With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options—not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves–each week we highlight the noteworthy titles that have recently hit platforms. Check out this week’s selections below and past round-ups here.
AK vs AK (Vikramaditya Motwane)
Over the 21st century, Bollywood cinema has entered into a completely different era of filmmaking and storytelling than was being made in the decades prior. Actors and directors who started their careers in the ‘80s and ‘90s have experienced such a drastic shift from their beginnings to what they are doing now that their older works seem almost archaic and unrecognizable. This has led, expectedly, to many of Bollywood’s artists making self-reflexive work that also reflects on the industry in general––Fan, Sanju, The Dirty Picture, Luck By Chance, and Shamitabh are just a few examples. Vikramaditya Motwane’s AK vs AK is the latest and best of the lot. – Soham G. (full review)
Cary Grant Comedies
What better way to ring in 2021 than with some comedies from one of Hollywood’s greatest actors? The Criterion Channel’s new collectionn features I’m No Angel (1933), She Done Him Wrong (1933), The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Holiday (1938), My Favorite Wife (1940), The Talk of the Town (1942), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), Indiscreet (1958), Operation Petticoat (1959), The Grass Is Greener (1960), That Touch of Mink (1962), and Father Goose (1964).
Where to Steam: The Criterion Channel
Claire’s Camera (Hong Sang-soo)
Its appeal lies more in the seductive energy exuded from the dialogues and performances, which feel improvised. Huppert and Kim are clearly having fun riffing off one another, each speaking in lightly broken English and conveying the pleasures of ephemeral encounters in low-stakes liminal spaces, such as the one represented by the festival. Claire’s Camera as a whole is just as fleeting, and while it too may not leave a lasting mark, it’s nonetheless a welcome diversion while we wait for the next film by the exceptionally prolific Hong. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)
Dawson City: Frozen Time (Bill Morrison)
There is a scholarly theory that proposes films are always telling the story of their creation, singing an endless song about their own history. That seemed to have been literally the case in 1978 when Frank Barrett, a construction worker in Dawson City in the northern Yukon, discovered strips of nitrate film poking out of the earth in the site of a new recreation center — like stubborn blossoms trying to defeat the harshness of winter. Children had taken to lighting the visible strips on fire unaware that in the joy of the pyrotechnic display they were erasing history. Barrett’s unique discovery led to the unearthing of over 500 reels containing films made in the 1910s and 1920s, and considering that it is believed that 75% of all silent films were lost, this might have been the most important finding in the archaeology of film. Taking clips from these reels and solving the mystery of how they ended up buried in the Yukon, director Bill Morrison made Dawson City: Frozen Time which might just be the ultimate found footage film. – Jose S. (full review)
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel
Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)
At once Paul Thomas Anderson‘s loosest and densest film, Inherent Vice presents a world that’s easy to get lost in. Not because his adaptation of Thomas Pynchon‘s novel isn’t interested in hand-holding — it is a mystery from the point-of-view of a paranoid and confused pothead, mind you — but its melancholic tone, the Blake Edwards-like comedy, and array of endlessly eccentric characters, all of which add up to a transcendent two-and-a-half hours. This is a movie that washes over its viewers as long as they’re willing to go along for the trippy ride. It’s a strange, funny, and surprisingly sad story, almost more about a bad breakup than the mystery Doc has to unravel. Shasta Fay’s (Katherine Waterston) presence is almost always felt in Inherent Vice. Doc confronts equally confusing internal and external struggles in this dreamlike LA story. Despite a disappointing box-office, it’s up there with Anderson’s best work. – Jack G.
Where to Stream: HBO Max
Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
That George Miller returned to resurrect his Mad Max saga three decades after its last entry (the divisive Beyond Thunderdome) is, in itself, a certain sort of feat. That he produced an anti-patriarchal, post-apocalyptic, action-fantasy epic worthy of mainstream appeal is damn near achieving the impossible. But with the help of a stellar cast (led by Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron) and enough stunt people to fill ten movies, Miller introduced a new generation to his fully imagined world and all the carefully choreographed fight sequences and face-melting destruction that come with it. The fact that a film of such gloriously creative weirdness could become both a critical and box-office success makes me think there’s hope for us all. – Amanda W.
Where to Stream: HBO Max
Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
Set against the backdrop of America’s lost exceptionalism in post-9/11 New York City, Margaret is one girl’s attempt to reconcile the fact that everybody is the protagonist of their own lives with the fact that such a thing does not make you the center of the world. Unfairly maligned on initial release, perhaps because of the film’s long, troubled history, it didn’t take long for Margaret to be reclaimed as one of the decade’s best — particularly in the DVD-only “Extended Cut” (not “Director’s”). Regardless, what emerged is astonishing, a dense, narratively ambitious work that flaunts director Kenneth Longergan’s pedigree as an esteemed playwright that nevertheless reaches many of its enlightenment and conclusions by virtue of its sound design. A scene will begin allowing us to hear other people’s conversations, only for them to gradually diminish as the camera approaches Lisa (Anna Paquin), placing the film’s paradoxical tension into one cinematic device. – Forrest C.
Where to Stream: HBO Max (also includes extended director’s cut in HD)
Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
An aspiring actress and a woman suffering from amnesia stumble upon mystery and danger on the palm tree laden streets of sunny Los Angeles. Betty (Naomi Watts) has just arrived in town, bringing with her inevitable silver screen ambitions. Rita (Laura Elena Harring) has just stumbled from a limo crash on the titular Mulholland Drive, into an apartment owned by Betty’s aunt, bleeding from the head and unable to remember her name. She selects ‘Rita’ from a movie poster, gazing hypnotically at the name Rita Hayworth. Soon, we discover we’ve wandered into a dreamscape, fractured by the past and perhaps even by the violence of a scorned lover. High hopes are dashed on the rocks, and the death of this beauty is, in many ways, eulogized at Club Silencio, where a woman lip-syncs a Roy Orbison song. As we were informed, there is no band. It is only a tape recording, a illusory facsimile of a true expression of beauty. Indeed, there is inherent beauty in both women, but as the dream twists, one jilts the other, and ugliness bubbles to the otherwise immaculate surface. – Tony H.
Where to Stream: HBO Max
Shadow in the Cloud (Roseanne Liang)
The first half of Shadow in the Cloud ends up being a pretty taut thriller as we too are wondering what’s so important. Not being able to see what the men are doing means our imaginations can go wild as to the lengths they’re going to wrestle the package away from Quaid. So the intrigue only mounts once we witness what Maude does: a low-flying Japanese fighter in the clouds and the silhouette of something unexplainable on the wing. Her warnings fall on deaf ears of the sexist variety and she’ll eventually have to take it upon herself to save them all when things go awry. Don’t think it’s for their benefit, though. In Maude’s mind everyone is expendable—including herself. And she’s unafraid to prove it. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
Weathering with You (Makoto Shinkai)
Because Weathering with You is a Makoto Shinkai film, however, things don’t stop at two teens trying to survive on their own in a society that’s made it illegal to walk the streets as an unaccompanied minor. We must also talk about their current environment and its record-breaking rainfall erasing summer right off the calendar. With scientists unable to explain what’s happening, psychics pick up the slack. They speak about legends and Weather Maidens with Dragon properties (bringing the storms) and Sun properties (breaking them apart). It’s all a bunch of baloney Hodaka’s boss Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri) uses to sell tabloids until Hina reveals what she can do when praying towards the sky. She’s a bona fide Sunshine Girl—the key to saving Tokyo from natural disaster. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: HBO Max
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