Here’s a look at an interesting new release available to rent from cable and digital providers and a few titles that have recently become available to stream.
Video on Demand
“Last Flag Flying”: An unofficial sequel to Hal Ashby’s “The Last Detail,” Austin auteur Richard Linklater’s latest effort was criminally unseen during its theatrical release last fall. Featuring three outstanding leads, it follows “Doc” (Steve Carell) as he attempts to reunite his Vietnam buddies to go with him to bring the body of his son, a fallen soldier in the Iraq War, back home to New Hampshire. Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne star as his fellow Marines. The ties that bind them return instantly (perhaps slightly less so for Fishburne’s character who is now a preacher with many years of sobriety under his belt), and they join forces to help out a man who is struggling. This is a movie that hates the act of war but pays deep respect to those who are called to battle. The screenplay, which the director co-wrote along with author Darryl Ponicsan, features authentically observational dialogue and deftly balances the pain of loss with the healing power of friendship. (Cable and digital VOD)
Also on streaming services
“Beach Rats”: Eliza Hittman’s second feature film premiered at Sundance last year and earned her a best directing award in the dramatic category at the festival. Handsome newcomer Harris Dickinson gives a formidable performance as Frankie. Running with the wrong crowd over a long hot summer in South Brooklyn, Frankie’s delinquency is compounded by his repressed attraction to men that is desperately hidden from his inner circle. He is easily obscured from his family by hiding out on a computer in the dark shadows of the family’s basement while his terminally ill father languishes in a hospital bed on the floor above him. The film is intimately shot on 16mm film stock by French cinematographer Hélene Louvart, and Hittman delivers a raw and occasionally challenging drama that may leave you with more questions than answers. (Hulu)
“A Futile and Stupid Gesture”: Fresh off its premiere at Sundance last month, this new film from David Wain (“Wet Hot American Summer”) chronicles the life of Doug Kenney (played by SNL alum Will Forte), the man who launched “National Lampoon” magazine. It started off as a student publication at Harvard, and we follow it until it becomes a comedy empire pumping out radio shows, books and motion pictures. This admittedly uneven comedy is worth watching for the entire ensemble cast. It’s an intriguing mix of actors including Domhnall Gleeson as Lampoon co-founder Henry Beard, Natasha Lyonne as Anne Beatts, “Veep” star Matt Walsh as publisher Matty Simmons, and Joel McHale as Chevy Chase. (Netflix, 4K Ultra HD available)