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.

American Fiction (Cord Jefferson)

Thelonious “Monk” Ellison is in a rut. He’s still trying to get a publisher to accept his latest book in a market that doesn’t exactly embrace his erudite style. His gig as a college professor lecturing to students that are too “goddamn delicate” to embrace thorny topics of race has him ostracized from colleagues. He’s estranged from family, all of whom are juggling their own issues––health problems, divorce, the financial strain that comes with both. When Monk concocts an elaborate joke to get more fame and acceptance, it’s taken shocking seriously, setting off a series of misadventures exploring how white America is more willing to accept the most reductive, pandering stories of Black trauma versus something that rings holistically authentic. With American Fiction, Cord Jefferson––who has worked on series such as Succession and 2019’s Watchmen––has crafted a directorial debut of biting satire but one that smartly stays grounded in the perspective of Monk’s journey. – Jordan R. (full review)

Where to Stream: Prime Video

American Film Foundation Collection

The Academy Award- and Emmy-winning husband and wife team of Freida Lee Mock and Terry Sanders, who have produced and released nearly 50 films spanning decades of filmmaking through their non-profit company American Film Foundation, have made their film collection available worldwide for the first time. Their films and/or series have received three Oscars, 10 Oscar nominations, Primetime Emmys and Emmy nominations, and numerous other awards. Among the highlights in the collection are the Oscar-winning Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision and A Time Out of War (both National Film Registry Selections); SING!, the Oscar nominee about the renowned chorus where Billie Eilish and Finneas learned to sing; and the Emmy-Winning Lillian Gish: The Actors’ Life for Me, among many others.

Where to Stream: Vimeo on Demand

Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry (Elene Naveriani)

Georgian cinema continues to show thriving signs of life in Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry, a film about a contently independent woman who is faced with the thrills and spills of companionship for the first time. A breakout at Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes earlier this year and a deserved winner, last week, of both best film and actress at the Sarajevo Film Festival, Blackbird is the latest from Elene Naveriani, a 38-year-old director who co-wrote the script with the writer and feminist activist Tamta Melashvili. From that collaboration springs an unlikely tale about the shock of attraction, about how bodies appear depending on how we see them and who’s looking, and about the joys of touch and solitude and whether or not they need be mutually exclusive. – Rory O. (full review)

Where to Stream: MUBI (free for 30 days)

Challengers (Luca Guadagnino)

Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers opens in an intentionally disorienting manner: We are in New Rochelle, New York for a tennis challenger. Wearing cheap shorts that resemble boxers, Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor) battles Art Donaldson (Mike Faist), clad in head-to-toe Uniqlo, while the glamorous Tashi Donaldson (Zendaya) watches tensely from the stands. Flashbacks, first from a few days prior, and then way back to 13 years ago, slowly fill in the gaps on how these two former best friends ended up in such a position: playing against one another in a mid-tier tennis challenger comically sponsored by a tire brand.  – Caleb H. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Chime (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

How do you even start to write about Chime, a film that keeps secrets guarded and lives off the shocks of its knife-edge turns? It’s safe to say the director is Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It’s also safe to say Chime is 45 minutes long, making it feel more like the pilot for a TV series we’ll never see––only adding to the intrigue. Like much of the director’s work, it’s the kind of thing you could have seen late night on television when you were much too young. It would have also left a mark. – Rory O. (full review)

Where to Stream: Roadstead

Power (Yance Ford)

“Police power is immediate power.” These opening words from Redditt Hudson––former police officer and co-founder of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform, and Accountability––haunt and inform the entirety of Yance Ford’s Power. Ford actually opens the film over black, informing viewers that what they are about to see is “an analysis of police history that I’d like you to consider.” At the very least, curiosity is required to consider the facts that will come next. – Dan M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

Red Road (Andrea Arnold)

With the visionary British filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s newest film Bird premiering in competition at Cannes, we’re excited to look back at her phenomenal feature debut that took home the Jury Prize eighteen years ago. Red Road is a striking revenge thriller about a lonely CCTV operator in Glasgow who stumbles upon the face of a man she wishes she could forget.

Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club

Sasquatch Sunset (David and Nathan Zellner)

Life in the wilderness––breathing in the mountain air, basking in the sun, and foraging for the perfect meal––can also be punishing and unforgiving. Particularly if you are a Sasquatch family. This simple premise is the foundation of David and Nathan Zellner’s most experimental gamble yet, Sasquatch Sunset, which captures a year in the Sasquatch way of life. Set in the vast expanse of Northern California––not far from where the infamous Patterson–Gimlin film was shot––we witness the circle of life for these creatures in all their birth, playfulness, territorial drive, fornication, and death. The result is almost exactly what one may expect from the logline––with perhaps a bit more bodily fluids and Sasquatch phalluses––and while it’s impressive that the Zellners stay steadfast in their conceit, one wishes the overall effect added up to something with a bit more impact. – Jordan R. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood (Anna Hints)

Estonian director Anna Hints creates undeniable intimacy in her debut documentary Smoke Sauna Sisterhood. She sits with a group of women in this sacred place, religious in both its view of women’s bodies and experiences. Hints frames these women against a shifting light, shooting each and every one of their body parts, resting in their talk about joy and anger, fear and love. The documentary contains a piercing honesty and a collective thread, a fiber connecting these women to each other and to the outside world. Smoke Sauna Sisterhood is simple, powerful, and singular. – Mike F.

Where to Stream: MUBI (free for 30 days)

The Sweet East (Sean Price Williams)

After 22 years behind the camera––as cinematographer for the likes of Alex Ross Perry and the Safdie brothers––Sean Price Williams has emerged with his first directorial feat(ure), which boasts the creative flourish of a veteran on numerous levels, not least the seamlessly executed shifts in style and batshit Odyssean arc following a girl who must keep escaping the grasp of older men. The sweet cyanide screenplay was penned by film critic Nick Pinkerton, whose toe-stomping approach to character, theme, and colorful storytelling lays fresh ground for Williams to exercise every trick he’s ever learned. More non-musical movies should have integrated theme songs. – Luke H.

Where to Stream: Hulu

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