6 New Video On Demand Movies That You Need To Check Out

All is Bright1 6 New Video On Demand Movies That You Need To Check Out

This is an exciting time for film lovers, as Oscar movies start to hit theaters and you know that any trip to the local cinema is almost certain to produce a memorable, entertaining and potentially deeply affecting experience. But for folks outside of the largest of centers where these movies tend to be released first, it also means a lot of waiting.

While the big anticipated Oscar-caliber movies tend to find their ways to most theaters eventually, some lesser known gems come and go very quickly and are easy to miss, if they even arrive in your city at all.

This is yet another thing that makes video on demand so valuable. For often the same cost or less than a movie ticket, you can watch new releases that are just arriving at the metropolitan theaters from your own home, wherever that may be. And sometimes you’re just not in the mood to try to watch Tom Hanks where a bunch of little cell phone screens are simultaneously flashing you in the face, or the people behind you are trying to figure out what motivated someone to do something three scenes ago.

But my favorite thing about having same-time on-demand releases of new movies is that they’re instantaneous. So on that note, here are 6 video on demand titles you can watch at home right now instead of having to fight theater crowds.

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1) Zero Charisma

Zero Charisma 6 New Video On Demand Movies That You Need To Check Out

In trying to describe what Zero Charisma feels like while watching it, the best I could come up with was that it’s as though Ricky Gervais’ character from The Office became a Game Master instead of running the office for a regional paper company. And I don’t even really know what a Game Master is.

One of the joys of this movie is that it portrays this rather well known, but little understood subculture of what most people would dismissively label as “nerds” who like to act out the types of fantasies most people experience as kids, but well into their adult lives.

Tackling specific subcultures that are commonly maligned or made fun of by the general public is tricky territory for filmmakers. Directors Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews carry out this delicate balancing act rather gracefully here, maintaining some distance so that we can appreciate how weird these characters are, but also not making us feel so distant that we’re in the same camp that typically laughs at these types of characters.

It’s a funny movie, but not a patronizing one. It loves its characters even though it can see why people may find them ridiculous. There are times throughout where it seems like it might be teetering and ready to crash, but the movie really sticks the landing in the end. It’s an unlikely success story as a film, even if personal success is hard to come by for its Game Master.

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2) Escape From Tomorrow

Escape From Tomorrow1 6 New Video On Demand Movies That You Need To Check Out

This is one that can be appreciated for its stylistic choices and surrealistic expression, but even if you’re not into that David Lynch-type stuff, at the very least, Escape From Tomorrow is worth seeing because the simple fact that it was able to get made and somehow released commercially is astounding. I personally didn’t love the movie as a whole, but what I do love is the fact that it exists. And if other people who watch it end up loving it and respond to it and dig it, which many have, then that’s a bingo as far as I’m concerned.

The story is a little tough to outline, but the best I can come up with is that a family takes a trip to Disney World and everything just becomes a little bit effed up. The patriarch, Jim, is kind of really creepily obsessed with these teenage girls and drags his family along behind him as he follows them around. He starts seeing weird things and weird things start happening to him. It all goes a little haywire, not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way that I found to fall in a weird no-man’s land between affectingly surreal and strangely amusing. But I also think that’s less important than the fact that most of the film was shot at Disney World, without permission from Disney, and with careful planning to avoid getting caught by Disney’s notoriously tight security at their theme parks.

As of yet the filmmakers have not been sued, and by now, after a big premiere at Sundance and relatively positive and impressed reactions from the public, it seems unlikely that Disney will pursue legal action.

There’s a certain punk rock pleasure in seeing something as seemingly all powerful as Disney get portrayed in a way that is not at all on their terms, and that’s what makes this film really stick out.

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3) All Is Bright

All is Bright 6 New Video On Demand Movies That You Need To Check Out

There’s so much to like about this movie, from the actors, to the locations, to the music and general tone, though the reviews to it are decidedly mixed. The response to it has been a bit surprising, since it’s by the same director who did Junebug, Phil Morrison, and has a very similar feel and character focus as that acclaimed but since nearly entirely forgotten 2005 movie.

All Is Bright is out now in limited release, but I’m hoping it gathers enough of an audience in the on-demand world to get the warm reception I think it deserves.

The timing of the release may be part of the issue. This is a story taking place around Christmas time—in fact, the plot revolves around two guys from Quebec played by Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd who drive down to New York to sell some authentic Canadian Christmas trees. The geography may partially explain why this movie grabbed me so much, since the familiar 401 highway is featured prominently as is the cold eastern Canadian landscape, but to be honest, I didn’t really love it until the climax, which fulfills the comparisons I was already feeling between this film and Giamatti’s Sideways and Rudd’s recent Prince Avalanche.

Add Sally Hawkins into the mix as an eastern European woman who befriends Giamatti, and there’s so much to just bask in here that I’m still a bit baffled why more noise hasn’t been made about how sweet and lovely this little movie is.

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4) Bad Milo!

Bad Milo 6 New Video On Demand Movies That You Need To Check Out

If there’s anyone who can pull off one of the dumbest sounding premises for a movie character crisis in years, it’s Ken Marino. You may recognize him from The State, or maybe Party Down, or Childrens Hospital, or perhaps his phenomenal Bachelor-spoofying web series Burning Love. He’s certainly one of a kind, maybe in the way Danny McBride is one of a kind. His characters are routinely fairly repulsive but beneath the oblivious bravado there’s something you can sympathize with.

Bad Milo! is equally one of a kind, so it’s fitting that an actor like Marino is the one who makes it somehow, inexplicably, work. It comes from the mind of new writer-director Jacob Vaughan, who has worked on some of the Duplass Brothers’ projects as an assistant editor (Mark Duplass, as an executive producer of this movie, has been pushing it heavily).

The premise is that Ken Marino plays a guy whose life is stressing him out to the point where he is suffering from severe gastrointestinal issues, only to discover that the source of his physical pain is a small alien/demon thing that emerges from his backside and carries out his worst, most violent impulses. I can’t emphasize enough that this is entirely as weird as it sounds, maybe more so. But somehow Vaughan and company weave together earnest psychological elements into their absurd horror comedy that I ended up really liking it. If you’re looking for a retro-feeling comedy about a dude with some critter living up his ass, I can’t think of a better choice than Bad Milo!

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5) McConkey

McConkey 6 New Video On Demand Movies That You Need To Check Out

This is the type of documentary that is especially amazing if you, like me, know nothing about its subject. It’s about the exploits of Shane McConkey, an extreme skier and BASE jumper from Vancouver, and is almost like a version of Grizzly Man for extreme sports enthusiasts.

From the beginning of the movie we’re introduced to a young man over whom death seems to have no power. Establishing the presence of death in every moment of this guy’s life, and his open defiance of death, inevitably makes death the central pervading motif for the entire movie, and adjusts your expectations for what’s coming. You know from the first few moments, seeing and listening to various talking heads describe him in the past tense and McConkey’s absence from these interviews, that he’s no longer with us.

That makes the movie a celebration of his life, and of his unique character. It seems almost like a cliché for documentaries to unearth all this old footage of a person who just happened to practically record their entire life on video, but it’s never less than incredible to see, especially for someone whose career—if you can call it that; life passion, maybe—as a skier and adrenaline junkie spanned multiple decades. One of the greatest joys of watching the progression of McConkey’s life is to see his progress as a person, going from immature kid to the kind of grown man who maintains that adolescent sense of invincibility. I can’t recommend this movie enough; it hit me in all the places I had hoped Rush would hit me.

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6) Man of Tai Chi

man of tai chi 6 New Video On Demand Movies That You Need To Check Out

What if I told you Keanu Reeves directed a movie? And that it’s not half bad? And that he knows not Kung Fu, but Tai Chi? By now it may not be all that surprising that Reeves is a creative, contemplative guy, especially after you watch his cinema-centric documentary on the digital vs. celluloid debate, but now he’s the latest star to put on the director’s hat in order to pay tribute to the type of movie he likes to see, and for Keanu, that’s the martial arts film.

He also seems to want to introduce people to his friend and titular star of Man of Tai Chi, Tiger Chen. Its not without its flaws, but the visuals of the movie alone make it worth checking out for anyone in the mood for some really entertaining martial arts action.

So, as you can see, there are lots of choices for quality movies to watch from home, including a lot of summer movies being released on Blu-Ray and On Demand right now. I would love to see more people watch, and more studios release, new movies on VOD at the same time they’re released to theaters. This is because frankly, like many people, the limited releases take a while to make it to where I live, and all I really want to do is give these kind of filmmakers and executives my money.

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