Top streams for the week
Netflix broke with its policy for the release of “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (2018, R), the American frontier comedy from the Coen Brothers. Initially planned as a six-part series featuring the liked of James Franco, Liam Neeson, and Tim Blake Nelson, it was reworked as an anthology film and released to theaters a week before the streaming debut. It opens in Seattle the same day it debuts on Netflix.
Emma Thompson is superb as a judge facing a conflict between the professional and personal in “The Children Act” (2017, R), a powerful drama adapted by Ian McEwan from his novel. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Michael Douglas is a has-been actor who reinvents himself as a Hollywood acting coach in “The Kominsky Method: Season 1.” Alan Arkin co-stars in the Netflix Original comedy from creator Chuck Lorre.
Two new British co-productions explore fluid sexuality in the modern world. The Hulu Original series “The Bisexual: Season 1” stars creator Desiree Akhavan as a lesbian New Yorker in London struggling to come out at bisexual. All six episodes now streaming on Hulu.
The cheeky British comedy “Sally4Ever: Season 1” from creator Julia Davis, who stars as a seductive free spirit who tempts a suburban woman into a wild affair, begins on HBO with new episodes each Sunday.
Megan Griffiths’ “Sadie” (2018, not rated), an independent drama about an angry teenager (Sophia Mitri Schloss) who sabotages the romantic prospects of her single mother (Melanie Lynskey) while her soldier father is overseas, is now on VOD. Shot in Washington State, the film co-stars John Gallagher Jr.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
The British drama “Puzzle” (2018, R) stars Kelly Macdonald as a frustrated housewife who finds a passion in the competitive world of solving jigsaw puzzles.
Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd and Ethan Hawke star in “Juliet, Naked” (2018, R), a romantic comedy based on the novel by Nick Hornby.
“The Long Dumb Road” (2018, R), a road comedy with Jason Mantzoukas and Tony Revolori, comes to VOD a week after debuting in theaters.
Also new: Jason Statham takes on a giant prehistoric shark in “The Meg” (2018, PG-13), Mark Wahlberg leads a crack military team through a wartorn city in “Mile 22” (2018, R), and prehistoric man bonds with a wolf in the survival adventure “Alpha” (2018, PG-13).
Foreign affairs: “Nico, 1988” (Italy, 2017, R, with subtitles) looks at the last year in the life of the German-born singer (played by Trine Dryhold).
Available same day as select theaters nationwide is the award-winning indie drama “Jinn” (2018, not rated), about an African-American teenager (Zoe Renee) dealing with her mother’s sudden conversion to Islam.
The Christmas originals begin with “The Princess Switch” (2018), a “Princess and the Pauper” romantic comedy with Vanessa Hudgens as a Chicago baker and a look-alike a European princess who swaps places.
Diego Luna and Michael Peña star in “Narcos – Mexico: Season 1,” the 1980s-set prequel to the Netflix Original series “Narcos” that looks at the origins of the Mexican drug war.
“Cam” (2018, not rated), a horror film about identity theft and agency in the culture of webcasting, debuts on Netflix after winning an award winner at Fantasia Film Festival.
Also new: the punks-vs.-neo-Nazis indie horror thriller “Green Room” (2015, R) with Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots;
- Film Independent Spirit Award-winning drama “Krisha” (2015, R);
- action remake “Killer Elite” (2011, R) with Jason Statham;
- comic book movie “Punisher: War Zone” (2008, R) with Ray Stevenson;
- comedy “The Break-Up” (2006, PG-13) with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston as a warring couple.
True stories: “Filmworker” (2017, not rated) profiles Leon Vitali, the British actor who gave up his acting career to be Stanley Kubrick’s personal assistant for over 20 years.
Foreign affairs: “The Crew” (France, 2015, with subtitles) is crime thriller about an independent team of armed robbers forced to work for a crime boss and “May The Devil Take You” (Indonesia, 2018, with subtitles) is a horror film with two sisters uncovering the dark secrets of their family.
Foreign-language TV: the crime drama “Warrior: Season 1” (Denmark, with subtitles), created by filmmaker Christoffer Boe, follows a war vet turned police officer as he infiltrates a violent biker gang in Copenhagen. The romantic comedy “Oh My Ghost: Season 1” (Korea, with subtitles) follows a timid chef possessed by a sassy spirit.
Streaming TV: the new Netflix Original series “Prince of Peoria” is a family-friendly sitcom about a 13-year-old prince who lives as a U.S. exchange student in suburbia. Also new is “Damnation,” the first and only season of the depression-era drama from the USA network.
Music: the concert special “Loudon Wainwright III: Surviving Twin” is an evening of music and storytelling in a program directed by Christopher Guest.
Amazon Prime Video
Lucretia Martel’s award-winning “Zama” (Argentina, 2017, not rated, with subtitles), a surreal colonial drama of a Spanish bureaucrat in 18th century South America, was Argentina’s official submission to the last Academy Awards.
Arguably the best science fiction show on TV, “The Expanse” takes space opera and first contact into whole new realms. Prime Video now offers “The Expanse: Season 3” and is currently working on the fourth season, which will be a Prime Original show.
For kids, there’s the new animated series “Kung Fu Panda – The Paws of Destiny: Season 1.”
Also new: John Travolta is mobster John Gotti in “Gotti” (2018, R);
- Barry Levinson’s coming-of-age comedy “Diner” (1982, R);
- Neil Simon’s Oscar-winning romantic comedy “The Goodbye Girl” (1977, PG);
- Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” (1972, R);
- Peter Bogdanovich’s modern screwball comedy “What’s Up, Doc?” (1972, G) with Barbra Streisand;
- film noir classic “The File on Thelma Jordan” (1950) with Barbara Stanwyck.
Foreign affairs: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” (Germany, 1972, not rated, with subtitles) is a tart, modern twist on “The Women.” Also new:
- Fassbinder’s early drama “Katzelmacher” (Germany, 1969, not rated, with subtitles);
- Japanese cult horror film “Lake of Dracula” (Japan, 1971, not rated, with subtitles).
Streaming TV: “Gymkhana Files: Season 1” goes behind the scenes of the highly successful car racing and stunt viral video franchise created by racer Ken Block. Two episodes now available with new episodes each Friday. Also new: a different kind of road show, the complete run of the sixties series “Route 66: Complete Series” is now streaming.
True stories: “The Kids Are Alright” (1979, PG) featuring The Who is, simply put, one of the greatest rock docs of all time. Also new: “Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno” (France, 2009, not rated, with subtitles) offers glimpses into a passion project that collapsed in the midst of production.
The new Hulu Original series “Holly Hobbie” (TVPG) is a live-action show for teens and tweens inspired by the line of greeting cards and dolls.
The “Department Q” mystery trilogy of Danish crime thrillers, based on the detective novels of Jussi Adler-Olsen, is now streaming. All three films—”The Keeper of Lost Causes” (Denmark, 2013), “The Absent One” (Denmark, 2014), and “A Conspiracy of Faith” (Denmark, 2016) star Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Fares Fares and are unrated and with subtitles.
True stories: The sports documentary “Killer Bees” (2017, TV-PG) profiles an African American high school basketball team in struggling community. Also new:
- “Keepers of the Magic” (2016, not rated), a celebration of the great images in film history;
- “The Wolfpack” (2015, R), a profile of six home-schooled brothers raised isolation with a steady stream of American movies on home video.
Kid stuff: the animated “Bigfoot (2018, PG) mixes monster movie with Christmas movie.
“Love, Simon” (2018, PG-13) uses the familiar conventions of the coming-of-age teenage romantic comedy for the story of a gay high school boy (Nick Robinson) coming out to his friends and family. Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel play his parent and Greg Berlanti (creator of the CW superhero shows) directs.
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. Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson co-star in this funny and charming film.
The documentary “The Price of Everything” (2018, TV-14) looks at the complicated relationship between art and commerce.
Kid stuff: Jeff Daniels and Alan Alda provide their voices in the short animated musical “The Emperor’s Newest Clothes,” an adaptation of the classic fairy tale. Also new: “When You Wish Upon a Pickle: A Sesame Street Special” arrives before the new season of “Sesame Street” debuts on Saturday.
Arriving Saturday night is “Pacific Rim: Uprising” (2018, PG-13) with John Boyega taking the pilot seat in the sequel to Guillermo Del Toro’s giant monster invasion thriller.
Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Arquette, and Paul Dano star in “Escape at Dannemora,” a Showtime Original limited series based on the true story of a notorious New York prison break in 2015. Ben Stiller directs the seven-episode drama. New episodes roll out each Sunday.
TCM Select Pick of the Week is “Ride the High Country” (1962), the original sunset western and the first masterpiece from director Sam Peckinpah. Joel McCrea is the former marshal and straight shooter who just wants to complete one last job and cowboy legend Randolph Scott is his old pal who schemes to steal the gold he’s hired to guard. The laconic tale about the end of the frontier both celebrates and deconstructs the romantic view of old west nobility and heroism and its redemptive finale anticipates “The Wild Bunch” in a more old-school vein, with the tired old veterans standing up to a scruffy gang one last time to give the hope of a new generation a chance.
It’s one of eight films in the “Director of the Week: Sam Peckinpah” collection, which includes his rarely-seen debut “The Deadly Companions” (1961) with Maureen O’Hara and his offbeat “The Ballad of Cable Hogue” (1970) as well as his classic “The Wild Bunch” (1969, R) and “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” (1973).
“Wim Wenders, On the Road” presents his seventies “Road Trilogy,” which is bookended by “Alice in the Cities” (Germany, 1974, not rated, with subtitles) and “Kings of the Road” (Germany, 1976, not rated, with subtitles).
“Star of the Week: Jennifer Jones” is celebrated with three films, including “Madame Bovary” (1949) with James Mason, and “Dangerous Beauties” features such neo-noir classics as “Body Heat” (1981, R) with William Hurt and Kathleen Turner, “Mona Lisa” (1986, R) with Bob Hoskins, and “The Last Seduction” (1994, R) with Linda Fiorentino.
And remember, there’s only two weeks left until the streaming service is shut down by its new parent company.
“Origin: Season 1,” a science fiction thriller with Tom Felton and Natalia Tena as two passengers on a damaged spaceship lost in deep space, is now available on YouTube Premium, the subscription service of YouTube.
The first season of the Nordic Noir “Sandhamn Murders” (Sweden, with subtitles) is now streaming on MHz with additional seasons arriving on subsequent Tuesdays.
New on disc this week:
“The Meg,” “Mile 22,” “Alpha,” “Juliet, Naked,” “Puzzle”
Now available at Redbox:
“The Meg,” “Mile 22,” “Alpha,” “Juliet, Naked,” “The Children Act”
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.