The 5 Best New Streaming Movies of the Week (1/14/2014)

1. “Cold Comes the Night” (Tze Chun)

Bryan Cranston has generally been ill-served by film, usually cropping up in nothing better than a cameo and getting a meaty role in something like the “Total Recall” remake. “Cold Comes the Night” gives him his first starring role post-”Breaking Bad.” Its premise, Cranston as a near-blind crook who shanghais a motel owner (Alice Eve) and her daughter to be both hostages and lookouts as he completes a transaction, sounds ridiculous, but hey, so did Mr. Chips turning into Scarface.

Rent on iTunes.

2. “Blue Jasmine” (Woody Allen)

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Woody Allen’s output over the last decade tends to follow a set path: one film will be an enthusiastically received late-period triumph (each the best since whatever is that day designated the last great Allen film), the next one (or two) a reviled slide backward. “Blue Jasmine” belongs among the former, rebounding in critics’ favor after “To Rome with Love” with Cate Blanchett as a 1-percenter laid low by the economy. Topical has never really been Allen’s bag, but that seems fitting for a film about someone forced to contend with the present for the first time. Those of us who missed the chance to see it in theaters now have a chance to catch up before its home video release next week.

Buy on iTunes.

3.  I’m So Excited! (Pedro Almodóvar)

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Another movie by a high-profile director I missed last year, but if “Blue Jasmine” has enjoyed massive critical support, Almodóvar’s latest has been received as possibly his worst, once again returning to his dubious rape jokes and runaway camp. But damn it all, it’s still a Pedro Almodóvar film, and if the director himself is the only one excited by his new movie, he’s still the man who made “All About My Mother,” “Talk to Her,” “The Skin I Live In” and a host of other great films that should at least compel people to give whatever he does a shot, even if it fails from time to time.

Buy and Rent on iTunes.

4. “Pit Stop” (Yen Tan)

“Pit Stop” comes billed with open comparisons to “Brokeback Mountain” in that self-defeating, self-pigeonholing way that marketing can be. “Pit Stop,” like Ang Lee’s film, concerns a love story between two rural gay men, but where both of “Brokeback’s” main characters were unaware of their sexuality, “Pit Stop” depicts a romance between an openly gay man and a closeted one. A minor difference to some, perhaps, but that opens entirely new terrain, especially as queer cinema still takes place at the margins. That this festival film has slipped quietly onto VOD makes it clear that queer cinema remains on the sidelines, but now, at least, it is easier to see such movies.

Buy and Rent on iTunes.

5. “Mother of George” (Andrew Dosunmu)

Nigerian photographer and music video director Andrew Dosunmu follows up his 2011 debut “Restless City” with the story of a Nigerian couple (Danai Guira and Isaach de Bankolé) trying to make it as restaurateurs in Brooklyn. But other pressures soon arise, from fertility issues to the contrasts of traditional Nigerian life with some immigrants’ more American leanings. I’ve been looking forward to this movie since its Sundance premiere last January (where cinematographer Bradford Young won an award for his work on this and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”), and from all accounts it is a must-see.

Buy and Rent on iTunes.