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Stream on Demand: New actors reign on ‘The Crown’

Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II and Tobias Menzies as Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in “The Crown.” (Sophie Mutevelian / Netflix)
Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II and Tobias Menzies as Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in “The Crown.” (Sophie Mutevelian / Netflix)
By Sean Axmaker For The Spokesman-Review

What’s new for home viewing on Video on Demand and Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and other streaming services.

Top streams for the week

Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman takes over the role of Queen Elizabeth II, and Tobias Menzies is Prince Philip in the third season of the lavish historical Netflix drama The Crown.” This season follows the royal family through the tumultuous 1960s and up to the Silver Jubilee with episodes focusing on the drama behind key historical moments. Helena Bonham Carter brings the train wreck that is Princess Margaret to a new level of sardonic chaos. Ten episodes streaming on Netflix.

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 Wilde makes a sure directorial debut with this raunchy and smart buddy comedy. Streaming on Hulu.

The music of Bruce Springsteen crosses the Atlantic in Blinded By the Light (2019, PG-13), a rousing high school drama of identity and the creative spirit based on the true story of a first-generation Pakistani-Briton in a small factory town in 1980s England. Gurinder Chadha directs this energetic tale of the power of art. On Cable on Demand and VOD, also on DVD and at Redbox.

The Netflix Original anthology series Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: Season 1 dramatizes the stories behind the singer/songwriter’s iconic songs. Ginnifer Goodwin, Kathleen Turner, Melissa Leo and Julianne Hough are among the guest stars, and Parton appears in three episodes. Eight episodes on Netflix.

Holiday trimmings: Vanessa Hudgens stars in the Netflix Original film The Knight Before Christmas (2019, not rated), a seasonal romance with time-traveling medieval knight (Josh Whitehouse), and Nailed It! Holiday!: Season 2 spotlights more baking successes and disasters. Amazon Prime Video presents the animatedCostume Quest: Christmas Special and the Muppet TV specials Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas (1977) and The Christmas Toy (1986) from Jim Henson.

Classic pick: Henry Fonda takes a rare role as a cold-blooded killer in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968, PG-13), Sergio Leone’s epic tribute to the American Western shot in part against the primal landscape of Monument Valley. Claudia Cardinale, Charles Bronson and Jason Robards star. On Amazon Prime Video.

Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019, PG) brings the animated kid series to the big screen for a family-friendly live-action adventure.

Available same day as select theaters nationwide is the crime thriller The Courier (2019, R) with Gary Oldman as a crime boss and Olga Kurylenko as his assassin.


Suffragette” (2015, PG-13) takes on the violent struggle for women’s voting rights in Britain in the early 20th century. Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter star with Meryl Streep.

Ryan Gosling is an enigmatic getaway driver in the sleek crime thriller Drive (2011, R), co-starring Carey Mulligan and Albert Brooks.

True stories: Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator (2019, not rated) profiles Bikram Choudhury, the founder of hot yoga, from celebrity to accused sexual predator and Lorena, Light-Footed Woman (Mexico, 2019, not rated, with subtitles) introduces audiences to the ultramarathon runner who competes in sandals.

International affairs: A teenage boy is arrested and dropped into a brutal custody center in Brother (Mon frère) (France, 2019, not rated, with subtitles), direct to Netflix from French cinemas.

International TV: Two high school boys are invested with supernatural powers in Mortel: Season 1 (France, with subtitles), a mix of teen crime drama and fantasy adventure. Comedy Nobody’s Looking: Season 1 (Brazil, with subtitles) also delves into fantasy with its irreverent tale of a fledgling guardian angel.

Kid stuff: The animated series Dino Girl Gauko: Season 1 (Japan) follows a middle school girl who transforms into a dinosaur when she loses her temper.

Stand-up:Iliza: Unveiled” (2019, not rated) presents Iliza Shlesinger dishing on her wedding in her fifth special for Netflix.

Amazon Prime Video

While Disney+ has become the new home for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they don’t yet have a lock on all of them. The first Thor (2011, PG-13) with Chris Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins, the World War II-era Captain America: The First Avenger (2011, PG-13) with Chris Evans and The Avengers (2012, PG-13), which brought all of the major Marvel heroes together for the first time, are available to Amazon Prime subscribers.

Joe Mantegna is an ex-con returning home to his Bronx neighborhood in the sentimental drama Bottom of the 9th (2019, R).

True stories: Artifishal (2019, not rated) looks at the unintended harm of fish farming on wild salmon.

International affairs: Penelope Cruz plays a Spanish actress returning home from a Hollywood career to play The Queen of Spain (Spain, 2017, not rated, with subtitles) in this comedy.

Billy Wilder directs Jack Lemmon in the comediesIrma La Douce (1963), co-starring Shirley Maclaine as a streetwalker in turn-of-the-century Paris, and Avanti! (1972, R), a collision of midlife crisis, witty adult romance and sex farce co-starring Juliet Mills.

Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster clash in Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), a terrific World War II submarine drama of tactical gamesmanship punctuated with war movie action.


Gemma Arterton is socialite Vita Sackville-West and Elizabeth Debicki plays author Virginia Woolf in the romantic drama Vita & Virginia (2019, not rated).

True stories: Margaret Atwood: A Word After a Word After a Word Is Power (2019, not rated) presents the Canadian author discussing her life and work, and The Quiet One (2019, not rated) profiles Bill Wyman, a founding member of the Rolling Stones who left the group in 1990.

Streaming TV: The reverberations of a tragic accident threaten to tear apart a small Welsh community as grief turns to anger and blame in The Accident,” a limited series from writer Jack Thorne (“National Treasure” and the HBO series “His Dark Materials”) starring Sarah Lancashire and Sidse Babett Knudsen. It makes its U.S. debut along with the BBC limited series Apple Tree Yard (2017, TV-MA) with Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin.

Kid stuff: Family drama Holly Hobbie: Season 2 (TV-PG) continues the adventures of a 13-year-old girl (Ruby Jay) in a small Midwest town.


A bullying CEO (Regina Hall) wakes up as her young self in Little (2019, PG-13), a comedy co-starring Issa Rae and Marsai Martin.

The 50th season of Sesame Street is now underway with new episodes Saturday mornings.

True stories: Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops (2019, TV-MA) follows two members of the San Antonio Police Department’s new mental health unit.

Available Saturday night is Us (2019, R), Jordan Peele’s nightmarish follow-up to “Get Out.”

Other streams

A university professor (Katherine Kelly) locks wits with an angry, disaffected student (Molly Windsor) in Cheat (2019), a British thriller set in the halls of academia. First episode available, new episodes each Thursday on Sundance Now.

An Elephant Sitting Still(China, 2018, not rated, with subtitles), an epic four-hour drama following the intersecting lives of four people over a single day in a bleak Chinese city, won top awards at film festivals around the world. It makes its streaming debut on Criterion Channel along with director Hu Bo’s 2017 short film Man in the Well.”

Also new on Criterion Channel are films by Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher (Corpo Celeste,” 2011, and The Wonders,” 2014) and Norwegian director Joachim Trier (Reprise,” 2006, and Oslo, August 31st,” 2011), and the amazing Koker Trilogy from Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami (Where Is the Friend’s House?,” 1987, And Life Goes On,” 1992, and Through the Olive Trees,” 1994). All with subtitles.

In anticipation of “63 Up,” the ninth installment in the ambitious documentary project carried on by Michael Apted, BritBox presents the previous installment 56 Up (2012) and the new documentary 7 Up and Me (2019). Also new on BritBox is Bill (2015, PG), a comic take on the life of William Shakespeare starring Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory.

OvidTV, a streaming service devoted to documentaries and independent and foreign language films, has been steadily building a robust library. Recent arrivals include Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy (2008, R) with Michelle Williams, the comedy Return of the Hero (France, 2018, with subtitles) starring Jean Dujardin and Melanie Laurent, Andrea Arnold’s unconventional adaptation of Wuthering Heights (2011, not rated), Pedro Costa’s second featureCasa de Lava (Portugal, 1994, with subtitles) starring Isaach de Bankole, and Jules Dassin’s hot-blooded The Law (Italy, 1959) with Gina Lollobrigida, Marcello Mastroianni and Yves Montand.

New on disc and at Redbox

“Blinded By the Light,” “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” “Indian Horse”

Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. His reviews of streaming movies and TV can be found at

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