By Amy Longsdorf
For Digital First Media
“Criminal” is a movie so luridly far-fetched that it stretches the bonds of reality and yet it hurtles along with so much confidence that it winds up being a devilishly entertaining actioner.
Kevin Costner stars as Jericho Stewart, a psychopath who’s drafted by a CIA chief (Gary Oldman) into a freaky experiment. The spooks, with help from a neuroscientist (Tommy Lee Jones), inject into Jericho’s consciousness the memories of a recently assassinated CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds.)
Director Ariel Vroman makes the outlandish premise fly while keeping the action scenes blissfully free from digital gimmick. Best of all, Costner proves he’s very good at being very bad. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
Also New To Streaming
Tallulah: In this Netflix original film from “Orange Is the New Black” writer Sian Heder, “Juno’s” Ellen Page and Allison Janey reunite for the tale of a vagabond and an estranged mother both at a crossroads in their lives. Page stars as a homeless drifter named Lu who is mistaken for a hotel maid by a wealthy woman (Tammy Blanchard) desperate for a babysitter. Unwilling to leave the toddler behind at the end of the day, Lu kidnaps the child and barges into the swanky apartment of her ex-boyfriend’s mother (Janney). When the film debuted at Sundance, Variety raved that “Heder’s approach is reminiscent of her terrific work on “Orange” in numerous ways, “from a boundless compassion for women’s hidden stories to the graceful mix of smart comedy and human drama.” On Netflix.
Born To Be Blue: The best of a batch of recent musician biopics, this portrait of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker (Ethan Hawke) unreels a story driven by a fascinating dilemma: can you sacrifice too much for your art? Bookended by Chet’s appearances at Birdland, the action tracks his recovery from a vicious beating, his decision to kick heroin and his romance with a struggling actress (Carmen Ejogo). “Born To Be Blue” wouldn’t work without a strong central performance and Hawke digs deep, nailing both Baker’s diffidence and his desire to be one of the all-time jazz greats. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
My Golden Days: For his prequel to “My Sex Life … or How I Got Into An Argument,” acclaimed French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin reteams with Mathieu Amalric for an uneven but lovely meditation on identity and romance. As he is about to leave a lover in Tajikistan, anthropologist Paul (Amalric) remembers three pivotal events in his life. While the first two segments move swiftly through Paul’s traumatic childhood in France and a student trip to Russia, the final sequence, set during his University years, takes its sweet time paying tribute to Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet), Paul’s first love. While not without boring patches, “Golden Days” casts a warm glow. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu
I Am Wrath: After his wife is killed in what seems to be a mugging gone bad, a former CIA agent named Stanley Hill (John Travolta) decides to take the law into his own hands. Not surprisingly, Stanley uncovers a conspiracy involving crooked cops and corrupt government officials. Yes, you’ve seen it all before in movies like “Death Wish” and “Man on Fire” but director Chuck Russell has a knack for both pacing and the staging of fight scenes. “Wrath” also relies heavily on the crackerjack chemistry between Travolta and pal Christopher Meloni, who’s so handy with a knife he deserves an action franchise of his own. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu
Silicon Valley: The Complete Third Season: The latest season of the Emmy- nominated comedy picks up where last season’s shocking ending left off. Ousted as CEO, Richard (Thomas Middleditch) is offered the diminished role of CTO and the rest of his team — Erlich (T.J. Miller), Jared (Zach Woods), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) — are left to face the question of just how far their loyalty extends. On HBO Go.
The Thing Called Love: Hulu revisit a little-seen gem featuring River Phoenix’s last completed performance. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, the Nashville-set drama focuses on four twentysomething songwriters (Phoenix, Sandra Bullock, Samantha Mathis, Dermot Mulroney) who are trying to break into the competitive world of country music. This low-key charmer, which features cameos by county performers K.T. Oslin, Trisha Yearwood, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Kevin Welch sneaks up on you, coming into focus slowly but surely. On Hulu
Home Adventures with Tip & Oh: Expanding on the 2015 animated hit “Home,” this new series from DreamWorks follows our heroine and her intergalactic misfit companion as they embark on new adventures. Expect to see shows detailing Oh’s attempts to adjust to life on earth, after he movies in with Tip and her mom Lucy and cat Pig. The talented voice cast is led by Rachel Crow as Tip and Mark Whitten as Oh. On Netflix.
The Adventures of Puss In Boots: Season Three: The scene-stealer from the “Shrek” movies is back with another batch of episodes and they’re purr-fectly addictive. Even though Antonio Banderas has been replaced by Eric Bauza as the feline hero, the show still has plenty of sparkle, thanks to the colorful animation and well-paced adventures. On Netflix.
The Magicians: Season One: Can’t wait for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”? Check out this SyFy series about Quentin (Jason Ralph), a grad student chosen to attend Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy, a secret upstate New York university specializing in magic. He and his 20-something friends soon discover that the magical fantasy world they read about as children is all too real — and poses grave danger to humanity. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.