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
Two acclaimed shows that tackle contemporary issues through the prism of science fiction are back for their respective second seasons. Hulu presents “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the Emmy-winning dystopian portrait of America under the totalitarian rule of religious extremists starring Elisabeth Moss. Two episodes now available with new episodes every Wednesday. And HBO returns to “Westworld,” a reworking of the 1970s movie for the age of artificial intelligence, with new episodes arriving Sunday nights.
“The Rachel Divide” (2018, not rated) takes on a controversy close to home: Washington state civil rights activist Rachel Dolezal and the national conversation sparked when the self-identified black woman was revealed to be white. It debuts directly to Netflix.
Two more original documentaries debut on streaming services: “Bobby Kennedy for President” (2018, not rated) on Netflix and “Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie” (2018, not rated), about the cultural history of the iconic toy, on Hulu.
Spike Lee brings the play “Pass Over” (2018, not rated), described as “Waiting for Godot” meets “Do the Right Thing,” to the small screen in a stage production directed by Danya Taylor at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. It debuts directly to Amazon Prime Video.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
The family-friendly comedy “Paddington 2” (2017, PG) continues the comic adventures of the marmalade-loving bear in England, this time bringing joy to prison after he’s convicted for a crime he did not commit.
Annette Bening plays American actress Gloria Grahame in “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” (2017, R), inspired by the true story of a romance between the aging Hollywood star and a younger British man (Jamie Bell) while doing a play in England. Also new:
- western “Hostiles” (2017, R) with Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike;
- heist thriller “Den of Thieves” (2018, R) with Gerard Butler and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson;
- “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” (2018, PG-13), the final film in the young adult science fiction trilogy with Dylan O’Brien.
Available same day as select theaters nationwide is “Supercon” (2018, R), a heist comedy set at a comic book convention with Ryan Kwanten, Maggie Grace, and John Malkovich, and “Let the Sunshine In” (France, 2017, not rated, with subtitles), a romantic comedy from French filmmaker Claire Denis starring Juliette Binoche and Gerard Depardieu.
The biographical drama “The Man Who Knew Infinity” (2015, PG-13) stars Dev Patel as real-life visionary mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and Jeremy Irons as his mentor.
Two new Netflix Original movies arrive this week: “The Week Of“ (2018, not rated), a comedy starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock and directed by “Saturday Night Live” veteran (and Triumph to Insult Comedy Dog creator) Robert Smigel, and high school comedy “Candy Jar” (2018, not rated) about romance between rivals on a debate team.
Foreign affairs: the offbeat “Psychokinesis” (2018, South Korea, not rated, with subtitles), about the worried father of an estranged daughter who suddenly gets super powers, comes from Yeon Sang-ho, director of the hit zombie thriller “Train to Busan,” and debuts directly to Netflix in the U.S.
Streaming TV: from Australia comes the comedy “The Letdown: Season 1” about a new mother who joins a support group for a little help facing parenthood. Also new:
- family friendly adventure “The New Legends of Monkey: Season 1,” an Australian take on the classic Chinese tale;
- the second season of “3%: Season 2” (with subtitles), a Netflix original science fiction series from Brazil;
- “Call the Midwife: Christmas Special 2017” from UK.
True stories: the documentary “Bill Nye: Science Guy” (2017, not rated) profiles the educator and activist who also happens to star in the Netflix original series that returns in May.
Stand-up: “Kevin James: Never Don’t Give Up” (2018, not rated), the first stand-up performance from the sitcom star in years, and German comedian “Enissa Amani: Ehrenwort” (2018, Germany, with subtitles).
Amazon Prime Video
The comedy “Operation Avalanche” (2016, R) satirizes the conspiracy theory that the moon landing was faked by Stanley Kubrick with a mock-documentary approach.
Filmmaker Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski teamed up for five memorable films. Their final two collaborations, the jungle epic “Fitzcarraldo” (Germany, 1982, not rated, with subtitles) and the historical drama “Cobra Verde” (Germany, 1987, not rated, with subtitles) set in 19th century Africa, are now available. Also new:
- unsettling indie horror film “Deadgirl” (2009, R);
- romantic comedy “Ghost Town (2008, PG-13) with Ricky Gervais and ghosts;
- prison drama “The Last Castle” (2001, R) with Robert Redford and James Gandolfini;
- UFO comedy “Evolution” (2001, PG-13) with David Duchovny;
- comedy “Elvis Meets Nixon” (1997, PG-13) starring Elvis impersonator Rick Peters;
- animation/live-action hybrid “Cool World” (1992, PG-13) with Kim Basinger.
Streaming TV: Japan’s wildman filmmaker Sion Sono writes and directs the gory miniseries “Tokyo Vampire Hotel” (Japan, with subtitles) originally made for Japan’s Prime Video subscribers. Also new:
- “Tokyo Girl: Season 1” (Japan, with subtitles), a Japan Prime Video drama that spans twenty years over nine episodes;
- Irish cop drama “Red Rock: Season 3“;
- Amazon Original non-fiction sports series “All or Nothing: Dallas Cowboys: Season 3“;
- “Amazon Riders: Season 1” (Japan, with subtitles), a latest production in the Kamen Rider series;
- and a collection of classic BBC comedies including “Absolutely Fabulous: Seasons 1-5,” “Blackadder: Series 1-4,” and “The Mighty Boosh: Seasons 1-3.”
Kid stuff: “Little Big Awesome: Season 1” is an animated show for the pre-school set.
Amazon Prime and Hulu
“BPM (Beats Per Minute)” (France, 2017, not rated, with subtitles), a drama of the lives of ACT UP activists in Paris during the AIDS epidemic early 1990s, won awards at the Cannes Film Festival and France’s Cesar Awards.
The horror, the horror: Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair are parents gone bad in “Mom and Dad” (2018, R) and Joachim Trier directs “Thelma” (Norway, 2017, not rated, with subtitles), which channels “Carrie” in a Scandinavian vein.
Kid stuff: “Wildwoods: Season 1” is a puppet series for younger viewers from Ireland.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017, PG-13), the third and ostensibly final entry in the franchise reboot, pits the peaceful ape civilization in a last-stand battle for survival against a fanatical renegade militia leader (Woody Harrelson). Andy Serkis once again delivers an expressive and nuanced motion-capture performance in the unexpectedly touching story.
Arriving Saturday night is “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (2017, R), an action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson.
“The Fantasticks” (1995, PG) is the big screen adaptation of the off-Broadway musical comedy twist on Romeo and Juliet that ran for 42 years and over 17,000 performances.
TCM Select Pick of the Week is “On the Town” (1949), a story so slim as to be almost abstract – singing sailors Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin look for girls while on 24-hour leave in the Big Apple – in a movie that is all heart. This Technicolor fantasy of New York is painted in primary colors, sculpted in high energy choreography, and softened in small town romanticism. It’s one of the essential Hollywood musicals and the greatest of three big screen pairings between Hollywood’s all-American hoofer and the Great American Voice. “New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town” indeed. Streaming through October 19.
Elizabeth Taylor is Star of the Week, celebrated with a collection of 17 films, from “Lassie Come Home” (1943) and “National Velvet” (1944) to “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958) with Paul Newman and “Reflections in a Golden Eye” (1967) with Marlon Brando. Other new arrivals include “Little Women” (1949) with June Allyson and costume adventure “Ivanhoe” (1952) with Robert Taylor. Also new:
- twelve Early Hitchcock features, including his first masterpiece “The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog” (1927) (with supplements from the Criterion disc) and British classics “The 39 Steps” (1935) and “The Lady Vanishes” (1938);
- nine documentaries from Directors of the Week the Maysles Brothers, including the legendary rock doc “Gimme Shelter” (1970, not rated) with the Rolling Stones (featuring bonus supplements from the Criterion disc) and “Grey Gardens” (1976, PG);
- four films from Portuguese realist director Pedro Costa including “Colossal Youth” (Portugal, 2006, with subtitles).
New on disc this week:
“Paddington 2,” “Den of Thieves,” “Hostiles,” “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool”
Now available at Redbox:
“Den of Thieves,” “Paddington 2,” “Hostiles,” “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool,” “Forever My Girl”
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.