Television

On Demand movie highlights

A BETTER LIFE ½

(Showtime on Comcast) This is a generic and small story about an illegal immigrant (Demián Bichir) and his teenage son (José Julián), but it does manage to reel you in and surprise you with its grimness. The movie strains for politics, which is effective in its way. It’s not people that are inherently bad, it argues. It’s the country’s immigration system. (PG-13; runs through Oct. 15)

Wesley Morris

UNSTOPPABLE

(HBO on Comcast) Two guys versus a train — how exciting is that? Surprisingly, very. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine play two railroad engineers struggling to stop a runaway train roaring through the Pennsylvania countryside with a payload of toxic goo. This is the kind of movie director Tony Scott should make more often: an unabashed genre flick with a job to do and characters bent on doing it. With Rosario Dawson. (R; runs through Oct. 29)

Ty Burr

BLACKTHORN

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(TMC on Comcast) Playing the aging outlaw Butch Cassidy, Sam Shepard is the nominal star of this directorial debut by Spanish screenwriter Mateo Gil (‘‘Open Your Eyes,’’ ‘‘The Sea Inside’’). Shepard is fine — grizzled and laconic in the best western tradition — but he keeps getting upstaged by Juan Ruiz Anchía’s dazzling cinematography. (R; runs through Nov. 1)

Ty Burr

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