Top streams for the week
“Ordeal by Innocence,” a three-part murder mystery based on one of Agatha Christie’s favorite novels, stars Anna Chancellor as a wealthy philanthropist and murder victim and Bill Nighy, Matthew Goode, Alice Eve, Luke Treadaway, and Eleanor Tomlinson in the cast of suspects. The British TV production debuts in the U.S. on Amazon Prime Video.
Lily James is a young author in post-World War II England who finds an eccentric community and a mystery in the Channel Islands in the romantic heartwarmer “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” (2018, not rated). Michael Huisman, Tom Courtney, and James’ “Downton Abbey” colleagues Jessica Brown Findlay and Penelope Wilton co-star. Comes directly to Netflix from British theaters.
Shia LaBeouf is perfectly cast as brash American tennis player John McEnroe in “Borg vs McEnroe” (2017, R), a drama about the rivalry between the two young athletes at Wimbleton in 1980: the American volcano versus the Swedish iceberg (Sverrir Gudnason as Bjorn Borg). Streaming on Hulu (delayed from July).
Orson Welles’ brilliant “Touch of Evil” (1958/1998, PG-13), a grimy, baroque film noir set on the US/Mexico border starring Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, was taken from the director’s hands by the studio. This version is reedited according to Welles’ instructions. On Netflix.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
“The Rider” (2017, R), a personal, intimate drama about Native American rodeo rider (Brady Jandreau) at a crossroads after a debilitating fall, uses the lives of its cast of non-actors (including Brady’s real-life parents) to inform the fictional drama created by writer/director Chloé Zhao. Also on disc and at Redbox.
Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle are idealistic but unprepared young newlyweds in “On Chesil Beach” (20187, R), Ian McEwan’s adaptation of his own novel.
The horror film “Revenge” (France, 2017, R, with subtitles), about a young woman who comes after the abusive married man who left her for dead, was a hit on the film festival circuit that broke through the American theaters.
Also new: comedy “Life of the Party” (2018, PG-13) with Melissa McCarthy as middle-aged housewife going back to college, thriller “Breaking In” (2018, PG-13) with Gabriel Union, animated feature “Big Fish & Begonias” (China, 2016, PG-13, subtitled and dubbed versions), and dark comedy “Aardvark” (2017, PG-13) with Zachary Quinto and Jenny Slate.
Available same day as select theaters nationwide is modern Gothic horror “Elizabeth Harvest” (2018, R) with Abbey Lee and Ciarán Hinds and documentaries “Always at the Carlyle” (2018, PG-13) and “Church & State” (2018, not rated).
“All About the Washingtons: Season 1” stars hip-hop icon Rev. Run and his real-life wife Justine playing fictionalized version of themselves in a family sitcom.
Foreign affairs: crime thriller “Perdida” (Argentina, 2008, not rated, with subtitles) follows the mystery of a private school student from Buenos Aires who goes missing on a study trip. Also new: the animated features “Flavors of Youth” (China, 2018), which presents three stories of city life in China.
True stories: the Netflix Original short documentary “Zion” (2018, not rated) profiles Zion Clark, a competitive wrestler who was born without legs. Also new: “Inside Deep Throat” (2005, NC-17) looks at the pornographic movie that became a cultural earthquake.
More streaming TV: all four seasons of the hit Australian sitcom “Kath and Kim” are now available. Also new:
- “Afflicted: Season 1,” a non-fiction series that profiles cases of mysterious illness;
- natural history series “72 Dangerous Animals: Asia“;
- non-fiction foodie series “Million Pound Menu: Season 1“;
- CW supernatural melodrama “The Originals: Season 5“;
- British murder mystery “Death in Paradise: Season 7.”
Foreign TV: the historical drama “Mr. Sunshine: Season 1” (South Korea, with subtitles) follows the fortunes of an American-raised Korean man who returns home in the 19th century. 10 episodes now available, new episodes arrive every weekend. Also new:
- dark comedy “The House of Flowers: Season 1” (Mexico, with subtitles);
- high school drama “Age of Rebellion: Season 1” (Japan, with subtitles);
- social drama “On Children: Season 1” (China, with subtitles) set in modern China;
- cartel thriller “El Chapo: Season 3” (Mexico, with subtitles)
Kid stuff: the comedy “The Package” (2018, not rated) follows five teens on a spring break camping trip.
Ralph Fiennes stars as a dispassionate British diplomat who goes digging into the murder of his activist wife (Rachel Weisz) and uncovers a conspiracy in “The Constant Gardener” (2005, R), a thriller based on the novel by John Le Carre. Also newly arrived:
- Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling” (2008, R) starring Angelina Jolie;
- Oscar-winning “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004, R) with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet;
- Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998, R) with Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson stand-in Raoul Duke;
- Steven Soderbergh’s sexy thriller “Out of Sight” (1998, R) with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez;
- David Fincher’s mindgame thriller “The Game” (1997, R) with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn;
- animated “Song of the Sea” (2014, PG) from Ireland.
Stand-up: “Demetri Martin: The Overthinker”
Amazon Prime Video
The romantic drama “Keep the Change” (2018, not rated) is a warmhearted story of two lonely people with autism played by autistic actors. The American indie comes direct to Prime Video from theaters.
The playful animated feature “The Illusionist” (France, 2010, PG) is a tender tale of a French magician and a Scottish girl in London.
Charles Laughton is cruel mad scientist Dr. Moreau in “Island of Lost Souls” (1932), one of the most primal and perverse horror films of the classic era.
Also new: true-life boxing drama “Bleed for This” (2016, R) starring Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart;
- “Blood Ties” (2013, R), a crime drama set in 1970s Brooklyn with Clive Owen and Marion Cotillard;
- “The Last Station” (2010, R) with Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy and Helen Mirren as his aristocratic wife;
- Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz in “Elegy” (2008, R), a May-December romance based on a novel by Philip Roth.
Classics: the Marx Brothers stow away on a trans-Atlantic ship and raise havoc in Long Island high society in “Monkey Business” (1931), one of the funniest comedies from the four original Marx Brothers. Also new:
- Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in “The Awful Truth” (1937), a screwball comedy about love, divorce, and romance the second time around;
- John Ford’s “Steamboat Round the Bend” (1935) with Will Rogers;
- “Frontier Marshal” (1939) starring Randolph Scott as Wyatt Earp;
- romantic ghost story “The Uninvited” (1944) with Ray Milland and Gail Russell;
- Billy Wilder’s occupation comedy “A Foreign Affair” (1948) with Jean Arthur and Marlene Dietrich;
- Rock Hudson and Piper Laurie in “Has Anybody Seen My Gal” (1953), bright little comedy set in the jazz age directed by Douglas Sirk;
- Douglas Sirk’s suburban melodrama “All that Heaven Allows” (1955) with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman.
Film noir: “Deadline at Dawn” (1946), a wrong-man nightmare noir set over a long night in an urban jungle, is a film of shadows and secrets and moments of street poetry (Clifford Odets adapts Cornell Woolrich’s novel—what a combination!), plus Susan Hayward a dime-a-dancer with a maternal streak. Also new:
- “Cornered” (1945) with Dick Powell as a World War II pilot on the trail of the collaborator who killed his wife;
- “Lady on a Train” (1945) with Deanna Durbin as a witness to murder;
- Humphrey Bogart in “Dead Reckoning” (1947), a revenge noir with Lizbeth Scott as a femme fatale;
- explosive prison drama “Riot in Cell Block 11” (1954).
Pre code: Miriam Hopkins is a society girl dragged into degradation by a big city gangster (Jack LaRue) in “The Story of Temple Drake” (1933), one of the most daring and disturbing (not to mention lurid) dramas of the early 1930s. Also new:
- “Hot Saturday” (1932) with Cary Grant as a notorious playboy who spends the night with the fiancee of friend (Randolph Scott);
- “Torch Singer” (1933) with Claudette Colbert as a nightclub singer who gives up her illegitimate daughter for adoption;
- “Search for Beauty” (1934) with Buster Crabbe and Ida Lupino as Olympic champions tricked into working for a skin magazine;
- “Crime Without Passion” (1934) with Claude Rains as a lawyer covering up a murder.
The crime thriller “Terminal” (2018) stars Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons as hitmen and Margot Robbie as the mystery woman who weaves through their lives.
Alex Lawther and Abigail Breslin star in the teen rebel comedy “Freak Show” (2017, not rated).
The gory horror film “Baskin” (Turkey, 2016, not rated, with subtitles) sends a police squad to a Black Mass where they are transported to a virtual hell.
Streaming TV: Ewan McGregor plays rival siblings in the inventive third season of the darkly comic crime drama “Fargo” with Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and David Thewlis as a sinister mobster. Also new:
- the second season of “Tim & Eric Bedtime Stories” from Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block;
- the complete Telemundo telenovella “Rosa Diamante” from Mexico.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017, R), Martin McDonagh’s divisive, blackly-comic drama of anger, undirected rage, and unintended consequences, earned Oscars for best actress Frances McDormand and supporting actor Sam Rockwell.
Available Saturday night is “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017, PG-13), directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot investigating a star-studded cast of suspects.
Reese Witherspoon stars in the romantic comedy “Home Again” (2017, PG-13) as a single mother who invites a handsome twentysomething (Nat Wolff) and his two brothers to share her vast Los Angeles home.
“The Loft” (2015, R), thriller about a murder in a secret love nest, stars Karl Urban, James Marsden, and Wentworth Miller as friends who quickly turn on one another.
Stand-up: “Henry Rollins: Keep Talking, Pal.” (2018, TVMA)
TCM Select Pick of the Week is “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1944), Frank Capra’s Hollywood take on the hit Broadway comedy about a pair of dotty old sisters who poison lonely old men (out of compassion, of course). Raymond Massey (taking the role created on stage by Boris Karloff) is the homicidal back sheep nephew who escapes prison to compete with the old ladies in the body count department. Cary Grant gets top billing as the nice boy nephew whose plans to marry Priscilla Lane get thrown off track by his family shenanigans and he makes the most of his double takes and wide-eyed reaction shots. But he’s basically straight man to the inmates running his family asylum and frankly upstaged by the sweetly fussy hens Josephine Hull and Jean Adair and by Peter Lorre as Massey’s comically creepy sidekick. It’s like Capra’s earlier eccentric family comedy “You Can’t Take it With You” with gallows humor meeting Capra’s bright, plucky sensibility, making it quite possibly the funniest serial killer comedy ever made. Streams through December 27.
The documentary “Hitler’s Hollywood” (Germany, 2017, not rated, with subtitles), a survey of the glossy escapist films made in Germany under Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda during Hitler’s reign, debuts along with a selection of cited movies (including the fantasy “Münchhausen,” 1943, and “Titanic,” 1943) and the documentaries “The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl” (1993) and “Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Süss” (2008, not rated, with subtitles). All from Germany with subtitles, not rated).
Also new: “Actor of the Week: Max von Sydow” is celebrated with 17 features from Sweden (including collaborations with Ingmar Bergman) and the U.S. spanning 40 years, plus five films by “Director of the Week: Peter Hyams” and four featuring “Cinematography by John Alcott.”
The second series of the comic police procedural “No Offence,” starring Joanna Scanlan and Elaine Cassidy, puts the Manchester cops against a Nigerian crime matriarch.
New on disc and at Redbox this week:
“Life of the Party,” “Breaking In,” “The Rider, “On Chesil Beach,” “Revenge”
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.