A number of terrific new titles have just hit Netflix, including two 2014 films ready for discovery. The Sundance documentary "The Battered Bastards of Baseball" debuted on Netflix this Friday. A hit with critics, the film covers the history of the Portland Mavericks, a 70s Minor League Baseball team operates by actor Bing Russell, whose son, Kurt Russell, played for the team and narrates the film.
Starting today, Netflix subscribers can choose between two of Joaquin Phoenix's best roles. Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," was a critical favorite of 2012 , featuring career-best work from Phoenix, Amy Adams, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, not to mention Anderson's most maddening (yet fascinating) film yet. Though the streaming quality won't be able to match seeing the film in 70mm as Anderson intended, Mihai Malaimare, Jr.'s stunning photography still amazes no matter what format it's viewed in, as does the film's tale of lost souls in a neverending search for fulfillment.
Finally, today also sees the Netflix release of this year's divisive but cultishly adored "The Immigrant," James Gray's powerful melodrama starring Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner. The film takes a small story about love and exploitation and turns it into a tale of a nations capacity for both cruelty and kindness, turning a seemingly powerless woman (Cotillard) into one of the most dignified and empowered female characters in recent memory, and an initially reprehensible man (Phoenix) into a tragic and pitiable figure. After being dumped in theaters by The Weinstein Company, it now has a chance to find the audience it deserves.
Review: Robert Cameron Fowler, Indiewire
Criticwire Grade Average: A-