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German film tells comic tale of family ties and moving on

Here’s a look at an interesting new release available to rent from cable and digital providers and a new title that recently became available for streaming.

Video on Demand

“Toni Erdmann”: To say that a nearly three-hour German comedy isn’t everybody’s cup of tea is probably an understatement, but Maren Ade’s latest film is one of the very best movies I saw last year. This is the spectacularly absurd story of a successful businesswoman named Ines (Sandra Huller) whose estranged father, Winfried (Peter Simonischek), infiltrates her very corporate life using a bizarre alter ego. I was really struck by the underlying struggle of somebody growing up and moving beyond their hometown and family in both career and class. Ade presents what is often a difficult transition in life in a very humorous and dynamically original way. Don’t let the length of the movie deter you; it breezes by. Nominated for the Academy Award for best foreign language film and winner of 5 European Film Awards including best picture, it contains one of the greatest uses of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love Of All.” If it gets more people to take a chance on the movie, I’m happy to mention it also features one of the most hysterical (nonsexual) nude scenes of all time. (Cable and digital VOD)

Also on streaming services

“Win It All”: This comic collaboration between director Joe Swanberg and actor Jake Johnson (“Drinking Buddies”), who co-wrote the screenplay and stars as Eddie Garrett, is about a well-intentioned man who just happens to be a gambling addict. A friend who is about to go to jail shows up at his apartment one day and asks him to store an overstuffed duffel bag for him while he’s away. It seems to be a reasonable request but comes with the caveat that he never open the bag or worry about what is inside. Curiosity gets the better of Eddie, who later discovers that the bag is packed to the gills with cold, hard cash. For a man who loves to gamble, this is a revelation that proves hard to resist. While all of this is happening, Eddie falls in love with a single mother (Aislinn Derbez) who wants to make sure things between them are serious before introducing him to her daughter. After gambling away too much of the money, he tries to turn things around before a surprise collect phone call from prison delivers the unfortunate news that his pal is heading home from prison early and he has a week to return the bag and all of the money to its rightful owner. This is Swanberg’s most accessible feature, and he builds it up to an exhilarating final act. (Netflix)

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