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.
Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu)
It took Cristian Mungiu over five years to release a feature-length follow-up to his Palme d’Or winning masterpiece, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. That film, along with The Death of Mr. Lazerescu before it, launched the Romanian New Wave to international acclaim and recognition, and although the movement is not quite as overtly political as it once was, Beyond the Hills is evidence that social responsibility is still among the top Mungiu’s list of priorities, but the intelligence and emotions of the characters are just as prevalent. Beyond the Hills establishes itself as a more humanistic counterpoint to the concentrated and agenda-driven politics of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days; if that film is Mungiu’s Bicycle Thieves, then this one is his Umberto D. – Forrest C. (full review)
Where to Stream: FilmStruck
Disobedience (Sebastían Lelio)
It starts with a London-based rabbi speaking from his heart about the complexities of life. He stammers through — obviously ailing — until collapse. Suddenly we’re in New York City watching a photographer in-session with tattooed seniors. The phone rings and we know. She (Rachel Weisz’s Ronit Krushka) is the daughter of that rabbi and he has passed away. The assumption is that both these worlds will subsequently collide in reunion. Tears will be shed and hugs had. But that’s not quite the case with Sebastían Lelio’s Disobedience. Ronit has been gone for some time and the leaving wasn’t under good terms. Her arrival is thus met with shock, bewilderment, and perhaps some anger. We sense the old wounds shared by all and ready to witness as they’re ripped open. – Jared M. (full review)
The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company (Jean-Luc Godard)
Commissioned by French TV channel TF1 in 1986, Grandeur and Decadence: Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company is another irreverent installment in Godard’s bewitchingly self-reflexive midlife crisis, excavating the proclivities of a narcissistic but brilliant artist who’s past his prime and seeking to return to the past. Pitched as an adaptation of James Hadley Chase’s pulp novel The Soft Centre, it ostensibly chronicles the “rise and fall of a small film company,” a subtitle that only becomes apparent nearly 20 minutes in, as frequent cutaways to black slides with white text separately bearing the film’s title and the subtitle’s subject and predicate before they’re combined into a cohesive whole. These textual impositions reappear throughout as chapter headers-of-sorts emphatically underline a particular concept: “The Omnipotence of Television,” “An Old Story,” and even a lengthy musical interlude about “The Mercedes” set to Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.” – Kyle P. (full review)
Sollers Point (Matthew Porterfield)
With his small-scale, deeply felt, and wonderfully-realized dramas, Matthew Porterfield has carved out an impressive eye for a Baltimore we don’t often see on screen. After earning acclaim on the festival circuit and elsewhere with Putty Hill and I Used to Be Darker, the director returned this summer with Sollers Point. The drama, starring Jim Belushi, McCaul Lombardi, and Zazie Beetz, follows a man under house arrest who must reacquaint himself with both his family and the community at large.
Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton)
Winner of the top prize at TIFF’s Platform section, Christopher Schobert said in his review, “What Sweet Country lacks in surprises is more than compensated for with emotional power and haunting images. The outback has rarely looked so harsh and unforgiving. Australian director Warwick Thornton, whose debut feature Samson and Delilah earned the Caméra d’Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, achieves something rather noteworthy here. He has created a film set in eerie, wide-open spaces that also feels utterly claustrophobic. There is nowhere for Sam and Lizzie to hide, and no place that feels the least bit welcoming.”
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