Top streams for the week
Sacha Baron Cohen takes a rare dramatic role in “The Spy” (2019), a new Netflix Original limited series based on the true story of Eli Cohen, an Israeli accountant who infiltrated Syria as a deep cover Mossad agent for six years in the 1960s. The six-part series is written and directed by Gideon Raff, co-creator of “Homeland” and writer/director of “The Red Sea Diving Resort.” Streaming on Netflix.
“Wu-Tang: An American Saga” dramatizes the origins and rise of the hip-hop group, from the culture of crime in 1990s New York to a veritable cultural dynasty. Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA created and co-writes the series and Aston Sanders (“Moonlight”) and Shameik Moore (“Dope”) headline the sprawling cast. Three episodes now available on Hulu, new episodes each Wednesday.
Also on Hulu is the documentary “Untouchable” (2019, not rated), which digs into the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the culture of power that protected him for so long.
Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein play overachieving students who throw caution to the wind on the last night of high school in “Booksmart” (2019, R). Actress Olivia Wilder makes a sure directorial debut with this raunchy and smart buddy comedy. On Cable on Demand and VOD, also on DVD and at Redbox
Cult pick: Nicolas Cage gives one of his most entertainingly unhinged performances in the dark comedy “Vampire’s Kiss” (1989, R) as a man who thinks he’s turning into a vampire. On Amazon Prime Video.
Classic pick: Ida Lupino offers a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of her title character in “The Bigamist” (1953), an independently produced drama starring Edmond O’Brien as a businessman with a double life married to two women (Joan Fontaine and Lupino). All three characters are invested with a strength and complexity rarely seen in films with such controversial themes. It’s been newly restored and streams free on Kanopy.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson are the new agents in “Men in Black: International” (2019, PG-13), the colorful but generic revival of the sci-fi comedy franchise. Also new:
- horror film “Ma” (2019, R) with Octavia Spencer;
- indie drama “American Woman” (2019, R) with Sienna Miller and Aaron Paul.
Jack O’Connell stars in the gritty British prison drama “Starred Up” (2013, not rated) as a kid incarcerated in the same facility as his volatile career-criminal father (Ben Mendelsohn).
Streaming TV: “The Walking Dead: Season 9” (TV-MA) is available a month before the tenth season debuts on AMC. Also new:
- Marvel TV series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 6” (TV-14), which takes the show across the universe;
- “Van Helsing: Season 3” (TV-MA) a vampire thriller with a sci-fi twist;
- MTV anthology horror series “Scream: Season 3” (TV-14)
- “Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father: Season 3” (Netflix Original)
- young adult thriller “Elite: Season 2” (Spain, TV-MA, with subtitles).
True stories: “Hip-Hop Evolution: Season 3” carries history of rap and hip-hop into the 1990s.
International affairs: a political and his wife face secrets from their compromising past in the thriller “Unbridled” (Spain, 2019, TV-MA, with subtitles). Also new:
- “Article 15” (India, 2019, not rated, with subtitles), a crime drama based on a real life murder investigation;
- family friendly soccer comedy “Mi Amigo Alexis” (Chile, 2019, TV-PG, with subtitles) with sports star Alexis Sánchez as himself;
- action comedy “Used Goods” (aka “Bikya“) (Egypt, 2018, TV-MA, with subtitles) about a scientist hiding out as a travelling salesman to protect his new discovery;
- Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa profiles her sister in “Elena” (Brazil, 2012, TV-14, with subtitles) and follows an actress through her pregnancy in “Olmo & the Seagull” (Brazil, 2015, TV-MA, with subtitles);
- three films from the Nollywood film culture of Nigeria: drama “Mokalik” (aka “Mechanic“) (2019) about an 11-year-old who apprentices as a mechanic, romantic drama “The Bridge” (2017), and “October 1” (2014), a murder mystery thriller set in 1960. All three TV-14, with subtitles.
Kid stuff: “Archibald’s Next Big Thing: Season 1,” an animated comedy about a fun-loving chicken. Also new: buddy comedy “Open Season” (2006, PG) with the voices of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher.
And a few highlights from the older titles added to the library this month:
- Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (2002, PG-13) and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003, PG-13), which won 11 Academy Awards;
- Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married” (2008, R) with Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt;
- high school buddy comedy “Superbad” (2007, R) with Jonah Hill and Michael Cera;
- action thriller “300” (2007, R) from director Zach Snyder;
- Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River” (2003, R), which won Oscars for actors Sean Penn and Tim Robbins;
- psychodrama turned social satire “American Psycho” (2000, R) with Christian Bale;
- comedies “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” (2008, R) with Adam Sandler and “Stripes” (1981, R) with Bill Murray.
Amazon Prime Video
Before he made “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi directed and starred in the bittersweet comic drama “Boy” (2010, not rated).
“Computer Chess” (2013, not rated), an oddball indie comedy from Andrew Bujalski set at a 1980 computer programmer convention, captures the flashback tech geek culture with deadpan humor, offbeat personalities, and archaic technology.
“That Obscure Object of Desire” (France, 1977, R, with subtitles), a surreal story of love and obsession, is the final feature from Luis Bunuel. Fernando Rey stars as a patronizing bourgeois cad who tries to buy the affections of an ambiguous beauty (played by two different actresses, cool French model Carole Bouquet and sensual Spanish actress Angela Molina).
Streaming TV: British historical drama “Victoria: Season 3” picks up with young Queen Victoria (Jenna Colman) as she weathers the European revolutions of 1848.
International affairs: “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” (Iran, 2013, not rated, with subtitles) is one of the most provocative and searing political dramas to come from Iran. Also new:
“Korkoro” (France, 2009, not rated, with subtitles), Tony Gatliff’s drama of a gypsy family in France during World War II;
psychological thriller “Open Your Eyes” (1999, R) with Eduardo Noriega and Penélope Cruz, which was remade in the U.S. as “Vanilla Sky”;
Alain Robbe-Grillet’s arthouse erotic thriller “Successive Slidings of Pleasure” (France, 1974, not rated, with subtitles).
True stories: Martin Scorsese is one of the producers of “Surviving Progress” (2011, not rated), which challenges the sustainability of the current culture. Also new:
“Facing Ali” (2009, R) remembers the legendary fighter through the remembrances of ten men who fought him in the ring;
Also new this month: Sophie Okonedo is a young woman of mixed race in apartheid South Africa in “Skin” (2009, PG-13), costarring Sam Neill and Alice Krige;
Nicole Kidman won an Oscar playing Virginia Woolf in “The Hours” (2003, PG-13), costarring Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep;
“Nicholas Nickleby” (2002, PG) with Charlie Hunnam and Christopher Plummer;
Peter Weir’s Australian war drama “Gallipoli” (1981, PG) with Mel Gibson;
Science fiction and cinema fantastique: Guillermo Del Toro’s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008, PG-13) with Ron Perlman takes the comic book adaptation into even more fantastical territory. Also new:
- “New Rose Hotel” (1998, R), Abel Ferrara’s adaptation of the William Gibson cyberpunk story with Willem Dafoe;
- sci-fi fantasy “The Fifth Element” (1997, PG-13) with Bruce Willis
- “Ghost in the Shell” (1996, not rated, English language version), Mamoru Oshii’s landmark animated cyberpunk thriller.
Classics: Jack Palance is an American soldier who challenges an incompetent Captain (Eddie Albert) in “Attack!” (1956), Robert Aldrich’s gritty World War II battlefield thriller. Also new:
- frontier western “The Kentuckian” (1955) with Burt Lancaster;
- Roger Corman’s B-movie gangster thriller “Machine Gun Kelly” (1958) with Charles Bronson.
Prime Video and Hulu
True stories: “After the Screaming Stops” (2018, not rated) chronicles the reunion of twin brothers Luke and Matt Goss of the Brit boy band Bros 28 years after their final stage performance together (Prime Video and Hulu).
Donald Sutherland stars in Philip Kaufman’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978, PG), the first and best remake of the classic science fiction thriller, with Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy (Prime Video and Hulu).
Dennis Hopper is a legendary sixties radical and prankster and Keifer Sutherland the humorless FBI agent assigned to escort him to prison in the comedy “Flashback” (1990, R)
Gary Carr plays the enigmatic New Orleans trumpeter Buddy Bolden in the biopic “Bolden” (2019, R), which proclaims him the “inventor of jazz.”
Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan star in “Anthropoid” (2016, R), which dramatizes the real-life mission to kill Reinhard Heydrich in Czechoslovakia during World War II.
The delightful, low-key comic drama “Breaking Away” (1979, PG), starring Dennis Christopher as a bicycle-racing blue collar kid in a college town, was nominated for five Oscars and won for its original screenplay.
True stories: “The First Monday in May” (2016, PG-13) follows creation of “China: Through The Looking Glass,” the most attended fashion exhibition in the history of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
More streaming TV: “Into The Dark: Pure,” the twelfth and final episode in the anthology horror series, comes from by Hannah Macpherson, creator of the Verizon horror series “T@gged” and “The Purge: Season 1” arrives a month before the second season begins on SyFy.
Kid stuff: the bright, goofy adventure fantasy “The Goonies” (1985, G) sends a group of misfit youngsters (including young Sean Astin and Josh Brolin) in search of buried treasure. Also new:
- Disney’s animated feature “Hercules” (1997, G) offers a whimsical take on the mythical hero;
- animated comedy “Open Season” (2006, PG) plus three direct-to-video sequels;
- “Chuggington: Seasons 1-5,” an animated railroad adventure for kids who have been through all the “Thomas” adventures.
Also new this month: Oscar-winning indie comedy “Juno” (2007, PG-13) with Ellen Page;
- gambling drama “The Cooler” (2003, R) with William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin;
- Sundance award winning comic drama “Secretary” (2002, R) with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal;
- crime thriller “Training Day” (2001, R) with Denzel Washington in an Oscar-wining performance;
- survival thriller “The Edge” (1997, R) with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin;
- “The Portrait of a Lady” (1996, PG-13), Jane Campion’s adaptation of the Henry James novel with Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich;
- teen romance “Pretty in Pink” (1986, PG-13) with Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer;
- biographical drama “Mommie Dearest” (1981, PG) with Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford.
You can stream Steven Soderbergh’s bubbly caper “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001, PG-13) and the two sequels “Ocean’s Twelve” (2004, PG-13) and “Ocean’s Thirteen” (2007, PG-13) with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and friends. More series:
- “The Matrix” (1999, R) with Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishburne is just the beginning of a trilogy completed with “The Matrix Reloaded” (2003, R) and “The Matrix Revolutions” (2003, R);
- Mel Gibson and Danny Glover star in “Lethal Weapon” (1987, R) and three sequels: “Lethal Weapon 2” (1989, R), “Lethal Weapon 3” (1992, R), and “Lethal Weapon 4” (1998, R) with Jet Li;
- Sam Raimi remade his no-budget cult horror film “Evil Dead” (1981, R) as a black comedy with “Evil Dead II” (1987, R), both starring Bruce Campbell.
Science fiction and cinema fantastique: Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons star in “High-Rise” (2015, R), based on the J.G. Ballard science fiction satire;
- horror film “The Midnight Meat Train” (2009, R) with Bradley Cooper, based on the Clive Barker story;
- science fiction action thriller “Demolition Man” (2003, R) with Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock;
- M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero riff “Unbreakable” (2000, PG-13) with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson;
- frontier cannibal adventure/black comedy “Ravenous” (1999, R) with Guy Pearce.
The offbeat drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018, R) features Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant in Oscar-nominated performances.
Sports talk show “The Shop: Uninterrupted” with LeBron James returns with a new installment.
The Coen Bros.’s Hollywood satire “Hail, Caesar!” (2016, PG-13) with George Clooney and Josh Brolin returns to all HBO platforms this month.
Available Saturday night is the historical drama “Mary Queen of Scots” (2018, R) with Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.
Criterion Channel puts the spotlight on British filmmaker John Schlesinger with eight standout films, including his Oscar-winning “Darling” (1965) with Julie Christie and “Midnight Cowboy” (1969, R) with Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight and Oscar-nominated “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (1971, R) with Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson and “Marathon Man” (1976, R) with Hoffman and Laurence Olivier.
Criterion also pays tribute to the creative partnership of filmmaker French filmmaker Jean Cocteau and actor/muse Jean Marais with two of their masterpieces: “Beauty and the Beast” (France, 1946, with subtitles) and “Orpheus” (France, 1950, with subtitles).
BroadwayHD presents two Tony-nominated Broadway musicals from the early 1980s: “Sophisticated Ladies” (1982), a celebration of the music of Duke Ellington with Phyliss Hyman and Paula Kelly and featuring Mercer Ellington conducting the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and “Tintypes” (1980), a musical survey of America from the late 19th century to World War I with Lynne Thigpen and Jerry Zaks.
Free streams: the two-part crime epic “Gangs of Wasseypur” (India, 2013, not rated, with subtitles) spans three generations and 25 songs. It’s now streaming free on Kanopy, along with:
- “The Maid” (Spain, 2009, not rated, with subtitles), a wicked comedy with a sweet turns that won an award at Sundance;
- energetic British social drama “Babylon” (1980, not rated), set in the Jamaican subculture of South London’
- Amos Gitai’s Israeli dramas “Kadosh” (1999) and “Alila” (2003) (both not rated, with subtitles);
- Mario Bava’s surreal horror film “Kill, Baby… Kill!” (Italy, 1966).
Kanopy is available through most public library systems.
New on disc and available at Redbox this week:
“Men in Black: International,” “Ma,” “Booksmart”
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.