Video on demand: A critical view of what's new

  • Film critic Rob Nelson reviews what's new in video-on-demand content each week for the Star Tribune. Send questions or comments to him at

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Claude Lanzmann with Benjamin Murmelstein in ‘“The Last of the Unjust.’”

Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs play best friends in “Life Partners.”

"Shallow Hal"

Jihadist turned cabbie Abu Jandal is featured in “The Oath”

Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson as seen in “Down in the Flood: Bob Dylan, the Band & the Basement Tapes.”

  • Bob Dylan: He's not there

    Article By: ROB NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune Publish November 2, 2014 1:00 AM / Update October 31, 2014 3:41 PM

    While filmmakers and musicians dig into his “Basement Tapes” period again, Bob Dylan remains elusive — as he should be.

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Brought to you by the letter G: Nicolas Amer in “ABCs of Death 2.”

Martin Scorsese and Joan Didion on the set of “The 50-Year Argument.”

John Cusack plays a bank robber in “Drive Hard.”

Louis Ortiz shaves off his goatee to start transforming into “Bronx Obama.”

  • 'Bronx Obama': Yes, he can?

    Article By: ROB NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune Publish October 5, 2014 2:00 AM / Update October 3, 2014 12:55 PM

    The documentary “Bronx Obama” follows the losing campaign of a presidential impersonator.

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Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt

A scene from “Fed Up,” a junk-food critique produced by Katie Couric.

Shailene Woodley and Christopher Meloni in "White Bird in a Blizzard"

  • Video on demand: Shailene Woodley stars in 'White Bird'

    Article By: ROB NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune Publish September 14, 2014 2:00 AM / Update September 12, 2014 4:00 PM

    "White Bird in a Blizzard": In her first role since “The Fault in Our Stars,” Shailene Woodley dazzles yet again in this dreamy adaptation of the Laura Kasischke novel. Acting all, like, whatever, she plays Kat, a bored, sexed-up and grief-suppressing teen whose nutty mom (Eva Green) goes missing at the tail end of the Reagan era. Now in his mid-50s, director Gregg Araki (“The Doom Generation”) might have mellowed a smidge, but he hasn’t lost his gift for capturing YA ennui in aptly adolescent fashion. Here, his hormonally charged visuals are perfectly matched by a period soundtrack of exquisitely angsty synth pop. (Tears for Fears! Depeche Mode! The Cure!) Available on demand a full month before its theatrical bow, “White Bird” is a pointedly thin indie whose shallowness should resonate with withering Gen Xers and the cooler subset of teen “Fault” fans. “Scratch the surface,” Kat says at one point, “and there’s just more surface.” Totally. (Sept. 25)

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Juliette Lewis is a punk rocker turned depressed suburban mom in “Kelly & Cal.”

Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn in “Starred Up.”

Lauren Bacall in 1957’s “Designing Woman.”

Leon Alan Beiersdorf and friend in “The Strange Little Cat.”

Halle Berry in “Frankie & Alice.”

Lynn Lowry, Claire Wilbur and Calvin Culver in Radley Metzger’s “Score.”

Francoise Fabian and Jean-Louis Trintignant in Eric Rohmer’s “My Night at Maud’s.”

Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler in “They Came Together.”

A 1940s girl in “Teenage.”

Michael Fassbender as the title character in Ridley Scott’s luridly spectacular “The Counselor.”

Scarlett Johansson in “Under the Skin.”

The late computer genius Aaron Swartz in “The Internet’s Own Boy.”

Anna Kendrick with Lena Dunham, left, in "Happy Christmas."

Burt Shavitz in “Burt’s Bees”

Writer/director Kat Candler with Josh Wiggins on the set of “Hellion.”

Alice Cooper in “Super Duper Alice Cooper”

Thomas Haden Church and Toni Collette in “Lucky Them.”

Godzilla in the 1956 U.S. release “Godzilla, King of the Monsters.”

  • Godzilla: The first 50 years

    Article By: ROB NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune Publish May 18, 2014 2:00 AM / Update May 16, 2014 3:03 PM

    Beyond the cheesy joy of men in rubber suits, the best of the Japanese creature features retain their doomsday appeal.

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Karin Dicker, Juanita Moore, Terry Burnham and Lana Turner in Douglas Sirk’s “Imitation of Life.”

Johnny Depp in Jim Jarmusch’s 1995 film “Dead Man.”

Macon Blair in “Blue Ruin.”

Divine in “Pink Flamingos,” directed by John Waters.

Carol Lynley and Noel Coward make for odd co-stars in Otto Preminger’s “Bunny Lake Is Missing.”

Juan Carlos Lara and Diego Cataño in Fernando Eimbcke’s “Lake Tahoe.”

Terence Nance looks at a neurotic young New Yorker’s sex life in “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty.”

  • Fandor at the film fan's door

    Article By: ROB NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune Publish March 23, 2014 2:00 AM / Update March 21, 2014 2:29 PM

    Run by and for cinephiles, subscription site offers a wide world for adventuresome streamers.

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The documentary “The Pied Piper of Hutzovina” follows Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hutz to Ukraine.

Robert Musgrave, Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson in Wes Anderson’s “Bottle Rocket.”

Cher with her Oscar for “Moonstruck” (and her infamous Bob Mackie-designed sheer dress).

Kate Lyn Sheil and Karl Jacob in “Pollywogs.”

Holiday on Ice was started in Ohio but was made successful by Minneapolis businessman Morris Chalfen, who bought into the small ice show in 1945 and turned it into an international sensation.

  • Also new to VOD: Minnesota 'Ice'

    Publish February 16, 2014 2:00 AM / Update February 15, 2014 2:00 PM

    “The Fabulous Ice Age,” documentarian Keri Pickett’s vivid visual history of figure skating shows, has come straight from New York’s Lincoln Center to Netflix’s streaming service. It’s a coup for Pickett, a graduate of Moorhead State University, and for Netflix, currently forced to compete with Winter Olympics coverage for sporting eyeballs.

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Brooke Shields in “Endless Love.”

Menashe Nov and Lior Ashkenazi in “Big Bad Wolves,” one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite films.

Screenwriter/director John Milius gets reverential treatment in “Milius.”

“Our Nixon” is put together largely from home video.

Trae Harris and Amari Cheatom in “Newlyweeds.”

  • 'Newlyweeds': Puff the magic movie

    Article By: ROB NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune Publish January 12, 2014 2:00 AM / Update January 10, 2014 11:05 AM

    The pot-smoking saga “Newlyweeds” is now available in Colorado, Washington — and everywhere else.

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Ziyi Zhang in "The Grandmaster"

Anna Margaret Hollyman in Zach Clark’s “White Reindeer.”

Paul Walker plays a father struggling to keep his infant daughter alive during Hurricane Katrina in “Hours.”

Jack Webb in the irresistibly cheesy newspaper movie “-30-.”

Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna in “The Punk Singer.”

Evan Rachel Wood in “Charlie Countryman.”

James Franco in his adaptation of William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.”

An animated zombie in the documentary “Birth of the Living Dead.”

  • Dawn of the streaming dead

    Article By: ROB NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune Publish October 27, 2013 2:00 AM / Update October 26, 2013 3:56 PM

    Zombies are legion these days, but there’s still only one “Night” to remember.

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Alex Williams plays WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in “Underground: The Julian Assange Story.”

Chen Hu, left, puts the moves on a martial arts opponent in Keanu Reeves’ debut as a director, “Man of Tai Chi.”

January Jones plays a vengeful frontier widow in “Sweetwater.”

  • Horse laughs from a 'Mad Men' star

    Article By: ROB NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune Publish October 6, 2013 2:00 AM / Update October 5, 2013 3:50 PM

    The good old trashy western returns, with a ridiculous vengeance, in the VOD movie “Sweetwater.”

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Justin Long and Jess Weixler in “Best Man Down,” shot in the Twin Cities and finally available on VOD this week.

A Toronto art house keeps on reelin’ in the documentary “The Rep.”

Amber Heard in “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.”

Robin Wright and Naomi Watts in “Adore.”

Javier Núñez Florián and Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre star in “Una Noche,” an indelible look at poverty in Cuba.

Marin Ireland and Paul Sparks in “Sparrows Dance.”

Will Rogers stars in the comedy “Nancy, Please,” which is only available on video-streaming sites.

Jason Statham in his new thriller, “Redemption.”

A DEA agent in a scene from the documentary “How to Make Money Selling Drugs.”

During the 1980s, TV commentator Morton Downey Jr. became the snarling champion of the conservative underclass.

“Moon Man” is based on a children’s book by Tomi Ungerer.

Josh (Rafe Spall) offers a wedding toast to his bride (Rose Byrne) in “I Give It a Year.”

  • Mr. & Mrs. Wrong

    Article By: ROB NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune Publish July 28, 2013 2:00 AM / Update July 27, 2013 3:35 PM

    The British comedy “I Give It a Year” mixes screwball sweetness and rom-com raunch.

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Tara (Lindsay Lohan) lounges poolside with Christian (James Deen) in Paul Schrader’s “The Canyons.”

Michael Cera holds down the fort in Sebastian Silva’s “Magic Magic.”

  • Que Cera, Cera

    Article By: ROB NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune Publish August 11, 2013 2:00 AM / Update August 9, 2013 3:06 PM

    Chilean director subverts Michael Cera’s image with two new movies. But the best of them is going straight to video.

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Napster creator Shawn Fanning.


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