Top streams for the week
Disney+, the most ambitious streaming service to launch in years, arrives this week with a mix of movies from the Disney vaults and the Marvel and Star Wars franchises and a slate of original programs. “The Mandalorian” (TV-PG) is the marquee offering the new service, a big-budget live action adventure set on the frontier of the “Star Wars” universe created by Jon Favreau (who launched the cinematic Marvel universe with “Iron Man”) and starring Pedro Pascal as in intergalactic bounty hunter. Other originals include the mockumentary “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” (TV-PG) and edu-tainment series “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” (new episodes arrive each Friday) and the movies “Lady and the Tramp” (2019, PG), a live-action/CGI remake of the animated classic, and holiday comedy “Noelle” (2019, G) with Anna Kendrick and Shirley Maclaine.
The catalog also offers every “Star Wars” movie, Pixar classics like “The Incredibles” (2004, PG) and the “Toy Story” (1995, G) movies, a big chunk of the Marvel Universe, vintage Disney animated classics such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1938, G), “Bambi” (1942, G), and the entire run of “The Simpsons.” Over 400 movies and 7,500 TV episodes in all, and none of it R-rated. It begins at $6.99 a month and offer a 7-day free trial. The service was overwhelmed at launch and customers faced streaming issues so you may need to be patient.
The indie success story of the year, “The Farewell” (2019, PG) follows the story of a Chinese-American woman (Awkwafina) who can’t understand why her family won’t tell her grandmother she has cancer. Filmmaker Lulu Wang, drawing from her own experience, uses humor and culture clash to explore death, grieving, and family relations. It’s poignant and funny and resists sliding into sentiment. Cable On Demand and VOD, also on DVD and at Redbox.
A slacker postman is assigned to remote northern office and meets a mysterious woodsman in “Klaus” (2019, PG), a Netflix Original animated holiday feature featuring the voices of Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, and Rashida Jones. First-time director Sergio Pablos, a veteran animator and co-creator of “Despicable Me,” brings a Looney Tunes sense of whimsy to the Christmas tale. Streaming on Netflix.
Kat Dennings stars in the new Hulu Original comedy series “Dollface” as a young woman who gets abruptly dumped and tries to reconnect with friends she abandoned during her romance. Shay Mitchell, Brenda Song costar and Beth Grant voices a cat who offers comic observations. All ten episodes now streaming on Hulu.
The fourth and final season of the alternate history drama “The Man in the High Castle,” inspired by the Philip K. Dick novel about a world where the Axis powers won World War II, follows the fight to take America back from the Nazi occupation. 10 episodes streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
But perhaps the most anticipated streaming TV release this month is the third season of “The Crown,” which drops on Sunday on Netflix.
Classic pick: The James Bond movies have been variously available on Amazon Prime for years, usually in packages of six or eight at a time. For the first time ever, all twenty official James Bond films before the Daniel Craig era, from “Dr. No” (1962) starring Sean Connery to “Die Another Day” (2002, PG-13) with Pierce Brosnan, are available to stream on Prime Video. Consider it the ultimate streaming 007 festival.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
Three middle school best friends go on an epic suburban odyssey in “Good Boys” (2019, R), a raunchy comedy involving stolen drugs, sex toys, and vengeful teenage girls. Also new:
- based-on-a-true-story drama “Brian Banks” (2019, PG-13) with Aldis Hodge;
- indie drama “The Peanut Butter Falcon” (2019, PG-13) with Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson;
- “If the Dancer Dances” (2018, not rated), a documentary on the work of dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham.
Available same day as select theaters nationwide is “Feast of the Seven Fishes” (2019, not rated), a romantic comedy set at an Italian family holiday gathering.
Alicia Vikander and Riley Keough star in the Netflix Original film “Earthquake Bird” (2019, not rated), a psychological thriller about Americans in 1989 Tokyo, adapted from the Susanna Jones novel by director by Wash Westmoreland.
Colin Firth is “A Single Man” (2009, R) in the debut feature from fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford.
A man who never leaves his house finds trouble coming to him in the dark comedy “House Arrest” (India, 2019, with subtitles).
Streaming TV: Pop star Charli XCX forms an all-girl punk band the music reality series “I’m with the Band: Nasty Cherry.”
International TV: rebellious rich kids take on the law and organized crime when they start selling MDMA in “The Club: Season 1” (Mexico, with subtitle) and elite high school students trapped on an island battle to survive mysterious forces in “The Stranded: Season 1” (Thailand, with subtitles).
True stories: the non-fiction limited series “Maradona in Mexico” (Argentina, 2019, with subtitles) follows Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona to a Mexican town in the center of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Kid stuff: Richie Rich joins the cast of the animated series “Harvey Girls Forever!: Season 3.”
Stand-up: “Jeff Garlin: Our Man in Chicago“ (2019, not rated)
Amazon Prime Video
“The Souvenir” (2019), a semi-autobiographical romantic drama from filmmaker Joanna Hogg film, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, and Tilda Swinton star.
The first season of the Showtime Original series “Ray Donovan” (2013) with Liev Schreiber is free to Prime Video subscribers through November.
International TV: two miniseries arrive from Italy: “Detective De Luca” (Italy, 2008, with subtitles), based on the detective novels by Carlo Lucarelli, and “Cesare Mori” (Italy, 2012, with subtitles), starring Vincent Perez and based on a real-life crime story.
Prime Video and Hulu
Helena Bonham Carter stars in “The Wings of the Dove” (1997, R), a devastating adaptation of the Henry James novel about a scheme to inherit a fortune through a deceitful romance with a dying American heiress.
The feature film “Veronica Mars” (2014, PG-13) bridges the gap between the original series and the 2019 revival.
Streaming TV: “You’re the Worst: Season 5” brings the FX sitcom about two toxic, self-absorbed people (Chris Geere and Aya Cash) in love to a close.
The documentary “Very Ralph” (2019, TV-14) profiles fashion icon Ralph Lauren.
Patrick Stewart is Merlin to a group of schoolboys charged with saving the world in the adventure fantasy “The Kid Who Would Be King” (2019, PG) and Matt Bomer stars in the character drama “Papi Chulo” (2018, R).
The British dark comedy “Back to Life” makes its U.S. debut on Showtime, with all six episodes now available on all Showtime platforms.
Starz brings two more British shows stateside: “Dublin Murders,” a crime drama based on the novels of Tana French (new episodes on Sunday nights) and the entire first season of “In the Long Run,” a BBC sitcom of culture clash in 1980s London created by Idris Elba.
Two legends of independent filmmaking share their stories in “Cult-Tastic: Tales from the Trenches with Roger and Julie Corman,” the first original series from Shout! Factory TV.
Criterion Channel presents a new restoration of the seminal reggae crime thriller “The Harder They Come” (Jamaica, 1972, R, with subtitles) and the streaming debut of director Perry Henzell’s follow-up film “No Place Like Home” (Jamaica, 2006, not rated, with subtitles). Also on Criterion Channel is a “Caught On Tape” collection of films dealing with surveillance and paranoia, from the seventies American classics “Klute” (1971, R) with Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” (1974, R) with Gene Hackman to Michael Haneke’s “Caché” (France, 2005, R, with subtitles) and the Oscar-winning “The Lives of Others” (Germany, 2006, R, with subtitles).
“Julius Caesar” (2018, not rated), a British production featuring an all-female cast, was originally made for British TV and shown on PBS stateside. It’s now on Broadway HD along with the musical comedy “Nunsense” (1993) and all six sequels.
New on disc and at Redbox:
“The Farewell,” “Good Boys,” “Brian Banks,” “The Angry Birds Movies 2,” “The Peanut Butter Falcon”
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.