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.

Blue Jean (Georgia Oakley)

The Blue Jean of David Bowie’s 1984 hit was a girl with “a camouflage face,” not unlike the singer and the two personas he splintered into for the song’s video: a djinn-like rockstar dancing onstage and his ordinary, besuited doppelganger watching from below. So it is for the young woman at the center of Georgia Oakley’s own Blue Jean. A PE teacher stranded in Tyneside, England, Jean (Rosy McEwen) is a divorcée in a same-sex relationship that no-one––least of all her pupils and co-workers––must ever know about. For the year is 1988 and Britain’s grappling with the revolting aftermath of Section 28. The bill passed by Thatcher’s government banned “the promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities, forcing people like Jean into hiding. Camouflaging––its costs and consequences––is at the cornerstone of Oakley’s frank, often quite gripping feature debut. If Blue Jean does not debunk or reinvent new tropes in its tale of self-acceptance (does it have to, anyway?) it still radiates a rebellious energy, courtesy McEwen’s riveting performance and Oakley’s ability to never make her outcasts feel like lessons. – Leonardo G. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Earth Mama (Savanah Leaf)

Conceived with a remarkable amount of filmmaking confidence, Savanah Leaf’s directorial debut Earth Mama follows the trials and tribulations of a pregnant single mother struggling to get by day-to-day, restricted to seeing her other two children, currently in foster care, only one hour per week during supervised visits. With a history of drug addiction, she must find her way through a system that stacks the odds against her, exploring the possibilities of adoption and the pain of knowing the court may immediately take away her soon-to-be-born baby. It’s a difficult, demanding portrait of a life in shambles, susceptible to being relegated to poverty porn or a social-realistic bent that surrenders to one-note misery. It’s a miracle, then, that Olympian-turned-director Leaf finds both the humanity and beauty of every frame, bringing empathy to an impossible situation and delivering an abundance of grace notes. – Jordan R. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Free Time (Manfred Kirchheimer)

Shot in gorgeous black-and-white 16mm between 1957 and 1960, but not completed for another 60 years, Manfred Kirchheimer’s most recent city symphony time-travels back to a forgotten New York. The American documentarian presents the city as a place where beauty hides in every recess, waiting for people to fall captive to its allure, be inspired to immortalize it as art, or simply admire it idly. In its gentle glide across summertime streets, Free Time proves Kirchheimer’s claim that he is getting “freer and freer” with each movie he makes.

Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club

In Viaggio: The Travels of Pope Francis (Gianfranco Rosi)

Following The Young PopeThe New Pope, and The Two Popes, the time has officially come for the Woke Pope. In Viaggio, Gianfranco Rosi’s fascinating Rorschach test of a documentary, is also something of a People’s History of Pope Francis, pontiff since 2013, in that it largely consists of television broadcast footage of the man on his sundry global travels, though the filmmaker wisely deigns not to visualize his popular Twitter account. We don’t glimpse him from his own subjective point-of-view, as Fernando Meirelles and Jonathan Pryce attempted to show in their version; instead Rosi privileges what the global Roman Catholic membership and also what curious nonbelievers and secular onlookers observe—the dignified outer surface. And intriguingly enough, it’s a fairly flattering picture as one of the world’s oldest, most powerful institutions attempts some crisis PR in front of the contemporary world’s gaze. – David K. (full review)

Where to Stream: Hulu

Joy Ride (Adele Lim)

Often hilarious and moving, Adele Lim’s anticipated directorial debut Joy Ride takes the girls-trip formula (see: Bridesmaids and, of course, Girls Trip) in both new and familiar directions, crossing borders and breaking boundaries. Meeting as the only two Asian kids on the playground in a Norman Rockwell-esque, all-white town in the Pacific Northwest (aptly named White Falls), Audrey and Lolo become fast friends. But they couldn’t be any more different––while Audrey’s adoptive but somewhat uncomfortable guardians (David Denman and Annie Mumolo) encourage her academic pursuits and law career, Lolo’s successful parents accept her as a rebel artist making work about sexual liberation in everyday objects. – John F. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Knock at the Cabin (M. Night Shyamalan)

With its Twilight Zone-esque thrills, taking a high-concept, small-scale scenario and exploring it with pressure cooker intensity, Knock at the Cabin sets M. Night Shyamalan the restraints to craft one of his most impressive feats of directing. Further proving to be one of the most empathetic directors working on a studio level today, he also packs in moments of fright as we glimpse apocalyptic disasters through the omnipresent form of a television broadcast, grounding the unthinkable in a startling familiarity. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: Prime Video

Once Upon a Time in Uganda (Cathryne Czubek)

When Ugandan action filmmaker Isaac Nabwana lists off some of the great action stars that became a huge personal inspiration, he says names like Bud Spencer, Chuck Norris, and Bruce Lee, but then he says Rambo (as opposed to Sylvester Stallone). The iconography of American Hollywood action cinema is not only in the stars who act in them, but oftentimes the characters themselves and what they do. How they’re perceived by filmgoers as entertainers are not restrained through economic means. Cultural iconography is created, not born or ordained to the elite. That is the essential project behind Wakaliwood, a makeshift “film industry” in the Ugandan rural village of Wakaliga. – Soham G. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Passion (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi)

Friends meet at a restaurant for a birthday dinner in the opening scenes of Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Passion. Everyone loves the wrong person. Tomoya (Ryuta Okamoto) is engaged to math teacher Kaho (Aoba Kawai), but like the married Takeshi (Kiyohiko Shibukawa), is drawn to post-grad Takako (Fusako Urabe). Their stories unfold in a world of diners, small apartments, and taxis familiar to fans of Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy and the Oscar-winning Drive My Car. Shot as his thesis film at the Tokyo University of the Arts, Passion is Hamaguchi’s second feature. Read Daniel Eagan’s interview with Hamaguchi.

Where to Stream: VOD

Revoir Paris (Alice Winocour)

While she had been working for two decades, Virginie Efira received much-deserved wider acclaim leading Benedetta and Sibyl a few years back. She’s back this year with a pair of staggeringly great performances, in Rebecca Zlotowski’s Other People’s Children and Alice Winocour’s Paris Memories. The latter, for which Efira earned the César for Best Actress, follows her character trying to pick up the pieces of her life after experiencing a terrorist attack in Paris. Also starring Pacifiction‘s Benoît Magimel and Claire Denis regular Grégoire Colin, the drama is another example of Winocour’s mastery for immersing her audience in the headspace of her character with stellar sound design and precise cinematography. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: VOD

R.M.N. (Cristian Mungiu)

Anyone looking to take the temperature of Cristian Mungiu’s first film in six long years should heed the words of Matthias, his most recent downtrodden protagonist: “People who feel pity die first,” he explains to his 8-year-old son. “I want you to die last.” Too much? Try the more eloquent musings of the local priest: “Everyone has their place in the world, as God ordained.” Translation: go back to where you came from. The Romanian filmmaker returns with R.M.N., a portrait of Europe, perhaps the world, in the days of late capitalism. As bitter and biting as its winter landscape, it stars Marin Grigore as a Hungarian immigrant in a small village nestled amongst the snowy forests and sweeping mountains of Transylvania. Working in crisp blues and greys from Tudor Vladimir Panduru (GraduationMalmkrog), Mungiu sketches the town as a modern Babel: Romanian, Hungarian, French, German, Sri Lankan, and English are all spoken, and an uneasy coexistence prevails. You soon wonder for how long. – Rory O. (full review)

Where to Stream: AMC+

Shin Kamen Rider (Hideaki Anno)

Fatally, perhaps, I went into Shin Kamen Rider as a Hideaki Anno fan first and a Kamen Rider fan… not so much. I knew about it, of course: the iconography of the motorbike-riding superhero with his bug-eyed grasshopper mask is as thoroughly ingrained into Japan’s pop-cultural consciousness as any Marvel or DC character in the States, having been a staple of TV, film, manga, and young boys’ imaginations for over half a century. Consume enough Japanese pop culture, and some exposure to Kamen Rider––his bike, his mask, his kabuki-like battle poses––is inevitable. Having seen barely one of the hundreds of hours of Kamen Rider content out there, however, I could not fill you in on the finer points of its character names, relationships, or plotlines––meaning that when Anno’s latest, allegedly standalone film stopped for regular applause lines and deep-cut lore references that received whooping ovations from the theater full of fans with whom I saw it, they meant absolutely nothing to me and I began to wonder if the great pop auteur’s visions might be turning a smidge myopic. – Eli F. (full review)

Where to Stream: Prime Video

Smoking Causes Coughing (Quentin Dupieux)

Teeming with all kinds of freaks and plots that toggle freely between the real and the absurd, Quentin Dupieux’s films are the work of an inveterate, shamelessly playful raconteur. With ten features now to his name, the musician-turned-filmmaker has amassed an oeuvre whose leitmotif isn’t (just) the director’s penchant for the gonzo, but his passion for storytelling itself. Stories and storytellers abound in his latest, Smoking Causes Coughing. A Russian doll of tales-within-tales, it features one of Dupieux’s most bizarre concoctions yet—which, for a man that gave us a sentient killer tire (Rubber), an oversized fly-turned-pet (Mandibles), and a leather jacket with homicidal powers (Deerskin), is to say plenty. That’d be the Tobacco Force, a group of five superheroes who roam the Earth slaughtering monsters with the power of the toxic substances they borrow their names from—but which, curiously, none of them has ever consumed. (Lest you forget, as a squad member warns a boy at the outset, “smoking is for losers!”)  – Leonardo G. (full review)

Where to Stream: Hulu

Sympathy for the Devil (Yuval Adler)

D (Joel Kinnaman) is never late. For anything. He couldn’t let someone down even if he tried. So there’s no reason to worry when he learns his wife has gone into labor. At least nothing beyond the knowledge he’ll be as anxious about not being around to supervise things at work, since he’s soon becoming a dad again. All he must do is follow the checklist. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Susie Searches (Sophie Kargman)

Susie Wallis (Kiersey Clemons) has never met a mystery she couldn’t solve. At least not when it comes to those that populate the crime books her mother (Jammie Patton’s Anne) read to her as a child. It got to the point where she wondered if they should stop reading them altogether, but Susie refused. She didn’t care that she always guessed the culprit. All she cared about was spending time with Mom. So when Anne’s MS diagnosis advanced enough to take away her speech, Susie took over reading duties to keep the tradition alive. And she even took things one step further by choosing to make her mother’s wish come true: using her knack for literary detective work to do good in the world and become famous. – John F. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

War Pony (Riley Keough and Gina Gammell)

Riley Keough was working on American Honey in South Dakota when she met a couple locals who’d been cast as extras: Bill Reddy and Franklin Sioux Bob. They hit it off and immediately became friends outside production. Bill and Frank invited her to their home, Pine Ridge, and Keough and co-director Gina Gammell––who started a production company, Felix Culpa, together in 2018––quickly fell in love with the people and the land. Next thing you know, it’s 2019 and Felix Culpa is in production on its first feature. – Luke H. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Also New to Streaming

Apple TV+

The Beanie Bubble


God’s Country

MUBI (free for 30 days)

Pumping Iron
Joan the Maid, Part 1: The Battles
Joan the Maid, Part 2: The Prisons
Everybody Loves Jeanne
Sex and Lucía



Prime Video



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