Online streaming is bigger than ever, and with so many streaming services adding new shows and movies every week, it can be nearly impossible to sort through the good and the bad. If you need something to watch and don’t want to wade through the digital muck that washes up on the internet’s shores, follow our picks below for the best new shows and movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon, and other services.
On the list this week: A kinky vacation goes wrong, Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig presents a weird cartoon, and more.
The year of Stephen King adaptations continues with this Netflix film based on his 1992 thriller Gerald’s Game. The story begins ordinarily enough: A married couple, Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), retire to a lakeside cabin for the weekend in hopes of reigniting their cold relationship. They spice things up with some bondage, but Gerald dies of a heart attack, leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed, with nobody nearby to help. Bound and plagued by hallucinations of Gerald and other people from her past, Jessie struggles to free herself. Directed by Mike Flanagan (Hush, Oculus), Gerald’s Game is a claustrophobic psychological thriller that makes great use of the story’s limited space.
How did Ezra Koenig, frontman for the rock band Vampire Weekend, wrangle a cast including Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Susan Sarandon, and Steve Buscemi to star in an anime-inspired comedy of manners? He either delivers a stunning sales pitch, or put off songwriting to build a mind control ray. However it came to be, the show — set in a futuristic version of New York where demons occasionally attack the affluent and cultured — is a treat. Neo Yokio follows Kaz Kaan (Smith), scion of a family of demon hunters, who’s also a fashionista, ace field hockey player, and the No. 2 most eligible bachelor in Neo Yokio (the rankings are displayed for the city’s denizens to obsess over). Other characters include Kaz’s robot butler, Charles (Law); Helena St. Tessero (Tavi Gevinson), a fashion blogger turned critic of the consumerist system; and Arcangelo Corelli (Jason Schwartzman), a snobby, old-money aristocrat and Kaz’s rival. Neo Yokio is a bizarre, often messy show, and probably won’t appeal to traditional anime fans, but it is worth watching for sharp absurdist humor aimed at the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
‘Our Souls at Night’
Sometimes the casting of a film is as noteworthy as the film itself. Our Souls at Night reunites Hollywood legends Jane Fonda and Robert Redford — who shared the screen a few times in the 1960s and ’70s — for a tale about love blossoming in old age. The plot is simple: Addie Moore (Fonda) and Louis Waters (Redford), elderly neighbors who have both lost their spouses, strike up a friendship that becomes more intimate. While Our Souls at Night may not have much in the way of suspense, it’s a touching story of two people forging a connection in their twilight years, and a great showcase for two esteemed actors.
This classic sci-fi adventure film follows software engineer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who is pulled into a digital world where sentient programs live under the tyranny of the Master Control Program. Flynn teams up with a security program named Tron (Bruce Boxleitner), as they compete in gladiatorial sports and plot to overthrow the MCP. Tron pioneered the use of CGI in films, but the true magic lies in its art design; the live-action characters and backlit, animated world give Tron a unique aesthetic that has been the inspiration for countless digital worlds since.
Horror tends to lend itself well to anthologies, and collections like Creepshow and Trick ‘r Treat have set a high bar. Featuring contributions from modern horror virtuosoes like Adam Wingard (You’re Next) and Ti West (The Innkeepers), V/H/S doesn’t quite live up to those classics of the genre. It is, however, an exciting (if uneven) collection of spooky stories, all linked by the found footage format. Although many horror fans might be exhausted with found footage by now, the stories in V/H/S tend to make novel use of the format — one film is presented entirely through a Skype chat, for example. Not all of the segments in V/H/S are winners, but the best of them will creep you out.