New movies and shows available to stream and on Blu-ray
Roger Crow and Damon Smith review the latest download, streaming, premium video on-demand and DVD/Blu-ray releases including Boston Strangler and Babylon.
Babylon (Cert 18, 89 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, available from March 21 on Amazon/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services)
Starring: Diego Calva, Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Jovan Adepo, Jean Smart, Li Jun Li, Tobey Maguire.
Film assistant Manuel Torres (Diego Calva) yearns to rise through the ranks in 1920s Hollywood, starting with a lowly position working for suave matinee idol Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt).
Manny is hopelessly smitten with ingenue Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), who intends to torpedo her way to big screen fame (“You don’t become a star. You either are one or you ain’t. I am!”).
Their fates entwine with a motley crew of wannabes, leeches and hangers on including jazz trumpeter Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo), professional tittle tattler Elinor St John (Jean Smart) and alluring cabaret chanteuse Lady Fay Zhu (Li Jun Li), who writes intertitle cards for silent films.
When the industry transitions from silents to talkies, Jack and Nellie face new challenges to cling onto stardom while Manny graduates to the director’s chair.
Babylon is a whirling, hallucinogenic fever dream of sensory excess that crashes and burns, reignites, then blazes uncontrollably to cinders again.
It’s a white-knuckle rollercoaster ride with a big opening, namely the dilating sphincter of a distressed elephant, that refuses to pump the emergency brakes.
Writer-director Damien Chazelle flings every conceivable bodily fluid and secretion at the screen as he romps through hit-or-miss comedic set pieces, culminating in a teary-eyed ode to Singin’ In The Rain.
Restraint isn’t in Chazelle’s vocabulary and the ensemble cast embraces the spirit of gung-ho abandon with fervour.
You have to admire the ambition and impressive technical credits led by glorious production design, costumes and composer Justin Hurwitz’s exuberant score. (DS)
NEW TO DOWNLOAD, STREAM OR BUY ON DVD/BLU-RAY
Marlowe (Cert 15, 109 mins, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Now, Thriller)
Michael Collins director Neil Jordan reunites with lead actor Liam Neeson for a neo-noir crime thriller based on John Banville‘s novel The Black-Eyed Blonde, which premieres on Sky Cinema and streams exclusively on Now.
Private detective Phillip Marlowe (Neeson) is drawn into the violent underbelly of 1930s Los Angeles at the behest of Clare Cavendish (Kruger).
She hires Marlowe to find her ex-boyfriend and a supposedly open and shut case reveals a cesspit of vice, desire and betrayal.
Clare’s mother, legendary Hollywood actress Dorothy Quincannon (Lange), nightclub owner Floyd Hanson (Danny Huston) and chauffeur Cedric (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) are entangled in the rapidly deepening mystery.
Bono & The Edge: A Sort Of Homecoming, With Dave Letterman (Cert 12, 84 mins, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Disney+, Documentary/Musical)
During the first Covid lockdown in 2020, Bono and The Edge from U2 revisited many of the band’s most popular songs and rerecorded them.
They subsequently invited good friend David Letterman to visit their home city of Dublin for the first time to hear them perform the stripped back and reimagined versions live at the Ambassador Cinema on O’Connell Street.
Documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville records this concert and is granted access to Bono, The Edge and Letterman to explore the duo’s songwriting process, intercut with previous unseen footage.
Boston Strangler (Cert 15, 112 mins, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Disney+, Thriller/Romance)
Two trailblazing journalists seek the truth about a serial killer at large in their city in a crime drama inspired by true events, written and directed by Matt Ruskin.
In 1962, Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) is a constant thorn in the side of editor Jack Maclaine (Chris Cooper) at the Boston Record American daily newspaper, badgering him to cover a crime story rather than spend her time reviewing the latest toaster for the Lifestyle desk.
She petitions to cover a story, in her own time, about three local women who were strangled in their homes.
Through dogged determination and good fortune, Loretta links the three cases and her front-page story about a serial predator in Boston ruffles the feathers of Police Commissioner McNamara (Bill Camp) and his men.
Seasoned reporter Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) is assigned to help Loretta cover the case, which gains nationwide attention, and their diligence leads Detective Conley (Alessandro Nivola) to a prime suspect: Albert DeSalvo (David Dastmalchian).
Extrapolations (8 episodes, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Apple TV+, Drama/Sci-Fi/Romance)
The devasting impact of climate change informs an anthology series of eight interwoven stories from writer, director and executive producer Scott Z Burns.
The first three instalments premiere this week and subsequent chapters open on successive Fridays.
In a bleak near future, humanity has almost run out of time to save the planet from rising temperatures and flood waters.
Courage locks horns with complacency as the clock ticks down on mankind’s future and life-altering choices must be made to keep hope alive in the face of destructive environmental events.
The starry ensemble cast includes Meryl Streep, Edward Norton, Kit Harington, Tobey Maguire, Sienna Miller, Keri Russell, Daveed Diggs, Diane Lane, Marion Cotillard and Forest Whitaker.
Class Of ’07 (8 episodes, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Prime Video, Comedy/Drama)
Filmed on location in and around Sydney, Class Of ’07 is a valentine to the enduring power of female friendships written and directed by Kacie Anning.
Former students of Ridge Heights Catholic Ladies College nervously gather for a 10-year reunion including Zoe (Emily Browning), who hopes to make it through the evening without embarrassing herself.
Tribal cliques and rivalries are resurrected until the students discover that the rest of Australasia has been submerged beneath a massive tidal wave.
The college’s hilltop location is the only dry land as far as the eye can see.
Faced with the end of the world, Zoe and former classmates including Amelia (Megan Smart) must heal old wounds and rapidly develop survival skills to make it alive to their next class reunion.
Swarm (7 episodes, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Prime Video, Horror/Thriller)
Fan worship veers into dark and disturbing territory in a seven-part horror created by Atlanta star Donald Glover and Janine Nabers.
Dre (Dominique Fishback) is a die-hard acolyte of superstar pop diva Ni’Jah (Nirine S Brown), who frequently makes headlines with her music maven husband Cache (Stephen Glover).
Although the rent is due, Dre has reached the maximum spending limit on her credit card buying Ni’Jah concert tickets, to the dismay of her best friend Marissa (Chloe Bailey).
The devoted fan embarks on a haphazard cross-country odyssey filled with dangerous situations, that test her unerring devotion to her musical idol.
The Magician’s Elephant (Cert PG, 100 mins, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Netflix, Animation/Adventure)
A young boy sets out to find his long-long sibling and discovers something more wondrous in a computer-animated fable adapted by screenwriter Martin Hynes from Kate DiCamillo’s celebrated 2009 novel.
Directed by Wendy Rogers, who previously worked as a visual effects supervisor on Puss In Boots and Flushed Away, The Magician’s Elephant follows plucky youngster Peter (voiced by Noah Jupe) on a quest to locate his sister Adel (Pixie Davies).
In his search for clues, Peter consults a fortune teller in the market square and she instructs the boy to “follow the magician’s elephant”.
Sure enough, a magician (Benedict Wong) conjures a pachyderm out of the ether and Peter is convinced that the animal will lead him to Adel.
To win the elephant, Peter must complete three seemingly impossible tasks that will change the boy and the townsfolk forever.
The Flash – Season 9 (13 episodes, starts streaming from March 21 exclusively on Now, Fantasy/Action/Adventure/Romance)
Ahead of the highly anticipated summer release of a feature film headlining the DC Comics superhero, the popular TV drama enters its final season chronicling events following the demise of Reverse-Flash.
Crime scene investigator Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) aka The Flash is determined to keep Iris (Candice Patton) safe so he creates a book containing a timeline of important events to map out their future.
Unfortunately, time cannot be controlled by any being and Grant and iris become trapped in a temporal loop that puts a strain on the relationship.
Meanwhile, Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) has a heart-to-heart with Joe (Jesse L Martin) and a dangerous new adversary casts a long shadow over Central City.
The Night Agent (10 episodes, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Netflix, Thriller/Action)
An FBI operative is thrust into the middle of a deadly conspiracy in an adrenaline-fuelled 10-part action thriller torn from the pages of Matthew Quirk’s novel.
Agent Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Basso) is surprised and delighted to be assigned to the White House under Diane Farr (Hong Chau).
She reveals that he will be working in the basement of the President’s official residence, monitoring a phone line for a top-secret investigative programme within the FBI called Night Action.
The phone supposedly never rings, except it does late one night on Peter’s watch and he is connected to a terrified young woman called Rose Larkin (Luciane Buchanan).
Their conversation propels Peter far away from Capitol Hill on a daredevil mission to unmask a mole in the upper echelons of power.
Dom – Season 2 (7 episodes, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Prime Video, Thriller)
Past and present collide with deadly consequences in the second series of the acclaimed Brazilian crime drama, directed by the late Breno Silveira and Andre Barros.
Pedro Dom (Gabriel Leone) strays further from the example of his father Victor Dantas (Flavio Tolezani) to become the most wanted criminal in Rio de Janeiro.
Law enforcement gradually close in and when all hope seems lost, Pedro debates assuming a new identity as a way out.
His choice mirrors a decision taken many years earlier by young Victor (Filipe Braganca) during a war against corrupt elements within the police force.
New episodes are available on Fridays.
Sky High: The Series (10 episodes, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Netflix, Thriller)
A young widow turns her back on the law to support her son in a gritty Spanish crime drama created by Daniel Calparsoro and Jorge Guerricaechevarri, which continues the stories of characters from the 2020 film Sky High..
Sole (Asia Ortega) is the daughter of Rogelio (Luis Tosar), one of Madrid’s most notorious traffickers of stolen goods, and wife to Angel (Miguel Herran), the fierce leader of a gang of smash-and-grab thieves.
He wreaks havoc across Madrid and she is devoted to raising their young son.
When Angel dies in mysterious circumstances, Sole wins the trust of his gang to carry out robberies as she seeks to make sense of her devastating loss.
This new career path puts Sole at odds with Rogelio, the police and different mafias that are competing for control of the city’s streets.
Power Book II: Ghost – Season 3 (10 episodes, starts streaming from March 23 exclusively on Lionsgate+, Thriller/Romance)
Monet Tejada (Mary J Blige), head of the Tejada drug cartel, is determined to solve the murder of her son Zeke (Daniel Bellomy) when the spin-off from Courtney A Kemp’s crime drama Power returns to Lionsgate+ this week.
She works closely with fame-hungry defence lawyer Davis MacLean (Method Man) to unearth the truth.
Meanwhile Tariq St Patrick (Michael Rainey Jr) plans to reunite with his mother Tasha (Naturi Naughton) and little sister Yas (Paris Morgan) but he is forced to go back into business with the Tejadas.
Despite his best efforts to carve out a legitimate path to success with billionaire business mogul Ron Samuel Jenkins (Gbenga Akinnagbe), Tariq seems destined to fully embrace the legacy of his father.
Monster Factory (6 episodes, streaming from March 17 exclusively on Apple TV+, Documentary)
Opened in 1983, the Monster Factory is a school in New Jersey where spandex-clad hopefuls can chase their dreams of going professional in the ring.
A six-part documentary series goes behind the scenes at the school, currently owned by former professional wrestler Daniel McDonald aka Danny Cage, to meet the students who are willing to put their bodies on the line in pursuit of wrestling excellence.
Battered and happily bruised participants include Amelia Herr aka Notorious Mimi, Lucas DiSangro aka Twitch, Gabriella Belpre aka Gabby Ortiz, David Goldschmidt aka as Goldy and Hurley A Jones Jr aka Bobby Buffet.
Villeneuve Pironi: Racing’s Untold Tragedy (Cert 12, 98 mins, streaming from March 19 exclusively on Now, Documentary)
During the hard fought 1982 Formula One season, Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi were teammates and close friends at Ferrari and both were in contention for the world championship.
At the San Marino Grand Prix, Pironi famously snatched victory from Villeneuve on the final lap, reportedly breaking an unwritten team agreement.
The relationship between two drivers soured, culminating in tragedy at the next race in Belgium.
Directed by Torquil Jones, this feature-length documentary relives a pivotal era in motorsport through archive footage and interviews with members of the Villeneuve and Pironi families as well as Formula One World Champions Alain Prost and Sir Jackie Stewart.
I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking) (Cert 15, 86 mins, Bulldog Film Distribution, available from March 20 on Amazon/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, Comedy/Drama)
Conceived during lockdown by writer/directors Kelley Kali and Angelique Molina and co-writer Roma Kong, who had wanted to make a film together since graduating from USC School of Cinematic Arts, I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking) explores the issue of homelessness in present day America through the eyes of a resourceful single mother.
Recently widowed hairdresser Danny (Kali) loses her home in southern California but softens the blow for her eight-year-old daughter Wes (Wesley Moss) by pretending they are going to be camping outdoors for fun.
Danny intends to work hard to get them off the streets but weeks in the sweltering heat take a toll on the relationship between mother and daughter.
In desperation, Danny promises Wes they will go home to an apartment by the end of the day.
With roller skates as her only means of transportation around a sun-baked city, the hairdresser slaloms through a series of mishaps that threaten to derail her good intentions.