WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORF
For Digital First Media
Even when it suffers from too much ambition, trying all at once to be a biopic of a whistleblower, a love story and a paranoid thriller, “Concussion” works thanks to Will Smith’s superb performance.
Playing Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Pittsburgh pathologist who exposed the NFL’s cover-up of the long-term effects of head injuries on its players, Smith resists the urge to turn up the volume. His easy-does-it style steadies the movie, and puts you in the shoes of the guileless Omalu as he makes his startling discoveries. “Concussion” treads touchy territory with smarts and feeling. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
Also New To Disc and Streaming
The Hateful Eight : There is a crackling good western struggling to get out of this bloated, nearly three hour epic. As a lean, mean shoot-em-up with something to say about race and justice, it would have been exceptional. Instead, writer/director Quentin Tarantino has stuffed the story, largely set inside one room, with more talk – and gore – than necessary. Kurt Russell stars as a bounty hunter in post-Civil War Wyoming who’s transporting a fugitive (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to justice. With a blizzard bearing down on him, he’s forced to take refuge in a stagecoach stopover with a handful of suspicious strangers (Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Bruce Dern.) “The Hateful Eight” is the first Tarantino feature to wear out its welcome long before the final reel. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu
Point Break: The original “Point Break” starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze is a master work in comparison to this mind-bogglingly silly action yarn about an FBI agent (Luke Bracey) who infiltrates a team of extreme athletes led by the nonsense-spouting Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez). The plot, of course, is just an excuse for set pieces involving surfing, wingsuit flying, snowboarding and free-rock climbing. But none of this stuff looks remotely real. Rather it look exactly like what it is: scenes cooked up almost completely on computers. A computer probably wrote the script too. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
Taxi: Banned from filmmaking in his native Iran, director Jafar Panahi (“The Circle”) has nonetheless found ways to make movies. In his latest, he drives a cab through the streets of Tehran, picking up passengers who provide a snapshot of life in Persia. There’s interludes with a woman cradling her injured husband on the way to the hospital, a teacher who argues against the death penalty, and a man who sells counterfeit DVDs. It’s unclear how much of “Taxi” is staged and how much is real but, either way, it’s an vibrant testament to everyday heroes who find ways around repressive governments. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
Exposed: It’s easy to see why director Gee Malik Linton took his name off this botched crime thriller which attempts to blend the tale of a world-weary cop (Keanu Reeves) investigating the death of his corrupt partner with the saga of a young woman (Ana De Armas) who believes she’s been visited by angels. Thanks to the confusing way the producers have edited the film together, neither plot has much weight or momentum. The Reeves story is particularly disappointing given that he spends most of his time fighting off unwanted advances from his dead partner’s wife (Mira Sorvino) rather than unraveling clues. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
Consumed: Written by husband/wife filmmaking team Zoe Lister-Jones & Daryl Wein, this drama investigates the complex world of Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs. Lister-Jones stars as a single mom whose son suddenly develops a rash which doctors are unable to explain. Soon, Lister-Jones finds herself in the midst of a battle between her town’s organic farmers and big corporations profiting from GMOs. On Demand from MarVista Entertainment.
Curious George: Everybody’s favorite monkey finds a home on Hulu. All of the past and future seasons of the two-time Emmy Award-winning series, as well as television specials and feature-length original movies, became available on March 31. On tap are such specials as “Curious George: Swings Into Spring,” “Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest” and “Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas,” along with the feature-length originals “Curious George: Follow That Monkey” and “Curious George: Back To The Jungle.” On Hulu.
Home before Dark: Jean Simmons finds layers of pain in the role of Charlotte Bronn, a professor’s wife who is losing her grip on sanity thanks to an icy husband (Dan O’Herlihy) and a sneaky stepsister (Rhonda Flemming). Newly released from a dingy, state-run mental hospital, Charlotte returns home to the same hornet’s nest of despair she left a year earlier except now her house is occupied by a kindhearted boarder (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) Originally released in 1958, “Home before Dark” slowly gathers urgency and heat; it’s a cult classic in the making. On Warner Archive Instant.
Meet The Hitlers: What’s in a name? Well, if your moniker matches the name of the single most hated figure to ever walk the Earth, you have a few problems. That’s just one of the lessons learned from this fascinating documentary series from director Matt Ogens and exec producer Morgan Spurlock. Among those interviewed are 80-year-old Gene Hitler who gets a double take every time he presents his Medicare card and the teenaged Emily Hittler, who struggles with bullying high-school classmates. The film manages to explore complex issues like immigration, racism and tolerance but it’s ultimately a character-driven story, offering a moving portrait of its subjects. On Digital HD from Virgil Films.
The Ranch: Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson, reuniting for the first time since That 70s Show,” topline this new Netflix sitcom. Kutcher stars as a failed semipro football player who returns home to his parents’ ranch in Colorado, and immediately shakes up the family dynamics. Masterson plays Kutcher’s younger brother while Sam Elliott and Debra Winger play his folks. On Netflix.