On Demand: Jack Reacher

Back after a week of self-reflection, our patented, custom-built supercomputer known as the Video On Demand Power Ranker is back in action. This week it’s all crime thrillers, time-lapsing epics and stories about people with a screw (or seven) loose. And a movie about your uncle’s favorite band, The Eagles.

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1. Jack Reacher

The Pitch: Even though we wish he was a little bit taller, Tom Cruise may have nailed the killer instinct of Lee Child’s popular creation. He’s a military cop turned ghost turned murder-hunter who gets wrapped up in a the case of a shooting spree and a plot that is much bigger than it seems on the surface. With the deft hand of writer/director Christopher McQuarrie and a fun few moments of villainy from Werner Herzog, Jack Reacher produces enough action and intrigue to make us forget, albeit momentarily, that this is just another Tom Cruise joint.

Available On: iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and Cable (May 7).

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2. Cloud Atlas

The Pitch: Following screenings at various film festivals, The Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas was heralded by a number of geek-savvy writers, including our own Adam Charles, as “epic” and “ambitious.” The sort of layered, superbly crafted visual storytelling spectacle that you had to see to believe. A rare kind of film. Between those screenings and its release to the public, something was lost. Perhaps the marketing didn’t sell it right. Perhaps it was too complex. Revisiting it now, as it makes its early digital HD release, I can’t help but think that such things don’t matter. The film itself is still a splendid work of art on a scale that we won’t see from many other films in this decade, let alone this year. Anyone who claims to truly love the craft of filmmaker should see it at least once.

Available On: iTunes, Vudu and Amazon.

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3. Silver Linings Playbook

The Pitch: The cast of David O. Russell’s latest film was nominated for Oscars across the board, the only film of 2012 to achieve such success in the acting category. Jennifer Lawrence even won Oscar’s gold for her portrayal of a broken widow who finds another kindred spirit in mental unwellness (Bradley Cooper) and teaches him to dance. It’s a film about losing your mind, letting go, finding your center and even finding a bit of love along the way. What’s most staggering about it, as The Academy so effortlessly pointed out to us, is the performances. From Lawrence to Cooper to Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver, the cast is top notch. Worth the price of admission alone.

Available On: iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and Cable.

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4. History of the Eagles

The Pitch: Produced by Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney, this documentary takes an inside look at one of America’s most enduring and popular bands, The Eagles. It’s great storytelling, even if you’re not entirely an Eagles fan.

Available On: iTunes.

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5. To The Wonder

The Pitch: A carryover from our last power rankings, Terrance Malick’s latest is still more than worthy of your time and money.

Available On: iTunes, Vudu and Amazon.

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6. The Last Stand

The Pitch: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the big screen. It’s just a little more than that, actually, as it’s also the first English-language film from Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon, who directed the ridiculous, wonderful The Good, the Bad, the Weird. In that vain, Jee-woon imbues this movie with a sense of the silly as Arnold, playing a small town sheriff tasked with stopping a Mexican drug kingpin at the border, thuds around in his old age. There’s plenty of violence, a bit of humor (some of which surprisingly comes from Johnny Knoxville) and yes, plenty of Arnold lines, even if they have to be wedged in there.

Available On: iTunes, Vudu and Amazon.

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7. Primer

The Pitch: In preparation for the release of Shane Carruth’s stunning new film Upstream Color online next week, the VOD world seems to want to prepare you to dance with his intellectually stimulating filmmaking and the brilliance of his leading lady Amy Seimetz, who you’ll see pop up again just down the list. Primer is a time travel thriller with a brain. Not like all those Terminator movies. A purely thought-provoking production that is the reason everyone around you is excited about Carruth’s next film. See it because it matters.

Available On: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Sundance Now, Hulu and Google Play.

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8. Graceland

The Pitch: Drafthouse Films releases the story of a working man in the Philippines whose occupation leads to the unfortunate (and unintentional) kidnapping of his daughter. According to Rob Hunter’s review, it’s a brisk, tight little thriller that uses smarts and a breakneck pace to deliver plenty of suspense. It derives its energy from the drama within its situations, gaining much of its value from its simplicity. Sounds like my kind of movie.

Available On: iTunes, Vudu and Amazon.

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9. Sun Don’t Shine

The Pitch: Remember the mention of Upstream Color star Amy Seimetz? As promised, she plays a big role in Sun Don’t Shine, making her directorial debut. It’s the tale of a couple who heads toward the Gulf Coast only to find themselves on a tense and mysterious road trip. According to Kate Erbland’s review from SXSW 2012, it’s a slow burn crime thriller that leaves quite an impression, aided by a deeply unsettling score from Ben Lovett and a pair of top-notch performances from Kate Lyn Sheil and Kentucker Audley.

Available On: iTunes, Vudu and Amazon.

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What are you watching from the comfort of your own home this week?


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