By Sean AxmakerWhat’s new for home viewing on Video on Demand and Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other streaming services.
Top streams for the week
The interstellar saga continues in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi“ (2017, PG-13) as Rey (Daisy Ridley) goes in search of guidance from Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) while the Resistance is under fire. Rian Johnson, who writes and directs this middle chapter of the third trilogy, brings heart to the spectacle and impresses with some stunning imagery and he guides Hamill and Carrie Fisher (who died soon after completing her scenes) to performances weighted with gravitas. Johnson comes to the film as a fan as well as a filmmaker eager to bring his own vision to the series and he creates one of the best chapters in the science fiction epic to date. Also on DVD and at Redbox.
Neil Patrick Harris returns as the devious Count Olaf in the second season of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” which plays mystery and sinister plots for dark comedy pitched for family viewing. Ten new episodes ready to stream on Netflix.
Also for families is the Amazon Prime original “The Dangerous Book for Boys,” which uses whimsy and fantasy to help three siblings cope with death of their inventor father. It’s inspired by the bestselling kid’s book from Conn and Hal Iggulden. Six episodes streaming on Prime Video.
“First Match” (2018, not rated), an indie drama about a tough Brooklyn girl who fights her onto her high school wrestling team, comes direct to Netflix from SXSW Film Festival, where it won the audience award.
Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, and Dave Franco star in the hilariously foul-mouthed comedy “The Little Hours” (2017, R), based on the medieval stories of Giovanni Boccaccio and shot in the hills of rural Italy with period detail and a modern accent. It streams on both Amazon Prime and Hulu.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
“The Fencer” (Finland, 2015, not rated, with subtitles), based on a true story, was Finland’s official selection for the Academy Award for best foreign language film.
Available same day as select theaters nationwide is “Love After Love“ (2017, not rated), an intimate drama starring Andie MacDowell and Chris O’Dowd as mother and son both struggling to move on from death, and comedy “Birthmarked” (2018, not rated) with Toni Collette and Matthew Goode as parents conducting a social experiment on their kids.
A soldier (Sam Worthington) gets an evolutionary boost to survive life on another planet in “The Titan” (2018, not rated), a science fiction thriller with Taylor Schilling and Tom Wilkinson. It debuts directly to Netflix along with the romantic comedy “Happy Anniversary” (2018, not rated) with Noel Wells and Ben Schwartz and Daryl Hannah’s strange and surreal “Paradox” (2018, not rated) with Neil Young.
Winona Ryder is Jo in Gillian Armstrong’s “Little Women” (1994, PG), considered by many fans to be the best screen version of the classic novel.
Streaming TV: “Better Call Saul: Season 3” offers the first glimpse of Saul Goodman, amoral alter ego of former con man Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), in prequel to “Breaking Bad.” Also new: cult Canadian comedy “Trailer Park Boys: Season 12” and mystery thriller “Day and Night: Season 1” (Japan, with subtitles)
True stories: “Rapture: Season 1” looks back on the history and legacy of hip hop. Also new: four-part British series “Trump: An American Dream” (2017) and “Red Trees” (2017, not rated), which traces the journey of a Jewish family from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to Brazil.
Kid stuff: the Netflix original “Reboot: The Guardian Code: Season 1” is a live action adventure with a team of heroic teenage hackers.
Stand-up: “James Acaster: Repertoire” is a collection of four comedy specials from the English stand-up comedian and “Sofía Niño de Rivera: Selección natural” (Mexico, with subtitles) is a Spanish-language special.
Amazon Prime Video
The compelling Irish horror film “Citadel” (2012, R) sends an agoraphobic single father into an abandoned high-rise to rescue his infant daughter from a brutal gang. The atmosphere of abandoned council block apartments is like a high-tech graveyard or the haunted aftermath of the apocalypse but the film is very much grounded in human drama.
- young adult romantic “Two Night Stand” (2014, R) with Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton;
- sexy cinematic juju “Black Snake Moan” (2007, R) with Christina Ricci and Samuel L. Jackson;
- kinky crime thriller “Bound” (1996, R) with Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon;
- “Clear and Present Danger” (1994, PG-13) with Harrison Ford as Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan;
- “Leap of Faith” (1992, PG-13) with Steve Martin as a fake faith healer;
- “The Running Man” (1987, R), the original killer game show with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Streaming TV: “The Durrells in Corfu: Season Two” returns to the Greek island for more adventures of the British Durrell family. Also new: the British series “Bonekickers” (2008) featuring Hugh Bonneville, Adrian Lester, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as archeologists and syndicated Canadian “X-Men” knock-off “Mutant X: Seasons 1-2” (2001-2003).
Foreign affairs: “Actor Jean Gabin” (France, 2017, with subtitles) is a feature-length documentary on the French screen legend originally made for French TV.
Kid stuff: the original screen version of “Charlotte’s Web” (1973, G) is an animated musical featuring the voices of Debbie Reynolds, Paul Lynde, and Henry Gibson.
Streaming TV: The third season of “Queen Sugar,” the OWN series created by Ava DuVernay for producer Oprah Winfrey, is now available to stream on Hulu. Also new: all 12 seasons of the great modern cop drama “NYPD Blue” and the third season finale of the Hulu original series “The Path.”
New movies this week include the landmark comedy “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988, PG), which melds old-school animation with live action in the old Hollywood style, horror sequel “28 Weeks Later” (2007, R), and superhero sequel “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” (2007, PG).
Charlize Theron stars as a kick-ass British agent in 1980s Berlin in the days before the fall of the Berlin wall in “Atomic Blonde” (2017, R), one of the most impressive action films of last year.
Judd Apatow pays tribute to his mentor in “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling” (2018, not rated), a portrait of the ground-breaking comedian and TV creator.
Available Saturday night is female buddy comedy “Girls Trip” (2017, R) with Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett Smith.
FilmStruck / Criterion Channel
There’s also a trio of “Early Scorsese” features that includes his breakthrough “Mean Streets” (1973, R), his first collaboration with Robert De Niro, and a themed collection of “Troubled Waters” movies that revives the underappreciated daylight noir “The Breaking Point” (1950) with John Garfield and features the sexy “Purple Noon” (France, 1961, PG-13, with subtitles) with Alain Delon and Roman Polanki’s brilliant feature debut “Knife in the Water” (Poland, 1962, with subtitles).
Criterion Channel presents “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966) with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the award-winning American indie “Frownland” (2007, not rated), and Rebecca Miller’s “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” (2005) with Daniel Day-Lewis.
All three episodes of the British miniseries “Trauma,” a thriller starring John Simm as a vengeful father and Adrian Lester as the ER doctor he targets, are now available to stream.
New on disc this week:
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “The Fencer,” “Acts of Violence,” “Legion: Season 1,” “King of Jazz”
Now available at Redbox:
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Acts of Violence,” “The Clapper”
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.