 percent.
  • Shutterbug, a thriller about a fashion photographer who suffers from hallucinations, is at 20 percent.

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