With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’re highlighting the noteworthy titles that have recently hit platforms. Check out this week’s selections below and an archive of past round-ups here.
Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)
Movies about making movies often get a bad rap; there’s just a presumed pretentiousness that goes along with watching filmmakers and actors defending their craft. So when it turns out that Clouds of Sils Maria is actually a beautifully directed and acted defense of the timelessness and universal value of storytelling in all forms, what could have been a European Birdman actually becomes something so much more. – Brian R.
Where to Stream: FilmStruck
Custody (Xavier Legrand)
It didn’t win the Oscar for best live action short in 2014, but Xavier Legrand’s Just Before Losing Everything was by far my favorite nominee. Discovering his debut feature Custody was constructed as an expansion of that story therefore made it a must-see. The short is soon revealed as a prequel, its look at the fallout of domestic abuse hopefully in the rearview considering Miriam Besson (Léa Drucker) readies to plead her case as to why her now ex-husband (Denis Ménochet’s Antoine) shouldn’t retain custody of their son Julien (Thomas Gioria)—his sister Joséphine (Mathilde Auneveux) recently turned eighteen and is free regardless. But while the evidence seems to prove Miriam’s case, a father’s love trumps a lack of concrete proof of his terror. The threat he poses, however, remains very real. – Jared M. (full review)
Damsel (David and Nathan Zellner)
Damsel introduces us to Samuel Alabaster (Robert Pattinson), who travels with his gun, guitar, and a miniature pony named Butterscotch. (Eat your heart out, #TeamBunzo). Despite the stunning vistas and other signifiers of the genre, we quickly grasp that David and Nathan Zellner have crafted an anti-western, lovingly poking fun at its foundation while slyly pulling the rug under the audience in humorous, forward-thinking, and genre-redefining fashion. – Jordan R. (full review)
Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (Bruno Dumont)
It’s easy to imagine the “old-school” Bruno Dumont Joan of Arc film; faith, martyrdom, and the landscape of the French countryside intermingling to a wrenching finale, with Bresson and Dreyer certainly paid their transcendental cinema due. Though perhaps realizing their films weren’t the be-all, end-all in terms of representing the French icon, even if Preminger, Rivette and uh, Besson, had also offered their own takes that showed a portrait beyond the trial and subsequent burning at the stake, he finally set about making it, but as a new artist. – Ethan V. (full review)
Where to Stream: iTunes
Maniac (Cary Fukanaga)
You don’t have to wait until 2020 to see the latest work from recently-anointed Bond director Cary Fukunaga. He’s behind the Superbad reunion we’ve all been waiting for, Maniac, starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. The 10-episode series, now streaming on Netflix, is adapted from the Norwegian original, which follows two people going down the rabbit hole of a new pharmaceutical trial. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: Netflix
Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
Wes Anderson’s leap through the animated realm was a key moment that shifted his filmic characterization toward metaphysical poignancy, thus making way for Moonrise Kingdom, an impressionistically stylized portrait of a pre-Vietnam adolescent bliss. It’s not just Pierret Le Fou for children, but a story about the recreation of storytelling, appropriating aesthetics from low and high arts to burn memories of innocent times as a protection against the fears of adulthood, portrayed here as a melancholic, mid-life stasis (Norman Rockwell’s hard faces as imprints of immobility). What sympathizers to his visual language often miss is that his imperceptible framing not only engages a constant succession of spatial humor (cuts always matter), but, ultimately, a type of storybook visual prose that plays out into Anderson’s larger stakes of mixing brief penetrations of emotional honesty into carefully calculated pictoral surfaces, an update of Renoir’s A Day in the Country (the ending implied by the impressionistic image that is the final shot). The past is all prologue here, and it matters. – Peter L.
Where to Stream: Hulu
On Chesil Beach (Dominic Cooke)
It’s 1962. Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle) have just been married. She’s from a wealthy family and he a provincial one; her desire to be active in world affairs beyond her status’ ambivalence and his hope to be accepted as an intellectual with the potential of outgrowing a brawler reputation placing them at odds with the environments that raised them to seek escape. And they are in love: a true, deep, and unstoppable love that allowed their differences to take a backseat as far as community and parentage was concerned. It’s propelled them towards a hotel honeymoon suite on the water, an isolating venue affording them the privacy such auspicious occasions crave and the stifling quiet able to intensify their utter lack of sexual experience and wealth of insecure awkwardness. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Amazon Prime
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Edgar Wright)
The first viewings of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World are akin to being thrown in a pop-culture blender, references to video games, movies, television, comics, music, and historic events made at a relentless speed through direction and editing that are, at times, jaw-dropping. By the third or fourth viewing, things once obscured — most of all the characters’ complex psychological profiles and how the banal selfishness of their actions affect their heightened world — come to light. An amazing sensory experience, a painfully studied look at why and how we fail ourselves as much as we do others, and a time capsule of the late ’00s that already feels timeless. And with a part where a gorilla made of rock music fights two dragons composed of electronica. – Nick N.
Where to Stream: Netflix
Sicario: Day of the Soldado (Stefano Sollima)
In spite of its laborious title, Sicario: Day of the Soldado barrels through with an almost alarming simplicity. Taylor Sheridan’s follow-up script to the 2015 sleeper hit runs with efficiency, but lacks nuance. The film (now helmed by Stefano Sollima) boils itself down to assuredly taut action sequences and a pair of effortless performances from the two returning leads, but the four missing tenets of Denis Villeneuve, Emily Blunt, Roger Deakins, and Jóhann Jóhannsson leave an absence as stark as the film’s desert landscapes. – Conor O. (full review)
Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Peerless in their perception of the human struggle, the Dardennes have built a filmography full of richly developed characters with their own battles. Two Days, One Night is among the best examples of precisely what they excel at. Afflicted with depression — a trait Marion Cotillard’s character fully embodies, and is not simply given one scene to exhibit– we follow her mission to convince her co-workers to get her job back. The initial simplicity of these clear roadblocks immediately becomes complex as each new encounter shows the intricacies of achieving such a goal. – Jordan R.
The Witch (Robert Eggers)
“We will conquer this wilderness. It will not consume us,” foreshadows our patriarch in the first act of The Witch, a delightfully insane bit of 17th century devilish fun. As if Ingmar Bergman and Ken Russell co-directed Kill List, Robert Eggers’ directorial debut follows a God-fearing Puritan family banished from their settlement in a colonial New England, only to have their deep sense of faith uprooted when our title character has her way with their fate. – Jordan R. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
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