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NOW STREAMING: ‘Central Intelligence’ not your average buddy comedy

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WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORF
For Digital First Media

At first glance, “Central Intelligence” looks like any number of other mismatched buddy comedies. But — surprise, surprise — it’s weirder, sweeter and funnier than you might expect.
The dynamic between Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart is original with Johnson as a once-bullied geek who’s in awe of Hart, a former “big man on campus.” Together, on the eve of their 20-year high-school reunion, the pals team up to crack a top-secret case.
There’s a hilarious turn by Amy Ryan as a CIA honcho and a surprise cameo by an A-lister. But it’s Johnson and Hart who knock every laugh out of the park. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
Also New To Streaming
Hunt For The Wilderpeople: Here’s a comic gem which could easily have become an exercise in cutesiness. Instead, it retains an irresistible wryness. Julian Dennison stars as Ricky, a “bad seed” who is given one last shot at a foster home before being carted off to juvie. At first, he hates the farm on the edge of the New Zealand bush but, lured by pancakes, sausages and the kindness of his guardians, he comes around. After tragedy strikes, Ricky hides out in the wilderness with his foster father (Sam Neill). Their adventures, including run-ins with a colorful assortment of characters, turn this tale of human connection into comedy gold. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
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13th: Fresh from its spot as the opening night film of the New York Film Festival, this documentary helmed by “Selma” director Ava Duvernay delves into why America has produced the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with the majority of those imprisoned being African-American. Expect a mix of interviews with politicians and activists, including Angela Davis, Newt Gingrich, Senator Cory Booker and Henry Louis Gates Jr., as well as plenty of archival footage. On Netflix.
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The Mindy Project: Season 5: Who will Mindy (Mindy Kaling) choose for her romantic partner? Will it be Danny (Chris Messina) or Jody (Garret Dillahunt)? During a recent press event, Kaling teased a few of the storylines including, according to Variety, appearances from Nasim Pedrad as Mindy’s pediatrician and Rebecca Rittenhouse as another female doctor. On Hulu.
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Westworld: Rave reviews are pouring in for J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan’s reboot of the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name. As in the original, guests are invited to a theme park populated with androids who exist to live out the fantasies of the patrons. In the original, the robots malfunctioned but in this series, it’s the guests who wreck havoc. Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton and James Marsden play androids while Anthony Hopkins stars as the park owner, Jeffrey Wright portrays a programmer, and Ed Harris is a man intent on cracking the park’s maze. On HBO Now.
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The Bureau: As if the U.S. didn’t stream and broadcast enough top-notch TV, now along comes a French import that’s been hailed as a must-see addition to the policier genre. “Amelie’s” Matthieu Kassovitz stars as French intelligence officer who has returned to France after a six-year stint undercover in Syria. When the series begins, Kassovitz struggles to reconnect with his old life and let go of his undercover identity. “The Bureau” was named Best TV Series by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics, and Kassovitz received the Best Actor Award from the French TV Critics Association Awards. On SundanceNow.
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Fender Bender: Graduating from her role as Grace Florrick on “The Good Wife,” Makenzie Vega stars in this slasher flick which begins with a stranger (Bill Sage) crashing into Vega’s car at a stop sign. He turns out to be a homicidal maniac who makes it a habit to politely exchange insurance info with his victims. The actors deliver surprisingly nuanced turns but after Sage shows up at Vega’s house, there’s not nearly enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
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And Then There Were None: It’s been called “delectably sinister” and “perfectly cast.” Now the BBC and Lifetime adaptation of Agatha Christie’s most popular novel is streaming on Acorn TV. Veterans like Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson and Charles Dance are paired with younger actors such as Maeve Dermody, Aidan Turner and Douglas Booth for the saga of ten strangers who are invited to a lavish estate on a remote English island and then picked off one by one. On Acorn TV.
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Amanda Knox: It might not be quite as riveting as “Making of a Murderer” but the Netflix original doc “Amada Knox” is still gripping stuff.
In addition to unearthing new evidence about what happened the night the 21-year-old Meredith Kercher was raped and killed in Perugia, Italy, the film also digs deep into the story of Knox, who was convicted and then acquitted of the crime.
When the doc premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, Variety called it “gripping and incisive,” noting that “the film captures how the unreality of tabloid journalism has slid through digital portals into the mainstream, becoming part of the toxic air of misinformation that we all now breathe.” On Netflix.
Crisis In Six Scenes: Woody Allen’s first-ever TV series is set in the 1960s and pivots on a middle-class suburban couple (Allen, Elaine May) who are visited by a guest (John Magaro) who winds up turning their entire household upside down. Miley Cyrus co-stars in the series which appears to be an ideal showcase for the always-hilarious May. On Amazon.
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Yoga Hosers: If you saw Kevin Smith’s “Tusk,” you might recall two bored convenience store clerks played by Lily Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith, the daughters of Johnny Depp and Kevin Smith, respectively. Now, for Smith’s latest movie, the actresses have been promoted to stars and together with a Montreal detective (Johnny Depp), they must battle an ancient evil that rises from beneath Canada’s crust and threatens their Grade 12 party. On Flixfling.
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Cell: Nearly a decade after starring together in Stephen King’s creepy “1408,” John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson reteam for another King adaptation. But lightning fails to strike twice. Cusack stars as a graphic novelist who witnesses mayhem at Boston’s Logan International Airport when a mysterious signal turns every cell phone user into a violence-obsessed freak. After hooking up with Jackson, Cusack is determined to travel north to New Hampshire to save his son. What follows is a road movie that drips gore. Save the first scene, which is genuinely terrifying, “Cell” is about as gripping as a busy signal. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
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Presenting Princess Shaw: By day, singer/songwriter Samantha Montgomery tends to the elderly in the New Orleans nursing home where she works. By night, calling herself Princess Shaw, she posts videos to YouTube. A few years ago, Israeli artist and composer Kutiman discovered Shaw’s footage and put music to some of her lyrics, exposing her songs to an international audience. This doc features Shaw discussing her often harrowing backstory as well as taking to the stage to perform alongside Kutiman. Expect to be touched by Shaw’s strength and determination. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
***
City Of Gold: You don’t have to be a foodie to appreciate what Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold does for a living. Rather than simply dining out at the fanciest eateries in town, he scours the city for food trucks that serve octopus tacos or strip-mall bistros which prepare Oaxacan grasshopper soup. As much of a tribute to the multi-culturism of Los Angeles as a movie about good eats, “City of Gold” insists that food is one of the best ways to experience what life is like in Southern California. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
***
The Neon Demon: The latest from Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”) is a pretentious and off-putting horror movie set in the world of fashion. Elle Fanning stars as an innocent who moves to L.A. to become a model and soon finds herself adrift in the cutthroat world of sexist designers (Alessandro Nivola), predatory underlings (Jena Malone) and competitive posers (Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee). It might sound interesting but Refn drains every bit of humanity from his characters so they all seem like robots. Take a pass. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
Teen Titles

Marvel’s Luke Cage: Season 1: Series star Mike Colter has described this new series as Marvel’s take on “The Wire.” If the early reviews are to be believed, Colter might be right on the money. Collider notes that the series provides “an intimate portrait of street life, detailing not only the inner workings of the crime syndicates, but also the beleaguered police, sleazy politicians, and the young people in the community who see guns and drugs as an easy way to make money.” This is Marvel so you can also expect plenty of dust-ups between the super strong Luke and an array of bad guys. On Netflix.

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV: In this computer-generated fantasy, which is based on the popular video game, the action unreels in the kingdom of Lucis, home to the magical Crystal. Determined to keep the valuable artifact in its native land are King Regis (voiced by Sean Bean) and his top “ninja-space-marine” Nyx (Aaron Paul). But can they thwart the evil forces of Niflheim which are intent on snatching the Crystal to use for their own nefarious purposes? Much intrigue ensues, some of which features Prince Lunafreya (Lena Headey), a captive of Niflheim. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
***
Breaking a Monster: Here’s a fascinating documentary about a speed-metal band called Unlocking the Truth, which is made up of three young African-Americans from Brooklyn. After the tweeners’ video on YouTube goes viral, they snag the attention of manager Alan Sacks and Sony Entertainment. But, surprisingly, landing a $1.8 million dollar contract is not the answer to these kids’ dreams. The doc chronicles the first year, as the band goes from playing for fun in Times Square to the very adult world of meetings, tour dates and interviews. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.

For the kids

Thomas & Friends: The Great Race – The Movie: The race is on for Thomas the Train and his pals as they gather to compete against the greatest engines from around the world. Even though Thomas isn’t fast enough to win the race, he winds up saving the day and helping the chosen train — the ultra-fast Gordon — steer clear of disaster. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
***
Barbie: Star Light Adventure: Join Barbie as she flies high through the cosmos on her hoverboard with her pet Pupcorn by her side. When Barbie discovers that the stars are beginning to dim and slow their dance through the skies, she and a special rescue team are dispatched to take care of the problem. Barbie learns some important life lessons before becoming the leader that the universe has been waiting for. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.

 

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