New streaming movies are coming to entertain you and your family during socially distanced times.
This weekend, Janelle Monae takes on dual roles in a social horror flick tackling America’s complicated history with slavery, superhero stars Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson team up for a rural film noir on Netflix (though Spider-Man really doesn’t like Batman here), Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet lead an A-list drama about accepting death, and popular children’s author Mo Willems puts on a show for HBO Max.
If you’re feeling the itch to get back to the movies in person, and there’s a drive-in or it’s safe enough to return to your local theater, Jude Law and Carrie Coon’s family drama “The Nest” is out as well as “The Way I See It,” a new documentary about former White House photographer Pete Souza that just played at Toronto International Film Festival.
But if you’d rather stick closer to home, here’s a rundown of new movies hitting streaming and on-demand platforms this week, for every cinematic taste:
The sins of America’s past are combined with modern racial struggles in this complex psychological thriller. Monae is a standout pulling double duty, playing an enslaved Black woman named Eden who toils on a Southern plantation and a present-day sociologist who studies the history of Black disenfranchisement in the USA. The connection of those characters comes in a revelatory third act that adds an entertaining side to the deeper message at hand.
The violent tale, set between World War II and Vietnam, centers on a soldier (Bill Skarsgård) and his son (Tom Holland) and the many tragedies that befall them. Shady characters intertwine with their lives in backwater Ohio and West Virginia towns, and morally questionable religious acts are woven throughout as a running theme. Holland is aces as a teenager trying to make right a traumatic past, but several recognizable stars play a bunch of sinister personas, from Robert Pattinson as a deviant Tennessee preacher to Riley Keough and Jason Clarke as serial killers.
Where to watch: Netflix
To borrow from “The Real World,” the heartfelt drama doesn’t get good until people stop being polite and start getting real. Sarandon stars as a mom with ALS who wants to end her life while she still has control of her faculties, and she and her husband (Sam Neill) get their loved ones together for a final holiday weekend to air out some grievances. Sarandon is good, as are Winslet and Mia Wasikowska as her daughters, and it’s fairly touching and respectful in the way it deals with assisted suicide.
Those with small children probably know popular artist and author Mo Willems and his creations – from the best pals of the “Elephant and Piggie” books to his irascible Pigeon – very well. He’s better yet live, as even adults will be hooked on the antics of the enthusiastic Willems. He jokes around and leads his “Storytime All-Stars” (including Tony Hale, Anthony Anderson and Natalie Morales) together to read his greatest hits to kids for an entertaining show taped last summer at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center.
Where to watch: HBO Max
Like that time when we couldn’t escape nonstop zombie movies, now we’re apparently living through a flurry of scare fests centered on social-media influencers (“Spree,” “Followed“) . (And it’s not exactly a good thing.) The latest is particularly unoriginal, with Keegan Allen starring as a popular vlogger who’s taken to Moscow by his friends to produce an epic anniversary episode at a Russian escape room. Here’s a shocker: It goes oh-so-very-wrong as it liberally borrows from various “Hostel” and “Saw” movies.
The perilous journey of a woman (Jules Willcox) being stalked by a middle-aged psycho (Marc Menchaca), first on the road and then through a treacherous forest, pulls a lot from its heart-racing predecessors. While it doesn’t break the mold, it does ground its two leads in an intriguing real-world sense, with her coming off the recent death of her husband (and not needing this nonsense) and him veering from the usual horror-movie villain as a family man with some questionable hobbies.
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