This week, we look at two new releases that are now available for streaming through subscription services.
Available on streaming services
"The Boys in the Band": After signing a $300 million deal with Netflix, Ryan Murphy started filling the service with queer content. From series like "The Politician" and "Hollywood" to documentaries like "Circus of Books," his output deal is showing no signs of slowing down. His latest production is an adaptation of the legendary Matt Crowley play. Originally produced Off-Broadway in 1968, it was made into a groundbreaking feature in 1970 by William Friedkin that was one of the first American films to focus on gay characters. The play won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play in 2018, and its entire cast of openly gay actors have reprised their roles in this reboot from director Joe Mantello ("Love! Valour! Compassion!"). We spend one late 1960s evening in a New York City apartment with a gaggle of gay friends who have gathered for a friend's birthday. Bursting with catty dialogue, a healthy measure of self-loathing and a sharply decorated set, we watch as their raucous evening is interrupted by a surprise guest. What makes it all work so well is the outstanding actors who, after playing these characters every night for months at the Booth Theater a few summers ago, make their roles feel so authentic. Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer (Murphy regulars at this point) probably get the most screen time, but the ensemble has many standout performances including Andrew Rannells, Brian Hutchinson, Michael Benjamin Washington and Robin de Jesús ("Camp"), who absolutely steals the show in scene after scene. (Netflix)
"My Octopus Teacher": Have you ever struggled with feelings of compulsion? No matter what you became obsessed with, I would hazard to guess that you were not in as deep as nature filmmaker Craig Foster, the subject of this fascinating documentary from Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed. Off the icy cold southern shores of Africa, Mr. Foster spent a year diving into an underwater kelp forest and bonding with an octopus. These weren't occasional visits. He swam into the same area every day for nearly an entire calendar year in order to track and connect with this animal and learn about her life. I had no idea that these animals were so intelligent and, quite sadly, have very limited lifespans. Gorgeously shot in 4K Ultra HD with stunning underwater photography, you will be dazzled and amazed by what turns out to be a genuinely tender and unlikely love story, but you might want to have some Kleenex handy, because you are going to cry before it's all said and done. (Netflix)