A quartet of terrific actors, including Susan Sarandon, Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning and Linda Emond, helps to turn “3 Generations” into something special.
The plot is driven by the decision of a transgendered teenager named Ray (Fanning) to begin hormone therapy. Suddenly, Ray’s whole family, including his single mom (Watts) and lesbian grandmothers (Sarandon, Emond), begin re-examining their lives too. Ray is also forced to track down his estranged father (Tate Donovan), now newly married to a younger wife (Maria Dizzia), to get legal consent for the treatment.
Not everything works but the movie survives its rough spots. It’s a charmer that’s true subject is forgiveness. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Also New to VOD and Streaming
Bitter Harvest: The agonies suffered by the Ukraine people under Russian rule are examined in this mediocre epic set in the years following the overthrow of Emperor Nicholas II. Max Irons stars as a Ukrainian villager who reluctantly leaves his girlfriend (Samantha Barker) behind to earn money in Kiev. But he winds up being thrown in prison and sentenced to death. At the same time, Barker and the townsfolk must deal with the Russian efforts to starve them into surrendering. With its attempts to spotlight a shameful chapter in Russian history, “Bitter Harvest” has its heart in the right place. But the movie is too simplistic to make much of an impact. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Heartland: Reeling from the death of her girlfriend, an artist named Lauren (Velinda Godfrey) returns home to rural Oklahoma to live with her mother (Beth Grant) who tries to force her back into the closet. It’s a tense situation made all the more edgy when Lauren begins to strike sparks with her brother’s girlfriend (Laura Spencer.) “Heartland” never condescends to its Midwestern characters, preferring to stress the human connection between them. Boasting fresh performances and quiet charms, “Heartland” is smarter and more nuanced than its plot might suggest. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Aaron’s Blood: What would you do if your 12-year-old child turned into a vampire? That’s the premise of this surprisingly unique horror thriller which explores the nature of parental love. James Martinez stars as a phlebotomist and single father who realizes that his hemophiliac son (Trevor Stovall) is not the same since a blood transfusion. Suddenly, the youngster doesn’t need his glasses and is capable of lowering the boom on the bullies who torment him at school. Dream sequences aside, this vamp drama is a bloody good time. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
The Ranch - Part Three: Following his run on “Two and a Half Men,” Ashton Kutcher is back with another family comedy. Set in a small Colorado town, the series pivots on Colt (Kutcher), a failed footballer who returns home to oversee the family ranching business alongside his older brother (Danny Masterson) and father (Sam Elliott). The series, which co-stars Debra Winger, Wilmer Valderrama and Elisha Cuthbert, runs for ten episodes, several of which are about Colt’s inability to handle a tricky love. On Netflix.
Beau Sejour - Season One: In this intriguing series from Sweden, Lynn Van Royen stars as Kato, a teenager who wakes up in a hotel room to discover her own murdered body. Even though she can’t be seen or heard, she is determined to find out what happened to her. The more she digs, the more she finds out that a lot of secrets are being kept by townsfolk in her supposedly picture-perfect rural community. On Netflix.
For The Kids
The Lego Batman Movie: Just as “The Lego Movie” was the most unlikely triumph of 2014, this superhero satire shocks with its sheer inventiveness. Even though the stars of the movie are Lego figures, they somehow seem as if they’re bursting with life, thanks to a combination of visual comedy and sly performances by the voice cast, including Will Arnett as Batman and Zach Galifianakis as the Joker. The movie takes aim at plenty of targets but Batman himself gets most of the ribbing. Yes, it eventually grows too busy but don’t let that stop you enjoying a feature that ranks as one of the year’s funniest comedies. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu.
Dragonheart - Battle For the Heartfire: The third sequel to 1996’s “Dragonheart” revives the franchise with a handful of fresh heroes. The action pivots on the twin grandchildren (Tom Rhys Harries, Jessamine Bliss-Bell) of King Gareth, both of whom possess Drago the dragon’s unique strengths. Even though the siblings begin the adventure as enemies vying for the throne, they wind up joining forces after Drago’s source of power – the Heartfire – is stolen. Patrick Stewart voices Drago in this special-effects-driven adventure. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu.
Collide: There’s a generic quality to this actioner which fails to offer anything out of the ordinary. Nicholas Hoult stars as a former criminal who back to work for a sleazy thug (Ben Kingsley) in hopes of funding a pricey medical procedure for his girlfriend (Felicity Jones). When Kingsley orders Hoult to rip off his boss (Anthony Hopkins), the heist goes wrong. Cue a series of wild chases on the Autobahn, all of which feature the same shaky camerawork that drains many other modern action movies of their impact. The best scenes all feature Hopkins and Kingsley who ham it up in a way that signals just what they think of the material. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu.
On The Way To School: Here’s a documentary that tracks four youngsters on four continents who all share one trait: a thirst for knowledge. From the savannahs of Kenya to the winding trails of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco to the dizzying landscapes of Patagonia to the suffocating heat of Southern India, a quartet of determined pupils overcome all kinds of obstacles on their journey to the classroom. Director Pascal Plisson captures the kids’ odysseys as well as their maturation into smart and vital young men and women. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu.