Every month Philly film critic Piers Marchant shares his picks for the best new releases on Netflix Instant streaming.
Okay, sure, our shortest month is almost over, but it still has eight more days of chilly, ghoulish wintry mix to rain down on our heads. Why not stay inside where it’s warm and the glow of your TV streaming an entirely beguiling movie or two will help take the edge off? Here are our picks for five of the most worthy spots on your streaming queue.
Breakdown: Whoosh, this is not an easy film to describe in this fashion. Essentially it follows the mystery of two people who seem peculiarly linked by a strange living organism … and a pig farm.
What's the Rumpus? Shane Carruth's hotly anticipated second film (after 2004's equally bedazzling Primer) might be a challenging puzzle to follow, but there's never anything less than a brilliant intelligence and incredible care at work in its presentation. Watch with a friend and be prepared to debate about it for the rest of the evening.
Netflix Streaming Link: Upstream Color
Breakdown: A documentary about the evils of water-theme parks, such as Sea World, housing giant orcas in brutal perpetual captivity, and what such treatment does to the whales' psyche.
What's the Rumpus? Gabriela Cowperthwaite's film begins with the infamous Tilikum, who is considered responsible for three deaths, but goes on to draw a harrowing portrait of the plight of these graceful animals and the dark corporate forces that value their own bottom line against any ethical concern.
Netflix Streaming Link: Blackfish
Breakdown: A young girl is caught between both of her incredibly self-serving parents in a bitter custody battle.
What's the Rumpus? An update of the Henry James' novella, set in New York. Maisie's parents consist of her aging rock-star mom (Julianne Moore) and fabulously wealthy art dealer father (Steve Coogan). Playing the little girl, Onata Aprile is absolutely wonderful and the whole film shimmers with her emotional plight without laying too many hard and fast judgments. What is a child meant to do when neither parent has the required interest in properly raising her?
Netflix Streaming Link: What Maisie Knew
Breakdown: Two flirtatious friends who both work at a brewery juggle their attraction while trying to maintain their existing relationships.
What's the Rumpus? It might sound like a standard rom-com set up, but Joe Swanberg's lo-fi comedy offers far more than just a couple of pretty faces (Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde) exchanging quips. The film has depth, in both its strong characters and its keen sense of human interaction, all the while allowing the charisma of its strong cast to make the whole enterprise work.
Netflix Streaming Link: Drinking Buddies
5. The Hunt
Breakdown: A Danish film about a small town kindergarten teacher who gets falsely accused of molesting one of his young students.
What's the Rumpus? Mads Mikkelsen is sensational as the accused teacher in Thomas Vinterberg's scorching societal treatise. Some film critics (ahem) went so far as to say it was the best film of the year.
Netflix Streaming Link: The Hunt
See more of Piers's film coverage on his blog, Sweet Smell of Success.