If you were to take a look at streaming activity this year over last you would find that it has nearly doubled, according to folks at Reelgood who monitor things like this. Playback for kids’ content has also gone up 86% over last year and, oh yes, consumers are now officially streaming more content during business hours versus during off-hours. Maybe because more folks are working from home, more kids are schooling in, or maybe because many folks are out of work and looking for jobs. But probably, it’s a little bit of all of the above. No matter how you splice it, though, good streaming content is in high demand. Sure we have our favorites, but at this point you’ve probably watched those several times over the last month alone.
Not surprisingly, new releases coming out are also asking for more than the usual fee to rent — sometimes double. Which for many, especially with a family, seems appropriate when you consider you would be paying this much and more at the theater, which is still not currently an option. “Trolls World Tour,” for example, is reported to have broken all digital records as folks doled out $20 to rent the Trolls sequel, voiced by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, for a 48-hour period. Across the board, VOD options seem to be gaining their biggest numbers ever, likely showing a glimpse of things to come within the industry. Whether that trend continues after theaters open again is hard to tell. Still, new streaming options are out there for those who are looking now. Here are a few for your consideration.
¦ “The Lovebirds”
A couple, played by Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, witness a murder and while they look to clear their names, they encounter one unbelievable circumstance after another. The unpredictable romcom takes them on a journey that tests if they, and their relationship, can survive it all. Playing on Netflix starting May 22. R; 1h 26m.
This documentary, directed by Norwegian filmmaker Benjamin Ree, won a special jury award at its Sundance Film Festival premiere this year. It’s a strange look at the relationship that develops between an artist and someone who stole her paintings. Two paintings by Barbora Kysilkova, to be exact, were stolen from an Oslo art gallery and when the thieves were arrested, there was no trace of where the art could be found. And they weren’t telling. What happens next is kind of weird. Kysilkova becomes friends with one of the thieves, Karl-Bertil Nordland. At first, she’s just looking to get to the bottom of where to find her pieces. Then she asks if she can paint a portrait of him. What happens next is an extraordinary look at human connection and friendship under the craziest of circumstances. Set to stream May 22. 1h 42m.
¦ “Lucky Grandma”
Previously screened in last year’s Napa Valley and Philadelphia Film Festivals, this foreign language silly story sees an ornery chain-smoking Chinese grandmother widowed and eagerly pursuing life as an independent woman. After a fortuneteller predicts a big day for her, she decides to press her luck, heading to a casino and going all in. With her winnings she gets the unfortunate attention of local gangsters and has to employ some for her own protection, triggering a gang war in the middle of New York City’s Chinatown. Starring Tsai Chin and directed by Sasie Sealy, the film is set to screen May 22. 1h 40m.
¦ “Love Life”
Television and Feigco Entertainment full-length scripted series takes us on this type of adventure. Starring Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect,” “A Simple Favor”), the series is set to stream on the new HBO Max platform when it drops May 27. Moving forward, the series will follow different protagonist’s quests for love each season. Kendrick also serves as executive producer alongside Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”). It is one of a few new original content productions to be a part of the big HBO Max explosive streaming service rollout that will also include other original content, including “On The Record,” “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” “The Not Too Late Show with Elmo” and a huge library of classics from WarnerMedia, TNT, TBS and Adult Swim. The service, which will likely change the streaming game altogether, will include popular titles such as “Game of Thrones,” “Casablanca,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and, oh yes, “Friends.”
¦ ‘’I’m No Longer Here’’
This foreign language film, an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, follows young Ulises, played by Juan Daniel Garcia Trevino, a teenager who hangs with his musically inclined friends, a small street gang named “Los Terkos” in the mountains of Monterrey, Mexico. After finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, however, he becomes the target of a local cartel. He’s forced to leave, fleeing to Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City but after a while longs to return, despite the danger. Set to stream May 27 on Netflix. 1h 45m.
¦ “Looney Tunes Cartoons”
Ehh … what’s up doc? All of your favorites are coming to a new cartoon series on HBO Max in “Looney Tunes Cartoons” — that’s what’s up. All of your favorites including Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam and more all get freshened up with animations that seem true to the original look but with 80 new eleven-minute episodes. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, get excited if you have been missing this kind of classic cartoonist-driven approach to storytelling. Streaming starts with the introduction of the new streaming service on May 27.
¦ “Vast of Night”
This Amazon Original originally premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 2019, then moved along to Slamdance earlier this year. It is a spooky sci-fi thriller that takes place in the 1950s, where switchboard operator
Fay, played by Sierra McCormick, and radio DJ Everett, played by Jake Horowitz, discover strange audio frequencies that could forever change their small town in New Mexico. Anonymous phone calls and strange audio frequencies pull them closer and closer to answers but not before a scavenger hunt-style trek through the unknown. The film is directed by Andrew Patterson and set to stream on Amazon Prime starting May 28. PG-13; 1h 29m. ¦