"To The Wonder" (2013)
What It's About: Neil (Ben Affleck) and Marina (Olga Kurylenko) meet in Paris and fall in love, then relocate to the former's home in Oklahoma to begin a life together. However, an emotional chasm develops as Marina forms a relationship with troubled priest and fellow ex-pat Father Quintana (Javier Bardem) and Neil rekindles his love with a childhood sweetheart (Rachel McAdams). And when Marina encounters visa trouble, her necessary return to France literally shoves the lovers in opposite directions.
Why You Should Stream It: Unsurprisingly for a Terrence Malick film, "To the Wonder" can be quite meditative. However, the nearly dialogue-free picture never strays too far from the central story, and its leisurely quality complements the way in which its characters experience shifting emotions. Moreover, the gently unfolding narrative provides the actors with plenty of room to breathe; strong performances are found throughout. It is also -- and again, to be expected -- a truly gorgeous piece of cinema: Emmanuel Lubezki's camera captures the soaring joys of new love and the heartbreaking fear as it's placed in jeopardy, becoming a subjective observer that is as restless and uncertain as its subjects. Our review concedes the film "is unlikely to win over many who've sworn off Malick in the past," but calls the director's latest venture "coherent, deeply felt and satisfying" and "a beautiful, heartfelt and raw piece of work."
Where It's Available: Amazon Instant, iTunes, YouTube
"Magic Magic" (2013)
What It's About: The naive and emotionally fragile Alicia (Juno Temple) decides to travel through South America with her cousin (Emily Browning) and several friends (Michael Cera, Agustin Silva, and Catalina Sandina Moreno), hoping to expand her worldview and mind alike. Things quickly go south as Alicia begins to butt heads with her increasingly deranged companions, and recurring bouts of insomnia that blur the lines between reality and dreams threaten to send the innocent girl tumbling toward a full-scale nervous breakdown. And it all takes place on a remote island…
Why You Should Stream It: Chilean writer-director Sebastian Silva of last month's "Crystal Fairy," brings us another tricked out road trip movie with "Magic Magic," though this later release sports a decidedly darker tone. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January and playing several months later in Cannes, this psychological thriller pokes at our fears of the unknown and conveys that anxiety through each filmic element, resulting in a delightfully tangible tension. There is also a startling current of humor present here, as Silva's reflection on human isolation is as hilarious as it is insightful, made all the more so by the squad of capable and very game actors. Released on DVD this week, "Magic Magic" will not be shown in theaters, so streaming may be your best (immediate gratification) shot at catching this indie gem. You can also read our interview with Temple here.
Where It's Available: Amazon Instant, iTunes
What It's About: The continuing adventures of high school chemistry teacher turned crystal meth dealer Walter White (Bryan Cranston), as he negotiates the ever-lessening gap between the secretive criminal activity and his public life as an upstanding citizen and family man. Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, and Jonathan Banks co-star in this slow burning (half) season.
Why You Should Stream It: This Sunday marks the premier of the last eight episodes of the Vince Gilligan-created series "Breaking Bad," so this weekend seems like the optimal time to catch up or review all that's come before. Shocking, penetrating, complex, discomfiting, and obscenely entertaining, this past season captured the essence of masterful television and continued to mark the show as a must-watch for the modern era. Our review of the finale, "Gliding Over All," called the episode "unforgettable," noting that it sets in motion "the very beginning of the endgame that the series has been working towards since the pilot." Furthermore, our piece on the best of the 2012/2013 television season calls the program "undoubtedly one of the best, most important shows of the current era, and will go down in the history books alongside 'The Sopranos' and 'The Wire' as a classic." How oh how will it all end (because "all bad things must come to an end")? Keep yourself chomping at the bit with Season 5A. For even more "Breaking Bad," see the piece on our five favorite episodes here.
Where It's Available: Amazon Instant, Netflix, VUDU
Also Available to Stream
Despite not making our top six picks, the following films are certainly still worthy of your movie-loving attention, and are newly available via various streaming services. Links to our reviews are provided where available.
"The Chronicles of Riddick"
"Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal"
"Girls: Season 2"
"My Amityville Horror"
"Olympus Has Fallen"
"Robin Hood" (1973 animated version)
"Scary Movie 5"
"Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's"