Each week we highlight the noteworthy titles that have recently hit streaming platforms in the United States. Check out this week’s selections below and past round-ups here.
Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov)
The horrors of war are often told through male-centric narratives. Heroes who go through hell on the battlefield, brothers who sacrifice everything for each other, soldiers who return home scarred for life etc., all of which we’ve seen put on the big screen time and again. But wars are of course collective nightmares, tears in the fabric of history that leave no one–men, women, children–unscathed. This is the premise of Russian writer–director Kantemir Balagov’s second feature Beanpole, a radical relationship drama that examines the trauma of war from a distinctly female perspective. – Zhuo-Ning Su (full review)
Where to Stream: OVID.tv
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (Junta Yamaguchi)
The logistics behind Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes are mind-boggling to fathom; time-travel stories are often confusing enough when they aren’t filmed as a one-shot. The Europe Kikaku theatrical troupe embracing that extra challenge is, accordingly, wild. Group director Makoto Ueda admits he wouldn’t have written the script that way if he didn’t already trust his actors and know they could handle the experiment. Not that having them at his disposal necessarily made his and director Junta Yamaguchi’s jobs any easier. To be able to craft this particular adventure through time and space into a seamless seventy-minute progression, they would still need to break everything into two-minute increments to ensure it all happened as it already had. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Amazon Prime
Deception (Arnaud Desplechin)
One of the most curious developments in world cinema the last handful of years is a general dismissal of Arnaud Desplechin here in the United States. His Cannes opener Ismael’s Ghosts came and went without much fanfare and his follow-up, the entertaining procedural Oh Mercy!, didn’t even get distribution. After premiering at last year’s Cannes, his riveting Philip Roth adaptation Deception, starring Léa Seydoux and Denis Polydalès, marks the best cinematic translation of the author’s work and has now finally seen the light of day here courtesy of a MUBI release. Nick Newman recently caught up with Desplechin to discuss this latest project, and you can read the full interview here.
Dual (Riley Stearns)
Dual, Riley Stearns’ third feature following Faults and The Art of Self-Defense, establishes its endgame within the first five minutes. Opening on a split football field with two small sets of audiences in its bleachers, the dark comedy watches as two young men, doppelgängers, fight to the death under lights and TV cameras usually set for a high school state championship game. The double wins, killing his original form, setting the table for the following 95-minute story. – Michael F. (full review)
Where to Stream: AMC+, VOD
Hatching (Hanna Bergholm)
Mother (Sophia Heikkilä) has the perfect family. The kind of family who would no doubt have made Adolf Hitler shed a single, wistful tear. It’s because of this that Mother makes a living placing her family’s unblemished, Aryan faces in front of a selfie camera and documenting their lives for all the world to see. In their crisp, pastel pink-and-white garments that they flounce around within the walls of their toy dollhouse home—the latter of which the camera establishes by floating around the exterior to mimic drone shots Mother uses in her family vlogs—the nuclear family at the center of Finnish director Hanna Bergholm’s rattling feature debut Hatching projects an image of unattainable attainability. It’s the same sort that modern-day vloggers and influencers profit from in real life. Smiling faces, tousled hair, audience-acceptable kisses and hugs, restrained displays of affection. The kind of family that is everyone and no one at all, meticulously crafted for an era in which aspirational voyeurism has become a principal pastime for millions. – Brianna Z. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
Hold Your Fire (Stefan Forbes)
An “us versus them” mentality inherently possesses the drama many documentarians seek to bottle when telling their stories. They mine their topic for the message they aspire to share or take that message and search for a topic which speaks its truth—agenda and content always in concert. Like most issues in this increasingly volatile era of media consumption, however, choosing one or the other tends to alienate the audience that needs to hear what the resulting film is explaining. Stefan Forbes has thus found himself at a Holy Grail nexus point with Hold Your Fire—his subject matter exists at a literal crossroads wherein the “us” and “them” are equally to blame, its complexity demanding the realization that “them” is a construct for violence. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
Kyiv Frescoes (Sergei Parajanov)
The new 4K restoration of Sergei Parajanov’s Kyiv Frescoes, is now available to watch for free for a limited time to benefit the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre and Film Archive in Kyiv, Ukraine. Courtesy of Kino Lorber, the program features the newly restored fifteen surviving minutes of Parajanov’s film along with an introduction by film historian James Steffen, author of The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov. The film is followed by a recorded conversation with Olena Goncharouk, director of the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, speaking from Kyiv to discuss the historical context of Ukraine’s ongoing struggle to protect their national cultural identity in the face of military conflict.
Where to Stream: Kino Now (for free)
La Vie Des Morts (Arnaud Desplechin)
What a week for Desplechin! Once you’ve streamed Deception loop back to the beginning: his debut La Vie Des Morts has been restored—looking miles better than the copy I got from questionable sources years ago—and streams for free on Le Cinéma Club, who also got from him a list of five underseen films.
Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club
Old (M. Night Shyamalan)
Old, the latest thriller from horror auteur M. Night Shyamalan, follows a family vacationing at a luxurious tropical resort. The parents (Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps) have loud fights over marital and medical troubles that their children bear but don’t understand. They take a day trip to a remote beach, an environment which has the mysterious effect of rapidly aging them—about the rate of a year per half-hour. In turn, the group of strangers succumb to the ravages of time, unable to leave the beach without blacking out. – Gabrielle M. (full review)
Where to Stream: HBO Max
President (Camilla Nielsson)
As Americans are painfully aware these days, democracy is messy business. Following her fascinating 2014 documentary Democrats, about the work of creating a new constitution in Zimbabwe, Camilla Nielsson’s sweeping President explores the nation’s second democratic election, in 2018, through the eyes of the opposition party. The legacy of Robert Mugabe looms large in the ruling ZANU-PF party, which controls all manner of life in the nation despite inroads made by the liberal MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) and its presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa. Challenging incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa, the film shifts modes between fly-on-the-wall picture about the inner workings of a campaign and an on-the-ground study in real election rigging, wherein the ZANU-PF use all manner—from soft approaches like food giveaways to disturbing allegations of sexual violence against poll workers. – John F. (full review)
Where to Stream: Hulu
RRR (S. S. Rajamouli)
If you missed this year’s action spectacle to beat, S. S. Rajamouli’s 3-hour-plus epic RRR, during its theatrical run earlier this spring, it was recently announced the film would return to theaters for one night only on June 1 in its original and uncut Telugu-language version. While its most-deserving of the big-screen experience, it has also now arrived at home, streaming on Netflix albeit in its Hindi dub.
Where to Stream: Netflix
Sundown (Michel Franco)
Writer-director Michel Franco throws the first curveball early during his latest film Sundown. We’ve already spent a bit of time with his quartet of European characters vacationing in Acapulco to make a few assumptions before workaholic Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg) leans over to the quietly satisfied Neil (Tim Roth) and thanks him for coming along. Why wouldn’t he have? Isn’t he her husband and her kids’ father? He might be. Perhaps Alice and Neil are in the middle of a separation wherein he only agreed to come for appearances? It’s not like his laconic demeanor is giving anything away, though, so we’ll just have to wait until Franco decides to share the answer. And it won’t be the last time. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Hulu
Zeros and Ones (Abel Ferrara)
The city of Rome certainly means something to Abel Ferrara. A new home after being priced-out and disgusted by the “new” New York, it’s served in recent films as both a liberating and confining environment for tortured artists. Yet in his latest film, Zeros and Ones, we’re plunged into a land outside whatever Ferrara’s probably even imagined. Beyond just the grainy, handheld photography provided by Alex Ross Perry and Safdie Brothers veteran Sean Price Williams, drones map out the vacant night, providing glimpses of its extreme 2020 lockdown—a city symphony of the world’s deadest metropolis. – Ethan V. (full review)
Where to Stream: Tubi
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