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.
Both Sides of the Blade (Claire Denis)
In Both Sides of the Blade a romance breaks down and threatens to break up in a stylish apartment overlooking the sweet Parisian skyline. The director is of course Claire Denis, a filmmaker whose last work began in a place that looked like Eden and ended in a spaceship plummeting toward no less than a black hole. A baroque melodrama that might just maybe be a trolling farce, Both Sides of the Blade‘s concerns are of a more earthbound variety–though if the insistent strings of Tindersticks’ score are something to go by, they are of no less importance. – Rory O. (full review)
Where to Stream: Hulu
Demonlover (Olivier Assayas)
Like so many Olivier Assayas films, Demonlover belongs to the ghosts. In this particular case they are enigmatic, ladder-climbing players in a high-stakes game of corporate espionage. Devoid of backstories or any motivation beyond power, influence, and desire, they are walking ellipses created for the sole purpose of inspiring visceral appeal and narrative misdirection. – Glenn H. (full review)
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel
Drunken Birds (Ivan Grbovic)
We start at the end—the end of a cartel. Men climb the walls to go inside the now abandoned estate, walking amongst paintings and sculptures before stripping naked to take a dip in the indoor swimming pool while a giant portrait of their unwitting (and now imprisoned) benefactor looks on. One decides to don a fur coat as he rifles through the papers sitting on the kingpin’s desk. He picks up a note and begins to read before discarding it out of boredom. The voice of its author, however, continues to speak. Talk of a shootout, love, and emancipation follow until the smooth swoop of a tarp covering an expensive car transports us back to the moment the letter was composed within. The present provides the past. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Film Movement Plus
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley)
The appeal of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign is in creating weird, wonderful characters of your own and throwing them into a wide array of quests: no two games can ever be the same. This is what I’m assured by friends who are into D&D, anyway, as playing any tabletop game with a convoluted set of instructions causes me to glaze over mentally––yes, dear reader, the following review isn’t written from an authoritative perspective as a member of the franchise’s enduring fandom. I have been informed by those more in the know than myself that the latest role-playing, game-themed effort from director duo Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (who previously gave us the appreciably greater Game Night) contains a treasure trove of Easter Eggs and winking references only the faithful will latch onto. – Alistair R. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
How to Blow Up a Pipeline (Daniel Goldhaber)
Logan (Lukas Gage) meets Shawn (Marcus Scribner) holding a red-covered book within a section of a bookstore both men are trolling for like-minded individuals. Our assumption is that the color means he’s leafing through Andreas Malm’s nonfiction How to Blow Up a Pipeline, in which the author argues for sabotage as a legitimate form of climate activism while also criticizing the pacifism and fatalism that has otherwise dominated the conversation instead. It makes sense, then, why Logan smirks before relaying how it “doesn’t actually explain how to build a bomb.” It doesn’t have to when there are numerous resources that already do—the stuff that will probably land you on an FBI watchlist. That’s not the point. The point is that those bombs should be built. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
Maya (Mia Hansen-Løve)
At long last, as Mia Hansen-Løve’s stellar new drama One Fine Morning arrived, her 2018 feature Maya finally got a U.S. release earlier this year and it’s now available on Prime Video. Courtesy Under The Milky Way, the film following a French war reporter who journies to India after spending months in captivity, is now available digitally. Catch up with Josh Lewis’s review from TIFF here and Nick Newman’s interview with the director here.
Where to Stream: Prime Video
Moonage Daydream (Brett Morgen)
Brett Morgen—venerated documentarian behind Cobain: Montage of Heck and Jane—is the first filmmaker to land a project sanctioned by the Bowie estate. He did not take this for granted. Moonage Daydream is a radiant, psychedelic voyage through the artist’s life, soul, and work that offers a novel approach, gobs of unseen footage, and cosmic insight into Bowie’s ontologies from the demigod himself. – Luke H. (full review)
Where to Stream: HBO Max
A New Old Play (Qiu Jiongjiong)
A historically dense yet formally playful exploration of China over a half-century beginning in the 1930s, Qiu Jiongjiong’s first fictional feature A New Old Play may seem daunting on its surface, running nearly three hours and taking place over just a handful of lovingly detailed sets. Once one settles into its theatric rhythms, there is much beauty to behold. Occupying spaces that are humorous and heartbreaking––often in the same breath––we witness a theatre troupe’s journey through a time of immense turmoil. While the play-as-cinema approach results in a certain emotional distance, its unique vision is one worth experiencing.
Where to Stream: OVID.tv
Parasite (Bong Joon-ho)
Over the course of his career, Bong Joon-ho has come to define himself as a maestro of the tonal tightrope, and Parasite continues that immaculate balance. Devilishly funny, equally tender, and more than a bit depraved, this deconstruction of contemporary economic class and status nimbly executes a constant subversion of its character dynamics. With pitch-perfect timing on its rug pulls, the film’s dexterity with comedy, horror, suspense, and outright tragedy is punctuated by a commanding cast, who collectively give some of the best performances of 2019. In unsure hands, Parasite could have been rendered an untenable mess. Bong’s brazen commitment delivered a richly textured, empathetic, and deeply affecting masterwork. – Conor O.
Where to Stream: HBO Max
Riceboy Sleeps (Anthony Shim)
So-Young (Choi Seung-yoon) didn’t want to leave South Korea. She had no choice. The father of her newborn son committed suicide and, as an orphan who was never adopted, she had no other family. So, with nowhere to turn and a boy who couldn’t legally become a citizen due to being born out of wedlock, she immigrated to Canada to start anew. There she would build a home for the two of them and a wall in front of her past. Questions about Dong-Hyun’s (Dohyun Noel Hwang at six and Ethan Hwang at sixteen) father were delayed indefinitely and ultimately left unanswered no matter how many times he asked. So-Young only wanted to look forward and, eventually, so did Dong-Hyun. Until their future together was unceremoniously stolen away. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
Viking (Stéphane Lafleur)
Filmmakers who may not have Denis Villeneuve- or Christopher Nolan-sized budgets have recently found inventive ways to capture ideas of outer space, from Alice Winocour’s Promixa to Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja’s Aniara. The latest impressive indie entry comes from French-Canadian filmmaker Stéphane Lafleur, whose Viking is a slyly funny, surprisingly grounded look at the team that got left behind––specifically, the group that mirrors the team that is actually headed to Mars. From bracingly strange elements on this (faux) space journey, such as mounted horses and a pizza delivery, to seeing the shocking lengths the team will go to follow in the footsteps of those up in space, Viking delivers a well-balanced dose of humor and heart.
Where to Stream: Fandor
You Can Live Forever (Sarah Watts, Mark Slutsky)
An understated tale of forbidden love amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses in Quebec, Sarah Watts and Mark Slutsky’s You Can Live Forever follows Jamie (Anwen O’Driscoll), a lesbian outsider who falls in love with Marike (June Laporte), a religious woman in the community. Despite an amateurish, obvious score over-accentuating the major emotional beats, the drama stays smartly focused on the romance at the center rather than demonizing the religion causing our leads to keep their connection hidden. Emotionally attuned to the nuances of unspoken feelings, it’s a promising if familiar calling card, conveyed with a strong amount of filmmaking confidence.
Where to Stream: VOD
The Young Girls Turn 25 (Agnès Varda)
In 1993, Agnès Varda returned to the titular port town of The Young Girls of Rochefort her husband had transformed into a musical spectacle twenty-five years earlier. Varda’s tribute to The Young Girls of Rochefort reveals how Demy made the film in retrospect, but also highlights the film’s popular endurance among its stars and host town on the occasion of the film’s 25th anniversary. Mixing video-camera footage, excerpts from The Young Girls of Rochefort, still images, and interviews with Rochefort’s denizens, Varda’s playful verve as an artist shines. She notices Demy’s legacy lives on in many forms, from the wistful memories of local extras to marriages that began on-set.
Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club
Also New to Streaming
The Criterion Channel
Anthony Mann Directs James Stewart
Asian American ’80s
Days of Heaven
The Infernal Affairs Trilogy
Seijun Suzuki: The Chaos of Cool
Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh
MUBI (free for 30 days)
The Boss of It All
Heat and Dust
Soft & Quiet
Peanut Butter Falcon
Ticket to Paradise
The Pope’s Exorcist
Warm Water on Red Bridge