What’s new for home viewing on Video on Demand and Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other streaming services.
Top streams for the week
Start 2019 with some of the best films of last year. “Leave No Trace” (2018, PG), inspired by a true story and shot in and around Portland, is a touching indie drama starring Ben Foster as a troubled military vet and loving single father trying to raise a daughter (Thomasin McKenzie in a revelatory performance) off the grid. It’s won numerous awards and is a favorite going into Oscar season. Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Netflix released “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” (2018, not rated), a feature-length episode of the dark science-series presented as a video game-like interactive experience, without advance notice last week. There are dozens of choices and multiple endings but, due to technical requirements, it is not available on all devices (notably Apple TV and Google Chromecast).
Regina Hall earned a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for her performance as a protective manager in “Support the Girls” (2018), a smart indie comedy about the women working in a Hooters-like sports bar. On Hulu.
Classic pick: Marilyn Monroe is the bubbly gold digger dance partner to wry, man-hungry Jane Russell in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes“ (1953), Howard Hawks’ twist on buddy film machismo. It’s a delightful, hilarious farce with great musical numbers, but for all the sexual humor, these two women from Little Rock are thoroughly loyal to each other and always in charge. On Hulu.
Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand
Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Jon Hamm, and Chris Hemsworth hit “Bad Times at the El Royale” (2018, R) in the thriller set at a run-down Lake Tahoe hotel.
Available same day as select theaters nationwide are the crime thrillers “The Vanishing” (2019, R) with Gerard Butler and Peter Mullan, and “American Hangman” (2019, not rated) with Donald Sutherland.
“Hell or High Water” (2016, R) puts the great American anti-hero outlaw story into the modern world of financial crisis and mortgage foreclosure. Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster star. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.
Neil Patrick Harris is back as Count Olaf in the third and final season of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” based on the playfully macabre children’s books by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler).
King Arthur and a band of dotty knights run afoul of abusive Frenchmen, sex-crazed nuns, a killer rabbit, the mysterious Knights Who Say “Nih!,” and other medieval threats in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975, PG), the cheapest Arthurian adventure ever made and easily the funniest.
Harrison Ford stepped into the battered fedora and leather jacket of archeologist adventurer Indiana Jones in Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981, PG) a nostalgic trip through yesteryear thrills with non-stop action, skin of the teeth escapes, and a contemporary tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, and returned for three sequels: “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom“ (1984, PG), “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade“ (1989, PG-13), “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull“ (2008, PG-13).
“Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers” (1912-1923) presents a collection of 17 shorts and features from women filmmakers in the silent era. Among the landmarks are Lois Weber’s innovative short thriller “Suspense” (1913) and birth control drama “Where Are My Children” (1916); Alice Guy-Blaché’s short feature “The Ocean Waif” (1916); Mabel Normand’s “Caught in a Cabaret” (1914) starring Charlie Chaplin; the first all Asian-American production “The Curse of Quon Gwon” (1917); Nell Shipman’s ingenious automobile adventure drama “Something New” (1920).
True stories: “The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mythical Man” (2018, not rated) looks at the comedy star’s life off-screen through his encounters with fans and other everyday people.
More streaming TV: “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: Season 1” (Netflix Original) is a home makeover show that helps folks clear out the clutter. Also new: globetrotting stand-up comedy series “Comedians of the World: Season 1”;
“Conan Without Borders: Season 1“ with Conan O’Brien.
Foreign affairs: “Lionheart” (Nigeria, 2018), the drama of a woman who battles sexism to run her father’s business, is the first Netflix Original film from Nigeria. Also new: “And Breathe Normally” (Iceland, 2018, not rated, with subtitles), a drama about a struggling single mother and an asylum seeker facing deportation; biographical drama “El Potro: Unstoppable” (Argentina, 2018, not rated, with subtitles) about Argentine music superstar Rodrigo Alejandro Bueno; Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning “Pan’s Labyrinth” (Spain, 2006, R, with subtitles); Oscar-nominated “City of God” (Brazil, 2002, R, with subtitles).
Music: “Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour” (2018) presents the music superstar in concert. Also new are the documentaries “Oasis: Supersonic” (2016, R) and “Avicii: True Stories” (2017, not rated, with subtitles).
The first month of 2019 brings a new slate of movies into the catalog, including the Frankie Valli musical “Jersey Boys” (2014, R) from director Clint Eastwood; notable superhero hits “Watchmen” (2009, R) and “The Dark Knight“ (2008, PG-13); the family-friendly animated adventure “Happy Feet“ (2006, PG); Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning “The Departed” (2006, R) with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson; and Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning “Pulp Fiction“ (1994, R).
Stand-up: Netflix adds over a dozen classic comedy specials with Bill Hicks (including his final recorded special “Revelations,” 1993, not rated), Sam Kinison, Tim Allen and others.
Amazon Prime Video
Mia Wasikowska is “Jane Eyre” (2011, PG-13) and Michael Fessbender her tormented Rochester in Cary Fukunaga’s superb take on Charlotte Brontë’s beloved gothic romance.
Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil“ (1985, R), a dark, dense science fiction fantasy, is like “1984” rewritten by Monty Python, an absurdist nightmare of Kafka-esque dimensions. In other words, as timely as ever.
Foreign affairs: Sigmund Freud treats a neurotic undead client in the comedy “Therapy for a Vampire” (Austria, 2014, not rated, with subtitles). Also new: Eric Rohmer’s bucolic “Romance of Astree and Celadon” (France, 2007, not rated, with subtitles); the science-fiction adventure “Returner” (Japan, 2003, R, with subtitles) with Takeshi Kaneshiro; and the Bollywood blockbuster “Hum Aapke Hain Koun” (India, 1994, not rated, with subtitles).
Streaming TV: “Breaking Big: Season 1” looks at how artists, innovators, and political leaders made their careers. Also new are the PBS science series “Nova Wonders: Season 1” and history program “First Civilizations: Season 1.”
Prime Video and Hulu
Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown” (1974, R), starring Jack Nicholson as private eye J.J. Gittes and Faye Dunaway as a tragic femme fatale in 1930s Los Angeles, is a neo-noir classic and one of the masterpieces of American cinema.
Mel Gibson is suicidal firecracker Martin Riggs and Danny Glover is aging family man Roger Murtaugh, America’s favorite buddy cop team, in “Lethal Weapon” (1987, R), the action hit that spawned three sequels: “Lethal Weapon 2” (1989, R), which adds Joe Pesci to the mix, “Lethal Weapon 3” (1992, R), and “Lethal Weapon 4” (1998, R). Screenwriter Shane Black used a similar approach in “The Last Boy Scout” (1991, R), with Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans as the mismatched buddy team.
The entire “Twilight” saga, starring Kristen Stewart as teenage human Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as the ageless, undead Edward Cullen, is now on Hulu, from the original “Twilight” (2008, PG-13), shot in Oregon and Washington State, through “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” (2009, PG-13) and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (2010, PG-13) to “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” (2011, PG-13) and “Part 2” (2012, PG-13).
Streaming TV: “The X-Files: Season 11” looks like it’s the last hurrah for Mulder and Scully, and this revival season is a marked improvement from the previous one. Also new: Donald Glover’s acclaimed comedy “Atlanta: Season 2”; the warm British comedy “The Detectorists: Season 3.”
True stories: Natalie Portman narrates “Eating Animals” (2017, not rated), which puts a spotlight on the industrial factory farming industry.
Foreign affairs: “Renoir” (France, 2013, R, with subtitles) stars Michel Bouquet as the legendary painter Auguste Renoir. and “The German Doctor” (Argentina, 2013, not rated, with subtitles) is a drama about Josef Mengele in hiding in Argentina.
Kid stuff: Mike Myers is a grumpy ogre in the animated comedy “Shrek” (2001, PG) with Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz. Also new: the escape comedy “Chicken Run” (2000, G) from the creators of “Wallace and Gromit”; and “Antz” (1998, PG) with the voices of Woody Allen and Sharon Stone.
Also new: indie romantic comedy “Drinking Buddies” (2013, R) with Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson; Peter Weir’s survival drama “The Way Back” (2011, PG-13) with Ed Harris and Colin Farrell; the crime drama “Stone” (2010, R) with Robert De Niro and Edward Norton; “Finding Neverland” (2004, PG) with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet; Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides” (2000, R) with Kirsten Dunst; Steven Soderbergh’s “The Limey” (1999, R) with Terence Stamp and Peter Fonda; “Mimic” (1997, R) the first American film by Oscar-winner Guillermo Del Toro; Keanu Reeves in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989, PG) and sequel “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” (1991, PG); the cult black comedy “Heathers” (1989, R) with Winona Ryder and Christian Slater; Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” (1988, PG); the comedy “9 to 5” (1980, PG) with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton; and the original “True Grit” (1969, G) with John Wayne.
Available Saturday is “Annihilation” (2018, R) with Natalie Portman as a Special Forces soldier who joins a team of women scientists to investigate an alien force field slowly growing on Earth. This science fiction thriller from “Ex Machina” filmmaker Alex Garland favors science and mystery over action.
Melissa McCarthy is a divorced mother who goes back to college in the comedy “Life of the Party” (2018, PG-13).
Available Saturday night is “Super Troopers 2” (2018, R), the sequel to the sleeper comedy hit starring Brian Cox and the Broken Lizard comedy troupe.
Older films returning this month include “Logan” (2017) with Hugh Jackman in his final screen appearance as X-Men hero Wolverine; superhero sequel “X2” (2003, PG-13); “The American President” (1995) with Michael Douglas and Annette Benning; Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Outsiders” (1983) based on the novel by S.E. Hinton; and the Oscar-winning “The Diary of Anne Frank“ (1959) with Millie Perkins.
Gerard Butler and 50 Cent star in the heist thriller “Den of Thieves” (2018, R), now on Showtime.
The French drama “Chefs: Season 1” (France, with subtitles) follows an ex-con who finds a new life working in the kitchen of a gourmet restaurant in Paris. Now on MHz, with the second season arriving later in January.
Sofia Vergara presents “365 Days of Love,” a new series about real-life love stories with a new episode premiering on Facebook Watch every day of 2019.
On disc this week: “Bad Times at the El Royale,” “Night School,” “A.X.L,” “Trouble”
At Redbox: “A.X.L,” True Detective: Season 1,” “True Detective: Season 2”
Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at http://streamondemandathome.com.
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