Top streams for the week
Rian Johnson earned an Oscar nomination for his original screenplay for “Knives Out” (2019), an Agatha Christie-like murder mystery with a modern sensibility and a witty sense of humor. Daniel Craig has a blast with a larger than life Southern drawl as the gentleman detective investigating the death of a rich mystery writer (Christopher Plummer) and Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and Ana de Armas are among the suspects in the old country manor house. It’s clever and witty, with terrific twists and a lively cast of characters, and the most fun I had at the movies last year. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Four African-American Vets return to Vietnam after 40 years to recover the body of their fallen squad leader (Chadwick Boseman)—and treasure that was buried with him—in “Da 5 Bloods” (2020, R), the new Spike Lee joint. Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. play the former brothers-in-combat in this mix of war movie, caper film, and action thriller that explores the black experience in Vietnam. Debuts directly to Netflix.
The genius son of a criminal mastermind must infiltrate the fairy world to save his father in “Artemis Fowl” (2020, PG), based on the kids’ novel by Eoin Colfer. Kenneth Branagh directs the live-action fantasy starring Josh Gad, Colin Farrell, Judi Dench, and Ferdia Shaw as Artemis. Originally slated as a summer theatrical release, the family-friendly spectacle now debuts on Disney+.
The eight-part documentary series “Lenox Hill” (2020, not rated) follows two neurosurgeons, an emergency room doctor, and an obstetrician over the course of several months at the renowned New York City hospital, delving into their personal and professional lives. Though shot before the current pandemic, it is a timely tribute to America’s healthcare workers. Streaming on Netflix.
The stop-motion series “Crossing Swords” (TV-14) uses animated children’s toys in service to a raunchy medieval comedy about a peasant (voiced by Nicholas Hoult) who becomes a king’s squire and finds the court is a pit of narcissism, lies, and hedonism. Created by “Robot Chicken” veterans John Harventine IV and Tom Root for Hulu.
Streaming free on VOD platforms through the month of June are two dramas based on true stories of battles against racial injustice: Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” (2014, PG-13), starring David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King in 1965 Alabama, and “Just Mercy” (2019, PG-13) with Michael B. Jordan as civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson fighting to free a wrongly convicted man (Jamie Foxx) on death row.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
A pregnant teenager and her only slightly more worldly cousin travel from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to secure an abortion in “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (2020, R), an intimate indie drama from writer/director Eliza Hittman that won awards at Sundance and Berlin.
In the divisive satirical thriller “The Hunt” (2020, R), a group of strangers are hunted for sport by wealthy elitists but one of the potential victims (Betty Gilpin) turns the tables on the hunters. It’s written by Damon Lindelof, creator of “Lost” and HBO’s “Watchman” series.
Also new is the drama “The Etruscan Smile” (2020, not rated), starring Brian Cox as a Scotsman who reluctantly travels to San Francisco for medical treatment, and “Corpus Christi” (Poland, 2020, not rated, with subtitles), a drama of faith and redemption that played stateside as a Virtual Theater presentation.
Premium VOD: “SNL” star Pete Davidson stars as a charming but self-pitying screw up in “The King of Staten Island” (2020, R), a comedy drawn in part from the comic’s own life. Judd Apatow directs and cowrites the screenplay with Davidson.
A teenage girl (Zoey Deutch) relives the same day over and over again in “Before I Fall” (2017, PG-13), a young adult drama twist on “Groundhog Day.”
Tye Sheridan is “The Night Clerk” (2020, R), a socially-challenged hotel worker who witnesses a murder in the mystery costarring Ana de Armas, John Leguizamo, and Helen Hunt.
Streaming TV: “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: Season 5” (2019-2020, TV-14) offers more colorful and often hilarious time-traveling adventures from TV’s most entertaining superhero series. Added bonus: Matt Ryan’s John Constantine is along for the ride. Also new:
- Ryan Murphy’s “Pose: Season 2” (TV-MA) with Billy Porter;
- animated “F is for Family: Season 4” (TV-MA) with Bill Burr;
- cartel thriller “Queen of the South: Season 4” (TV-MA) with Alice Braga.
International TV: a homicide reveals evidence connected to a disappearance 25 years earlier in “The Woods” (Poland, not rated, with subtitles), a limited series adapted from the Harlan Coben novel. Also new:
- “Curon: Season 1” (Italy, not rated, with subtitles), a young adult fantasy with a dark supernatural twist;
- crime drama “The Search” (Mexico, with subtitles), a limited series based on a true story;
- “Reality Z: Season 1” (Brazil, not rated, with subtitles), where a reality show is interrupted by a zombie invasion.
Kid stuff: “Pokémon Journeys: The Series – Part 1” (2020) is a new animated spinoff of the popular series.
Stand-up: “Jo Koy: In His Elements” (2020, not rated).
Amazon Prime Video
Inspired by the FIFAGate scandal, “El Presidente: Season 1” (Chile, TV-MA, with subtitles) is a satire of power and corruption in international football from producer Pablo Larrain.
“24 Hour Party People” (2002, R) reimagines the rise and fall of Factory Records and the Manchester music scene as a decade-long party with Steve Coogan playing your host, record producer and bon vivante Tony Wilson.
Streaming TV: David Tennant is a French intelligence agent in 1939 Poland in the British miniseries “Spies of Warsaw” (2013, TV-14).
Prime Video and Hulu
HBO Max / HBO Now
Brad Pitt plays an astronaut on a mission to find his legendary space explorer father (Tommy Lee Jones) in “Ad Astra” (2019, PG-13), a visual marvel built on the thin personal story.
Micheala Coel directs and stars in “I May Destroy You” (2020, TV-MA), which uses dark humor to explore the effects of sexual assault. New episodes each Sunday.
The animated kids’ adventure “Infinity Train: Season 2” (TV-PG) rolls out new episodes each Wednesday exclusively on HBO Max.
Stand-up: “Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It!” (2020, TV-MA).
“Liar: Season 2” (TV-14) unfolds with new episodes each Thursday and the complete “The Fall: Season 1” (2013, TV-MA), a cat-and-mouse serial killer thriller starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, is now streaming on Sundance Now.
The three-part psychological workplace thriller “Sticks and Stones” rolls out on BritBox with new episodes each Tuesday.
Two films make their respective exclusive debuts on Criterion Channel. “Synonyms” (France/Israel, 2019, not rated, with subtitles), which won the prize at the Berlin Film Festival, follows a disaffected young Israeli who flees Tel Aviv for Paris. Mark Cousins’ documentary “The Eyes of Orson Welles” (2018, not rated) journeys through hundreds of sketches, drawings, and paintings to explore the still life works by the great filmmaker. Also new:
17 features and two shorts “Directed by Chantal Akerman,” the great French filmmaker who died in 2015;
pioneering American indie gay drama “Parting Glances” (1986, not rated) with Steve Buscemi in his breakthrough role;
LGBTQ satire “But I’m a Cheerleader” (1999, R) with Natasha Lyonne and RuPaul;
John Cassavetes’ “Husbands” (1970, PG-13), presented with the featurettes and interviews from the special edition disc release.
Keira Knightley is a British whistleblower in the based-on-a-true-story thriller “Official Secrets” (2019, R) costarring Matt Smith and Ralph Fiennes. It streams on Showtime Anytime along with the documentary “Ringside” (2019, TV-MA), which follows two boxers from Chicago’s South Side.
New on disc this week:
“Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always,” “The Hunt,” “We Summon the Darkness”
Now available at Redbox:
“The Hunt,” “We Summon the Darkness”
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.