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Stream This: 'Mud,' Hugh Jackman In 'The Fountain,' Woody Allen's 'The Purple Rose Of Cairo' & More on VOD This Week

The Playlist By Emma Bernstein | The Playlist July 26, 2013 at 12:56PM

Hello streamers, and welcome back to our weekly search for the best of what's available to watch on the World Wide Web. The home entertainment system reigns supreme for another day, as two late summer flicks appear on VOD before their big screen release and a well-received picture, fresh off its theatrical run, hits the streaming services in advance of its DVD debut. Of course, there's plenty going on at the cinema too—this is blockbuster season, after all. Observing the premier of "The Wolverine," we have a much better alternative: an early-ish Hugh Jackman film, you know, before all the singing and all the muscles. And with the newest Woody Allen movie in theaters, starring the inimitable Cate Blanchett, we have celebrations of both artists. It could be that two-for-one which put us over, but with so many good VOD choices, we decided to forgo a Criterion selection for this week. Hulu Plus remains, however, and that section will be back next time, we promise. Now, let's get to the picks.
The Fountain Hugh Jackman

"The Fountain" (2006)
What It's About:
Three nonlinear, intersecting narratives of a single couple across their existence in the past, present, and future. Modern day doctor Tom (Hugh Jackman) is hard pressed to find a cure for his wife Izzi's (Rachel Weisz) cancer. While he works, she writes a novel that sees them as a 16th century Spanish queen and conquistador, then asks him to complete the tale after her death, when he's a lone astronaut in the year 2500. The three stories, united by their visual motifs as well as the main characters, employ themes of metaphysics, religion, and unconditional love. So it's like "Cloud Atlas," sort of.
Why You Should Stream It:
For his ambitious, multilayered storytelling and painstaking execution in this film, director Darren Aronofsky was compared with Stanley Kubrick—no small honor, that. Rich, saturated visuals and special effects generated largely through lighting and trick photography create a series of beautiful and daring worlds for Tom and Izzi to inhabit. Moreover, the scattered narrative style is handled deftly, its resolution a stunning meditation on human loss and mourning. Though it experienced a critical divide at the time of its release and a relatively poor showing at the box office, "The Fountain" has since garnered a cult following, and definitely deserves your attention today.
Where It's Available:
Amazon Instant, iTunes, VUDU

"I Give It a Year" (2013)
What It's About:
After a six-month whirlwind courtship, Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) decide to get hitched... and then spend the next year struggling through married life, at home and in their therapist's office. First they just get on each others nerves, then major differences in their professional aspirations appear and finally, both begin to cultivate romantic interests in other people (Simon Baker and Anna Faris). It seems that a quip from Nat's sister (Minnie Driver) during the nuptials—"I Give It a Year"—was more than a little prescient. Jason Flemyng, Stephen Merchant, and Olivia Colman also co-star.
Why You Should Stream It: The directorial debut from writer Dan Mazur, known for co-penning "Borat" and "Bruno," is at once fairly staid and fairly debauched: a traditional romantic comedy punctuated by bawdy laughs and occasional moments of naughty slapstick hilarity. Our review from the 2013 SXSW Film Festival credits the majority of laughs to Merchant and Flemyng, and admits that while the film has the potential to be "something really inventive and irreverent, sending up the romantic comedy genre in energetic and profound new ways," it ultimately falls short of deconstruction. Still, rom-com cynics should find joy in the rampant hedonism, while happy-ending-lovers won't be disappointed either. Catch "I Give It a Year" before its theatrical release on August 9th!
Where It's Available:
Amazon Instant, Cable On Demand, iTunes, VUDU, YouTube

"The Purple Rose of Cairo" (1985)
What It's About:
New Jersey waitress Cecilia (Mia Farrow) finds an escape from her unhappy marriage at the movies. After viewing "The Purple Rose of Cairo" several times, Cecilia attracts notice from protagonist Tom (Jeff Daniels), who walks off the screen and into her life. The pair quickly falls in love, but concern from producers and the actor who plays Tom (Daniels again) over the character's defection threatens to separate them forever and send Cecilia back to her humdrum life. Danny Aiello and Dianne Wiest co-star.
Why You Should Stream It:
This Depression-set comedy, which blends reality and fantasy with typical Woody Allen flair, is as much a wistful love letter to classic cinema—it shares its premise with Buster Keaton's 1924 silent film "Sherlock Jr."—as it is a feminist parable and a satire of the modern Hollywood dream machine. The young Daniels is charming in his bashful jocularity, and like Allen's latest production, "Blue Jasmine," this picture offers up a very strong female lead, with Farrow showing off her best wide-eyed naif. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay and winning the BAFTA Award for Best Film, "The Purple Rose of Cairo" is a delightful artifact from the auteur's enduring collection.
Where It's Available:
Amazon Instant, iTunes, 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.

"Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me"
"Charles Bradley: Soul of America"
"Day For Night"
"Enter the Dragon"
"The Expendables 2"
"Get Carter"
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation"
"Ginger & Rosa"
"Hell Baby"
"The Human Resources Manager"
"Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp"
"Olympus Has Fallen"
"The Place Beyond the Pines"
"Red Flag"
"The Sapphires"
"Shallow Grave"
"Shaun of the Dead"
"The Silence"
"Trailer Park Boys: The Movie"

This article is related to: Streaming, VOD, New On VOD, Mud, Jeff Nichols, Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Drinking Buddies , Joe Swanberg, Darren Aronofsky, Hugh Jackman, I Give It A Year, Dan Mazer, Woody Allen, The Criterion Collection

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