Empire On Demand (March 2014)

Empire’s pick of the 10 best movies to download or stream this month.

PICK OF THE MONTH

StokerSquareStoker (2013), Sky Movies (from February 7th)
Oldboy director Park Chan-wook’s first English language feature is an intoxicating cocktail of psychological horror, slow-burning sexual tension and American Gothic, inspired by Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. Mia Wasikowska is perfectly cast as the troubled soul whose 18th birthday celebrations are tragically cut short by news that her father has died in a freak accident, an event which presages the arrival of her charming yet sinister ‘Uncle Charlie’ (Matthew Goode). Park wrings every ounce of dark comedy out of the seductively serpentine script, ratcheting up the tension until the thrilling, violent and shocking climax. Spellbinding. ★★★★★

Dirty Wars (2013), Netflix
War correspondent turned documentary filmmaker Jeremy Scahill, a veteran of numerous American conflicts, proves an engaging host as he investigates the role of shady black ops outfit JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) in dark deeds overseas, in this potent and provocative exposé of America’s secret wars. ★★★★

Fast and Furious 6 (2013), Sky Movies (from February 21st)
Paul Walker’s tragic death last year adds an unintentional poignancy to the fitfully entertaining sixth installment in the fast-moving, furiously successful franchise. The action careens from Moscow to London and Spain, never quite recapturing the magic of the last film, but the vehicular mayhem is impressive. ★★★

Artifact (2013), iTunes
Whatever your feelings about Jared Leto, this documentary about his band Thirty Seconds to Mars’ battle with its record company, EMI, is more expansive than it appears. Anyone interested in how the music business treats recording artists, both before and since the digital download revolution, should take a look. ★★★

I Give It A Year (2013), Lovefilm Instant
Borat and Bruno writer Dan Mazer’s caustic, darkly funny rom-com (with emphasis more on the ‘com’ than the ‘rom’) follows Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) as they realize that their whirlwind romance might not have been grounds for a successful marriage. ★★★★

Broken (2012), Lovefilm Instant
As the title suggests, the pieces of Rufus Norris’s directorial debut don’t always come together, but the overwrought plotting – a tangle of dysfunctional family dramas in a London suburb – is offset by down-to-earth writing, matter-of-fact direction and pleasingly jumbled editing. ★★★

Oblivion (2013), Sky Movies
Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up to Tron Legacy suffers from John Carter Syndrome, coming across as a patchwork of elements lifted from other works, even if its source preceded its two biggest film antecedents – in this case, Moon and Wall-E. Nevertheless, impressive sci-fi scenery and an intriguing plot hold the interest. ★★★

RoboCop (1987), Netflix
However the remake turns out, we’ll always have Paul Verhoeven’s sardonic and gloriously subversive original, in which a fatally wounded cop Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is cybernetically upcycled into a corporate crime fighter dubbed. I’d buy that for a dollar (but it’s free to Netflix subscribers). ★★★★

To the Wonder (2012), Lovefilm Instant
Far from “making Tree of Life look like Transformers,” as star Ben Affleck jokingly promised, Terence Malick’s latest has a discernible plotline – after a whirlwind Paris romance, a couple face the reality of life in rural America – even if all the director’s familiar trademarks make it vintage Malick. ★★★★

The Whisperer in Darkness (2011), http://www.TheHorrorShow.TV
Despite countless efforts, no film has really nailed 1920s horror author H.P. Lovecraft’s peculiar brand of dread, suggestion and cosmic grandeur, but this 1930s-style adaptation comes damned close, as hapless Albert Wilmarth (Matt Foyer) uncovers a terrifying conspiracy involving cultists and alien crustaceans. ★★★★

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