Empire On Demand (April 2013)

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

MoonriseKingdomSquareMoonrise Kingdom (2012), Sky On Demand

One of the past year’s highlights was undoubtedly Wes Anderson’s return to live action, which also marked a return to form after the relatively underwhelming Life Aquatic and Darjeeling Limited. Newcomers Jared Gillman and Kara Hayward are the eccentric New England youngsters who, in 1965, run away from their respective dysfunctional families in order to set up home together in a seaside cove. Anderson alumni Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are joined by a wonderfully eccentric ensemble, including Frances McDormand, Ed Norton, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban and Bruce Willis for a beguiling fable about young love, lost love, innocence and regret.
Empire rating: ★★★

Cockneys vs Zombies (2012), Lovefilm Instant
If you haven’t got a goofy grin on your face two minutes into Matthias Hoene’s East End comedy-horror, stream something else – it’s not for you. Keep watching, and you’re in for a riotous zom-com, as construction workers release the shuffling dead from a tomb sealed in 1666, leaving it up to a bunch of clueless bank robbers and old age pensioners (including the late Richard Briers) to save the world.
Empire rating: ★★★

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), Netflix
With his place in the Hollywood firmament on the wane, Robert Mitchum gave one of his best performances as small-time Boston criminal Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle, a two-time loser forced to choose between a lengthy jail sentence and loyalty to his underworld ‘friends’. Peter Yates’ spare, cynical adaptation of George V Higgins’ novel is a downbeat, depressingly authentic depiction of life at the scrag end of the criminal underworld.
Empire rating: ★★★★

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Sky On Demand
His job-appropriate name aside, (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb seemed an odd choice to oversee the unasked-for reboot of the billion-dollar franchise Spider-Man franchise. The resulting film, while not exactly amazing, succeeds largely thanks to strong performances from Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacey), and a deeper focus on characters and relationships than CG-enabled web-slinging and wall-swinging – spectacular though they may be.
Empire rating: ★★★

After Hours (1985), Lovefilm Instant
Martin Scorsese is at his most playful directing this demented black comedy, following lonely New Yorker Paul (note-perfect Griffin Dunne) as he heads out on a nocturnal odyssey, hoping to hook up with a girl he has just met (Rosanna Arquette). Instead, he becomes ensnared in a surreal netherworld of kooks, punks, sadomasochists and freaks, and is hunted down by an angry mob in a Mister Softee van. Priceless.
Empire rating: ★★★★★

Iron Man 2 (2010), Netflix
A minor piece of the Avengers assembly, Jon Favreau’s hasty, inessential and largely inconsequential sequel naturally suffered by comparison with its game-changing predecessor, despite memorable turns from Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell, and the introduction of Scarlett Johansson’s ass-kicking Russian, Black Widow. With Iron Man 3 due in cinemas next month, the second outing might be worth another look – even if it’s just to revisit the remarkable racetrack set piece.
Empire rating: ★★★

The Five Year Engagement (2012), Sky On Demand
A good rom-com is a rarity, a great one virtually a miracle. San Francisco chef Tom (Jason Segel, who also co-wrote with director Nicholas Stoller), is set for the perfect wedding to Violet (Emily Blunt), until life gets in the way. Funny, charming, touching and believable, it bears all the hallmarks of producer Judd Apatow, who is rapidly becoming the Pixar of comedy.
Empire rating: ★★★★

Cool Hand Luke (1967), Lovefilm Instant (from April 26)
Luke Jackson (Paul Newman) winds up on a chain gang after being arrested for vandalising parking meters, but his real crime is non-conformity, a general refusal to recognise authority – even among the hierarchy of his fellow prisoners (including Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner George Kennedy). A tragicomic tale of rebellion without a cause, brilliantly directed (by Stuart Rosenberg) from Donn Pearce’s novel.
Empire rating: ★★★★★

Groundhog Day (1993), Netflix
Bill Murray is at his best as the curmudgeonly TV reporter inexplicably experiencing the same awful day over and over again in Harold Ramis’ unimprovable comedy, now twenty years old and justly recognised as a classic, as enduring as It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s a testament to its brilliance that a film containing so much repetition can be enjoyed again and again. As Ned Ryerson would say, “It’s a doozy!”
Empire rating: ★★★★★

5 Broken Cameras (2012), Curzon on Demand

In 2005, Palestinian farm labourer Emad Burnat bought a video camera, using it to document the encroachment onto his family’s land by Jewish settlers, capture various atrocities by Israeli soldiers, and chronicle his community’s resistance efforts. Seven years and five broken cameras later, the assembled footage reveals the bitter reality of life under Israeli occupation, and becomes a worthy Best Documentary Oscar nominee.
Empire rating: ★★★★


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