Each week we highlight the noteworthy titles that have recently hit streaming platforms in the United States. Check out this week’s selections below and past round-ups here.

Afire (Christian Petzold)

Writing recently about the introduction of video umpires in baseball, of all things, Zach Helfand was skeptical: “accuracy is not the same as enjoyment,” he wrote, “baseball is meant to kill time, not maximize it.” The best films of German director Christian Petzold do both, though you sense his heart might belong to the latter. Petzold’s latest, Afire, unfurls with all the page-turning seduction of a gripping novella. It stars Thomas Schubert as a struggling writer who travels with a friend to a secluded house near the Baltic Sea. Their car breaks down. They encounter a beautiful woman. Somewhere in the distance, a forest fire rages. Soon, inevitably, another burns inside. – Rory O. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Lynch/Oz (Alexandre O. Philippe)

The Wizard of Oz has become a tradition. Synonymous with the wonder of childhood and the wonder of movies, Victor Fleming’s 1939 classic plays in homes across America every year––often cited as the most-watched film in movie history. A portion of those watches come from filmmakers who think it a sacred text, traditional source material for any story they might want to tell. One of those filmmakers is David Lynch, populist surrealist actor, writer, artist, musician, and director. Lynch/Oz explores the connection between the famous film and dream-focused director. – Michael F. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD and The Criterion Channel (starting Oct. 25)

Piaffe (Ann Oren)

When singled-out within a purely visual medium, sound becomes intrinsically linked to the theme of obsession: a mystery the eyes can’t see that the protagonist needs to solve. From John Travolta’s Jack Terry unwittingly stumbling into a murder conspiracy when recording foley effects for a slasher flick in Brian De Palma’s Blow Out to Tilda Swinton’s Jessica trying to find the source for the “rumble” that haunts her every waking moment in Memoria, the inability to define a sound’s origin becomes a gripping enigma within a medium that thrives on showing, not telling. Much like De Palma’s film, the latest from visual artist Ann Oren takes as its starting point a recording studio––albeit a makeshift one, set up solely to record the sound effects for a bizarre TV commercial––but follows a much less conventional path to untangle an artist’s growing fixation on the noises they have stumbled into capturing. – Alistair R. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

The Pigeon Tunnel (Errol Morris)

You’ve no doubt heard of John le Carré––at least for the film adaptations of his novels, among them The Spy Who Came in from the ColdA Most Wanted Man, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Before his death in 2020, the prolific and wildly successful author (real name: David Cornwell) sat down with Errol Morris to discuss his career, his childhood, and the nature of truth. The result is The Pigeon Tunnel, adapted from le Carré’s 2016 memoir of the same name. Revolving entirely around interviews with Cornwell, The Pigeon Tunnel proves a worthy watch for the novelist’s fans. It’s also too shallow to really captivate a layperson. – Lena W. (full review)

Where to Stream: Apple TV+

Polite Society (Nida Manzoor)

Polite Society, written and directed by Nida Manzoor, moves like a supersonic jet. That’s one of the best things about the picture. Telling the coming-of-age story of Ria Khan (Priya Kansara), a young woman determined to become a stunt performer, the filmmaker establishes a brash, bold style early and often. Big performances, big camera moves, big editorial choices, big music cues! As the pace quickens, the swings grow larger and larger. – Dan M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Prime Video

Silver Dollar Road (Raoul Peck)

If Raoul Peck’s previous two films––the sweeping essay documentary I Am Not Your Negro and the painterly authorial portrait The Young Karl Marx––set aims to national and global-scale politics, then his new documentary Silver Dollar Road pulls the microscope out and offers a far more intimate, distinct example of the grander sociological themes he’s been excavating throughout his filmography. His latest forgoes the landmark figures and events of racial and class history. Instead our sights are set on an extended Black family in North Carolina and the white developers who aim to steal their rightful, generationally owned property known as Silver Dollar Road. – Soham G. (full review)

Where to Stream: Prime Video

Viking (Stéphane Lafleur)

Filmmakers who may not have Denis Villeneuve- or Christopher Nolan-sized budgets have recently found inventive ways to capture ideas of outer space, from Alice Winocour’s Promixa to Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja’s Aniara. The latest impressive indie entry comes from French-Canadian filmmaker Stéphane Lafleur, whose Viking is a slyly funny, surprisingly grounded look at the team that got left behind––specifically, the group that mirrors the team that is actually headed to Mars. From bracingly strange elements on this (faux) space journey, such as mounted horses and a pizza delivery, to seeing the shocking lengths the team will go to follow in the footsteps of those up in space, Viking delivers a well-balanced dose of humor and heart.

Where to Stream: Tubi

Waiting for the Light to Change (Linh Tran)

The five characters in Linh Tran’s Waiting for the Light to Change come together in awkward fashion, some reuniting and others meeting for the first time at a lake house in Michigan at the tail end of winter. What’s supposed to be a fun getaway starts on the wrong foot: they can’t find the house key upon arriving, the water’s too cold to swim or boat in, and there’s nothing to do in the small town; accordingly most of their time is spent indoors or wandering around the cold, windy shore nearby. That isolation makes for a rich starting point to Tran’s strong, confident debut feature, in which she uses her ensemble to explore the anxiety, despair, and sadness that can hang over one’s 20s while building a life and career. – C.J. P. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

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