Empire On Demand (January 2013)

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

MMMMSquareMartha Marcy May Marlene (2011), Sky On Demand

Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of the more famous Olsen twins, made a stunning debut as Martha, a young woman who escapes a backwoods cult run by the sinister Patrick (John Hawkes). The multiple-personality title perfectly reflects Martha’s fractured psyche as she arrives at her sister’s lake house, where her former personality begins fitfully to re-emerge. With its lo-fi photography, drip-fed narrative and cut-up chronology, Sean Durkin’s first film may stretch some viewers’ patience, but those who stay to the thrillingly ambiguous final shot will be rewarded with a chillingly authentic portrait of cult life, as insidious as Patrick, and no less terrifying.
Empire rating: ★★★★

Martyrs (2008), LOVEFiLM
Bucketloads of modern horror films require a strong stomach to watch to the end, but few offer the emotional, spiritual and intellectual rewards of French writer-director Pascal Laugier’s raw, unflinching and utterly captivating film, which begins as a brutal revenge horror before it twists and turns, ultimately transcending its ‘torture porn’ trappings and becoming, in the final reel, something truly transcendent.
Empire rating: ★★★★

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), Sky On Demand (from Jan 4)
Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson are among the seniors heading out to India to spend their golden years in the lavishly-named retirement home “for the elderly and beautiful”, run by Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel, with heart-warming and often hilarious results. The average age of the venerable ensemble may be 106, but this is prime cut British comedy for any age.
Empire rating: ★★★★

Mean Streets (1973), Netflix
Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Martin Scorsese’s first great film was this lo-fi look at the lives of bottom-feeding mobsters in New York’s Little Italy. With Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, a ‘60s soundtrack, sparring dialogue, roving camera and macho bravado, Mean Streets laid the foundations for future Scorsese classics like Goodfellas, but remains a brilliantly entertaining film in its own right.
Empire rating: ★★★★★

Another Earth (2011), Sky On Demand
Indie darling Brit Marling co-wrote and starred in Mike Cahill’s beguiling, affecting and intellectually ambitious debut, which uses the eerie discovery of a duplicate Earth as the backdrop for a story about a young woman who accidentally kills the family of a music professor (Lost’s William Mapother) in a car crash, then tries to make amends on Earth 1 while longing for the alternative reality Earth 2 might offer.
Empire rating: ★★★★

Anton Corbijn: Inside Out (2012), Netflix
Although best known as the director of Control and The American, Anton Corbijn’s photographs and music videos arguably defined bands like U2, Nirvana and Depeche Mode. Now, the camera is turned on Corbijn, as Klartje Quirijns follows him through various photo shoots, interviewing musicians and family members to find out what makes him tick. A fascinating documentary for anyone interested in what Corbijn calls “the pain of creation.”
Empire rating: ★★★★

Heat (1995), Netflix
Neither time nor Righteous Kill has diminished the thrill of the on-screen pairing of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Michael Mann’s superb heist movie (closely modelled on his earlier film, L.A. Takedown), in which De Niro’s professional thief and Pacino’s hard-bitten cop are set on a collision course. Mann’s cracking script and slick visuals combine with top-notch performances to make Heat a white-hot crime classic.
Empire rating: ★★★★★

The Kids Are All Right (2010), LOVEFiLM
Teenagers Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson) were raised by their lesbian mothers (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore), but their comfortable liberal-California life is thrown a curve ball when Laser persuades Joni to look up the sperm donor, who turns out to be a bohemian restaurateur (Mark Ruffalo). Witty writing and top-notch performances make this thoroughly modern, Oscar-nominated comedy-drama more than just all right.
Empire rating: ★★★★

Let Me In (2010), LOVEFiLM
Few who saw Thomas Alfredson’s masterful child-vampire tale Let the Right One In were clamouring for a swift remake, yet there’s much to admire in this Americanised version, which marked Hammer’s triumphant return to filmmaking. Transposing the story to New Mexico, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves axes the ‘Scandinavian-ness’ of the original, aiming more for explicit horror than star-crossed love story – and the casting of Chloë-Grace Moretz was inspired.
Empire rating: ★★★★

Short Stack (2012), The Horror Show
Anyone with a jones for horror should keep an eye on this newly-launched “Steam for movies”-style digital streaming service, which offers a “short stack” comprising ten short horror films for 99p – less than 10p per film – with half the proceeds going to the filmmakers. As you might expect, the selection is a mixed bag, but a wider selection – including undistributed feature films – is coming soon.

All films free to subscribers with subscription package, except The Horror Show (99p with login). Details correct at time of going to press. Terms, conditions and bandwidth limitations may apply.


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