What to stream: ‘Maniac’ and ‘The Witch’ on Netflix, ‘The Conformist’ on Amazon Prime Video, ‘Citizen Kane’ on FilmStruck

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, FilmStruck, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …

Emma Stone and Jonah Hill play traumatized test subjects in a pharmaceutical trial that promises to take away their pain in Maniac (2018), a Netflix Original limited series that combines science fiction, psychodrama, and dark comedy. Justin Theroux co-stars as the inventor in charge of the test and Sally Field is his mother, a celebrity pop psychiatrist who has given him serious issues he might want to work through.

Loosely adapted from a Norwegian series by creators Amelia Gray (Mr. Robot) and Patrick Somerville (The Leftovers) and director Cory Fukanaga (True Detective), this is a show about an experimental psychoactive drug that “sort of is an experimental psychoactive drug,” according to The New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik. After it establishes the premise, he continues, it “ups the dosage and becomes something unstable, exhilarating and one-of-a-kind, a sci-fi pharmacological dystopian family-therapy dramedy.”

All ten episodes streaming on Netflix.

The Witch (2015, R), subtitled “A New England Folktale,” is a primal horror film rooted in fear and superstition. A family of Puritans in the new world of 17th century America beset by hardships and tragedy become convinced that they’ve been cursed and it’s hard not to see every unsettling act of nature as a sign of evil. It’s dark and spooky and suggestive and leaves you wondering what’s real, what’s imagined, and how much belief guides our perceptions.

Streaming on Netflix. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.

Foreign language pick: Jean-Louis Trintignant stars in Bernardo Bertolucci’s award-winning The Conformist (Italy, 1971, R, with subtitles), a stylized drama of collaboration and moral compromise in Fascist Italy in the late 1930s. Bertolucci’s fluid camera glides and dances through art deco sets which cinematographer Vittorio Storaro bathes in soft nostalgic colors, while Trintignant stands apart, alienated and aloof from it all. Dominique Sanda and Stefania Sandrelli co-star.

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.

The most vibrant thrilling of the three collaborations between director Carol Reed and writer Graham Greene, The Third Man (1949) stars Joseph Cotten as a cynical American pulp novelist who searches through the rubble-strewn underworld of post-war Vienna to uncover the truth about the death of his best friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles), and discovers that his pal is a ruthless black marketeer with blood on his hands. Quaint old-country clichés collide with the reality of the devastation of the war and German expressionist exaggeration mixes with droll, understated British wit to create a continental crime classic, a rogues gallery of profiteers and petty crooks wandering a cinematic landscape of cant angles and long shadows. Welles steals the show with barely ten minutes of screen time and Alida Valli and Trevor Howard co-star.

Streaming on Netflix. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.

American Horror Story: Cult, the seventh season of the horror anthology series from Ryan Murphy, is on Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu as the new season begins on FX.

Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand

Chris Pratt and Bruce Dallas Howard are back in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018, R) to save the genetically-resurrected dinosaurs from a volcano and from international arms dealers. Jeff Goldblum also makes a return appearance. Also on DVD and at Redbox.

Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikoswka star in Damsel (2018, R), an offbeat frontier comedy from indie filmmakers David and Nathan Zellner. Also new:

  • horror comedy Slice (2018, R) with Chance Bennett (aka Chance the Rapper), Zazie Beetz, and Paul Scheer;
  • haunted RV horror The ToyBox (2018, not rated) with Denise Richards and Mischa Barton;
  • American road trip documentary The King (2017, R) from Eugene Jarecki;
  • A Greater Society (2018, not rated), a documentary on retirees getting politically active.

Available same day as select theaters nationwide is the end-of-the-world drama I Think We’re Alone Now (2018, R) with Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning, which won a prize as Sundance, and hostage thriller Bel Canto (2018, not rated) with Julianne Moore and Christopher Lambert.

Netflix

Sanaa Lathan gets back in touch with her cultural roots in Nappily Ever After (2018, not rated), a romantic comedy co-starring Ernie Hudson and Lynn Whitfield. It’s directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia and director of award-winning Wadjda (2012). Debuts directly to Netflix.

Streaming TV: Josh Groban is The Good Cop in the first season of the Netflix Original comedy and Tony Danza is his corrupt father, a retired NYPD officer who is full of dubious advice.

Also newly arrived: high school comedy Class Rank (2018, not rated) with Olivia Holt;

True stories: the Netflix Original documentary Reversing Roe (2018) traces the politicization of an issue that is becoming more immediate to many Americans. Also new is Quincy (2018, not rated), a portrait of legendary music producer Quincy Jones directed by his daughter, Rashida Jones.

Non-fiction TV this week includes Battlefish: Season 1, following the fishing culture competing to catch albacore tuna off the Oregon Coast, and British documentary series Inside the Freemasons: Season 1.

Kid stuff: animated shows Dragon Pilot – Hisone & Masotan (Japan, with subtitles) and Hilda debut.

Stand-up: D.L. Hughley: Contrarian.

Amazon Prime Video

Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle are idealistic but unprepared young newlyweds in On Chesil Beach (2018, R), Ian McEwan’s adaptation of his own novel.

Also newly arrived: comedy Baby Mama (2008, PG-13) with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and historical drama The Good Shepherd (2006, R) with Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, from director Robert De Niro.

Foreign language TV: The Adventures of Captain Alatriste (Spain, with subtitles) is a historical swashbuckler based on the international best-sellers by Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

Local alert: indie steampunk web series Rocketmen (2018, not rated), set and shot in Seattle, has been edited into a short feature.

Foreign affairs: The Fencer (2018, Finland, not rated, with subtitles), based on a true story, was Finland’s official selection for the Academy Award for best foreign language film and Isabelle Huppert is Mrs. Hyde (France, 2018) in the horror comedy co-starring Romain Duris.

True stories: Black Code (2018, not rated) examines how government control the Internet to limit citizens’ access to information and Our Blood is Wine (2018) looks at winemaking traditions in the Republic of Georgia revived after the end of Soviet rule.

Amazon Prime / Hulu

The feature-length My Little Pony: The Movie (2017, G) features guest voices from the likes of Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, and Zoe Saldana (Prime Video and Hulu).

Hulu

In The Queen (2006, PG-13) Helen Mirren, acting royalty in her own right, earned a well-deserved Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II, the professional monarch struggling to find her place as her people’s leader after the death of Princess Diana. It’s not merely animosity toward the “people’s princess” that she felt betrayed the royal code, but an inability to imagine changing decades of regal behavior and emotionless diplomacy in the face of her people’s need for a show of respect. Michael Sheen is the newly elected man-of-the-people Tony Blair, elected on promises of reform and breaking down barriers of privilege yet personally rather awed by Elizabeth. Stephen Frears compassionately explores the awkward relationship between the informal Blair and the proud but dedicated Queen as he helps her (despite her chilly reticence) win back the love of her people. James Cromwell co-stars as Prince Philip and Sylvia Syms is the Queen Mother.

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom (2012), a sweet and playful tale of adolescent misfits and romantic runaways, is funny and full of nostalgic blasts of 1960s pop culture, but most of all it is an affectionate portrait of dysfunctional adults who are nudged into becoming better parents. Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, and Bruce Willis lead the great cast. PG-13 for sexual situations and smoking. Reviewed Stream On Demand here.

Also newly arrived: romantic drama The Shipping News (2001, R) with Bill Murray and Julianne Moore and offbeat She’s So Lovely (1997, R) with Sean Penn and Robin Wright.

Streaming TV: Michelle Dockery is back as a con woman in love with a hitman in Good Behavior: Season 2.

True stories: BB King: On the Road (2018) profiles the legendary blues guitarist and Boom for Real (2017, not rated) looks at the early hears of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

HBO Now

Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and the a cappella gang are back in Pitch Perfect 3 (2017, PG-13) for one more chorus.

Arriving Saturday night is Guillermo Del Toro’s Cold War romantic fantasy The Shape of Water (2017, R), which won four Oscars including best picture.

Showtime Anytime

The true-life World War II thriller Anthropoid (2016, R), starring Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan, dramatizes the mission to kill Reinhard Heydrich in Czechoslovakia. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.

True stories: Cradle of Champions (2018, TV-14) takes viewers through the New York Golden Gloves championship.

FilmStruck

TCM Select Pick of the Week is Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941), so longed hailed as “the greatest film ever made” that’s it’s become a dry truism. The legends surrounding the film have long overshadowed the actual production and its reputation is in serious danger of becoming the least seen masterpiece around. Above all, Welles was a showman and “Citizen Kane” a three ring circus of cinematic ingenuity, a startlingly entertaining blend of dime store melodrama, historical biography, detective story, political drama, storytelling confabulation, and plain old theatrical flourish. Years ahead of its time in its layered use of sound and score, stunningly designed and brilliantly conceived, “Citizen Kane” is a vital, moving, exciting moment of American cinema brought back to life with every screening. Streaming through December 27.

It’s part of the collection “Deep Focus: The Cinematography of Gregg Toland,” a tribute to the pioneering director of photography that includes the romantic classic History Is Made at Night (1937) and his work with directors John Ford (The Long Voyage Home, 1940) and William Wyler (Wuthering Heights, 1939; The Little Foxes, 1941), all streaming through March 14, 2019.

Also new: “Star of the Week: James Mason” collects 20 features from across the actor’s rich career, including such lesser-seen classics Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) and The Man Between (1953), and “Director of the Week: Eric Rohmer” presents all six “Moral Tales” and the sublime The Green Ray (aka Summer) (France, 1986, with subtitles).

Acorn TV

The first two seasons of the British mystery series Wire In the Blood: Series 1-2 (2002-2004) with Robson Green as a criminal profiler now available, with additional seasons on the way.

BritBox

Sarah Parish stars in the British cop drama Bancroft, making its stateside debut.

MHz

All ten seasons of The Octopus (Italy, 1984-2001, with subtitles), an epic Mafia drama on the battle against the global criminal network centered in Sicily, debut on MHz.

Facebook Watch

Sorry For Your Loss, a half-hour drama with jabs of dark humor starring Elizabeth Olson as a young widow working through her grief, begins on Facebook Watch. Four episodes now streaming, new episodes on Tuesdays. Also new are the adult animated comedies Human Kind Of and Liverspots and Astronots.

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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 in Vulture, Turner Classic Movies online, Keyframe, and Parallax View.

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