Top streams for the week
The sixth and final season of the superb FX series “The Americans,” starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as Russian agents posing as suburban parents in 1980s America, is nominated for four Emmy Awards including outstanding drama. Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Oscar-winning documentary “Amy” (2015, R), a profile of British singer / songwriter Amy Winehouse, offers an intimate and enlightening portrait of both the artist and the person behind the public image through rare concert footage and intimate video of Winehouse. Streaming on Netflix.
“Sharp Edges” (1986/2018, TV-PG), a documentary on Tonya Harding (and her dysfunctional family) produced when she was 15, comes to Hulu after a brief theatrical revival. It shows that (among other things) Allison Janney’s Oscar-winning performance as Harding’s mother Lavona in “I, Tonya” was no caricature. Delayed from last month, now streaming on Hulu.
Charlize Theron is an overwhelmed mother of three who bonds with her young night nanny (Mackenzie Davis) in “Tully” (2018, R), from “Juno” director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody. On Cable On Demand and VOD, also on disc and at Redbox.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
Anna Faris is a single mom and Eugenio Derbez her spoiled, rich boss in “Overboard” (2018, PG-13), a remake of the 1980s amnesia comedy. Also on disc and at Redbox.
Also new: “Kings” (2017, R) with Halle Berry and Daniel Craig in the midst of the Rodney King riots, horror film “Bad Samaritan” (2018, R) with David Tennant, and biographical drama “Final Portrait” (2017, R) with Geoffrey Rush as Swiss artist Alberto Giacometi and Armie Hammer as is subject.
A jilted bride (Kristen Bell) reconnects with her estranged father (Kelsey Grammer) in the Netflix Original comedy “Like Father” (2018, not rated), the feature directorial debut of Lauren Miller Rogen. It debuts directly to Netflix.
“Ex Machina” (2015, R) stars Alicia Vikander as a sophisticated artificial intelligence, Domhnall Gleeson as a socially naïve programmer, and Oscar Isaac as a manipulative software genius.
Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with a smartphone operating system in “Her” (2013, R), the Oscar-winning drama from Spike Jonze.
Also new: gambling road movie “Mississippi Grind” (2015, R) with Ryan Reynolds;
- frontier western “Slow West” (2015, R) with Michael Fassbender;
- “The End of the Tour” (2015, R) with Jason Segel as author David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as a Rolling Stone reporter;
- “The Company Men” (2010, R) with Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones as professionals downsized in the recession.
Streaming TV: documentary series “I Am a Killer: Season 1” from Britain presents death row inmates discussing their crimes. Also new: Showtime dramedy “Shameless: Season 8” with Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy.
Foreign affairs: a man (Arjun Mathur) fakes his own death to escape his dreary life in “Long Live Brij Mohan” (India, 2018, not rated, with subtitles) only to be arrested for his own murder. Also new are a number of foreign language series:
- “Switched: Season 1” (Japan, with subtitles), about a high school girl whose life is stolen by a classmate;
- “Cocaine Coast: Season 1” (Spain, with subtitles), about a Spanish fisherman who becomes a drug smuggling kingpin;
- Cold War spy comedy “A Very Secret Service: Season 2” (France, with subtitles).
True stories: the music series “Once in a Lifetime Sessions” profiles Moby, Nile Rodgers, Noel Gallagher, and TLC discussing and performing their music in the initial four episodes.
The new month brings a new collection of older films into the library. Here are a few highlights:
- Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” (2005, PG-13) with Christian Bale as the caped crusader;
- Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning “Million Dollar Baby” (2004, PG-13) and “Gran Torino” (2008, R);
- Steven Soderbergh’s “The Informant!” (2009, R) with Matt Damon;
- Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” (2004, PG-13) with Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes;
- Peter Jackson’s fantasy epic “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001, PG-13);
- all-star western “Silverado” (1985, PG-13) with Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover and Jeff Goldblum
Amazon Prime Video
“Bridgend” (2016, not rated), inspired by real-life teen suicides in rural county in Wales, stars Hannah Murray (“Game of Thrones”) as an outsider drawn into the hopelessness of the community. The impressionistic drama is a provocative fictional response to the real-life tragedy.
Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman star in “Magnificent Obsession” (1954), one of the most glorious romantic melodramas of the 1950s.
“The Fencer” (2017, with subtitles), based on a true story, was Finland’s official selection for the Academy Award for best foreign language film. Also new: English-language crime miniseries “Cape Town” (Germany, 2015) set in South Africa.
The new month brings a new collection of older films into the library. Here are a few highlights:
- micro-budget indie horror film “The Blair Witch Project” (1999, R) changed the face of American horror movies;
- Ridley Scott’s neo-noir “Black Rain” (1989, R) with Michael Douglas.
Cult movies: Zach Snyder’s “Watchmen” (2009, R) is perhaps the most faithful adaptation of the landmark graphic novel made to date. Also new:
- sci-fi mindgame “Journey to the Far Side of the Sun” (1969, G);
- unclassifiable murder mystery/social satire “Death Laid an Egg” (Italy, 1968, not rated, with subtitles) with Gina Lollobrigida and Jean-Louis Trintignant.
Film noir: Edward G. Robinson falls for “The Woman in the Window” (1944) in Fritz Lang’s nightmare noir with Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea. Also new:
- Billy Wilder’s World War II espionage thriller “Five Graves to Cairo” (1943) with Franchot Tone;
- “Shockproof” (1949) with Cornel Wilde as a parole officer who falls for an ex-con;
- heist thriller “Plunder Road” (1957) co-starring Elisha Cook Jr.
Prime Video and Hulu
Two singles (Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott) decide to have a baby so they can join their “Friends with Kids” (2012, R) in the comedy co-starring Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, and Maya Rudolph (Prime Video and Hulu).
Also new this month:
The fourth and final season of “Casual,” the acclaimed Hulu Original comedy of a divorced mother (Michaela Watkins) and her bachelor brother (Tommy Dewey) fumbling through adulthood, is now underway. New episodes arrive each Wednesday.
Mathieu Amalric and Marion Cotillard star in “Ismael’s Ghost” (France, 2018, R, with subtitles), Arnaud Desplechin’s offbeat drama of a filmmaker navigating personal and creative crises.
“Before We Vanish” (Japan, 2018, not rated, with subtitles), from Japan’s horror master Kiyoshi Kurosawa, puts a twist on the alien invasion thriller.
True stories: “The China Hustle” (2017, R) looks at China’s entry into the American stock exchange helped overinflate the market before the stock market collapse. Also new:
“The Beatles: Made on Merseyside” (2017, not rated), about the early years of the rock legends;
“The Wrecking Crew” (2015, R), about the Los Angeles studio musicians who supplied the soundtrack of the sixties and created the West Coast sound.
Plus this line-up of new arrivals to the Hulu catalog:
- British zombie comedy “Shaun of the Dead” (2004, R) with Simon Pegg
- Arabian adventure “Hidalgo” (2004, PG-13) with Viggo Mortensen;
- western comedy “Shanghai Knights” (2003, PG-13) with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson;
- horror sequel “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” (1998, R) with Jamie Lee Curtis;
- Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” (1997, R) with Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson;
- big-screen comedy spoof “The Brady Bunch Movie” (1995, PG-13);
- the original “Point Break” (1991, R) with Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves;
- “Pretty Woman” (1990, R) with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere;
- Gary Cooper in the classic western “High Noon” (1952).
Dame Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria once again in “Victoria & Abdul” (2017, PG-13), based on the true story of the monarch’s friendship with a young Indian clerk (Ali Fazal). Stephen Frears directs.
The new HBO original freeform late-night program “Random Acts of Flyness” combines music, comedy, and social commentary.
Older titles coming back to the service include the Oscar-winning Coen Bros.’s “Fargo” (1996, R);
Oscar-winner “The Blind Side” (2009, PG-13) with Sandra Bullock;
Oscar-winner “Shine” (1996, PG-13) with Geoffrey Rush;
darkly comic action drama “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” (2005, R) with Robert Downey Jr.;
the original sleeper comedy hit “Super Troopers” (2002, R);
“Heaven Can Wait” (1978, PG) with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie.
Available Saturday night is “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017, R), Martin McDonagh’s divisive, blackly-comic drama of anger, undirected rage, and unintended consequences. It earned Oscars for best actress Frances McDormand and supporting actor Sam Rockwell.
Levi Miller, Toni Collette, and Hugo Weaving star in the thriller “Jasper Jones” (2018, not rated).
A misfit crew team up for a dance competition in the hip-hip drama “All Styles” (2018, TV-PG).
Also new this month:
- “Chef” (2014, R) with Jon Favreau as a four-star restaurant chef who starts again with a gourmet food truck;
- Sofia Coppola’s Oscar-winning “Lost in Translation” (2003, R) with Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray;
- “Leaving Las Vegas” (1995, R) with Nicolas Cage in an Oscar-winning performance;
- animated feature “Hey Arnold! The Movie” (2002, PG).
Stand-up: “Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat” (2002, R)
Available Saturday night is romantic comedy “Home Again” (2017, PG-13) starring Reese Witherspoon as a single mother who invites a handsome twentysomething (Nat Wolff) and his two brothers to share her vast Los Angeles home (delayed from July).
TCM Select Pick of the Week is the film noir classic “Out of the Past” (1947) with Robert Mitchum as a private detective whose life is forever changed when he falls in love the devious runaway lover (Jane Greer) who shot and robbed his ruthless gangster employer (Kirk Douglas). But there’s no escaping destiny, as he finds out so clearly when Douglas tracks them down to take back what is his. Jacques Tourneur’s masterpiece weaves a hard-boiled story of betrayal and revenge with beautiful photography and excellent performances, but Mitchum delivers more than merely a performance: his sleepy-eyed sneer and laconic delivery create the quintessential bad boy with a good soul and a resigned acceptance of his fate. Streams through December 27, 2018
“Director of the Week: Jean-Pierre Melville” presents ten features and a short film from the French director who made crime movies into an art. In addition to French noir classics like “Bob le flambeur” (France, 1955), “Le Deuxième Souffle” (France, 1966), and “Le Samouraï” (France, 1967) are two occupation dramas: Melville’s feature debut “Le Silence de la Mer” (France, 1949) and French Resistance thriller “Army of Shadows” (France, 1969). All in French with subtitles.
Only one film in the “Star of the Week: Lena Horne” collection presents the star in a leading role—the all-black musical “Cabin in the Sky” (1943)—but she’s a featured singer in a number of movies including “Ziegfeld Follies” (1946), “Till the Clouds Roll By” (1946), and “Meet Me in Las Vegas” (1956).
“The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco,” the first BritBox Original series, sends two original “Bletchley Circle” codebreakers-turned-detectives (Rachael Stirling and Julie Graham) stateside to solve a series of murders. Two episodes now available, new episodes arrive on Wednesdays.
Also new is the British fantasy comedy “Marley’s Ghost: Season 1” with Sarah Alexander as a woman who can talk with the ghosts who haunt her home, which includes herex-husband.
New on disc this week:
“Tully,” “Overboard,” “Kings,” “Final Portrait,” “Counterpart: Season 1”
Now available at Redbox:
“Tully,” “Overboard,” “Kings,” “Dark Crimes,” “Final Portrait”
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.