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Patient viewers will be rewarded by atmospheric ‘Annihilation’

Matt Shiverdecker
Natalie Portman, left, and Tessa Thompson, back, star in “Annihilation.” Contributed by Paramount Pictures

Here are some interesting new releases available now from cable and digital providers as well as a title that has recently become available for streaming.

Video on Demand

“Annihilation”: In his follow-up to “Ex Machina,” Alex Garland yet again proves that he is a master of atmospheric science fiction. Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson lead a team of scientists who head deep into a rapidly growing top-secret quarantined zone called “The Shimmer” that is taking over northern Florida. They must figure out what is happening there before the entire country is engulfed in disaster. Dazzling and incredibly developed special effects work accents this captivating tale, but you must have the patience for a slowly unraveling mystery. (Cable and digital VOD, 4K Ultra HD available)

“A Fantastic Woman”: Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards, this Chilean drama follows the life of a young transgender woman named Marina (Daniela Vega, in a beautiful star-making performance). She waits tables and works as a nightclub singer, recently having moved in with her kind and gentle boyfriend Orlando to start a new life together. Her world is turned upside down after Orlando unexpectedly dies of a brain aneurysm in the middle of the night. Even though some members of his family were vaguely aware of their relationship, most of them are transphobic and disapproving. The rest of the film follows Marina’s attempt to navigate the waters of grief and loss while fighting for her right to say goodbye to her lover when everybody else would prefer that she stays hidden from view. (Cable and digital VOD)

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Also on streaming services

“The Tale”: Undoubtedly one of the most controversial releases at the Sundance Film Festival this year, writer-director Jennifer Fox (known for documentary filmmaking in the past) has reimagined the story of her own sexual abuse as a child in this acclaimed drama. Laura Dern stars as a stand-in for the director as an adult and the film itself is based on a short story Fox wrote about the incidents when she was 13. At the time, she genuinely thought she was in a loving relationship with her running coach Bill (played here by Jason Ritter). It wasn’t until she got older that she realized she didn’t have a boyfriend but rather had been groomed by a predator. Be warned, while scenes were carefully filmed with an adult body double, Fox does not shy away from heartbreaking flashbacks of rape. In our tumultuous era of #MeToo, this is a powerful exploration of the ripple effects that this kind of trauma can have throughout a person’s life and on future relationships. Also starring Common, Ellen Burstyn and Frances Conroy. (HBO Now)