By Sean Axmaker
Top streams for the week
Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis return to San Francisco for the limited series revival “Tales of the City” (2019) based on the novels of Armistead Maupin. Ellen Page leads the new cast of young characters in the show that explores the diversity of the Bay Area social culture. Ten episodes streaming on Netflix.
The third season of the Emmy-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale” with Elisabeth Moss reaches beyond Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel of an oppressive dictatorship. Max Minghella, Yvonne Strahovski, Joseph Fiennes, and Alexis Bledel costar in the science fiction thriller. Three episodes now available on Hulu, new episodes arrive each Wednesday.
Season 5 of Charlie Booker’s dark, disturbing anthology series Charlie Booker’s dark, disturbing anthology series “Black Mirror” consists of just three episodes (in part due to the demands of the interactive “Bandersnatch” special) headlined by Andrew Scott, Miley Cyrus, and Anthony Mackie, all now streaming on Netflix.
The Amazon Original Documentary “Chasing Happiness” (2019, not rated) follows The Jonas Brothers as they reunite to record their first new album in six years.
Foreign language pick: the remarkable animated feature “A Silent Voice” (Japan, 2016, not rated, with subtitles) takes on the issue of school bullying through a touching story and a nuanced cast of characters. It was a hit in Japan and received limited theatrical distribution in the U.S. Streaming on Netflix.
Classic picks: Netflix adds two Oscar-winning dramas this month. Musical “Cabaret” (1972, PG), set in 1920s Berlin against the rising tide of the Nazi party, won eight awards, including Oscars for director Bob Fosse and stars Liza Minelli and Joel Grey. Sidney Lumet’s savage media satire “Network” (1976, R), at once a time capsule and a timely drama, took home Oscars for stars Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, and Beatrice Straight and for Paddy Chayefsky’s original screenplay.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
Julianne Moore stars in “Gloria Bell” (2019, R) , Sebastián Lelio’s American remake of his award-winning Chilean drama of a free-spirited middle-aged woman. Also new:
- Tyler Perry’s comedy “A Madea Family Funeral” (2019, PG-13);
- western “The Kid” (2019, R) with Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt, and Dane DeHaan as Billy the Kid;
- biographical dramas “Mapplethorpe” (2018, not rated) starring Matt Smith as controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and “Saint Judy” (2019, PG-13) with Michelle Monaghan as immigration attorney Judy Wood.
Foreign language films include “Woman at War” (Iceland, 2018), an offbeat comedy about an environmental activist, and “The Bastards’ Fig Tree” (Spain, 2017), an allegorical historical drama set in the wake of the Spanish Civil War (both not rated, with subtitles).
In “I Am Mother” (2019, not rated), a science fiction thriller set in a world not too far from the robot apocalypse of “The Terminator” movies, a nurturing mechanical nanny (voice of Rose Byrne) raises a human child in a sterile underground bunker but her story of the end of mankind becomes suspect when an injured human woman (Hilary Swank) arrives. The Netflix Original film debuted at Sundance.
Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem star in “Everybody Knows” (Spain, 2018, R, with subtitles), a thriller set at a family wedding in Madrid directed by Asghar Farhadi.
Benedict Cumberbatch voices “The Grinch” (2018, PG) in the family friendly animated feature adapted from the Dr. Seuss classic.
Netflix saves “Designated Survivor,” the drama starring Kiefer Sutherland as cabinet secretary appointed President of the United States that was cancelled by ABC, with a third season of ten episodes. Kal Penn, Maggie Q, and Natascha McElhone costar.
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958), the first screen adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, scrubbed references to homosexuality in the script, but remains a provocative film with strong Oscar-nominated performances by stars Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.
Asa Butterfield stars in the romantic comedy “Then Came You” (2018, not rated) with Maisie Williams and the young adult science fiction romance “The Space Between Us” (2016, PG-13) with Britt Robertson.
Foreign affairs: woman tries to move on from sexual assault in “Alles ist gut” (Germany, 2018, not rated, with subtitles), which won numerous awards on the film festival circuit. Also new:
- “Belmonte” (Uruguay, 2018, not rated, with subtitles), a drama about a visual artist struggling with balance of art and fatherhood;
- young adult romantic drama “Rock My Heart” (Germany, 2017, with subtitles);
- historical romantic drama “Elisa & Marcela” (Spain, 2019, not rated, with subtitles) from Isabel Coixet;
- romantic comedy “Love is a Story” (Romania, 2015, not rated, with subtitles) and teen comedy “#selfie” (Romania, 2014, with subtitles, not rated) from Cristina Jacob, who also directs the new English language teen sex comedy “Oh, Ramona!” (Romania, 2019, not rated);
- car racing comeback drama “Pegasus” (China, 2019, not rated, with subtitles).
Streaming TV: “The Chef Show: Season 1” is a new foodie series from Jon Favreau and chef Roy Choi. Also new:
- parody series “Documentary Now!: Season 3” from Fred Armisen and Bill Hader;
- nighttime soap opera revival “Dynasty: Season 2.”
Foreign language TV: tribes vie for power in “Arthdal Chronicles: Season 1” (South Korea, with subtitles), and epic action fantasy in a mythical land. Two episodes now available, new episodes on Saturdays and Sundays. Also new:
- “Ride Upon the Storm: Seasons 1 and 2” (aka Herrens veje) (Denmark, with subtitles), a drama about a family of priests straining under a tyrannical patriarch;
- “Locked Up: Season 1” (Spain, with subtitles), set in a women’s penitentiary;
- road trip melodrama “A Thousand Goodnights: Season 1” (Taiwan, with subtitles);
- crime drama “Falsa identidad: Season 1” (Mexico, with subtitles);
- science fiction series “3%: Season 3“ (Brazil, with subtitles).
True stories: “The Black Godfather” (2019, not rated) profiles Clarence Avant, business manager, producer, and the behind-the-scenes mentor who helped the careers of (among others) Quincy Jones, Muhammad Ali, and Snoop Dogg. Reginald Hudlin directs. Also new:
- “Satan & Adam” (2018, not rated), about the unlikely musical partnership between an aging blues guitarist and a harmonica-playing graduate student;
- “Prosecuting Evil” (2019, not rated), a profile of Ben Ferencz, the last surviving lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials;
- “Life in the Doghouse” (2018, PG-13), about a couple that turns its home into a dog rescue.
Kid stuff: the live action “Malibu Rescue – The Series: Season 1” spins-off the Netflix Original movie into a continuing beach drama for young teens and tweens. Also new:
- “Pachamama” (France, PG), an animated feature about a boy growing up in the Andes;
- “Super Monsters Monster Pets,” another spinoff of the animated series for young kids;
- colorful animated adventure comedy “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” (2008, PG) with the voices of Ben Stiller and Chris Rock.
The new month brings a new collection of older films into the library. Here are a few highlights:
- “The Duel” (2016, R), a western with Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, and Alice Braga;
- Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike” (2012, R) with Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey;
- cancer comedy “50/50” (2011, R) with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen;
- “The Men Who Stare at Goats” (2009, R) with George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, and Jeff Bridges;
- Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” (2008, R);
- George Clooney’s Oscar-nominated “Good Night, and Good Luck.” (2005, PG) with David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow;
- Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” (2005, PG-13) and “The Dark Knight” (2008, PG) with Christian Bale.
Stand-up: “Miranda Sings Live…Your Welcome” (2019, not rated) with Colleen Ballinger as viral video star Miranda Sings.
Amazon Prime Video
Reese Witherspoon stars in the romantic comedy “Home Again” (2017, PG-13) as a single mother who invites a handsome twentysomething (Nat Wolff) and his two brothers to share her vast Los Angeles home. Michael Sheen and Candice Bergen costar.
Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects” (2013, R) is a smart take on the medical drama-turned-psychological thriller with Jude Law and Rooney Mara.
Richard Linklater’s “A Scanner Darkly” (2006, R) adapts Philip K. Dick’s heady novel as a sketchy animated film with pulsating imagery that reflects the unstable paranoia and the disorienting story. Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, and Winona Ryder star.
Foreign affairs: alien invasion thriller “Attraction” (Russia, 2018, not rated, with subtitles) favors spectacle over story and logic.
True stories: “Tab Hunter Confidential” (2015, not rated), based on the actor’s memoir, looks at the gulf between the public and private life of the matinee idol who came out as gay in the early 2000s.
Also new: thriller “The Loft” (2015, R) with Karl Urban, James Marsden, and Wentworth Miller;
- Sam Raimi’s thriller “The Gift” (2000, R) with Cate Blanchett, Katie Holmes, and Keanu Reeves;
- Jane Campion’s “The Portrait of a Lady” (1997, PG-13) with Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich;
- based-on-a-true-story crime drama “Donnie Brasco” (1997, R) with Johnny Depp and Al Pacino;
- cult comedy “Clue” (1985, PG) with Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, and Tim Curry.
Prime Video and Hulu
Ewan McGregor is “The Ghost Writer” (2010, PG-13) who uncovers a deadly secret while researching a biography of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) in the superb thriller by Roman Polanski (Prime Video and Hulu).
- World War II drama “Emperor” (2012, PG-13) with Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones (Prime Video and Hulu)
- sci-fi drama turned social satire “District 9” (2009) (Prime Video and Hulu)
- Tom Cruise in the first big screen “Mission: Impossible” (1996, PG-13) (Prime Video and Hulu);
- Quentin Tarantino’s violent and influential debut “Reservoir Dogs” (1992, R) (Prime Video and Hulu);
- comedy “The ‘Burbs” (1989, PG) with Tom Hanks (Prime Video and Hulu);
- mismatched buddy comedy “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” (1987, R) with Steve Martin and John Candy (Prime Video and Hulu).
Natalie Portman stars as a jaded pop star in “Vox Lux” (2018, R), a mix of celebrity drama and literary character study costarring Jude Law and Jennifer Ehle and narrated by Willem Dafoe.
“Ask Dr. Ruth” (2019, not rated) profiles Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America’s most famous sex therapist for talking frankly and openly about sexuality.
“The Weekly,” a half hour newsmagazine from The New York Times, comes to Hulu each Monday, a day after it debuts on the cable channel FX.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again” (2016, TV-14) is the TV version of the cult musical with Victoria Justice, Christina Milian, Tim Curry, and Laverne Cox performing live.
Clane Crawford stars in “Into The Dark: They Come Knocking,” the ninth feature-length episode of the Hulu Original horror anthology series.
Meryl Streep steals the show in “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006, PG-13), a comedy set in the world of high fashion and taste-making with Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt. Also new:
- “A Brilliant Young Mind” (2014, PG-13) with Asa Butterfield as a math prodigy;
- British comedy “Kinky Boots” (2005, PG-13) with Joel Edgerton and Chiwetel Ejiofor;
- David Cronenberg’s virtual reality thriller “eXistenz” (1999) with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law;
- “Point Break” (1991, R) with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze.
Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Jon Hamm, and Chris Hemsworth star in the thriller “Bad Times at the El Royale” (2018, R).
Clint Eastwood’s “The 15:17 to Paris” (2018, PG-13) features the three American men who thwarted a terrorist attack on a Paris train playing themselves.
Available Saturday night is Bradley Cooper’s Oscar-nominated musical drama “A Star is Born” (2018, R) with Lady Gaga.
On Sunday night the second season of the HBO Original series “Big Little Lies” launches with Meryl Streep joining the cast.
New on Showtime is indie drama “Wildlife” (2018, PG-13), the directorial debut of Paul Dano starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan, and documentary “XY Chelsea” (2019, not rated) on the life and career of Chelsea Manning.
The Criterion Channel spotlights the films of Nicolas Roeg (“Performance,” 1970, “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” 1976) and Dorothy Arzner (“Christopher Strong,” 1933, “Dance, Girl, Dance,” 1940) and dreamy cinema of Thailand filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul (“Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” 2010, “Cemetery of Splendor,” 2015, not rated, with subtitles).
Also debuting on The Criterion Channel this month is Jan Němec’s intense holocaust drama “Diamonds of the Night” (Czechoslovakia, 1964, with subtitles), Souleymane Cissé’s folkloric odyssey “Yeelen” (Mali, 1987, with subtitles), and the not-for-kids animated feature “The Plague Dogs” (1982, PG-13), based on the novel by Richard Adams.
New on disc this week:
“Gloria Bell,” “A Madea Family Funeral,” “The Kid,” “Mapplethorpe,” “Saint Judy”
Now available at Redbox:
“Gloria Bell,” “A Madea Family Funeral,” “The Kid,” “J.T. Leroy”
Visit the paper’s website online for more options and recommendations.
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.