What I said last time about the summer being a fairly quiet time for the streaming world, please disregard. Rather than wait for the autumn when people are more inclined to slump on a sofa in front of the tube, Netflix, Lovefilm and a new contender have decided that everyone just loves good movies and TV and so have flooded the marketplace with good content in a battle to outdo one another. The winner again is you the consumer and the hardest part may be to actually choose just one of these outlets to subscribe to.

That new contender I talked about is Sky, who has thrown their hat into the ring with NOW TV, which is essentially an on demand version of their Sky Movie channels available over the internet. If you have seen the NOW TV website and thought they didn’t actually have much content then think again. When you actually sign up, then browsing through their menus, separated by genre, new releases and collections, reveals a lot more catalogue titles for your viewing pleasure. NOW TV is actually pretty good for watching things that came out in the last year again with things like Ted, Skyfall, Avengers Assemble and erm….Battleship there on demand. It’s also pretty good for stuff that you had no idea was out yet so I have watched For a Good Time Call (pretty decent) and The Barrens (not so much) which I had no idea had been officially released here yet.

If you don’t fancy watching things on your PC screen and are unable to have a dish put on the side of your house (like me) or are unable to get cable due to fragile tiles on the outside of your flat (also like me…really) then the NOW TV box is for you. Having been launched recently the box acts the same as a Roku essentially turning your TV into a Smart TV. It works pretty well as long as you have a decent internet provider and gives you all the NOW TV content as well as the ability to actually watch Sky Movie channels live as they broadcast. You also get Sky News, BBC iPlayer and 5 on Demand as well as the Roku channels like Vimeo, USTV Now and Crunchyroll. You can also get the Sky Sports channels for an additional charge.

The only drawback is that the HD option only currently seems to be 720 rather than full 1080 but this is a minor gripe that will only rile up home cinema aficionados. When you have instant access to every Bond film ever made then it hardly matters and I am dying to get back into the Timothy Dalton films again. Also considering how much publicity Sky One and Sky Atlantic get about TV programmes, it’s surprising that TV shows are not included in the NOW TV package, introducing Game of Thrones over streaming would be a big win for anyone and it must surely be on the cards.

Below are some of the new titles on Now TV, some of the older titles and of course all the new stuff on Netflix and Lovefilm. I hope you enjoy….


Rise-of-the-Guardians-UK-Quad-PosterRise of the Guardians (2012)

Starring (voices): Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Jude Law.

Available on NOW TV

Last year was an interesting one for animation with some fascinating projects all seeming to underperform for baffling reasons. The most puzzling failure of all was this DreamWorks animation film about the guardians of childhood, Father Christmas, Jack Frost, The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, all uniting to take on a darkness threatening the world.

The animation is gorgeous, the action is thrilling and the imagination on display is full of wonder and features some truly great ideas. So of course it flopped, possibly confused with a recent owl movie. It was something of a hit in the UK though so we now get to appreciate it all over again via Now TV, perfectly timed with the kids holidays.



Looper (2012)

Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt. Directed by: Rian Johnson.

Available on LOVEFILM.

Rian Johnson’s third film from last year is perhaps not his best but is a film with a high re-watchability factor. I would echo the complaint that once things get to the farmhouse the film does slow right down from it’s previous gripping, lunatic pace.

Due to the time travel malarkey, the detailed world Johnson builds and the moral conundrum at the heart of the story, Looper is definitely a film you can watch again and spot something different . This is also the most alive and moving Bruce Willis has been in about ten years, no small feat considering the films he has been in recently.

For a Good Time, Call

For a Good Time, Call… (2012)

Starring: Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller and Justin Long. Directed by: Jamie Travis.

Available on NOW TV.

This film seems to have skipped cinemas here and appeared on DVD and on demand with little fanfare. This is a romantic comedy where the romance comes from the bond between two former enemies who decide to live together and eventually enter into a successful phone sex business.

It’s like your typical set up but with seriously filthy and frank language which must have made it a bitch to market. It won’t change your life or anything but it’s a diverting and pleasant hour and change with some laugh out loud moments and the required cameos from comic faces you have seen elsewhere.

Wrath of the Titans 17

Wrath of the Titans (2012)

Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Rosamund Pike and Edgar Ramirez. Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman.

Available on NOW TV.

Whilst far from perfect, Wrath of the Titans is a much better film that the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans that preceded it. Everything in Wrath of the Titans is given much more weight and the performances are better all round. Even Sam Worthington, much more relaxed and being himself, gives us a solid hero to root for.

Say what you will about him but director Jonathan Liebesman can frame and stage an action scene so that you actually see what is going on and we get some solid monster work and even a sense of humour that was notably missing from the 2010 edition.


Dredd Judges

Dredd (2012)

Starring: Karl Urban, Lena Headey and Olivia Thirlby. Directed by: Pete Travis.

Available on NOW TV.

Last year’s Judge Dredd reboot was a box office flop that has inspired a rabid cult mainly made up of people who didn’t see it in the cinema but bought the DVD and are now calling for a sequel. Ignoring all the hyperbole and hoopla however and looking at the film for what it is, is it actually that good? Mainly yes it is.

Pete Travis brings us a vision of the 2000AD lawman by way of Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 rather than the Stallone mega budget misfire. This look will probably dominate action cinema for the next ten years but then he also throws in the slo-mo drug effects which are just visually very pleasing. Karl Urban is perfectly gruff as Dredd and doesn’t remove his helmet as required.

The only problem is the film is so short and feels like a prequel film to something bigger and grander which we only MIGHT see at some point in the future. Dredd is one of those action films that will be viewed endlessly in the coming years.

The Possession

The Possession (2012)

Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgewick and Natasha Callis. Directed by: Ole Bornedal.

Available on NETFLIX.

If you avoided this because of the very generic title and the fact that it came off the Ghost House production line, give it a chance. It’s not a classic but it is a very strong horror film and just so happens to be the best film about possession since THAT film about possession.

Full of atmosphere and a cold chilly visual sensibility this also has great performances from Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick and young Natasha Callis.

Blake Lively in Savages

Savages (2012)

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta and Salma Hayek. Directed by: Oliver Stone.

Available on NOW TV.

From the people I have spoken to, Don Winslow’s novel ‘Savages’ is one of the great crime sagas of recent times. The film version directed by Oliver Stone came and went last year with almost no attention. It’s not a terrible film by any means but it’s merely adequate when it should have been spectacular.

The problem is the people in it seem ill fitted for the material. I don’t for one minute believe that Blake Lively could gain such devotion from two men who are committed to her equally because she is that amazing, so the central relationship doesn’t convince straight away and this is even with the best Taylor Kitsch performance from 2012 in the mix.

The other issue is that Oliver Stone is the man directing this when it would have been a perfect film for the late Tony Scott or even Steven Soderbergh. Unless Stone is working with some kind of societal outrage he just has a tin ear for relationship dynamics and performances. He does however get some great supporting turns out of Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta and Salma Hayek and some nasty violence before a studio cop-out ending. A missed opportunity.

Jessica Chastain and Tom Hardy in Lawless

Lawless (2012)

Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain and Guy Pearce. Directed by: John Hillcoat.

Available on NETFLIX.

Upon release last year, John Hillcoat’s latest film was something of a critical and commercial disappointment. It had neither the surreal western atmosphere of The Proposition nor the dour hopelessness of The Road. It was actually a fairly standard A to B to C tale of prohibition era gangsters facing off against a corrupt lawman.

This was disappointing to most on first viewing but something about it stays with you and watching it again for what it actually is reveals hidden depths and some great moments. Shia LeBeouf is actually brilliant in this as a kid who is all pent-up anger and frustration at not being taken seriously who then goes off and ends up humiliated which just makes him worse. He is matched by Jason Clarke and a memorably scuzzy villain from Guy Pearce.

Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly (2012)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta and Richard Jenkins. Directed by: Andrew Dominik.

Available on NOW TV.

Passing everybody by last year was Andrew Dominik’s third film which managed to be just as unique as his first two but was somehow rather too different for the mainstream. Killing Them Softly is a beast that moves to its own rhythm and pace and has now qualms about not catering for the crowd who enjoyed Goodfellas, Heat or Scarface.

Essentially this is a film which is equal parts a critique of the state of the modern economy and also what the mafia has become as Brad Pitt’s master hitman hunts down a couple of low rent crims who have robbed a high stakes poker game under orders from bean counters rather than a mafia don.

Every single death in this film hits hard and feels substantial and heartbreaking and the film has a hell of a good final line which sums up the film perfectly. It plays out like a Coen brothers critique of the economic crash and is not for everybody but deserving of far more love.

Detention Still 1

Detention (2011)

Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke and Dane Cook. Directed by: Joseph Kahn.

Available on NETFLIX.

There will be those of you out there that will flat-out absolutely hate this film which is why I am careful to only really recommend it to those who grew up in the era of the Backstreet Boys and the Scream films. Joseph Kahn’s film is a rapid fire, reference overloaded, horror film celebration of everything in teen culture from the last thirty years. It will takes three viewings at least to catch everything that is nodded to in this film. Time Travel, Slasher killers, UFO’s, Mutant Teenagers and meta commentary all get a look in and it’s just too much for some people.

However if you watch this with the right eyes, there is a sense of joy to the whole thing and an atmosphere of celebration that you only get from watching something like Hairspray or Rock of Ages on the stage. Awesome soundtrack too.


The Watch (2012)

Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade. Directed by: Akiva Schaffer.

Available on NOW TV.

When it comes to comedy, give critics any opening and they are all over it. The Watch does have a problem with a fairly confused tone; it seems to be a family comedy in the style of Men in Black but then has horrific violence and gross out humour. So of course everyone panned it.

The problem is when Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg write these things, they take the genre elements as serious as the comedy parts and it takes a skilled director to marshal it into a tone that works. Viewed at home it’s actually a fairly entertaining hour and a half with a few laugh out loud moments and great performances from Vince Vaughn being likeable again and Jonah Hill. If you haven’t seen it then give it a chance on a Friday night and you might be surprised.

Marlon Wayans in Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Starring: Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans and Ellen Burstyn. Directed by: Darren Aronofsky.

Available on LOVEFILM.

Why the government hasn’t cottoned on to the fact the showing this film in schools would sort half the drug problems in the country out is anyone’s guess. Darren Aronofsky solidified the fact that he was a major talent with this film and it works as a kind of mission statement from him confirming that each of his films would leave a scar in its own way.

Requiem for a Dream is a horror film through and through with the monster being addiction and is a descent into darkness that is a marvel to behold. Aronofsky’s hip hop cinema employed firstly in Pi is in full effect. Going from Summer to Winter as things get worse and worse for the characters, their fates will remain with you for ages but it’s Ellen Burstyn as a nice old lady completely undone by her diet pills that stays with you.

If you are going to watch this, make sure it’s on a day where you are feeling pretty amazing about life so that it doesn’t bring you down further.

The Prestige

The Prestige (2006)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johannson and Michael Caine. Directed by: Christopher Nolan.

Available on LOVEFILM.

Made between his first two Batman films, Christopher Nolan’s epic tragic tale of warring magicians stands up to repeat viewings. Employing a tricky structure reminiscent of Memento, Nolan’s tale unfolds in non-linear fashion but compels you inwards deeper and deeper in a hypnotic fashion as tragedy builds upon tragedy and we learn just how far these driven men will go in service of the illusion.

The recent Now You See Me is the lightweight and jaunty version of this story and along with Insomnia this feels oddly underrated amongst Christopher Nolan’s films.


Beowulf (2007)

Starring: Ray Winstone, Angelina Jolie, Robin Wright and Brendan Gleeson. Directed by: Robert Zemeckis.

Available on LOVEFILM.

They still can’t quite get the eyes right but Robert Zemeckis’ motion capture take on the oldest story of all time might surprise you with just how serious a tone it actually has. The story of a man undone by the charms of a woman is as old as the hills but here it takes on a mythic, sad beauty and a sense of melancholy and inevitability lingers throughout.

It’s also shockingly violent at times and has all the large beast slaying action you could ask for if that’s your thing.

Half Nelson

Half Nelson (2006)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie and Shareeka Epps. Directed by: Ryan Fleck.

Available on NOW TV.

Back before Drive and Crazy, Stupid Love, Ryan Gosling was an indie darling thanks to some low-key performances in low-budget Sundance fare and this which remains his finest for which he received an Oscar nomination. Here he plays a crack addicted teacher at a junior high school in the city, there is no real plot to speak of we just see him drift from hit to hit, drunken night to hangover in the morning until he is caught by one of his students and bonds with her and then things slowly start to change.

There is no big reveal, no mawkish pay off, just a damaged character having a small epiphany that is perhaps the first step towards the light. Shot with a fondness for the light of magic hour and soundtracked perfectly by Broken Social Scene, Half Nelson is one of the best American films of the last decade and has a wonderful performance from an actor who was just getting started.

The Abyss

The Abyss: Special Edition (1993)

Starring: Ed Harris, Michael Biehn and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Directed by: James Cameron.

Available on NOW TV.

Back in 1989, James Cameron’s way too ambitious for the time underwater sci-fi saga was released in a heavily compromised version which frankly didn’t make sense and fell flat at the final fence. Those of us who were not over 12 years old and so couldn’t see it in cinemas, had read the Orson Scott Card novelisation and knew there was more to it.

Four years later after a laser disc release, the full version of Cameron’s vision was unleashed with the impressive tidal wave ending intact. That wasn’t just it though, there is around 38 minutes or so of additional material worked back into the film, fleshing out the characters and allowing the finale to make the emotional wallop intended the first time.

He may have changed the box office landscape three times since 89 but in many ways this is Cameron’s greatest work because his massive vision was limited by what he could do with budget and effects, the same way he was with Aliens and the first Terminator and yet he pulls something off that still stands up all these years later.



Orange is the New Black (2012)

Starring: Taylor Schilling, Jason Biggs, Taryn Manning, Natasha Lyonne and Kate Mulgrew. Directed by: Various.

Available on NETFLIX.

Firstly it’s true what you have heard, Orange is the New Black is superb and represents a major leap forward for Netflix’ original programming. Based on a book based on a true story of a woman who spent a year in prison and her experiences, this finds Taylor Schilling playing a woman who gets busted for a drug money related offence she committed ten years previous just as her life is all set and she is ready to be married. She goes to a woman’s prison and experiences fear and discomfort like never before, learns a lot about herself and comes face to face with someone from her troubled past.

For the first four episodes or so, this is pretty lightweight comedy-drama but then becomes somewhat more serious as a drugs in prison sub-plot comes around and we learn more about the corruption and manipulation of the people inside.  Schilling is fine as the woman we witness all this through and only really has to do the heavy emoting towards the end which she copes with fine. It’s the supporting cast that stick with you including brilliantly manic Taryn Manning, sarcastic Natasha Lyonne and put upon nice guy Jason Biggs.

Stealing the whole thing though is former Starfleet captain Kate Mulgrew as a former Russian mobster wife/chef who now runs the kitchen with an iron fist , the performance is a revelation and should grant Mulgrew’s career a second wind. Addictive and heartfelt, Orange is the New Black ends on such a cliff hanger that the next year is going to be hard without more episodes. More like this and less like Hemlock Grove would be great from Netflix from now on.

Breaking Bad 4

Breaking Bad Season 5 part two (2012)

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris and Anna Gunn. Directed by: Various.

Available on NETFLIX weekly from August 12th.

In what should be a further indication of where entertainment is headed, Netflix will be streaming the new episodes in the final eight of Breaking Bad’s finale the day after they are on AMC in the states. Which means less risk of pesky spoilers and we can enjoy this more or less as it happens.

If they stick the landing here then Breaking Bad will sit alongside The Wire as the best TV show in history. Everything is indicating that this will not have a happy ending as Walter White becomes more and more of a moral vacuum and Jessie continues to favour the higher ground. The dilemma now becomes, do I watch this weekly or do I wait for the whole lot and binge, hmmmmmm.

Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux Specials (2007-2012)

Starring: Louis Theroux and a whole bunch of racists, criminals, misfits and the occasional good person who doesn’t deserve their lot in life. Directed by: Various.

Available on NETFLIX.

For nearly twenty years now, Louis Theroux has fearlessly trod into the backyards of the strange, the angry and the outcasts of society. The Weird Weekends are long gone and Netflix have collected his various BBC specials from the last few years and streamed them for you. Considering his fearless nature and fairly non-judgmental stance, it’s surprising that Theroux hasn’t made a documentary feature yet.

Someone has to do something about the Jimmy Saville horror show and the witch hunts that have followed eventually and Theroux spent considerable time with the man for a programme. Anyway here you will find Theroux’s celebrated and anger inducing shows with the Westboro Baptist Church, the terrifying times spent in American prisons and the eye-opening time spent on the West Bank, which is illuminating to say the least. Brilliant and intelligent stuff that could only come from the BBC.

Reno 911

Reno 911 (2003 – 2009)

Starring: Thomas Lennon, Cedric Yarborough, Kerri Kenney and Robert Ben Garant. Directed by: Various.

Available on LOVEFILM.

If you are looking for a sitcom that isn’t offensive that you can watch comfortably with dinner then Comedy Central’s spoof of reality show Cops is now all on Lovefilm for your streaming pleasure. Rather than focus on the humorous situations (with somehow almost always usually involve nude or drunk people) Reno 911 allows much of the comedy to come from the characters, from Thomas Lennon’s closeted Jim Dangle to the slutty Deputy Clementine and borderline racist lunatic Deputy Garcia.

The show is easy to digest in twenty-minute episodes and the very first scene of the very first episode is one of the funniest things I have ever seen and gives you an indication of the genius comic timing on display for much of the show.