By Sean Axmaker
Top streams for the week
Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofer directs and stars in “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” (2019, not rated), the story of a 13-year-old Malawi boy who builds a wind turbine to save his rural African village during a drought. The film, based on a true story, comes direct to Netflix after its award-winning Sundance Film Festival premiere.
Credit the “loving attention to the region’s cultural and geographic specificities and refusal of downplaying the hardships that slowly and fatally fatigue Kamkwamba’s village in Wimbe,” praises Tomlis Laffly for RogerEbert.com. “More than anything, Ejiofor treats his film not as a fairy tale, but as a life-or-death survival story.”
Kate Beckinsale is “The Widow,” who travels from Wales to The Congo to look into questions of her husband’s death and faces violent opposition in her investigation, in the new Prime Original series. Alex Kingston and Charles Dance costar in the American-British coproduction. The eight-episode debut season now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
“London Kills” in the British crime drama starring Hugo Speer as the head of an elite police detective team. Each episode of the first series focuses on a different murder investigation but one mystery hangs over the show: the unsolved disappearance of the team leader’s wife. All five episodes now streaming on Acorn TV.
“Free Solo” (2018, PG-13), which chronicles the first free solo climb of Yosemite’s El Capitan Wall, is available on Cable On Demand, VOD, and DVD days after winning the Academy Award for best documentary.
Foreign language pick: “The Guilty” (Denmark, 2018, R, with subtitles) creates riveting drama without ever leaving an emergency dispatch center, where a police officer (Jakob Cedergren) demoted to desk duty races time to save a kidnapped woman with only a phone as his connection to the case. Streaming on Hulu.
Classic pick: “Easy Rider” (1969, R) with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper is a counter-culture classic.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
The Oscar-nominated animated adventure “Ralph Breaks the Internet” (2018, PG) sends the misfit heroes of “Wreck-It Ralph” into the worldwide web and Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are rivals for the British throne in the historical drama “Mary Queen of Scots” (2018, R). On Cable On Demand and VOD, plus DVD and at Redbox
Also new: “Border” (Sweden, 2018, R, with subtitles), an Oscar nominee for best foreign film;
- thriller “Bullit County” (2018, not rated) about four friends searching for buried stack of money from prohibition days;
- faith-based comedy “At the End of the Day” (2018, not rated) about a conservative Christian professor infiltrating an LGBT support group.
William Baldwin stars in the Canadian family drama “Northern Rescue” as a widower who takes his three teenage children from Boston to rural Ontario and takes command of the local Search & Rescue department.
Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson star in the British crime drama “Trespass Against Us” (2016, R) and the American Indie revenge drama “Blue Ruin” (2013, R) won an award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Foreign affairs: a surgeon seeks revenge against the men who brutally beat his son on the drama “Your Son” (Spain, 2018, not rated, with subtitles), which comes to Netflix from its theatrical run in Spain. Also new:
high school thriller “River’s Edge” (Japan, 2018, with subtitles), which is not a remake of the American movie but does explore similar issues if teenage alienation and disconnection;
comedy “Budapest” (France, 2018, not rated, with subtitles) about two French friends who
Streaming TV: “Losers: Season 1” looks at the psychology of losing through the stories of athletes who faced high profile defeats and “Cricket Fever: Mumbai Indians: Season 1” (India, with subtitles) follows one team through a season in the world’s toughest cricket league.
Kid stuff: Michael J. Fox voices the little white mouse in the comedy adventure “Stuart Little” (1999, PG) starring Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie as his human parents and Jonathan Lipnicki as his human brother.
The new month brings a new collection of older titles rotating through the library, including Oscar-winners “The Hurt Locker” (2008, R) from filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (Taiwan, 2000, PG-13, with subtitles). Also new:
- “Saving Mr. Banks” (2013, PG-13) with Emma Thompson as acerbic “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney;
- comedy “Our Idiot Brother” (2011, R) with Paul Rudd as the lovable idiot;
- gritty survival drama “Winter’s Bone” (2010, R) with Jennifer Lawrence;
- young adult romance “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (2008, PG-13) with Michael Cera and Kat Dennings;
- romantic comedy “Music and Lyrics” (2007, PG-13) with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore;
- Sundance Film Festival award-winning indie “Junebug” (2005, R) with Amy Adams;
- romantic drama “The Notebook” (2004, PG-13) with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams;
- “Apollo 13” (1995, PG) with Tom Hanks;
- Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” (1971, R) with Malcolm McDowell.
Amazon Prime Video
George Clooney is “The American” (2010, R) in Anton Corbijn’s cool, continental thriller about a professional assassin in Europe.
Streaming TV: David E. Kelley’s “The Practice: Complete Series” (1997-2004) was one of the first legal dramas to embrace the fact that lawyers represented guilty clients as well as the innocent. But its most enduring legacy is arguably the introduction of James Spader’s eccentric Alan Shore and William Shatner’s Denny Crane, who jumped from the show’s final season to anchor spin-off “Boston Legal: Complete Series” (2004-2008), a show that leaned heavy on humor. Both are now streaming on Amazon along with military drama “The Unit: Complete Series” (2006-2009), created by David Mamet, and family show “Little House on the Prairie: Complete Series” (1974-1983).
Foreign affairs: “Heavy Trip” (Finland, 2018, not rated, with subtitles) is a heavy metal road comedy and family drama “Lost Birds” (Turkey, 2015, not rated, with subtitles) follows two children searching for their parents during the Armenian genocide of 1915.
Also new: “Low Down” (2014, R) with John Hawkes and Elle Fanning;
- British crime caper “The Bank Job” (2008, R) with Jason Statham;
- comedy “Waiting …” (2005, not rated) with Ryan Reynolds, Anna Ferris, and Justin Long;
- low key indie comedy “Big Night” (1996, R) with Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci.
Prime Video and Hulu
Angourie Rice is a teenage girl who falls in love with a person who inhabits a new body every day in “Every Day” (2018, PG-13), based on the young adult romance by David Levithan (Prime Video and Hulu).
- comedy “Nacho Libre” (2006, PG) (Prime Video and Hulu) with Jack Black;
- Oscar-winning drama “American Beauty” (1999, R) (Prime Video and Hulu) with Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening;
- crime thriller “Double Jeopardy” (1999, R) with Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd (Prime Video and Hulu).
The Canadian crime drama “Murdoch Mysteries: Seasons 1-9” (2008-2016) stars Yannick Bisson as a as a CSI-like police detective in 1890s Toronto.
“Treehouse” (2019, not rated), the sixth feature-length episode of the Hulu Original horror anthology “Into the Dark,” stars Jimmi Simpson as a celebrity chef trying to escape a tabloid scandal.
The three-part documentary series “Around the Way” explores the Black experience in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York.
True stories: “Three Identical Strangers” (2018, PG-13), about the bizarre story behind triplets separated at birth, won an award at the Sundance Film Festival. Also new:
- “Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1” (2018, not rated), which surveys the influence of the Air Jordan1 shoe in sports and culture;
- “Tickled” (2016, not rated), a disturbing look into the underbelly of tickling competitions.
Kid stuff: a domesticated Grizzly Bear and a wily mule deer flee hunters in the animated comedy “Open Season” (2006, PG), now streaming along with three sequels.
“Batman Begins” (2005, PG-13) with Christian Bale and the sequel “The Dark Knight” (2008, PG-13), costarring Heath Ledger as The Joker, are still among the best superhero movies of the 21st century. Also new:
- Oliver Stone’s “W.” (2008, PG-13) with Josh Brolin and “JFK” (1991, R) with Kevin Costner;
- Oscar-winning drama “The Cider House Rules” (1999, PG-13) with Toney Maguire and Michael Caine
- Ang Lee’s “The Ice Storm” (1997, R) with Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver;
- Neil Jordan’s Oscar-winning crime drama “The Crying Game” (1992, R) with Stephen Rea;
- “Regarding Henry” (1991, PG-13) with Harrison Ford and Annette Bening;
- dark teen drama “River’s Edge” (1987, R) with Crispin Glover and Keanu Reeves;
- Oscar-nominated “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” (1981, R) with Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons.
The new series “The Shop” features LeBron James and Maverick Carter in free-for-all conversation with sports and entertainment figures in various barbershops around the country. New episodes arrive Friday nights.
Gabrielle Union stars in the thriller “Breaking In” (2018, PG-13) as a mother fighting to save her family from home invaders.
Among the older films returning to HBO this month are “Date Night” (2010, PG-13) with Steve Carell and Tina Fey;
“Green Zone” (2010, R) with Matt Damon;
animated comedy “Despicable Me” (2010, PG) with the voice of Steve Carell;
“The Devil Wears Prada” (2006, PG-13) with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway;
“The Client” (1994, PG-13) with Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones;
Gus Van Sant’s indie classic “Drugstore Cowboy” (1989, R).
Arriving Saturday night is “Skyscraper” (2018, PG-13) with Dwayne Johnson taking on criminals in a towering inferno in China.
Two miniseries debut on MHz: “Redemption Road” (Germany, with subtitles), about a Jewish family that flees Germany with the rise of Hitler, and “Rivals Forever” (Germany, with subtitles), about the brothers who created rival shoe companies Adidas and Puma.
New on disc this week:
“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” “Free Solo,” “The Guilty,” “Border”
Now available at Redbox:
“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” “The Guilty,” “The Possession of Hannah Grace”
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.