Top streams for the week
The trippy and often unnerving science fiction thriller “Annihilation” (2018, R), starring Natalie Portman as a Special Forces soldier investigating an alien force field on Earth, favors science and mystery over action. Filmmaker Alex Garland (“Ex Machina”) adapts the novel by Jeff VanderMeer and Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson co-star. On Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.
Liam Neeson once again uses his particular set of skills in “The Commuter” (2018, PG-13), a conspiracy thriller set on a runaway train. It’s the unlikely action star’s fourth film with director Jaume Collet-Serra (“Non-Stop”). Prime Video and Hulu.
A Pakistani-British civilian is pressured into becoming an informant by a counter-terrorist officer (Paddy Considine) in “Informer: Season 1,” a BBC thriller set in the murky world of the war on terror. It debuts stateside on Amazon Prime Video.
The Netflix Original comedy “Sex Education: Season 1” stars Asa Butterfield as a socially awkward teen who becomes his high school’s underground sex-ed counselor, thanks to expertise provided by his sex therapist mother (Gillian Anderson) and a business plan by an enterprising student (Emma Mackey). Eight episodes now on Netflix.
Classic pick: James Dean became a star playing the anxious, inarticulate black sheep son competing with his brother for his father’s love in “East of Eden” (1955, not rated), Elia Kazan’s dynamic adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel. On Netflix.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
Actor/writer Jonah Hill makes his directorial debut with “Mid90s” (2018, R), a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama young teens in the skateboarding culture of the 1990s.
Also new are the family-centered dramas “Wildlife” (2018, PG-13) with Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan and “What They Had” (2018, R) with Hilary Swank and Michael Shannon and comedy “The Oath” (2018, R) with Ike Barinholtz and Tiffany Haddish.
Available same day as select theaters nationwide is “The Aspern Papers” (2019, R), based on the Henry James novella and starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Vanessa Redgrave, and Joely Richardson.
“The Last Laugh” (2019, not rated) is a Netflix original starring with Chevy Chase as a retired talent agent who escapes from his retirement with his very first client (Richard Dreyfuss) for a geriatric comedy tour. Andie MacDowell and Kate Micucci co-star.
The animated monster movie “Godzilla: The Planet Eater” (Japan, 2018) comes to Netflix from its theatrical run in Japan and concludes the trilogy begun with “Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters” and continued in “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle.” All offer the choice of original Japanese and dubbed soundtracks.
True stories: “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” (2018, PG) profiles the pontiff and his message of peace and healing. Also new is “ReMastered: Massacre at the Stadium” (2019, not rated), which revisits the murder of Chilean protest singer Victor Jara.
Foreign affairs: based on a true story, “Solo (Spain, 2018, not rated, with subtitles), follows a surfer’s fight for survival after a fall from a cliff on a remote beach.
Also newly arrived are “Enter the Dragon” (1973, R), the film that made Bruce Lee a martial arts movie superstar;
- Sam Peckinpah’s landmark western “The Wild Bunch” (1969, R);
- Oscar-winning comedy “The Graduate” (1967, PG) with Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft;
- prison drama “Cool Hand Luke“(1967, PG) with Paul Newman;
- World War II caper “The Dirty Dozen” (1967, not rated) with Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson;
- David Lean’s Oscar-winning epic “Doctor Zhivago” (1965, not rated) with Omar Sharif and Julie Christie.
Amazon Prime Video
Gregory Peck is Captain Ahab in “Moby Dick” (1956), a visually stunning adaptation of the American classic from director John Huston and screenwriter Ray Bradbury.
Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, and Michael Caine star in “Zulu” (1964) as British soldiers in the 19th century under attack in a remote African outpost.
True stories: “McKellen: Playing the Part” (2018, TV-PG) profiles the career and the activism of actor Ian McKellen.
Kid stuff: children play-act war as rival pirate gangs in “Swallows and Amazons” (2017, not rated), a family adventure based on the British children’s novel by Arthur Ransome.
Streaming TV: it’s not quite the entire series but Amazon has “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Seasons 1 + 5-19” with Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, and Christopher Meloni. That’s over 350 episodes of justice.
Also new: Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell in the hit romantic comedy “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (1994, R);
- Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson in the Shakespeare romantic comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” (1993, PG-13)
- “The Bounty” (1984, PG) with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins
- David Mamet’s con artist thriller “House of Games” (1987, R), which he shot in Seattle.
Prime Video and Hulu
The Dude abides, sort of, in a surf bum burn-out named Dud (Wyatt Russell) who finds his tribe in “Lodge 49,” the offbeat comedy series from AMC. The first season is now on Hulu.
Brian Cox and the Broken Lizard comedy troupe return in “Super Troopers 2” (2018, R), the sequel to the cult comedy hit.
Available Saturday night is “Ocean’s 8” (2018, PG-13), a comic caper spin-off starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, and Anne Hathaway.
Jessica Chastain stars as Molly Bloom, the Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game, in Molly’s Game (2017, R). Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin made his directorial debut with this drama based on Bloom’s memoir.
Available Saturday night is the comedy “I Feel Pretty” (2018, PG-13) with Amy Schumer.
New on disc this week:
“The Rider,” “mid90s,” “What They Had,” “The Oath,” “Castle Rock: Season 1”
Now available at Redbox:
“mid90s,” “The Oath”
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.