COLUMN BY AMY LONGSDORF
For Digital First Media
Written, directed and starring Angelina Jolie Pitt, “By The Sea” is a plot-less throwback to the art films of Michelangelo Antonioni that’s so beautifully shot that, at least for a little while, it is quite beguiling.
Angelina and hubby Brad Pitt play a ‘70s-era couple who are holing up in a luxury hotel off the coast of Malta in hopes of repairing their splintering marriage. In between vicious arguments and much ennui, they begin spying on the honeymooning couple (Melanie Laurent, Melvil Poupard) next door.
Jolie-Pitt has something to say about the pleasures of voyeurism — as well as love in its many forms — but the whole delicate movie unravels when the reason for her character’s depression is finally revealed. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
Also New To Streaming
The Family Fang: For his follow-up to “Bad Words,” actor/director Jason Bateman delves into the adventures of a wildly dysfunctional family. Not only are Papa and Mama Fang (Christopher Walken, Maryann Plunkett) bad parents but they try to make art out of their incompetence by coercing their kids into participating in bizarre performance art pieces. When the Fangs go missing, their now-grown-up offspring (Bateman, Nicole Kidman) must deal with lots of long-buried issues as they investigate. Despite being low on narrative energy, “Fang” is worth a look thanks to the interesting themes (art vs. life, betrayal) Bateman tackles. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
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King Georges: On the menu of this tasty documentary is a portrait of one of the world’s most temperamental chefs. Set over the course of three years beginning in 2010 as Philadelphia’s Le Bec-Fin restaurant begins to flounder, the film centers on the eatery’s chef Georges Perrier as he tries and fails to keep the doors open. Filmmaker Erica Frankel provides a bit of history on Perrier and his establishment but most of the footage features the chef losing his famous temper. At its heart, “King Georges” is about how tough it is for a perfectionist to deal with the changing of the guard. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu .
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The Adderall Diaries: Based on Stephen Elliott’s best-selling memoir, this flawed but fascinating film stars James Franco as an Adderall-addicted author who’s never gotten over being abandoned by his father (Ed Harris). Stimulating Elliott’s memories is a case involving a tech billionaire (Christian Slater) on trial for murdering his wife. There’s so much going on here, including a subplot involving Amber Heard as Elliott’s girlfriend, that the film feels overstuffed, but when writer/director Pamela Romanowsky showcases Franco and Harris, “Adderall” hits its mark. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
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Brave Miss World: A few weeks before she won the Miss World title back in 1998, Israeli model Linor Abargil was held captive, stabbed and raped. About a decade later, she began working with director Cecilia Peck on this documentary which follows Abargil as she reaches out to other victims of abuse. As long as Peck keeps her focus on Abargil, who eventually graduates from law school and becomes more devoutly religious, the film is fascinating. But too often Peck dilutes the focus by including other survivor’s stories. Still, it’s impossible not to be moved by Abargil and her determination to help others and make sure her perpretrator stays behind bars. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu
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Comix: Beyond The Comic Book Pages: Go behind the scenes of the world-wide comic book phenomenon with this documentary that includes some fascinating interviews with comic book creators like “Spider-Man” maven Stan Lee and “Sin City” mastermind Frank Miller as well as collectors and fans. Slap on your favorite Comic Con costume and enjoy this valentine to all things superhero. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
For The Kids
Shrek 4-Movie Collection: Celebrate the 15th anniversary of the much-loved cartoon classic now that Fox and DreamWorks has made all four films available in Digital HD. Critics called the original “Shrek” “not just a brilliant animated feature but a superb film on any level.” Amen to that. The action centers on the big green guy (Mike Myers) and his attempts to rescue the feisty Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) with help from his lovable loudmouthed pal, Donkey (Eddie Murphy). Enchantingly irreverent, “Shrek” and its sequels — “Shrek 2, “Shrek The Third” and “Shrek Forever After” — boast laughs, adventure and romance. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
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Roald Dahl’s The BFG: Before the Steven Spielberg movie, there was this animated gem from 1989 which unreels the saga of a kind-hearted giant and his unlikely friendship with an orphan named Sophie. Together, the pair sets out to stop a monstrous crew of bloodthirsty giants from gobbling up innocent boys and girls. Don’t miss this newly remastered classic. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
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Lego: Friends Always Together: The popular buddies Olivia, Mia, Andrea, Emma and Stephanie find themselves in adventures involving a camping trip, a talent contest and the running of a hotel. The latest three episodes are “Andrea’s Big Moment,” “Kate’s Island” and “Grand Hotel.” Cue them up. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
Electra Woman & Dyna Girl: Even if you never heard of the Sid and Marty Kroff original from the 1970s, you’ll enjoy this spirited, live-action reboot. Starring YouTube sensations Grace Helbig (Electra Woman) and Hannah Hart (Dyna Girl), the crime-fighting duo takes their super personas and crime-fighting chops up a notch when they relocate from small-town Ohio to glitzy Los Angeles. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.