Jason Guerrasio January 14, 2013
As we continue to trudge through the cold month of January and its lackluster crop of new releases, we suggest you curl up with a few of these titles. Liam Neeson return as the father who can kick anyone’s ass in “Taken 2.” For those found footage fans, the fourth installment of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise is now streaming. And we’ve got a few great titles you can see for free.
Following up the unlikely success of the original, Liam Neeson returns for a new ass-kicking foreign excursion. This time around, Bryan Mills (Neeson) and his wife (Famke Janssen) are kidnapped by the father of the kidnapper Mills killed to rescue his daughter in the first film. Let’s just say the odds are always in Mills’s favor.
Why Watch It: Neeson just has a knack for playing the ruthless type, even when he’s the one who’s the hostage.
Available On: iTunes, Cable On Demand, VUDU, Amazon Instant, YouTube, Google Play
‘Paranormal Activity 4′
After going to the VHS-era of the ’80s in “PA3,” we’re now back in the present for the fourth edition of this found-footage franchise. Five years after the events of “PA2,” things get a little strange for a teenage girl and her family when a woman and child move in next door.
Why Watch It: Just when you think you’ve seen everything in this franchise, they go and show they still have a few more tricks.
Available On: iTunes, VUDU [On Demand: 1/29]
If found footage isn’t your thing, this more traditional thriller is about a little girl who starts acting really strange after her newly divorced father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) buys her an old wooden box at a yard sale.
Why Watch It: Crazy CGI makes easier to tolerate the watered-down plot.
Available On: Cable On Demand
‘The House I Live In’
Documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki (“Why We Fight,” “The Trials of Henry Kissinger”) looks at the U.S. drug war from all possible angles and comes to the conclusion that it’s hardly about drugs.
Why Watch It: This Grand Jury prizewinner at last year’s Sundance is a disturbing look at how our country handles illegal drugs.
Available On: iTunes, Cable On Demand, VUDU
From the directors of “Jesus Camp,” this stirring documentary examines the downsizing of Detroit and how its closed schools, abandoned buildings and struggling economy epitomizes what’s going on throughout the country.
Why Watch It: It opens your eyes to the harsh reality of what our country is dealing with in some of its poorest areas.
Available On: iTunes, Cable On Demand
‘Won’t Back Down’
Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal play two mothers who are determined to transform their children’s failing inner-city school. But the bureaucracy of the school system could put at risk everything they’re trying to do.
Why Watch It: It’s an inspiring movie with great performances from Davis and Gyllenhaal.
Available On: Cable On Demand, VUDU, Amazon Instant, YouTube, Google Play
OLDIES BUT GOODIES
There’s nothing better than super cool Steve McQueen running away from a slow-moving blog of jelly. A drive-in classic from the ’50s, this cheesy horror starts with a meteor falling from the sky that oozes a large, growing goo. If you need a good laugh, this is the one for you.
Available On: Hulu (free)
Riding high after the success of “Jaws” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Steven Spielberg was untouchable when he put together this comedy. And that was probably the problem. It was a critical disaster when it opened in 1979, and watching it now is fun because of all the great cameos like Slim Pickens, Christopher Lee and Mickey Rourke. And at home in all the chaos is John Belushi.
Available On: YouTube (free)
The ‘Paradise Lost’ Trilogy
These three landmark documentaries by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky about the wrongful conviction of three teens (better known as the West Memphis Three) for the grisly murders of three boys in Arkansas in the mid ’90s. For years, activists and celebrities came to the aid of the WM3, until finally they were released on an Alford plea two years ago. In all three films, we learn new evidence while watching the three boys grow up behind bars.
Available On: iTunes
Bruce Sinofsky, Detropia, Eugene jarecki, Famke Jenssen, Heidi Ewing, Jeffrey dean morgan, Joe Berlinger, Liam neeson, Maggie gyllenhaal, On demand, Paradise Lost, Paranormal Activity 4, Rachel Grady, Steve mcqueen, Streaming, Streaming/On Demand, Taken 2, The Blob, The House I Live In, The Possession, Viola davis, West memphis three, Won't Back Down