STORY WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORF
For Digital First Media
Based on a novel by Emma Donoghue, “Room” is a shattering, unforgettable drama which examines the remarkable bond between a mother (Brie Larson) and her son (Jacob Tremblay).
The thriller is set largely in a garden shed where Larson and the five-year-old Tremblay have been held captive since she was kidnapped years earlier. The action eventually opens up, tracking the pair’s rescue, but it doesn’t grow any less compelling as it looks at the struggles they face adjusting to “normal” life.
“Room” is unimaginable without Larson and Tremblay, both of whom deliver expressive, heart-wrenching turns. It’s a must-see. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
Also New To Streaming Services
Legend: Writer/director Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) was on to something when he decided to tell the story of twin London gangsters Reggie (Tom Hardy) and Ronnie Kray (Hardy again) from the perspective of Reggie’s gal pal Frances ( Emily Browning). Initially seduced by Reggie’s swagger but quickly disillusioned with his violent ways, Frances is a stand-in for audience members in thrall to gangland glamour. Sure, “Legend” would have been better if secondary characters had been fleshed out. But, from the exquisite production design to Hardy’s simmering performance, “Legend” rattles you in all the right ways. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
Extraction: Going rogue is all the vogue these days. Remember Ethan Hunt in “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” and then James Bond in “Spectre”? Now it’s Kellan Lutz’s turn to play a CIA agent who launches an unsanctioned mission. The “Twilight” star must sidestep government operatives and deadly assassins to help recover his retired CIA agent father (Bruce Willis) after the old man is kidnapped by terrorists. Despite a decent set-up, “Extraction” is crammed with poorly staged fight scenes and shockingly tedious plot twists. On Amazon, Vudu.
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet (2015, Universal, PG, $30): Based on “The Prophet,” a book of poetry which has never been out of print since its 1923 publication, this animated adventure — a passion project for actress-turned-producer Salma Hayek — revolves around imprisoned activist Mustafa (voiced by Liam Neeson) who shares his philosophy of life with a handful of people, including the youngster Almitra (“Annie’s” Quvenzhané Wallis). Each chapter of “The Prophet” is animated by a different artist, including “The Secret of Kells” helmer Tomm Moore, veteran animator Bill Plympton, claypainting maven Joan Gratz, French animation whiz Joann Sfar, Dubai’s Mohammed Saeed Harib and Nina Paley (“Sita Sings The Blues”). On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
How To Eat Your Watermelon In White Company: Civil Rights Activist, filmmaker, Broadway playwright, musician and Wall Street trader Melvin Van Peebles has been them all. And, thanks to this documentary by Joe Angio, the many facets of Van Peebles’ life are playfully chronicled. Van Peebles made his name with “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song,” a film which almost single-handedly kicked off the Blaxploitation era. But Peebles never stopped pushing boundaries, which makes him a fascinating — and still-relevant — figure. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
House of Cards: Season Four: Frank (Kevin Spacey), Claire (Robin Wright) and the gang are back for more political dirty dealings in the fourth season of the Netflix hit. Newbies Neve Campbell and Joel Kinnaman have joined the cast. But the main attraction is sure a deeper exploration of the Underwoods’ ever-disintegrating marriage. On Netflix.
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness: Here’s a documentary which examines the realities of life for women in Pakistan. Every year, more than 1,000 women who are perceived as having compromised the “honor” of their families are reported to be murdered. Directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (the Oscar-winning “Saving Face”), the film follows one woman who lives to tell of her attempted honor killing by her own family. On HBO Now.
Blue Is The Warmest Color: If “The Way We Were” starred young lesbians, it would look a lot like Abdellatif Kechiche’s mesmerizing meditation on love, loss, class and gender. Adèle Exarchopoulos stars as a teenaged lesbian stirred to her core by a more sophisticated college student (Lea Seydoux). A Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival, “Blue” casts a unique spell. On Hulu, Amazon, iTunes.
Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade: “Empire’s” Taraji P. Henson lends her tonsil power to this tale of a harried mom who entrusts her precious, soon-to-hatch egg to Sid (John Leguizamo). When she recommends him to her neighbors — condor mom (Wendy Williams), Cholly Bear (Gabriel Iglesias) and Gladys Glypto (Lili Estefan) — business booms at his new egg-sitting service. However, dastardly pirate bunny Squint (Philadelphia’s Seth Green) steals, camouflages and hides all the eggs. To the rescue come the “Ice Age” gang, including Manny (Ray Romano) and Diego (Denis Leary) who must take off on a daring mission that turns into the world’s first Easter egg hunt. On iTunes, Google, Vudu, and Amazon.
Caged: If you can’t wait for “Orange Is the New Black” to start up on Netflix in June, check out this cult classic about a fresh-faced young woman (Oscar-nominated Eleanor Parker) who turns ferocious behind bars. As with “Orange,” there’s plenty of corruption and cruelty as well as a sense of community among the women. Shocking in its time, “Caged” features a remarkable ensemble of actors including Hope Emerson as a monstrous guard, Agnes Moorhead as the kindly but naive warden and Lee Patrick as an inmate with a crush on Parker. It’s engrossing from start to finish. On Warner Archive Instant.