With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit platforms. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.
Apostasy (Daniel Kokotajlo)
A central scene in Apostasy, the powerful debut from British director Daniel Kokotajlo, has a group of kids stage a re-enactment of King Solomon’s judgment, the parable from the Book of Kings. In the story, the king concocts a plan to settle who is the true mother of young boy. He says he’ll cut the child in two, dividing it among the two women. The true mother, of course, is declared after she says she’ll give up the baby. The king knows this because no mother would kill her child. – Ed F. (full review)
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve)
The makers of Blade Runner 2049 tricked a clutch of production companies into giving them nearly $200 million to make a languidly paced, ponderous, deliberately action-reticent blockbuster. That on its own would be impressive, but all the better, the result is the best cyberpunk film since the original Matrix, and the best big-budget American science fiction film in years. I would even say that it easily surpasses its predecessor (though outside of its production design and score, I am not a fan of that movie, so consider this opinion with that in mind), building on its themes and aesthetic to walk its own path. – Dan S. (full review)
Where to Stream: HBO Go
The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci)
With an unimpeachable cast of movie stars, TV stars, and even stage legends, The Death of Stalin makes a feast of the banal and horrifying absurdities that were commonplace during the period without losing the persistent undercurrent of tragedy and anxiety. Less a historical recreation than a comedic channeling of the spirit of the time, the film even has the actors speak in their native accent, leading to a motley collection of voices all fighting to get the upper hand in the race to fill Stalin’s role. Even as the film is very clearly a comedy, it’s also a tightrope act of tonal balance with scenes like David Zucker-style sight gags of executions happening in the background as characters walk by blissfully ignoring the consequences of their minute-to-minute choices. – Michael S. (full interview)
Flower (Max Winkler)
Equal parts vulgar and endearing, Flower joins the ranks of recent female-led comedies such as Ingrid Goes West and The Edge of Seventeen that force you to empathize with the main character, regardless of how unlikable they may be. Though not as socially conscious as Ingrid and not as cohesive as Seventeen, Flower remains an inventive and surprising entry that appears to be very aware of (and even afraid of) its own boldness. – Murphy K. (full review)
How to Talk to Girls at Parties (John Cameron Mitchell)
The lack of narrative propulsion or powerful subtext of any kind results in little dramatic substance beyond its cult-like ambitions. Much of it stems from Mitchell’s clearly unabashed love for 1970’s silly sci-fi, but Gaiman’s source material never called for that. The beauty that arose from Gaiman’s graphic novel was in its simplicity, in how it could take this infectious sci-fi romance and add beautifully realized imagination to it. The story of Enn and Zan does not need to be abrasively surrounded and interrupted by the psychedelic culture-clash of alien and human characters the film overstuffs in its script. The ideas are there, but the execution isn’t. – Jordan R. (full review)
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
Immaculately scripted and evocatively realized, Lady Bird, writer-director Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, deftly captures the growing pains of adolescence through the eyes of a seventeen-year-old high school senior, caught between the realities of her daily life and the fantasies of her future. The heart of the film lies between Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother (Laurie Metcalf), whose contentious and warring relationship gradually reveals their inherent similarities. Packed with stunningly cast characters, beautifully quotable dialogue and painstaking attention to period detail, Lady Bird captures an arduous and ecstatic coming-of-age tone and feel with deeper emotionality than any other film in 2017. – Tony H.
Where to Stream: Amazon Prime
Sense8: The Series Finale (Lana Wachowski)
Far and away Netflix’s greatest original show has now received a fan-heralded series finale. In a summer of dire blockbusters, it also brings us the best alternative: a new 2.5-hour work directed by Lana Wachowski. Why are you still reading this? Hit play. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: Netflix
Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi)
The Kiwi helmer makes the ideal move from the start: clearing the playing field of any excess baggage. He bulldozes the Shakespeare Lite-turned-Game of Thrones tone of the previous installments to pave the way for his off-kilter wit and bonkers fixations. The thunder god (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Asgard to find his not-so-dead brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston, squeezing a few more charms out) masquerading as their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), cackling at a play depicting his own death (that features a few delightful cameos). In literally reducing the events of The Dark World to a farce, Waititi announces his intentions to treat this franchise with all the goofs and weird Jeff Goldblum-ing it deserves. – Conor O. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
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