WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORF
For Digital First Media
Girl power is the theme of Disney’s enchanting “Moana,” a fairy tale about a Polynesian gal (Auli’I Cravalho) who sets sail for a fabled island, in hopes of fulfilling her ancestors’ unfinished quest.
Along the way, she hooks up with the fallen demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and together they cross the ocean, battling back all kinds of creatures in an effort to return a treasure to an ancient deity.
It’s rare for a movie to feature a woman as “the Chosen One” but “Moana” is all the better for pivoting on a female character who’s brave and spirited. And the songs, composed by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, are delicious treats. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Also New To VOD and Streaming
Burning Sands: If you liked last year’s underrated “Goat,” check out this indie drama about fraternity pledging. Trevor Jackson stars as a favored pledge who winds up torn between honoring a code of silence or standing up against the intensifying violence of underground hazing. Gerard McMurray’s directorial debut also stars Alfre Woodard and Steve Harris; and rapper Common contributes to the soundtrack. On Netflix
Incarnate: While the latest horror thriller from Blumhouse Productions (“The Purge”) doesn’t break any new ground, it’s still has the power to creep you out big-time. A gravelly voiced Aaron Eckhart stars as an exorcist of sorts who invades the minds of the possessed and evicts evil spirits. His latest client is an 11-year-old boy who’s been taken over by a vengeful demon who, years earlier, also caused the death of Eckhart’s wife and son. Director Brad Peyton keeps the gore and special effects trickery to a minimum, preferring to get under your skin by continually pulling the rug out from under you. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Amy Schumer: The Leather Special: It’s been two years since Schumer’s “Live at the Apollo” aired on HBO and earned three Emmy Award nominations. Now she’s back with all new material for her latest stand-up show, which was recorded last November at the Bellco Theater in Denver. According to Netflix, Schumer will take on “binge drinking, her relationship with her boyfriend and navigating the unknown terrain of being a newly famous woman who looks like someone you grew up with.” On Netflix.
50’s Musicals Collection: In addition to being a big hit and winning six Oscars, “La La Land” has also made many film fans fall in love again with classic Hollywood musicals. If you’re looking for a refresher course in the sunny songfests of yore, check out this series of 11 titles from Warner Archive. The entries run the gamut from the sweet-natured Debbie Reynolds’ vehicle “I Love Melvin” to the Fred Astaire charmer “Belle of New York” to the underrated “Summer Stock” starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. Dive in. On Warner Archive.
Bleak Street: Arturo Ripstein (“Deep Crimson”), a visionary filmmaker from Mexico, is behind this black-and-white peculiarity about a quartet of lost souls traversing a dark, hopeless Mexico City night. “Bleak Street’ might sound depressing but there are shivers of dark humor to keep you engaged in the story of two middle-aged prostitutes (Nora Velazquez, Patricia Reyes Spindola) preparing to scam a pair of Lilliputian wrestlers (Juan Francisco Longoria, Guillermo Lopez) out of their “fortune.” Even though Ripstein acknowledges the desperation of all four characters, this based-on-a-true-story tale is less about poverty than it is about loneliness and the crazy things we do to get through the night. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
The Brand New Testament: In this unique black comedy from France, God (Benoit Poelvoorde) exists but he’s a scoundrel from Brussels who wrecks havoc on the masses just so he can get a good laugh or two. Tired of his tyrannical ways, his 10-year-old daughter (Pili Groyne) decides to send everyone on earth their death dates before embarking on a quest to write a new testament with the help of six apostles, including a transgendered youngster and a world weary senior citizen (Catherine Deneuve.) Writer/director Jaco Van Dormael lays the whimsy on a smidge too thickly. Still, he raises a lot of interesting ideas and uncorks a flurry of images you’ve never seen before. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Midsomer Murders Series 19 Part 1: Here’s the U.S. exclusive premiere of the beloved British mystery. Set in England’s most murderous county, “Midsomer” revolves around the always capable Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) as he investigates four mysteries, including a murder in a ghost village and the death of a star cricketer. On Acorn TV.
For The Kids
Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon: In this animated feature, the lovable residents of Kikoriki Island are in for a big adventure when a local scientist invents an amazing device that is meant to allow people to trade abilities but winds up actually swapping their personalities. When spineless youngster Wally tries to use the device to cure his cowardice, he ends up accidentally switching bodies with a caterpillar. Soon Wally and the villagers must navigate plane crashes, mistaken identities and erupting volcanoes. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
The Legend of Chupacabras: If you’re a fan of “Scooby-Doo” and “Goosebumps,” check out this cartoon film about a brave orphan boy named Leo who’s determined to uncover the mystery of a mythical monster. With his imaginary friends and a group of freedom fighters by his side, Leo winds up imprisoned in a creepy monastery where they must discover the truth behind the legend. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu