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.

Ahead of the Curve (Jen Rainin, Rivkah Beth Medow)

In 1990, a 23-year-old named Frances “Franco” Stevens applied for multiple credit cards. When she was approved, she withdrew as much cash as she could from them, and used the money to launch Deneuve, one of the first lesbian magazines in the United States. In a fiction feature-length film, this moment would arrive halfway through the running time, the percussion in the score would tense as we saw an actor convey the fear and hopefulness of someone attempting something bold and risky. A mellow piano would probably announce that this is “the” make or break moment for our heroine. – Jose S. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Bad Tales (D’Innocenzo Brothers)

Amid the litany of horrors the biting little film Bad Tales presents, there might be a pinnacle: reading out your middle-school report card to a dining table of your parents’ closest friends. Although young Dennis (Tommaso Di Cola) and Alessia Placido (Giulietta Rebeggiani) have a stack of straight A+’s to unveil, they go through their paces with a haunted, almost inhuman stillness. The camera holds the shot in near-real time, tracking each excruciating second as the kids slowly leave the table, and return, gifted-level grades in trembling hands. But are the film’s writer-directors, twin brothers Fabio and Damiano D’Innocenzo, after our approval in an equally desperate fashion? – David K. (full review)

Where to Stream: Virtual Cinemas

Bo Burnham: Inside

A mix of stand-up special, movie, performance art, self-therapy, and confessional, Bo Burnham’s latest project Inside further proves he’s one of the few YouTube-born talents to actually provide a critical look at the ways in which the digital revolution has corroded our minds. Written, directed, shot, and edited by Burnham throughout the pandemic from a single room, Inside captures both the collective, personal fear and anxiety of the moment as well as pretty much everything else happening in the world this past year-plus. While it is admittedly ambitious ground to cover, Burnham keeps an authentic touch throughout as we get glimpses at a creative process that equal parts frustrating and, hopefully, cathartic.

Where to Stream: Netflix

Carole Lombard: First Lady of Screwball

Kick off June with the delightful screwball comedies of Golden Age legend Carole Lombard. Before her untimely death due to a plane crash at the young age of 33, she starred in a number of classics, many of which are now on The Criterion Channel, including No Man of Her Own (1932), Virtue (1932), Twentieth Century (1934), Hands Across the Table (1935), My Man Godfrey (1936), Nothing Sacred (1937), True Confession (1937), In Name Only (1939), Vigil in the Night (1940), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941), and To Be or Not to Be (1942).

Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel

Kajillionaire (Miranda July)

If one closes their eyes and imagines what a con movie in the hands of Miranda July might look like, I still don’t think you’d get anywhere close to what Kajillionaire actually ends up being. Then again, it’s precisely those creative impulses for the unexpected that has made the writer-director’s work so special. With her third feature, she crafts a singular story about the bonds of family and what happens when those bonds are tested–or never existed in the first place. More abstract than her previous films–and therefore, I imagine, off-putting to many–the steady, surreal, and sweet flashes of brilliance in this one-of-a-kind story are enough to sustain interest during some of the more tedious passages. – Jordan R. (full review)

Where to Stream: HBO Max

Kala azar (Janis Rafa)

Penelope and Dimitris are professional pet cremators. They roam the sprawling periphery of an industrial Greek town, retrieve defunct animals from their owners, burn them, and return their ashes. There’s a sense of urgency to their mission: kala azar, the infectious disease Janis Rafa’s singular debut feature is named after, is decimating hordes of canines all across Southern Europe, and the epidemic is threatening humans, too. But the couple’s pilgrimage also crackles with a certain compassion, an empathy that blurs their distance from the carcasses and complicates their role as undertakers. “You can include some of your pet’s favorite things,” Penelope tells a grieving woman before folding a handkerchief over her dead goldfish, rehearsing new condolences on her way to the next mourner: “We understand this must be a difficult time for you and your family…” – Leonardo G. (full review)

Where to Stream: MUBI (free for 30 days)

Port Authority (Danielle Lessovitz)

A deceptively simple romance doesn’t take away that there is something quietly radical at work in the New York love story Port Authority, set in the underground Kiki ballroom dance community. This is grounded in a believable reality, directed by first-timer Danielle Lessovitz, executive produced by Martin Scorsese and starring a promising Fionn Whitehead and Leyna Bloom, the first trans woman of color to headline a film at Cannes. – Ed F. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

The Real Thing (Koji Fukada)

After landing on our radars with the carefully observed family drama Harmonium, Koji Fukada’s A Girl Missing received a U.S. release from Film Movement last summer, and now the distributor has picked up the Japanese auteur’s latest project, the whopping 232-minute drama The Real Thing. The Cannes 2020 selection, which aired on TV in Japan, is an adaptation of Mochiru Hoshisato’s manga, following a floundering toy salesman who rescues a beguiling woman whose car was stuck on the train tracks as a series of epic misadventures begin.

Where to Stream: Virtual Cinemas

Slow Machine (Paul Felten and Joe DeNardo)

It’s rare that a new American film feels genuinely alive with possibility from beginning to end. So many of the logistical, economic, and technological decisions that go into making a movie in the United States are designed to suffocate artistic vision in favor of audience accessibility. Which means something infinitely strange and fractured like Slow Machine feels all the more essential, an eccentric celluloid shape-shifter shot on 16mm that playfully upends the tropes of narrative storytelling. – Glenn H. (full review)

Where to Stream: Virtual Cinemas

Undine (Christian Petzold)

Following up a successful work of lucid experimentation like Transit can be a tricky undertaking: does one lean back toward the basics or further up the ante? Christian Petzold shoots for the latter with his latest, a Berlin-based pseudo-supernatural melodrama titled Undine. And that name should prove telling: the myth of the watery nymph that inspired as far-flung old guys as Walt Disney, Andy Warhol, Neil Jordan, and Hans Christian Andersen in their creative endeavors. Ever the intellectual, in his press notes Petzold references the female-centric version of Ingeborg Bachmann as his key inspiration and his story does prove, for the most part, to be told from the eponymous heroine’s angle. – Rory O. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Bonus: The essential early films of Petzold are playing on MUBI including the stellar Yella, Jerichow, and The State I Am In.

Also New to Streaming

The Criterion Channel

Pride and Protest: The Films of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Bad Spaniard: 11 Scathing Satires by Luis García Berlanga
Starring Judy Holliday
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls 
Christ Stopped at Eboli
The Orphic Trilogy
Dos monjes
BPM (Beats Per Minute) and The Class


Broadcast News
Dr. Strangelove
Eyes Wide Shut
The Gold Diggers of 1933
Happy Together


Changing the Game
Jennifer’s Body

MUBI (free for 30 days)

Tucker: The Man and His Dream
Let’s Make a Dream

I Want to Go Home


Caveat (review)

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