Here’s a look at an interesting new release available to rent from cable and digital providers and a few titles that are hitting streaming services this week.
Video on Demand
“Elle”: For his first feature film in a decade, Paul Verhoeven (“Basic Instinct”) headed to France and teamed up with the incomparable Isabelle Huppert. Their collaboration, which earned her a Golden Globe win for best actress and an Academy Award nomination, is an adaptation of a 2012 novel by Philippe Djian. She plays a successful businesswoman who becomes the victim of a brutal rape. Her attacker flees the scene but continues to follow up with threats via text message. She becomes focused on getting revenge although not in the manner in which you might expect. There are multiple storylines threaded throughout the film’s 131-minute running time, some more complicated than others. Huppert is the lifeblood of this film, and it is one of her most memorable (and difficult) performances. It’s hard to imagine another actress taking on such an unlikable and boldly vulnerable character and giving it the same complexity and power. A digital purchase on iTunes earns you the same bonus features as the Blu-ray release, including nearly 40 minutes of footage of the recent AFI tribute to Huppert where she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. (Cable and digital VOD)
Also on streaming services
“The Music Of Strangers”: Morgan Neville (“20 Feet From Stardom”) directs this acclaimed documentary about cellist Yo-Yo Ma and other members of the Silk Road Ensemble. For over 16 years, this evolving group of more than 50 musicians, vocalists, composers and storytellers from across the globe have joined together to meld different cultural identities and styles together while celebrating the power of music. (HBO Now)
“Pete’s Dragon”: I was skeptical when Disney first announced a remake of their classic 1977 musical. This updated version is a very different movie, but it does a great job of honoring the spirit of the original while managing to become more relevant for today’s audiences. The story of a young orphan who befriends a giant dragon is now pushed into the 1980s instead of the early 1900s, and there aren’t any characters bursting into song. And while I do wish they had found a way to squeeze “Candle In the Window” into the remake, this more modern story finds its own emotional core without Helen Reddy belting it out in a lighthouse. Hand-drawn animation cels make way here for state-of-the-art computer animation. Pete’s friend Elliot looks a little scarier thanks to technology, but he’s still a gentle giant at heart. Texas filmmaker David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”) directs an outstanding cast that includes Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley and Robert Redford. (Netflix)