Lili Reinhart developed and stars in “Chemical Hearts” (2020, R) as an enigmatic transfer student who finds a home at her new high school newspaper, where her coeditor (Austin Abrams) becomes drawn to her. The romantic drama, based on the young adult novel by Krystal Sutherland and directed by Richard Tanne (“Southside With You”), explores the complications of young love as the young man projects his ideals on the new girl. (Amazon Prime Video)
“Lovecraft Country” (TV-MA) takes on both the cosmic horror and the blatant racism of H.P Lovecraft’s stories with the story of an African-American man (Jonathan Majors) searching for his missing father (Michael Kenneth Williams) in 1950s America. He and his traveling companions (Courtney B. Vance and Jurnee Smollett) face both fantastical creatures and very human bigotry. Creator Misha Green, who also made the provocative but short-lived “Underground,” adapts the novel by Matt Ruff and J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele are among the producers. New episodes Sunday nights. (All HBO platforms)
The documentary limited series “High Score” (2020, not rated) looks back at the golden age of video games and spotlights some of the iconic games and forgotten pioneers of the gaming industry, from the first arcade hits to the modern home gaming systems. (Netflix)
Ethan Hawke plays Nikola Tesla, the legendary electrical engineer and pioneering inventor, in Michael Almereyda’s unconventional biographical drama “Tesla” (2020, PG-13), which mixes history, commentary, and invented scenes. Kyle MacLachlan is rival Thomas Edison and Jim Gaffigan and Eve Hewson costar. (Cable On Demand and VOD)
International pick: A small backcountry town is visited by strange and violent phenomenon after the death of its eldest citizen in “Bacurau” (Brazil, 2019, not rated, with subtitles), a mix of science fiction, folklore, and social politics. It makes its streaming premiere along with a new interview with directors Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles. (Criterion Channel)
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
Debuting direct to VOD are a pair of historical dramas about the African-American experience. “Emperor” (2020, PG-13) is inspired by the legend of Shields Green (Dayo Okeniyi), an enslaved man descended from African kings who joined John Brown on the raid on Harper’s Ferry but was forgotten in the historical record. Oscar-winning screenwriter Kevin Willmott directs “The 24th” (2020, not rated), based on the story of the all-black United States Infantry Regiment and the Houston Riot of 1917.
Also new are two film-related documentaries: “Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies” (2020, not rated), which cover over a century of skin (both male and female) on the screen, and the five-part, 150-minute documentary series “Cursed Films” (2020, not rated), originally made for Shudder.
Two suburban kids rescue their mom (Malin Akerman) when they discover she is- a former burglar forced into a one last heist in the family friendly adventure “The Sleepover” (2020, not rated).
The animated comedy “Hoops: Season 1” (TV-MA) features Jake Johnson as the foul-mouthed coach of a hopeless high school basketball team.
“Les Misérables” (2012, PG-13), the big screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway, won three Academy Awards.
True stories: “John Was Trying to Contact Aliens” (2020, not rated) profiles a rural electronics whiz broadcasts who has spent decade monitoring the skies for signs of alien civilizations while enduring a lonely personal life.
Streaming TV: the fifth season of “Lucifer” (TV-14) sends the devil back to Hell, at least temporarily, before returning to solve crime in Los Angeles.
International passport: A mother takes matters into her own hands to save her son after he’s convicted of killing his ex-wife in the thriller “The Crimes That Bind” (Argentina, 2020, not rated, with subtitles). Also new:
“Biohackers: Season 1” (Germany, not rated, with subtitles), a thriller set in the world of illegal genetic engineering experiments.
Kid stuff: the animated “Alien TV: Season 1” (2020, TV-Y) follows a trio of extraterrestrial TV journalists documenting life on earth.
Amazon Prime Video
Dustin Hoffman stars as a “Little Big Man” (1970, PG-13) in Arthur Penn’s offbeat take on the American western. It costars Faye Dunaway and Richard Mulligan and earned an Oscar nomination for Chief Dan George.
The hilarious Australian action spoof “Danger 5: Complete Series” (2011-2015, TV-14) lampoons action TV shows of the seventies and eighties.
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon travel in the footsteps of Odysseus in “The Trip to Greece” (2020, not rated), their fourth road movie comedy with director Michael Winterbottom. The first three trips in the series are also streaming on Hulu.
“Daffodils” (2020, not rated), a romantic comedy from New Zealand, stars Rose McIver as a pop singer and features music by iconic New Zealand singers and bands.
“Birds Of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)“ (2020, R) stars Margot Robbie as comic book supervillain turned quasi-hero Harley Quinn, who teams up with an all-female costumed crew (Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett) to protect young girl from a crime lord. (All HBO platforms)
Streaming TV: the reality dating show “Singletown: Season 1” (2020, not rated) comes from England and “Awkwafina is Nora from Queens: Season 1” (2020, TV-14), a comedy based on the comedian’s life growing up in Flushing, New York, arrives from Comedy Central.
Jeanne Balibar directs and stars in “Wonders in the Suburbs” (France, 2019, not rated, with subtitles), a comedy of small town politics featuring Emmanuelle Béart, Mathieu Amalric, and Bulle Ogier. (Mubi)
The documentary series “The Suspect” (not rated) looks at one of the most notorious murders and tabloid trials in Canada this century. New episodes each Tuesday. (Sundance Now)
Emma Watson and Dan Stevens are “Beauty and the Beast” (2017, PG) in Disney’s lavish live-action remake of their animated musical from filmmaker Bill Condon. (Disney+)
The complete runs of three sitcoms are now streaming on Peacock: “3rd Rock from the Sun” (1996-2001, TV-PG) starring John Lithgow and Jane Curtin, “Grace Under Fire” (1993-1998, TV-PG) with Brett Butler, and “Grounded For Life” (2001-2005, TV-14) with Donal Logue and Megyn Price.
With the new remake now on VOD, you can revisit the beloved classic Hollywood adaptation of “The Secret Garden” (1949) starring Margaret O’Brien and Dean Stockwell. Now streaming on Criterion Channel. Also new:
- three great film noirs classics by Robert Siodmak: “Phantom Lady” (1944) with Franchot Tone and “The Killers” (1946) and “Criss Cross” (1949) with Burt Lancaster;
- ten films “Directed by Wim Wenders” and seventeen “Documentaries by Les Blank” drawn from the Criterion Collection library.
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.