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.
Cowboys (Anna Kerrigan)
Hearing writer/director Anna Kerrigan talk about the origins of her latest film Cowboys is to understand the love she has for Montana and the way it provides a respite from the noise of city life. With that sense of comfort in nature’s majesty, however, also lies the potential for disconnect where politics are concerned since those who call that state home aren’t always the most diverse or understanding when it comes to lifestyle choices that fall outside the “norms” of their conservative religious worldview. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Kerrigan would seek to bridge that gap creatively. She chose Montana’s setting to escape personal upheaval upon moving back to Los Angeles from New York yet refused to gloss over the full scope of what its environment entailed. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
Dead Pigs (Cathy Yan)
Considering Dead Pigs was Cathy Yan’s calling card to enter the Hollywood shuffle with Birds of Prey, it’s surprising it’s taken this long for it to finally receive a U.S. release. Three years after its Sundance Film Festival premiere, Yan’s directorial debut has now finally received a debut on MUBI this week. A dark comedy exploring modern China through the lens of a handful of characters, we’ve been waiting to see this for some time and glad it’s now available for a wide audience.
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: Virtual Cinemas
“I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” (Radu Jude)
Inverted commas withstanding, “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” seems like an awfully long and pretentious thing to call a film. Indeed, it might even suggest that something long and pretentious will be awaiting any viewer of Radu Jude’s latest creation but thankfully, in this case at very least, only one of those adjectives is true. At 140 minutes, Barbarians (as it will be referred to from here) is indeed rather long, especially when considering that one could easily describe it as a drawn-out dialectic on the responsibility of nations to confront whatever atrocities their government and populous committed in the past. So how on earth is Barbarians so funny and compelling? Well, one reason might be that it’s a movie by Radu Jude, a Romanian New Wave filmmaker who has managed to operate just outside the main spotlight of his gilded colleagues, occasionally departing from their stark contemporary realism while always sharing in their brand of gallows humor. – Rory O. (full review)
Where to Stream: OVID.tv
Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King)
A film that is both timely and timeless, Judas the Black Messiah resists intertwining current events with historical figures––an approach that Spike Lee has excelled at in his work. Instead, director and co-writer Shaka King’s examination of the final moments of Fred Hampton’s short life is grounded firmly in the politics of the late 1960s. It goes without saying that little has changed and therefore it’s easy to connect the dots to recent struggles. – John F. (full review)
Where to Stream: HBO Max
Lapsis (Noah Hutton)
Lapsis says and does a lot with its lo-fi aesthetics because it knows when to utilize its modest budget on computer graphic enhancements and when to let its endearing cast take the reins and run with things in a way that we can relate to as people caught in a similar cycle of economic warfare. And it’s Imperial who leads the charge with a deconstruction of the tough-guy persona trying his damnedest to wrap his head around things well past his pay-grade in order to seize this opportunity both socially and romantically (he’s into Anna). I’m still not sure what Hutton is doing with a cryptic ending I’m completely in the dark about, but it has me wanting to re-watch and discover what else I might have missed. – Jared M. (full review)
Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg
One of my favorite Criterion sets of the last few years the collection of Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg’s seven collaborations from the 1930s. Brimming with lavish production design, expressive direction, and Dietrich in all of her powerful glory, they are a sight to behold. Thankfully, they are now available on The Criterion Channel, featuring The Blue Angel, Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, and The Devil Is a Woman. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel
Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
The end of the world is here, but the characters in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia can’t help but make it about themselves. In the second of his “Depression Trilogy,” and one of the most potent portrayals of mental illness’ daily effects from the past few decades, von Trier honors and judges these characters in their final fits of narcissism. For Justine (a career-best Kristen Dunst), the end is a sweet, caressing lullaby––a confirmation of her most inalienable beliefs. Meanwhile, Claire’s (Charlotte Gainsbourg) panic attacks ebb and flow with the accuracy of her husband’s scientific calculations, and in a mordant touch––her personal estimations with a coil of wire. Doom rarely feels so inevitably poetic. – Michael S.
Where to Stream: Amazon Prime
PVT Chat (Ben Hozie)
It doesn’t get more cynical than the answer Jack (Peter Vack) gives to his own question, “What’s the common thread that connects every relationship you experience?” Scarlet (Julia Fox) nervously laughs when he asks it because she knows it’s rhetorical the moment he finishes. He doesn’t want her opinion. He wants to tell her what he thinks and does exactly that when explaining how we all exist to use others and be used by them. Just because Jack’s insight is overly cynical, however, doesn’t mean he’s wrong. A post-capitalist society built atop the internet that’s been consumed by the transactional ease of technological advances demands exchange, exploitation, and nihilism. Scarlet talks to Jack because he pays her. Jack talks to Scarlet because she fuels his orgasms. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
Also New to Streaming
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