With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit platforms. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.
Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro)
Crimson Peak works as many things: a melodramatic romance; both the recreation of a period and a revival of the way movies have made us perceive it; a genre-jumping comedy; and a critique of capitalistic excess. It does these things earnestly and without compromise, and it’s far braver — far more admirable — for having done so. What Guillermo del Toro’s new film doesn’t work as: a haunted-house picture. Although the director will personally tell you it’s not meant to fit this mold, the genre’s shape and intended impacts are certainly identifiable enough to spring to mind. The extent to which it fails here is rather clear, and the entire endeavor is sadly hobbled as a result. – Nick N. (full review)
Where to Stream: HBO Go
Desierto (Jonás Cuarón)
A tense thriller of survival set against a desolate landscape of quiet austerity until the deafening sound of our heroes’ pursuer returns after a brief respite allowing these strangers the time to emotively talk about their lives—no, it’s not Gravity. Filmmaker Jonás Cuarón certainly has a type, though, since his sophomore effort in the director’s chair, Desierto, has a lot of formal similarities to his and father Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning ride. Thematically different since the whole exists in the wasteland battlegrounds of the Mexican border, is fought by the impoverished rather than elite, and includes a villain possessed by a conscious psychopathy in his treatment of other human beings, it’s still difficult to separate the two when the same screenwriter worked on both. – Jared M. (full review)
The Eagle Huntress (Otto Bell)
For seven generations, the men of Nurgaiv’s family have mastered the art of eagle hunting, a tradition in western Mongolia that goes back some 2,000 years. For the Kazakh people of the Altai region, it is a practice that is not only crucial to their survival in the remote area, but also a badge of honor and expertise in the long-held tradition. Inspired by her father, Nurgaiv’s daughter Aisholpan has taken an avid interest in the craft with hopes of tearing down the boundaries of cultural sexism and becoming the titular, first-ever The Eagle Huntress. In capturing her passion, her family’s encouragement, and the societal roadblocks ahead of her to overcome, director Otto Bell has created an empowering, gorgeously shot documentary. – Jordan R. (full review)
Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson)
Mel Gibson is back in the director’s chair after a decade to remind us, in his own devout way, that war is hell and faith is good. Hacksaw Ridge, his new World War II epic, is not concerned with politics — it is concerned with soldiers, and one soldier in particular: a 7th day Adventist and conscientious objector named Desmond Doss who went to Okinawa as an army medic but refused to carry a rifle. This was much to the chagrin of his commanding officers and his brothers in arms. While derivative and endlessly cheesy, it’s a characteristically visceral return for Gibson, and one that confirms that little has changed in the man’s singular artistic psyche. – Rory O. (full review)
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
When we meet Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), he’s already shattered. Hidden from life, Lee works as a handyman for an apartment building, shoveling snow and replacing lightbulbs. He can barely make eye contact, even when informed that his older brother has died, rendering him the sole guardian of his 16-year-old nephew, Patrick. As he returns to his hometown of Manchester, Massachusetts, so too do the searing feelings of regret – memories once blocked now reemerging with shocking clarity. Kenneth Lonergan’s third feature, Manchester by the Sea, is a howling study of loss and grief, of how life pushes forward even when we cannot. Young Patrick has an existence outside the feelings for his father, thus forcing Lee, like a sleepwalker rudely awakened by fate, into the world and exposing his own buried anguish. Lonergan finds remarkable contrarieties in the material as he nudges these seemingly unfixable lives toward a dawning sense of hope. There’s little catharsis to be found, for Manchester by the Sea regards its subject with an unflinching gaze, but Lonergan executes this heartbreaking exploration of grief’s universalities with a tenderly redemptive embrace. – Tony H.
Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford)
“You have to learn to enjoy the absurdity of our world,” says Michael Sheen’s L.A. socialite to Amy Adams‘ disillusioned art gallery owner at the after party of her latest flash contemporary vernissage. It’s the kind of line that suggests we might be in for some sort of highbrow Hollywood satire, but there’s so much more to Nocturnal Animals than that. – Rory O. (full review)
Superbad (Greg Mottola)
I saw Superbad opening weekend in a packed theater, and the laughter from the audience was so frequent and so boisterous that I felt as if I missed half the jokes. Almost a decade later, the film holds up well: like the best of the Apatow-branded movies, no matter how crude or vulgar it becomes, there’s an underlying sweetness and good nature to the characters that justifies their actions. Superbad was largely responsible for launching the film careers of numerous actors, and, in retrospect, all their potential is onscreen here. It’s easy to see how Jonah Hill’s role, if played by a lesser actor, may have come across as overtly crude and unlikeable, but he plays him with a sympathetic side, and Michael Cera is equally strong. – John U.
Where to Stream: Netflix
Velvet Goldmine (Todd Haynes)
Location is very much embedded into the text of Haynes’s films. In Velvet Goldmine, the relationship between London and New York seems especially present in the way those cultures navigate their own forms of identity via music and media. Also crucial to Haynes’s glam rock-extravaganza is performance: though he had explored performative identity to some degree in all of his previous work, its explicitness as a form of constructed persona perhaps reaches a kind of apex here and in I’m Not There. Utilizing a Citizen Kane-like narrative structure, the films bobs in and about the transformation of music, art, and the self in lustrous and flamboyant fashion. It’s Haynes’s most joyously bonkers film, even rhapsodic in many ways. Velvet Goldmine, at its essence, is “Bohemian Rhapsody” as cinematic event. – Kyle T.
Where to Stream: FilmStruck
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