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David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr in Selma Image: Paramount Pictures

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Selma, Just Mercy, and the movies to watch at home this weekend

Studios made older titles free to stream as new movies arrive

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The biggest news over the past week has been about the protests sparked by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The entertainment industry has responded in various ways: Most notably, the cast and showrunner of Brooklyn 99, a show that focuses on a police precinct, donated $100,000 to the National Bail Fund Network, Bad Robot Productions and the Katie McGrath & J.J. Abrams Family Foundation pledged $10 million to charitable organizations committed to anti-racist agendas, and Lego donated $4 million to organizations supporting black children and pulled marketing for any toy sets including police characters or based around a police theme.

Individuals have shown up at the protests as well, such as Star Wars actor John Boyega, who gave a speech at the June 3 Black Lives Matter protest in London’s Hyde Park. “Black lives have always mattered,” Boyega said. “I need you to understand how painful this shit is. I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing and that isn’t the case anymore, that was never the case anymore.”

If you are participating in the protests, make sure to do so safely, and wear a mask and practice social distancing as much as possible. If you are not participating, there are many ways you can support the cause from home. And if you wind up with a down moment, here are the new movies available on streaming and on demand.

Selma

Where to watch it: Free to rent on all digital platforms, including Amazon and Google Play

the cast of selma Photo: James Nachtwey/Paramount Pictures

Ava DuVernay’s historical drama recounts the events surrounding the 1965 voting rights marches in which nonviolent activists marched from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery. The protest was an effort to register black voters in the South. David Oyelowo stars as Martin Luther King Jr., with Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, and Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper.

Just Mercy

Where to watch it: Free to rent on all digital platforms, including Amazon and Google Play

Michael B. Jordan comforts a distraught, handcuffed Jamie Foxx in the courtroom in the drama Just Mercy. Photo: Warner Bros.

Just Mercy tells the true story of Walter McMillian, a man wrongly convicted of murder, who managed to overturn his conviction with the help of defense attorney Bryan Stevenson. Jamie Foxx stars as McMillian, and Michael B. Jordan stars as Stevenson, with Short Term 12’s Destin Daniel Cretton at the helm.

Becky

Where to watch it: Rent on digital $6.99 on Amazon, Google Play and Apple

kevin james looks out from a window as lulu wilson hides beneath Photo: Keri Anderson/Quiver Distribution

A young girl must defend herself and her family from a group of neo-Nazi convicts in this gory horror-thriller. From our review:

Becky’s fight against the Nazis invading her family’s home gets very bloody very quickly. Dominick’s initial tactic of torturing Becky’s father with a campfire skewer soon seems like child’s play as fake blood and guts go flying everywhere, thanks to Becky’s improvised weapons. (Warning to the squeamish: the worst scene involves an exposed ocular nerve.) Milott and Murnion shoot it all nimbly, using shifting focuses, roving shots, and reflections to ramp up tension, and making their distinct touch known from the start by cross-cutting so smoothly between Becky and her father’s road trip to the house and the convicts’ eventual escape that it dispels any sense of ease or knowing what’s coming next.

Shirley

Where to watch it: Streaming on Hulu, and available to rent on digital $1.99 on Google Play and $3.99 on Amazon and Apple

michael stuhlbarg and elisabeth moss as shirley Photo: Neon

Elisabeth Moss stars as author Shirley Jackson in Josephine Decker’s biographical drama, which focuses on Jackson’s process working on her novel Hangsaman. From our review:

While Shirley doesn’t offer a lot of insight into the specifics of the writing process, it’s at least able to visualize and physicalize that process, and the toll it takes on an author who’s also dealing with expectations about how women should behave. It’s a shame that current conditions are limiting the movie to a VOD release: The modest scale would be more immersive on a big screen, and Decker’s focus tricks look smudgier on a small one. Her color scheme still pops, though: the rich greens, yellows, and blues of the interiors make Shirley’s house resemble, at times, an overgrown garden. It’s an apt metaphor for the movie, too, even before a character named Rose starts literally writhing around in the soil. Jackson’s life and talent aren’t orderly or simple; they grow wild, beautiful, and sometimes unnerving.

Judy & Punch

Where to watch it: Rent on digital $3.99 on Google Play, $4.99 on Apple, $5.99 on Amazon

damon herriman and mia wasikowska in judy & punch Photo: Madman Entertainment

The traditional puppet show of Punch and Judy finds Mr. Punch and his wife Judy engaging in a fit of slapstick comedy. The movie Judy & Punch puts a new, darker spin on the story. Judy (Mia Wasikowska) and Punch (Damon Herriman) are puppeteers. Though their marionette show begins to gain popularity though Judy’s deft puppetry, Punch’s drinking problem threatens to detail both the show and their lives. When, in a drunken rage, he kills their baby and leaves Judy for dead, Judy sets out for vengeance.

... and more on the Criterion Channel

The Criterion Channel, normally a subscription-based service, has lifted the paywall on “films that focus on Black Lives.” The newly available films include Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, Maya Angelou’s Down in the Delta, and Agnès Varda’s Black Panthers, and are currently highlighted on the Criterion Channel’s front page.

New on Netflix this weekend

  • The final season of Full House revival Fuller House
  • Spelling bee documentary Spelling the Dream
  • The fourth and final season of 13 Reasons Why
  • The Last Days of American Crime, a thriller based on Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini’s 2009 graphic novel of the same name
  • The fifth season of Queer Eye

And here’s what dropped last Friday:

The High Note

Where to watch it: Rent on digital $19.99 on Amazon, Google Play and Apple

tracee ellis ross in a red dress Photo: Focus Features

Maggie (Dakota Johnson) is the overworked personal assistant to music superstar Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). Though Maggie seems to have hit a dead end in her job, she still aspires to become a music producer. Meanwhile, Grace’s manager (Ice Cube) wants her to take a residency in Las Vegas, which Grace views as a death sentence. In order to get what they want, Grace and Maggie have to learn how to work together.

The Vast of Night

Where to watch it: Streaming on Amazon

sierra mccormick in the vast of night Image: Amazon Studios

Set in the 1950s, The Vast of Night focuses on two teenagers investigating a mysterious radio frequency. Over the course of one night, switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) go on a supernatural scavenger hunt, investigating everything from reels of tape to anonymous phone calls as they attempt to uncover the frequency’s source.

On the Record

Where to watch it: Streaming on HBO Max

drew dixon in on the record Photo: HBO Max

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s On the Record sheds light on the accusations of sexual assault and harassment against Russell Simmons, co-founder of DEF Jam Recordings. The documentary includes testimony from more than 20 women, and focuses on Drew Dixon, who accused Simmons of rape and experienced further harassment, as well as harm to her professional life, throughout her career. The film also addresses the way black women’s voices have been left out of the #MeToo movement.

Botero

Where to watch it: Rent on digital $12.99 through Corinth Films

people gathered around a botero painting Image: Hogan Millar Media/Corinth Films

You may be most familiar with Colombian artist Fernando Botero’s work from memes. Don Millar’s documentary on Botero paints him in a broader light, going back to Botero’s past in provincial Medellin in 1932 and following his rise through the art world. Millar weaves original footage together with archival photos and videos from Botero’s family as he endeavors to create as comprehensive a picture of the painter as possible.