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.
Aftershock (Tonya Lewis Lee and Paula Eiselt)
A work of deep pain and fervent justice, Tonya Lewis Lee and Paula Eiselt’s Sundance winner Aftershock examines the failings of maternal health support particularly as it relates to Black mothers. Centering on two NYC families forever torn apart after maternal deaths due to childbirth-related complications, the film takes an intimate look at the widowers and family left behind as they pick up the pieces to fight for change in a prejudiced system. Amongst its most interesting passages, the filmmakers also go back decades and beyond, filling in the historical foundation for how we ended up with our current, faltering maternal health system and setting the stage for how it can be changed.
Where to Stream: Hulu
The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins (Les Blank)
Folk auteur Les Blank accompanies seminal bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins back to his Texan hometown for a masterclass in music and melancholy. Swaggering down sidewalks with his guitar and ubiquitous sunglasses, Hopkins gives impromptu performances between rodeo barbecues and late-night summer parties. Blank’s patchwork portrait revels in the incomparable coolness of Lightnin’ Hopkins: the living, breathing embodiment of the blues.
Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club
The Cursed (Sean Ellis)
It’s not the movie you expect to see based on its prologue. Beginning in the trenches of World War I during the Battle of Somme, the camera glides over army ranks preparing to charge from their bunkers while battling explosions of mustard gas burning holes through their uniforms. When Edward, one of the unfortunate soldiers battling the Germans, is wounded and rushed to the field hospital, Ellis isn’t shy about showing the bloody shrapnel removal process. But when doctors extract an obscure silver bullet from Edward’s body, the story takes a mythic turn. – Jake K. (full review)
Where to Stream: Hulu
The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
In Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master, Joaquin Phoenix plays one of the most unique alcoholics I’ve ever seen in a movie. What Aaron Johnson did to pot in Oliver Stone‘s Savages, Phoenix does here to liquid poison — and yes, I do quite literally mean poison. Paint thinner is but one of the sordid ingredients he uses to concoct his immediate-fix potions, which are usually created in some rusty, holed-up room, where everything he needs — dirty beakers, medicinal substances, forgotten flasks — are at his convenient disposal. – Danny K. (full review)
Where to Stream: Tubi
Men (Alex Garland)
After personal trauma, a protagonist retreats to a secluded location for solace and inner reconciliation only to be further haunted. The set-up is familiar to many a horror film, but with Men being an Alex Garland creation, something more peculiar lurks behind this surface. A blend of the compact thrills of Ex Machina and the surreal oddities of Annihilation, his latest is delightfully inscrutable in its strangest moments yet thematically simplistic and disappointingly misshapen on the whole. Using misogyny—both subtly ingrained and its more vicious, physical form—as the window dressing for allegory-heavy arthouse horror, Men often feels like it is just scratching the surface of more complexity, faintly suggesting rather than genuinely exploring its roughly sketched ideas. – Jordan R. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
The Films of Miklós Jancsó
Deemed essential cinema and “a tour de force” by Martin Scorsese, newly restored films by Miklós Jancsó are streaming exclusively on the relaunched Filmatique. Creator of a unique film language, Jancsó’s extraordinary works examine war, youthful rebellion, the mechanics of power, and even Greek myth—all in jaw-dropping tracking shots that wring every bit of drama from figures and landscapes.
Where to Stream: Filmatique
Mississippi Masala (Mira Nair)
After being lost in the tendrils of rights issues for many years, Mira Nair’s 1991 masterpiece Mississippi Masala is finally being brought back to audiences with a gorgeous new 4K restoration from Janus Films. Premiering the restoration at the 2021 New York Film Festival, there’s been a euphoria surrounding this re-release in a way that’s difficult to describe. Many resurrections of lost films each year develop a fervent passion from the film-loving community, but there’s something special about what’s happening with Mississippi Masala. Maybe it has to do with how specifically beautiful the film is. Developed with her longtime creative partner, writer Sooni Taraporevala, it’s a story of love between Mina (Sarita Choudhury, in her debut role), a brown woman, and Demetrius (Denzel Washington), a Black man, in Greenwood, Mississippi. It’s also a story of pain, as Mina has ended up in Mississippi due to the exile of Ugandan Indians that took place in the early 1970s that forced her and her family, including her father Jay (Roshan Seth), out of their home. – Mitchell B. (full interview)
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel
The Sacred Spirit (Chema García Ibarra)
Welcome to the OVNI-Levante Ufology Association, please take a seat. It’s the 37th meeting for this band of alien-obsessed misfits from Elche, Spain, and the last to be chaired by president Julio before he’ll pass away and leave the helm to his second in command, “Cosmic Pharaoh” José Manuel (Nacho Fernández). Not exactly the best time for a cabinet reshuffling, considering the six-strong OVNI-Levante has spent the past few months (years?) gearing up for a cosmic event which, the President has promised, will change the world as we know it. The date is looming; there’s no time to lose. Is it an extraterrestrial sighting these drifters are bracing for? An invasion? And how, if at all, is the mystery related with the disappearance of José Manuel’s 10-year-old niece Vanessa, gone missing 25 days ago? Darkly surreal, perched on the edge of comedy and drama, of social realism and the occult, Chema García Ibarra’s feature debut The Sacred Spirit is a UFO of its own: a rare, singular gem that skirts all attempts at pigeonholing and hangs in a volatile space. – Leonardo G. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
You Are Not My Mother (Kate Dolan)
Despite leaving writer-director Kate Dolan’s feature debut You Are Not My Mother with a lot more questions than answers, I don’t think that reality is necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps if better-versed in Irish lore I’d be more familiar with the supernatural elements at play and, thus, less in the dark about the unspoken details the film doesn’t seem to realize it might need to share for better understanding. But it’s not as though knowing would add much beyond context. And if that’s all that’s missing, are we really losing anything? Not when our ignorance helps augment the feeling of anxiety permeating throughout. Perhaps Dolan omitted those answers on purpose. We’re to know things are happening without being chaperoned through each secret. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Hulu
Zombi Child (Bertrand Bonello)
Bertrand Bonello’s last film, the terrorism-themed thriller Nocturama, hit headlines as it was released in the wake of Islamic State terror attacks in France. Supposedly it was the reason the film didn’t debut in competition at Cannes that year and with the compelling Directors’ Fortnight premiere Zombi Child, the director has again swerved away from official selection. Where Nocturama pointed to a seething social tension that Bonello believed present in the undercurrent of contemporary France, this is a genre-blending horror satire on the country’s racial divisions that delves into the country’s post-colonial heritage and the myth of Haitian zombie legend. – Ed F. (full review)
Also New to Streaming
MUBI (free for 30 days)