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New movies to stream this week: ‘Roe v. Wade,’ ‘Every Breath You Take’ and more

John Schneider, left, and Jon Voight play Supreme Court justices in “Roe v. Wade.” (Quiver Distribution)
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Arriving amid controversy and with a chip on its shoulder, the drama “Roe v. Wade” lands on premium video-on-demand services after premiering at February’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Billed as the true story of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case affirming the right to safe and legal abortion, the film was produced, co-written and co-directed by Nick Loeb, who also plays the film’s main character: Bernard Nathanson, best known as the co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now NARAL Pro-Choice America) and an abortion provider who renounced his practice to become a prominent opponent of the procedure. (The real-life Nathanson narrated the infamous 1984 antiabortion documentary “The Silent Scream.”) Loeb, for his part, is less known for his acting than for being Sofia Vergara’s ex-husband, who recently lost on appeal his custody lawsuit over frozen embryos he and the actress created while married. Loeb’s performance in “Roe” is not what anyone will be talking about after watching this polemic abortion narrative — one that centers on a man (ironically, given its subject matter). Those who have already made up their minds in favor of abortion rights are unlikely to be swayed by the film’s arguments against them, but persuasion seems hardly the point. Mostly, the movie plays like catnip to confirmed abortion opponents, and in addition to some brief, shockingly graphic images — it includes performances by Trump-supporting actors Jon Voight, John Schneider and Stacey Dash — along with a bizarrely unshaven Corbin Bernsen as Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion in “Roe.” Viewers on the left may come looking for unintended comedy in cameos by Tomi Lahren (as Blackmun’s daughter) and Milo Yiannopoulos (as a doctor who teaches Nathanson a timesaving abortion technique), but these blink-and-you’ll-miss-them performances are less deliciously overripe than simply dull. PG-13. Available on demand via Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and cable/satellite. Contains mature thematic elements and some bloody and disturbing images. 112 minutes.

— Michael O'Sullivan

The ‘Roe. v. Wade’ movie has an all-star conservative cast and a bone to pick with the media

Also streaming

Casey Affleck plays a psychiatrist whose career and family life is threatened by the brother (Sam Claflin) of one his patients, who has taken her life, in “Every Breath You Take.” Slant magazine calls it a “stalker thriller without thrills or stakes.” R. Available via premium on demand;also available at the CMX Cinemas Village 14. Contains some violence, strong language and brief sensuality. 105 minutes.

Mapplethorpe: The Director’s Cut” adds about 12 minutes and a new soundtrack to a biopic that came out in theaters two years ago about the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, played by Matt Smith. In The Washington Post’s 2019 review, the portrait of the controversial artist was described as “airbrushed into banality.” Unrated. Available on Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, GooglePlay, Kanopy, FandangoNow and Vudu. Contains nudity, sexual situations, obscenity and drug use. 114 minutes.

In the stylized thriller “Nina Wu,” the title character is an actress on the verge of her big break (Wu Ke-Xi, who also co-wrote the script based on her own personal experiences) when she begins to experience paranoid fantasies. Despite what the Hollywood Reporter calls the film’s “odd turns and time leaps that are neither entirely clear narratively nor satisfactorily explore [Nina’s] thinking or feelings,” Wu delivers a “ferocious, driven performance,” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com. In Taiwanese and Mandarin with subtitles. 103 minutes.

Variety calls “Shiva Baby,” a film set during a Jewish shiva, or mourning ritual, and centering on a college senior (Rachel Sennott) with a much older boyfriend (Danny Deferrari) a “fast, tightly choreographed farce with confidently sharp Jewish humor.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com and virtualavalon.org. 77 minutes.

The Last Cruise” takes a documentary look at the ill-fated Diamond Princess cruise ship that set sail from Japan in January of last year, at the start of the pandemic, only to become, in essence, a floating hotel/prison with nearly 700 covid-19 cases. The San Francisco Chronicle writes: “It’s an experience you would not want to have directly, but it’s fascinating to watch.” TV-14. Available on HBO Max. 40 minutes.

This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection,” by the Berlin-based Mosotho filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, stars the late Mary Twala (seen in Beyoncé’s “Black Is King”) as an 80-year-old widow whose son has been killed in a mining accident. The Guardian calls the movie, which won the Special Jury Prize for visionary filmmaking at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, a “severe, uncompromising film; it’s more like a series of images strung together, each framed exactingly, like a painting. At the center of it all is Twala, often silent, her expression fixed in determination — no words needed.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com. In Sesotho with subtitles. 117 minutes.

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