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Stream on Demand: Colson Whitehead’s ‘Underground Railroad’ moves from page to Prime

UPDATED: Fri., May 14, 2021

By Sean Axmaker For The Spokesman-Review

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

Top streams for the week

“The Underground Railroad” (2021, TV-14), based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead, follows the odyssey of Cora (Thuso Mbedu), an enslaved woman on a Georgia plantation in the early 1800s who flees for freedom in the North. Whitehead’s novel offers a twist of alternate reality – a literal railroad runs through secret tunnels – but otherwise tackles the reality of the brutal lives and the humanity of those trapped in it, and Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) honors the poetry and the brutality of the novel in the 10-episode limited series. Aaron Pierre co-stars as Cora’s escape partner Caesar, Joel Edgerton is the relentless slave catcher Ridgeway, and Chase W. Dillon, Damon Herriman, William Jackson Harper and Lily Rabe also star. (Amazon Prime)

Angelina Jolie plays a smoke jumper at a remote lookout tower in Montana who protects a teenager (Finn Little) on the run from assassins in “Those Who Wish Me Dead” (2021, R), an action thriller from director Taylor Sheridan. Like Sheridan’s previous film, “Wind River,” it’s set in the rugged wilderness, and this one features a raging forest fire to complicate the struggle for survival. Aidan Gillen, Nicholas Hoult and Jon Bernthal also star. Available same day as theaters but streams for only 31 days. (HBO Max)

Amy Adams is “The Woman in the Window” (2021, R), an agoraphobic psychiatrist who witnesses a murder while observing her neighbors, but when no one believes her, she’s obsessed with unraveling the secrets behind the windows. Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Julianne Moore also star in the psychological thriller adapted from the A.J. Finn novel by Tracy Letts and directed by Joe Wright. (Netflix)

The documentary “MLK/FBI” (2021, TV-PG) looks at the surveillance and harassment of civil rights activist Martin Luther King conducted by the FBI and the public relations campaign mounted by J. Edgar Hoover to discredit his efforts. (Hulu)

Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Big Pharma and the system that enabled the drug manufacturers to create the opioid crisis in the two-part documentary “The Crime of the Century” (2021, TV-MA). (HBO Max)

The show business comedy “Hacks” (TV-MA) stars Jean Smart as a jaded veteran comedienne running on autopilot who hires a self-destructive young outcast (Hannah Einbinder) to write new material. It’s a rare show about the hard work behind making comedy. (HBO Max)

British streaming service BFI Player Classics launches a stateside edition. The new curated service presents a collection of 200 British or British co-production films, from the silent era to the 21st century, curated by the British Film Institute. The selection ranges from early Alfred Hitchcock thrillers to Peter Sellers comedies, from such masterpieces as “The Third Man” and “Peeping Tom” to cult movies like “The Man Who Fell to Earth” to contemporary thrillers like “A Most Wanted Man.” It’s $5.99 a month after a seven-day free trial.

Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand

“French Exit” (2020, R) stars Michelle Pfeiffer as a widowed Manhattan socialite who has burned through her inheritance and Lucas Hedges as her directionless son who moves in to a borrowed Paris apartment with her.

Robin Wright directs and stars in “Land” (2021, PG-13) as a grieving woman who moves off the grid to a cabin in the Rockies. Also new:

• Unconventional parenthood dramedy “Together Together” (2021, R) with Ed Helms and Patti Harrison;

• LGBTQ+ romantic drama “Two of Us” (France, 2020, not rated, with subtitles) with Barbara Sukowa and Martine Chevallier as two women in love;

• Action thriller “The Marksman” (PG-13) with Liam Neeson as an Arizona rancher who protects an 11-year-old migrant from cartel assassins;

• Horror film “The Djinn” (2021, R).


Ewan McGregor plays the first American celebrity fashion designer in “Halston” (2021, TV-MA), a limited series from producer Ryan Murphy.

The documentary limited series “Money, Explained” (TV-14) delves into the minefields of personal finance.

Family sitcom “The Upshaws” (TV-14) stars Mike Epps, Wanda Sykes and Kim Fields.

International passport: Survival thriller “Oxygen” (France, 2021, TV-MA, with subtitles) with Mélanie Laurent arrives from horror specialist Alexandre Aja directs. Also new:

• Crime thrillers “I Am All Girls” (2021, South Africa, TV-MA) about a detective and a killer targeting a child-trafficking ring, and “Ferry” (2021, Belgium, TV-MA, with subtitles) about a drug lord returning home for a mission of revenge;

• Crime drama “Illegal Woman” (2020, Spain, TV-MA, with subtitles) about an immigration lawyer investigating a death in a detention center;

• Based-on-a-true story drama “Dance of the Forty One” (2021, Mexico, TV-MA) about a late 20th century scandal involving a gay congressman;

• Horror movie “The Strange House” (2021, Austria, TV-MA, with subtitles) about two young brothers investigating a haunting in their new house.

Amazon Prime Video

A tale of “First Love” (Japan, 2019, TV-MA, with subtitles) gets caught in the crossfire of warring gangs in Miike Takashi’s wildly violent crime thriller.

A fourth-grade boy goes searching for answers when penguins suddenly appear in his town in the animated adventure “Penguin Highway” (Japan, 2019, not rated, with subtitles).

Cult Pick: Spirals colonize a remote town in “Uzumaki” (Japan, 2000, not rated, with subtitles), as strange and surreal a horror fantasy as you’ve ever seen.

Amazon Prime and Hulu

A newly devout hospice nurse (Morfydd Clark) becomes obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient (Jennifer Ehle) in “Saint Maud” (2020, R), an indie thriller that takes a sinister turn.

Frank Langella is a retired jewel thief who goes back in action with a new partner in “Robot and Frank” (2012, PG-13), a crime comedy with a science-fiction twist. (Amazon Prime and Hulu)


Sienna Miller and Diego Luna play a couple who “Wander Darkly” (2020, R) after a traumatic accident jolts their relationship.

A struggling writer becomes obsessed with the wealthy and enigmatic Ben (Steven Yuen) in Chang-dong Lee’s unsettling psychological drama “Burning” (South Korea, 2018, TV-14, with subtitles).

The documentary “Some Kind of Heaven” (2020, not rated) goes behind the gates of America’s largest retirement community.


Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin are a separated couple who reunite to save their son in the end-of-the-world thriller “Greenland” (2020, PG-13).

Gal Gadot returns as the screen’s greatest Amazon warrior in “Wonder Woman 1984” (2020, PG-13), also starring Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal.

The action thriller “Mortal Kombat” (2021, R) leaves HBO Max on May 23.

Other streamsA wrongly convicted cop gets caught up in a mutiny on a transport ship in “Intergalactic” (not rated), a British sci-fi adventure with a female cast. (Peacock)

Medieval thriller “The Reckoning” (2021, not rated) from director Neil Marshall, starring Charlotte Kirk and Sean Pertwee, and horror comedy “Fried Barry” (2021, not rated) from South Africa are new on both Shudder and AMC+.

“Ziwe” (TV-MA) is a variety show hosted by comedian, writer and viral tweeter Ziwe. (Showtime Anytime)

Limited series “Trickster” (2020, not rated) is a supernatural drama is based on the bestselling trilogy of novels by Eden Robinson. (Sundance Channel)

”Blinded – Those Who Kill” (Denmark, TV-MA, with subtitles), a psychological crime drama starring Natalie Madueño as a criminal profiler. (Acorn TV)

”Bauhaus: A New Era” (Germany, with subtitles) is a limited series starring August Diehl about the young artists who ushered in an artistic movement and “Hierro” (Spain, with subtitles) is a murder mystery set in Spain’s Canary Islands. (MHz)

”Dangerous Men: 7 Films Starring Robert Ryan” mines volatile classics from the actor’s prime, from social drama “Crossfire” (1947) to explosive heist thriller “Odds Against Tomorrow” (1959). (Criterion Channel) Also new:

• “After the War,” a collection of films exploring the scars of battle from film noir classic “The Blue Dahlia” (1946) to Vietnam-era stateside drama “The Last Detail” (1973) with Jack Nicholson;

• Oscar-winning war movie double feature “Patton” (1970, PG) with George C. Scott and Robert Altman’s “MASH” (1970, R);

“The House Is Black” (Iran, 1963, with subtitles), directed by trailblazing feminist Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad.

New on disc and at Redbox

“The Mauritanian,” “The Marksman,” “Land”

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

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