AN AMERICAN PICKLE (2020) Stream on HBO. In 1919, Herschel Greenbaum (Seth Rogen) and his wife, Sarah (Sarah Snook), emigrated from their fictional Eastern European home country — a place called Schlupsk — to New York City, where they dreamed of building a better life for generations of Greenbaums to come. But one fateful day, Herschel fell into a vat of brine at a pickle factory, where he worked. When Herschel emerged from the pickle vat, perfectly preserved 100 years later, he found there was only one Greenbaum left: his great-grandson, Ben (also Rogen). With Ben, Herschel becomes determined to refine the Greenbaum legacy once more. The film’s screenplay is written by Simon Rich and is adapted from his 2013 novella, “Sell Out.”
THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON (2019) Stream on Amazon and Hulu. This heartwarming movie tells the story of Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome who lives in a retirement home in North Carolina. One night, he runs away to pursue his dream of attending wrestling school, much to the dismay of his caretaker, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson). Along the way, Zak enlists the help and friendship of Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a lone fisherman making his way down the Southern Atlantic coast. Though supported by a star-studded cast, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” truly features Gottsagen — who also has Down syndrome — in a breakout role, Glenn Kenny wrote in his review for The New York Times. Kenny credits Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz — both of whom wrote and directed the film — with giving Gottsagen room to shine as an actor. “They make his character a little guy with a big heart, and big dreams,” Kenny wrote, “and let him have his hero’s journey.”
THE RAIN Stream on Netflix. When this apocalyptic Danish sci-fi series debuted in 2018, The Times critic Mike Hale wrote that it was “engineered for current TV trends, and specifically for what appear to be Netflix’s appetites.” Three seasons later, “The Rain” is still tense and action-packed in the aftermath of a deadly virus that, transported by rain, wiped out much of the Scandinavian population. This season, Simone (Alba August) learns she must stop her brother, Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tonnesen), from using his newly found powers for potentially malicious purposes.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994) 5:16 p.m. on Starz. This classic story of patience and perseverance was written by Stephen King as a novella — titled “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” — before being adapted for the screen by Frank Darabont. Simply put, it’s about Andy DuFresne (Tim Robbins), an investment banker who is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. Though Andy maintains his innocence, he is sent to Maine’s Shawshank State Prison, where he befriends Red (Morgan Freeman). Red narrates Andy’s story gently, Janet Maslin wrote in her review for The Times, adding that in the end, “it gets to where it wanted to go.”