Most theaters are still closed, but new streaming movies are coming to entertain you and your family during socially distanced times.
This weekend, British actress Gemma Arterton headlines a heartfelt World War II drama; Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas star in a flick based on a mega-popular self-help book; Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard directs a harrowing documentary about a town affected by the worst fire in California’s history; a horror movie done completely over Zoom scares up some timely fears; and man-eating sharks are on the hunt again in a new action thriller.
If that’s not enough to get you online and watching movies, the 2012 documentary “Marley” is being rereleased in virtual cinemas Friday as part of a yearlong commemoration of what would have been music icon Bob Marley‘s 75th birthday.
Missing movie theaters? Fill up the car and head to these drive-ins
Here’s a rundown of new movies hitting streaming and on-demand platforms this week, for every cinematic taste:
This heartfelt British World War II tearjerker has its flaws – and a key reveal you’ll see coming a mile away – but its star is not one of them. Arterton shines as Alice Lamb, a reclusive folklore writer in the English countryside who’s been chosen to host Frank (Lucas Bond), a young boy who’s been evacuated from London. Initially annoyed, Alice comes around to digging the kid, who’s fascinated by her stories of legendary castles in the clouds, although she’s also forced to deal with a complicated past love.
Those who consider Rhonda Byrne’s book a bunch of hooey will probably want to avoid this saccharine drama. Dig Hallmark movies? Well, then, this is for you. Holmes plays a New Orleans single mom who’s already financially strapped when a storm sends a tree crashing through her roof. Help comes in the form of a mysterious college engineering professor (Lucas), a preternaturally kind and generous sort who offers to fix her house and ends up changing her worldview.
Guy’s guy cinema is alive and well in this crime drama, which centers on a London mobster (Vinnie Jones) ready for war in West Virginia, where his girlfriend (Lenora Crichlow) disappears amid a money-laundering deal between the Brit’s boss (Malcolm McDowell) and a local oilman (Ron Perlman). Lots of dude honor code, leathery old-man machismo, fist fights, gunplay, explosions, betrayals and a few surprises ensues.
It’s been a strange summer movie season, but at least we’re being introduced to Cosmo Jarvis, a talented new face (at least for American audiences) who casts a Brando-esque visage as an ex-boxer in this gritty drama. Arm (Jarvis) is an enforcer for a drug-dealing Irish crime family who struggles to be a good father for his 5-year-old son, who has autism. An act of mercy on a brutal assignment, however, leads to a series of desperate decisions as Arm runs afoul of his underworld bosses.
Where to watch: Apple TV, Vudu, Fandango Now
The opening minutes of Howard’s National Geographic documentary are visceral and terrifying, showing the absolute destruction caused by the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California. What’s remarkable, though, is the aftermath Howard captures, and how he brings his gift for exploring character to his portrait of the townspeople as they debate whether they to rebuild or relocate. Families navigate triumphs and tensions, and teachers and students without a school search for some sense of normalcy.
Where to watch: Virtual cinemas
Good luck not being unnerved during your family’s next Zoom game night after watching this clever piece of quarantine content. Shot in actors’ homes and directed remotely by Rob Savage, “Host” features a group of friends in lockdown who meet up for an online seance and, well, let’s just say the supernatural forces don’t maintain social-distancing standards. Lean and mean at under an hour, the movie deftly tweaks the found-footage formula and nicely plays on our already frayed nerves.
Where to watch: Shudder
OK, so none of them are exactly “Jaws,” but the proudly B-movie “Deep Blue Sea” franchise has a penchant for doling out some seriously bonkers shark attacks. This third installment is no different: Tania Raymonde (“Lost”) plays the head of a group of video-blogging environmentalists on a man-made island in the Mozambique Channel, and her marine biologist ex (Nathaniel Buzolic) shows up with a goon squad hunting a trio of genetically engineered, crazy-smart bull sharks. Get ready to root for the fish.