Empire On Demand (June)

Empire’s pick of the 10 best movies to download or stream in June

PICK OF THE MONTH
TinkerTailorSquareTinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), LOVEFiLM
Thomas Alfredson’s ice-cold adaptation of John Le Carré’s chilly Cold War thriller, awarded Best British Film, Best British Film and Best Actor (Gary Oldman) at the recent Empire Awards, makes its streaming debut on LOVEFiLM Instant, just five months after its DVD release. Intelligent, sophisticated, and loaded with superb performances from veterans (Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth) and rising stars (Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy), it’s an anti-action movie which gives the lie to Ian Fleming’s comically glamourised view of international espionage, depicting a world of spies, lies and betrayal. A stunningly assured film, fully deserving of its newly-minted status as a modern British classic.
Empire rating: ★★★★★

Bridesmaids (2011), Sky Movies
Is it because its Oscar-nominated script was written by two women (Kristen Wiig, who also stars, and fellow Groundling Annie Mumolo, her plane passenger) that Paul Feig’s hit comedy has an authenticity missing from most female-ensemble comedies? Or is it the winning performances, including a scene-stealer Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy? Either way, Bridesmaids is a hilarious antidote to Sex and the City’s Manolos-and-men shenanigans, delivered straight to the funny bone.
Empire rating: ★★★★

X-Men: First Class (2011), Sky Movies
Audiences will have to wait until after The Hunger Games sequel is in the can before the early incarnations of Professor X’s superhero team – including Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence – re-assemble for a second prequel from Matthew Vaughn. Luckily the fifth X-Mem movie has so much going on, there’s plenty worth going back for while we wait to find out what historical happening the nascent X-team will tackle next. Dealey Plaza? Civil rights? Watergate? X Factor?
Empire rating: ★★★

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), Sky Movies
Mercilessly shunned by Oscar, Lynne Ramsay’s meticulously crafted adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s bestseller deals with the thorny subject of a mother (Tilda Swinton) struggling to handle a son (Ezra Miller) who seems to have been ‘born bad’. It’s Swinton’s film, but an equally note-perfect Miller, not to mention a perfectly calibrated script, ensure that people will be talking about the film long after the novel is left on the shelf.
Empire rating: ★★★★

Cell 211 (2009), LOVEFiLM
One advantage of LOVEFiLM’s 70,000-title catalogue is the ability to catch up on great foreign films, like this outstanding thriller about a trainee prison warder who, caught up in a riot on his first day, finds his survival dependent on pretending to be an inmate. It’s a dizzyingly high concept, lent a surprising amount of depth by writer-director Daniel Monzon. See it before Paul Haggis’s remake is released – or escapes – next year.
Empire rating: ★★★★

The Hidden (1987), LOVEFiLM
If Men in Black had been played straight, it might look a little like this preposterously enjoyable B-movie from the mid-‘80s. A pre-Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan plays a quirky FBI agent hunting parasitic aliens whose M.O. is to turn their human hosts into homicidal maniacs on Grand Theft Auto-style crime sprees, for no adequately explained reason. Look for it near the top of any ‘ripe for a remake’ list.
Empire rating: ★★★

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Netflix
A perfect showcase for Netflix’s HD-and-5.1-surround-sound gold standard, David Lean’s first epic sees Alec Guinness as a high-ranking British POW, co-opted into building a railway bridge for the Japanese during World War II, while his American counterpart (William Holden) plots to blow it up. Based on the novel by Pierre ‘Planet of the Apes’ Boulle, it’s one of the most best war films Britain has ever produced.
Empire rating: ★★★★★

The Prophecy (1995), Netflix
More than occasionally, Netflix’s streaming-only service throws up the odd buried treasure, such as this supernatural thriller in which hard-boiled cop Elias Koteas stumbles into the middle of a battle between two angels (Christopher Walken and Eric Stoltz) on opposing sides of a war in heaven. Bursting with ideas and scenery-chewing performances, it may be the ‘80s-est movie made in the ‘90s, and all the more enjoyable for it.
Empire rating: ★★★

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Netflix
With Moonrise Kingdom currently in cinemas, what better excuse to revisit and perhaps reassess Wes Anderson’s least appreciated film, made between The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited. Bill Murray leads the typically strong ensemble cast on a misguided quest to destroy the (possibly mythical) shark that killed his partner, but it’s largely an elaborate excuse for one of Anderson’s customary explorations of quirky leadership figures, and the flotsam and jetsam carried in their wake.
Empire rating: ★★★

David Hughes

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