What to stream: ‘Barb and Star’ on Hulu, ‘Shiva Baby’ and a new ‘Gossip Girl’ on HBO Max, ‘Black Widow’ on Disney Premium

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …  

Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha Romanoff aka “Black Widow” (2021, PG-13) in the first solo film for the Marvel hero. Set between the “Civil War” and “Infinity War” films, it’s a superhero adventure as a conspiracy thriller that sends Natasha looking for answers in her origins in Russia’s super soldier program and in the family she left behind. Florence Pugh plays the sister, a fellow spy, David Harbour their father, a disgraced Soviet superhero in his own right, and Rachel Weisz their mother. Australian-born filmmaker Cate Shortland directs. The prequel is the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It debuts as a premium rental the same day it opens in theaters. (Disney+)

“Bridesmaids” writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo cowrite and star in the comedy “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” (2021, PG-13) as middle-aged best friends who leave their small Nebraska town for the first time and get tangled in a dastardly plot while vacationing in the Florida resort town. A mix of spy spoof and screwball romance, with a musical number or two tossed in, it costars Jaime Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr., and Wendi McLendon-Covey. (Hulu)

A Jewish funeral service turns into a comic nightmare for struggling college-age student Danielle (Rachel Sennott) when her former girlfriend, her current sugar daddy, and his young wife and baby show up in “Shiva Baby” (2021, not rated). The anxiety is just the beginning as her lies start to unravel in front of her parents. This comedy of awkward situations pushed to the painfully funny limit plays out pretty much in real time. (HBO Max)

The reboot of “Gossip Girl: Season 1” (TV-MA) follows a new high school class—and a new Instagram gossip stirring the pot within the cliques and romances—ten years after the original cyberbully was finally revealed. This group of privileged private school teens, centered in the tensions between social queen bee Julien (Jordan Alexander) and her half-sister Zoya (Whitney Peak), the new kid in school, is more diverse than the original TV incarnation but the young adult soap opera is very much the same. Zion Moreno, Savannah Smith, Emily Alyn Lind, Evan Mock, Thomas Doherty, and Eli Brown costar and Laura Benanti and Donna Murphy provide the limited adult supervision. Showrunner Joshua Safran is a veteran of the original show. New episodes drop Thursdays. (HBO Max)

The next generation of monsters learn to create laughter instead of scares in the animated comedy “Monsters at Work: Season 1” (TV-G), the small screen sequel to “Monsters, Inc.”. Features the voices of Billy Crystal and John Goodman as Mike and Scully. New episodes on Wednesdays. (Disney+)

Noah Wylie takes the lead in the caper series revival “Leverage: Redemption: Season 1” (TV-14), which reunites the original team (Gina Bellman, Aldis Hodge, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf) and adds a new member (Aleyse Shannon) to use criminal skills to help ordinary people fight corporate villains. Streams free with ads. (IMDbTV)

Classic pick: Elia Kazan’s “On The Waterfront” (1954), starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, and Eva Marie Saint, won eight Academy Awards, including best actor Brando, actress Saint, director, and picture. (Amazon Prime)

Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand

A guarded middle-aged American travel writer (John Benjamin Hickey) in Tel Aviv falls for his landlord (Niv Nissim), an uninhibited younger man, in the romantic drama “Sublet” (2021, not rated, with subtitles).

Netflix

Think of “We the People: Season 1” (TV-Y7), an animated series of musical lessons in civil rights, citizenship, and government, as a 21st century version of “Schoolhouse Rock.” Features songs by Janelle Monae, Adam Lambert, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Brandi Carlile, and others. Barack and Michelle Obama are among the producers.

Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness: Season 1” (U.S./Japan, TV-MA), a 3D CGI animated spinoff of the zombie conspiracy video game franchise, arrives ahead of the upcoming live-action series.

Bella Thorne plays a young woman unable to endure sunlight in the romantic drama “Midnight Sun” (2018, PG-13).

Reese Witherspoon stars in the romantic comedy “Home Again” (2017, PG-13), costarring Nat Wolff and Michael Sheen.

Sadie Sink and Gillian Jacobs star in “Fear Street Part 2: 1978” (2021, R), the second film in the horror trilogy.

International passport: two cops (Pio Marmaï and Vimala Pons) team up to stop a dangerous drug that gives humans superpowers—at a cost—in “How I Became a Superhero” (2021, France, TV-MA).

True stories: “Cat People: Season 1” (TV-14) profiles a diverse group of people devoted to their feline friends. It’s accompanied this week by the second season of “Dogs” (TV-PG).

More streaming TV: “Grey’s Anatomy: Season 17” (TV-14) dropped its medical team in the midst of the Covid pandemic. Also new:

International TV: the historical romance “The Cook of Castamar: Season 1” (Spain, with subtitles) follows the fortunes of a talented young chef who is wooed by a widowed duke in 18th century Madrid.

Amazon Prime Video

Jason Segel is “Our Friend” (2019, R) who puts his life on hold to help his best friends (Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck) when one of them is given six months to live. Based on a true story.

Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw star in the original “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (1974, R), a crack subway heist thriller and one of the best New York crime films of the 1970s.

Gregory Peck is Captain Ahab in “Moby Dick” (1956), a visually stunning adaptation of the American classic from director John Huston and screenwriter Ray Bradbury.

Revisit some of the great westerns, from the epic to the offbeat, in this quartet of classics:

  • Howard Hawks’ cattle drive classic “Red River” (1948) with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift;
  • The Magnificent Seven” (1960) with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen;
  • Sergio Leone’s “A Fistful of Dollars” (Italy, 1964), the film that launched the spaghetti western craze and made Clint Eastwood a movie star;
  • Monte Hellman’s “The Shooting” (1968), an existential odyssey starring Warren Oates and Jack Nicholson.

Kid stuff: a surf-mad penguin gets mentored by a tropical hippie hermit in the animated “Surf’s Up” (2007, PG), featuring the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, and Jeff Bridges.

Hulu

Moffie” (2020, not rated), set in 1981 South Africa, follows a white teen (Kai Luke Brummer) as he fulfills his compulsory military service in a brutally racist and homophobic military culture while hiding his own homosexuality.

Shot in and around Portland, Oregon, “Leave No Trace” (2018, PG) is a touching drama about a troubled vet and loving single father (Ben Foster) trying to raise a daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) off the grid.

 The Damon Wayans-created sitcom “My Wife and Kids: Complete Series” (2001-2005, TV-PG), costarring Tisha Campbell, premieres on Hulu for its 20th Anniversary. Also new:

International TV: a serial killer hides his past from his wife, a police detective on the trail of his victims, in “Flower of Evil: Season 1” (South Korea, with subtitled). Also new are romantic dramas “I’ll Go To You When The Weather Is Nice: Season 1” (South Korea, with subtitled) and “More Than Friends: Season 1” (South Korea, with subtitled).

HBO Max

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner play grandparents who go on a mission to rescue their grandson from a criminal family living off the grid in “Let Him Go” (2020, R).

A group of strangers are hunted for sport by wealthy elitists in the divisive satirical thriller “The Hunt” (2020, R), written by Damon Lindelof (HBO’s “Watchman”) and starring Betty Gilpin and Hillary Swank.

The second season of the CW mystery series “Nancy Drew” (2021, TV-14) now streams for subscribers.

Disney+

The family summer comedy “The Sandlot” (1993, PG) has become a beloved blast of nostalgia for many.

The fourth episode of “Loki” is accompanied with an animated “Loki”/”The Simpsons” crossover short.

AMC+

In “The Beast Must Die: Season 1” (not rated), a mother (Cush Jumbo) goes after the man (Jared Harris) she believes killer her son. New episodes each Monday, a week before they debut on cable.

Topic

A murder on the border of Sweden and Denmark opens the crime thriller “The Bridge (Bron / Broen)“(Sweden/Denmark, 2011-2018, TV-MA, with subtitles), which kicked off the Nordic Noir genre and inspired remakes in the U.S., England, and elsewhere. The first season now available, subsequent seasons roll out each Thursday through July.

Showtime Anytime

The documentary “The One and Only Dick Gregory” (2021, not rated) looks at the life and legacy of the comedian and activist whose work impacted generations.

BritBox

The true crime series “In the Footsteps of Killers” (TV-14) features “Silent Witness” star Emilia Fox joining criminologist Professor David Wilson to revisit unsolved murders.

The Criterion Channel

Neonoir,” a collection of 26 films from 1970 to 2005 that draw from the classic Hollywood tradition of film noir, includes such iconic crime classics as Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning “Chinatown” (1974, R) with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, Lawrence Kasdan’s sultry “Body Heat” (1981, R) with William Hurt and Kathleen Turner, and John Dahl’s cold-blooded thriller “The Last Seduction” (1994, R) with Linda Fiorentino. Dig deeper, though, and you’ll unearth some lesser-known films worthy of rediscovery. Here are a few to start with:

  • gritty New York mob thriller “Across 110th Street” (1972, R) with Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto racing the mob to solve a murder in Harlem;
  • Arthur Penn’s “Night Moves” (1975, R) with Gene Hackman as a Los Angeles private detective hired to find a runaway and finding much more;
  • Jeff Bridges and John Heard in “Cutter’s Way” (1981, R), a crime drama seeped in the disillusionment and anger of the post-Vietnam era;
  • Rian Johnson’s “Brick” (2005, R), a detective noir reimagined as a high school melodrama.

Also new to the service: the streaming premiere of “Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time” (Hungary, 2020, not rated, with subtitles), a slippery, seductive investigation of memory, obsession, and delusion;

  • documentary “Andrei Tarkovsky: A Cinema Prayer” (Italy, 2019, not rated, with subtitles), a tribute directed by the legendary filmmaker’s son;
  • Three by Mani Ratnam,” a collection of Tamil-language films including “Nayakan” (India, 1987, not rated, with subtitles), a crime epic inspired by “The Godfather,” and “Bombay” (India, 1995, not rated, with subtitles), controversial tale of an interfaith Muslim-Hindu romance.

The weekly column is featured in The Seattle Times, The Spokesman-Review, and other newspapers.

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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