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.

Beyond Utopia (Madeleine Gavin)

The name Pastor Kim comes up early in Madeleine Gavin’s Beyond Utopia. A gentle, aching man, Pastor Kim tells Gavin he has ensured the escape of over 1,000 people from North Korea in the last 10 years. He’s one of the leaders of this Underground Railroad in the area, leading defectors through rivers, mountains, and forests with rods in his neck, rolled ankles, and multiple surgeries plaguing his physical health over the years. Kim becomes the doc’s lynchpin, the character who provides light to the defectors and audience. In short: he’s a hero. – Michael F. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Bottoms (Emma Seligman)

It’s beginning to feel like South By Southwest is the Rachel Sennott Festival. After breaking out there three years ago with Shiva Baby (the movie premiered as a short in 2018 and would have again as a feature in 2020 if not for the pandemic), she made waves last year in Austin with sleeper horror hit Bodies Bodies Bodies. Now Sennott’s back with Bottoms, one of two new movies she’s headlining this week, and which adopts many characteristics of an SXSW offering: it’s gay, it’s bloody, and it’s horny. – Jake K. (full review)

Where to Stream: MGM+

A Compassionate Spy (Steve James)

See an exclusive clip above.

The latest film from acclaimed documentarian Steve James, A Compassionate Spy, comes with a fascinating subject: the spy who leaked nuclear information from the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union, therefore ensuring that America could not establish a nuclear monopoly on the world. It’s easy to see why James would be drawn to the spy, Theodore “Ted” Hall, and his wife Joan as he has often been interested in using individuals as the framework to explore larger societal issues. Utilizing a hybrid of recreations, archival footage, and modern-day interviews, James crafts a portrait of a man, a relationship, and the sheer weight of the decision to betray your country to save the world. – Logan K. (full review)

Where to Stream: Hulu

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: Paramount+ with Showtime

The Holdovers (Alexander Payne)

After teaming for Sideways two decades ago, writer-director Alexander Payne and actor Paul Giamatti have reunited The Holdovers, and while it’s not a return to form (Downsizing defender, reporting in), it’s already been rightly embraced as a triumph for the duo. Certainly set to be a recurring sad Christmas classic, Ethan Vestby said in his TIFF review, “[for] how it captures the ambiance of walking out of a liquor store and down a wintry street a few days after Christmas, The Holdovers makes for the ideal annual holiday revisit. If far from revelatory, it nonetheless contains a good deal of likability and honesty.”

Where to Stream: VOD

Human Flowers of Flesh (Helena Wittmann)

Early into Helena Wittmann’s 2017 feature debut, Drift, a character recounts a Papua New Guinean tale of the world’s creation. Back when the planet was all water, a giant crocodile kept paddling around preventing the sand to settle; only after a warrior slaughtered the beast did the land jut into being. A few minutes into Human Flowers of the Flesh a sailor shares another legend, this one from Ancient Greece. As he chopped Medusa’s head, Perseus dropped it on the shore; the seaweed absorbed the Gorgon’s petrifying powers, and that’s how coral was born. Wittmann has a knack for myths, and her cinema radiates a certain mythical grandeur, a pleasure as primeval and untimely as the stories her projects orbit around. Flowers, in that, feels both ancient and novel. It’s a film whose visual experiments invite one to see the world anew, even as the demons that fuel it harken back to a passion for storytelling that’s as old as time itself. – Leonardo G. (full review)

Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (James Mangold)

If you went to the movies in 1989 you might have heard Indiana Jones growl the line “it belongs in a museum.” You’ll hear him say it again in The Dial of Destiny (premiering this week at a notably geriatric Cannes Film Festival) but you won’t get his enemy’s timely response: “So do you.” Harrison Ford was 49 years old back then, in a film called The Last Crusade––which it, of course, was not. Ford returned as Jones in 2008 for Steven Spielberg’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and now, miraculously, once again for director James Mangold’s first swing at the franchise: an effects-drenched, largely amiable swan song for the whip-cracking explorer that never really lives up to its hero’s adventurous spirit. – Rory O. (full review)

Where to Stream: Disney+

Light From Light (Paul Harrill)

Single mother Sheila (Marin Ireland) is a car rental saleswoman by day and paranormal investigator by night. Raising her teenage son, Owen (Josh Wiggins), however, is a full-time job. Or, at least, it was and she preferred it that way. Now their relationship is strained as both face the likelihood of extended separation due to Owen being college-bound and becoming increasingly independent. A job opportunity to study a widower’s supposedly haunted abode could give them the chance they need to reconnect or might only make matters worse. Light from Light is an understated ghost story that forgoes the supernatural in favor of examining how such pursuits can reflect the psychic and emotional wounds left behind by the deceased. Furthermore, it’s about carrying on as the pang of loss lingers long after grief has subsided without the film ever resorting to amateur psychoanalysis or storytelling contrivances. Instead, Paul Harrill’s sensitive direction allows the characters to organically come to their own conclusions, bolstered by outstanding performances from Marin Ireland and, unexpectedly, Jim Gaffigan as the widower, Richard. – Kyle P.

Where to Stream: Metrograph at Home

Marlowe (Neil Jordan)

The key to understanding the new Philip Marlowe film is being aware that it’s not based on an actual novel by Raymond Chandler but a 2014 exercise by Irish mystery writer John Banville to replicate the style of that legendary author. This picture, somewhat of a beguiling genre experiment that seemingly nobody asked for, initially seems like a bad throwback, but in its game of telephone through adaptation ends up, actually, something of a moderately funny joke. – Ethan V. (full review)

Where to Stream: MGM+

May December (Todd Haynes)

Todd Haynes’ May December pulls from a popular ’90s scandal wherein 34-year-old teacher Mary Kay Letourneau had sex with her 12-year-old student, birthed their baby while awaiting her sentence, went to prison, got parole, broke a restraining order to see him again, went back to prison, had another child behind bars, got out after seven years, married the student, raised a family with him, and was eventually left by him 14 years into their marriage. It’s not the exact story of May December, but the differences are negligible––twins instead of children a year apart, some shuffled details. And most importantly, the addition of Natalie Portman. – Luke H. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

The Mountains Are a Dream That Call to Me (Cedric Cheung-Lau)

If a mountain-climbing adventure like Everest or Vertical Limit removed its bombastic thrill-seeking setpieces and was instead directed with the patient, reverent eye of Apichatpong Weerasethakul one may conjure up something like The Mountains Are a Dream That Call to Me. Cedric Cheung-Lau, who established his career on the lighting teams of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, The Mend, Little Men, and more notable indies, makes his feature directorial debut with this peaceful, meditative journey through the Annapurna Mountain range in Nepal. Compact in narrative scale, but as epic as one can imagine in terms of capturing the awe of the gorgeous environment our small set of characters traverse, the film is a meditative testament to appreciating one’s surroundings in all their glory. – Jordan R. (full review)

Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel

Scrapper (Charlotte Regan)

It feels serendipitous that Scrapper, a somber slice-of-life British melodrama, screened at the Sundance Film Festival just days after hysterical reporting on Prince Harry’s book, Spare, and the announcement of King Charles’ coronation plans. Finding it a bit hard to sympathize and identify with––or care about––the ongoing drama surrounding the U.K.’s Royal Family? You can bet the characters in Scrapper wouldn’t care less, either. Audience members watching Charlotte Regan’s film will, however, care deeply about 12-year-old Georgie and her existence on the outskirts of London. – Chris S. (full review)

Where to Stream: Paramount+ with Showtime

What Happens Later (Meg Ryan)

Despite being publicized as Meg Ryan’s return to the rom-com, her latest directorial (and acting, producing, and first writing) effort What Happens Later is a rather well-observed, aching reckoning of the love and life left beyond when one achieves the proper distance for reflection. While this one-location tale of two ex-lovers (Meg Ryan and David Duchovny) trapped at an airport overnight has its fair share of slightly clunky, humorous banter (and a peculiar fantasy element that may convince one they are in purgatory), the residual feeling is one of regrets and longing, a bitter but more emotionally impressive pill than what could’ve been a simplified return to the genre that made Ryan famous. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: VOD

Also New to Streaming

The Criterion Channel

Directed by Ousmane Sembène
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
The Cassandra Cat
Hitchcock for the Holidays
Holiday Noir
Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring
Lawrence of Arabia
La roue
MGM Musicals
Morvern Callar
Starring Parker Posey

Metrograph at Home

Black Mother
Friends and Strangers
Notes on an Appearance

MUBI (free for 30 days)

Chaos Reigns: The Films of Lars von Trier
For Ever Godard
Something in the Air: An Olivier Assayas Spotlight
Takeshi Kitano: Destroy All Yakuza
Night Shift
A Christmas Tale
The Age of Innocence
Nea: The Young Emmanuelle
Close Encounters of the Third Kind


American Symphony
The Batman
Black Swan

Prime Video

The Green Knight

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