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.
American Made (Doug Liman)
Perhaps the most interesting thing about American Made is that Tom Cruise still has the clout to get something like it into theaters. Guided by his Edge of Tomorrow collaborator Doug Liman, we are told the impossibly true story of Barry Seal, a bored pilot who becomes a C.I.A.-funded drug smuggler and living embodiment of the Reagan era’s bullshit-tery. Taking structural cues from stuff like Goodfellas and Blow, Liman has fun within the sub-sub-genre of crazy Americans doing crazy American things for a lot of money. But then, as always, it’s a bit more complicated than that. There’s a memorably (and intentionally) sloppy aesthetic style that parallels the loopy narrative and the loopy hero at its center. Much of the running time is spent in the air as Seal pulls off mid-air deliveries and impromptu landings in the middle of neighborhoods. – Dan M. (full review)
Battle of the Sexes (Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton)
The 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs captured the imagination of not only tennis enthusiasts, but of the whole world. There has always been the persistent rumor that Riggs threw the match to settle debts with the mob. Whether or not that is true seems highly irrelevant to directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s depiction of the events. The latest film from the duo behind Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks, aptly titled Battle of the Sexes, seems to be the kind of project that was quickly green lit to feed off of the current zeitgeist. It stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell as the competitors and feels as relevant as any movie released this year. The drama recounts the events that led to the historic tennis match between the 29-year-old, number two-ranked tennis sensation Billie Jean King, and the retired, boorish former Open champ Bobby Riggs. – Jordan Ruimy (full review)
Brad’s Status (Mike White)
Brad’s (Ben Stiller) son is about to embark on college. It’s the type of auspicious life marker to make anyone look back and question the journey they’ve taken thus far. Has Brad done enough? Lived up to the potential he felt he possessed? Or was he passed by? All of his old Tufts friends are rich, famous, successful, and/or happy—pure happiness unencumbered by the seemingly trivial struggles Brad faces daily. He isn’t poor, though. Nor destitute. If anything he’s on the cusp of breaking past middle class with loving wife (Jenna Fischer’s Melanie) and son (Austin Abrams’ Troy). We therefore can’t feasibly pity him and this film about his white privileged crisis knows it. Only one person could ever feel sorry for him: himself. And of course he does. – Jared M. (full review)
It (Andrés Muschietti)
With a more ceremonious unveiling than the other Hollywood adaptation of a Stephen King property this year, It is slickly calibrated to please its spook-hungry audience. Functioning more as a roller coaster ride of frights and humor than a dread-inducing exercise in terror, Andy Muschietti’s Mama follow-up doesn’t have the inspired vision or thematic complexity to join Brian De Palma and Stanley Kubrick in the pantheon of the (very few) masterful cinematic retellings of the celebrated author. However, for a Halloween precursor, there is a respectable amount of carnivalesque mischief to be found in this cinematic equivalent of a deranged jack-in-the-box. Read my full review. – Jordan R.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos)
With the successive features Dogtooth, Alps, and The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos seemed to be going down the same route as Wes Anderson, i.e. become one of those auteurs who refines rather than expands on his idiosyncrasies, making largely interchangeable films on an ever grander scale but with diminishing returns. In this regard, The Killing of a Sacred Deer represents a departure, venturing into genre territory previously uncharted by the director. Although a felicitous turn in principle, the dispiriting results suggest Lanthimos might have been better off staying on his original course after all. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)
The Mountain Between Us (Hany Abu-Assad)
Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are two formidable actors that exude immaculate on-screen presence. So having both co-star in a film that basically pits them alone for most of the runtime can lead one to assume we’d be in for something special. The Mountain Between Us, adapted from the book by Charles Martin, is not that special movie. The Hollywood debut of Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad, who made Paradise Now and Omar, turns out to be surprisingly pedantic. Whereas the two aforementioned movies dealt with hefty, substance-driven subject matters, The Mountain Between Us is nothing more than a survival love story set in the far-reaching rocky mountains. – Jordan Ruimy (full review)
The Trip to Spain (Michael Winterbottom)
Averting the bigger is better approach that plagues most franchises, The Trip series is attuned to life’s simple pleasures: cuisine, comedy, and companionship. For Michael Winterbottom, Steve Coogan, and Rob Brydon, their third outing, The Trip to Spain, refreshingly doesn’t stray from the charismatic formula that has resulted in perhaps the most delightful series of films this decade. Read my full review of the year’s funniest film so far. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: Netflix
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