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 an archive of past round-ups here.
Braguino (Clément Cogitore)
Le Cinéma Club excels in presentation—opening their clean website every Friday reveals a free, new, conveniently sized film playing alongside original written content—but more important is their reach: time and again they’re screening unavailable, underseen, sometimes thought-missing work by auteurs established and upcoming alike. Their current program concerns recent documentaries—starting today is French filmmaker Clément Cogitore’s Braguino, which surveys two rival families in images merging you-are-there immediacy with stunning high-definition clarity. At 49 minutes the experience is ideal for your dense quarantine lineup. – Nick N.
Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club
To celebrate their one-year anniversary, The Criterion Channel are bringing back one of the series that they launched one, an excellent slate of pulpy noirs, the majority of which were produced in the heyday of the ’40s and ’50s. The lineup features Blind Alley (Charles Vidor, 1939), My Name Is Julia Ross (Joseph H. Lewis, 1945), Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1946), So Dark the Night (Joseph H. Lewis, 1946), Dead Reckoning (John Cromwell, 1947), Johnny O’Clock (Robert Rossen, 1947), The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1947), In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950), The Mob (Robert Parrish, 1951), Affair in Trinidad (Vincent Sherman, 1952), The Sniper (Edward Dmytryk, 1952), The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, 1953), Drive a Crooked Road (Richard Quine, 1954), Human Desire (Fritz Lang, 1954), Pushover (Richard Quine, 1954), Tight Spot (Phil Karlson, 1955), 5 Against the House (Phil Karlson, 1955), Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1956), The Harder They Fall (Mark Robson, 1956), The Brothers Rico (Phil Karlson, 1957), The Burglar (Paul Wendkos, 1957), The Lineup (Don Siegel, 1958), Murder by Contract (Irving Lerner, 1958), The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1959), and Experiment in Terror (Blake Edwards, 1962).
Where to Watch: The Criterion Channel
The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci)
With an unimpeachable cast of movie stars, TV stars, and even stage legends, The Death of Stalin makes a feast of the banal and horrifying absurdities that were commonplace during the period without losing the persistent undercurrent of tragedy and anxiety. Less a historical recreation than a comedic channeling of the spirit of the time, the film even has the actors speak in their native accent, leading to a motley collection of voices all fighting to get the upper hand in the race to fill Stalin’s role. Even as the film is very clearly a comedy, it’s also a tightrope act of tonal balance with scenes like David Zucker-style sight gags of executions happening in the background as characters walk by blissfully ignoring the consequences of their minute-to-minute choices. – Michael S. (full interview)
Where to Stream: Netflix
The Florida Project (Sean Baker)
How, exactly, did Sean Baker do it? How did the director of Tangerine make this story of a mother and daughter living at a rundown motel outside of Disney World in Orlando so joyous, sad, and utterly insightful? Young star Brooklynn Prince, giving one of the most natural performances I’ve seen from a child, is essential to its success. And the great Willem Dafoe, of course, has never been better — or sweeter. But Baker deserves the highest praise. He has constructed a film about children and parents that is truly insightful. Does Moonee deserve better? Without question. But Baker shows that even in situations as messy as those depicted in The Florida Project, there can be deep love. And that counts for something. – Chris S.
Where to Stream: Netflix
The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack)
Jodie Mack’s work is vital, both in the sense that it is an essential cornerstone of modern film practice but also–and more significantly–alive. With a stop-motion style of animation that returns the genre to its oft-forgotten root definition of literally bringing inanimate objects to life, her experimentation with form is refreshingly playful and unpretentious, liberating materials from their settings and placing them in conversation with less colorful aspects of the world at large. Her first feature The Grand Bizarre has been a long time coming, disrupting a loaded filmography of significant, acclaimed short films. With an hour run-time that abstractly chronicles the travels of a group of vibrantly colored, escaped textiles and fabrics, Mack escalates breathtaking aesthetic revery into a stimulating discourse on the global economy. – Jason O. (full review)
Grass (Hong Sang-soo)
The film stars Hong’s currently inseparable muse Kim Min-hee as a casual writer who spends most of the film tapping away on her MacBook as she eavesdrops on conversations in a quaint Seoul cafe. The content of these chats ranges from the utterly mundane to far more weighted meditations, most significantly a lost love and a suicide. Hong is generally at his best when examining how men and women interact and this setting allows him to once again put those subtleties and idiosyncrasies at the front of his lens or, perhaps more accurately, under his microscope. – Rory O. (full review)
Where to Stream: iTunes
Gray House (Austin Lynch & Matthew Booth)
Produced by Twin Peaks‘ Sabrina S. Sutherland, the new film by Austin Lynch (son of David) and Matthew Booth seamlessly forms documentary and fiction to examine contemporary America, mixing appearances by Denis Lavant and Aurore Clément with direct addresses from real-life laborers and inmates.
Where to Stream: Grasshopper Film
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos)
With the successive features Dogtooth, Alps, and The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos seemed to be going down the same route as Wes Anderson, i.e. become one of those auteurs who refines rather than expands on his idiosyncrasies, making largely interchangeable films on an ever grander scale but with diminishing returns. In this regard, The Killing of a Sacred Deer represents a departure, venturing into genre territory previously uncharted by the director. Although a felicitous turn in principle, the dispiriting results suggest Lanthimos might have been better off staying on his original course after all. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
The Little Story of Gwen From French Brittany (Agnès Varda)
It’s now been one year since the trailblazing Agnès Varda passed away. In celebration of her career, American Cinematheque has now made available a rare short from her collection, The Little Story of Gwen From French Brittany. Filmed in the mid-1990s, it follows Varda’s friend Gwen Deglise and her journey from Paris to LA, where she is the head programmer for American Cinematheque. Clocking in at just five minutes, check it out above.
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 the year. 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: Hulu
Sea Fever (Neasa Hardiman)
Ever the scientist too enthralled with work to bother making friends, Siobhán (Hermoine Corfield) will stop at nothing to gaze upon a school of fish whose swim pattern might be crucial to her research. This means bumming onto a trawler owned by Gerard (Dougray Scott) and Freya (Connie Nielsen) thanks to an acquaintance with a crush (Jack Hickey). The fishing couple is short on cash (late payroll the reason Ardalan Esmaili’s engineer Ahmed is about to quit), so they take her money, agree to one scuba dive, and hold their breath upon realizing red hair (bad luck) exists under her hat. Thanks to a reckless maneuver by Gerard in an attempt to find a fish windfall and keep their vessel afloat, however, this uneventful adventure becomes anything but. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: iTunes
Short Films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, David Lowery, Carlos Reygadas & More
This month only, This Long Century is presenting a selection of experimental short films from a range of artists and in return, they are asking for donations to a number of non-profit and relief funds. Featuring 30 films in total, the lineup includes work by Lucile Hadžihalilović, Shambhavi Kaul, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Haris Epaminonda, Anna Marziano, Salomé Lamas, Caroline Monnet, Camilo Restrepo, Carlos Reygadas, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, William E. Jones, Jennifer West, Oliver Payne, Nick Relph, Beatrice Gibson, Sky Hopinka, Deborah Stratman, Laida Lertxundi, Antoinette Zwirchmayr, Margaret Salmon, John Smith, Jodie Mack, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Peter Tscherkassky, Aïda Ruilova, Ben Rivers, Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, Helena Wittmann, Sue de Beer, and David Lowery.
Southland Tales (Richard Kelly)
Somehow more audacious than his feature debut, Southland Tales finds Richard Kelly spinning a thick yarn of post-apocalyptic sci-fi madness. At once extremely dense yet still thoroughly engaging on a level of pure simplistic entertainment, Kelly achieves a rare combination that makes for a special success. While certainly not for everyone, it stands as a testament to a modern director not satisfied with traditional narrative trappings, instead swinging — often wildly, sometimes flailing — at the far reaches of post-modernist storytelling as he tries to turn a mirror on society. Complete with unorthodox musical sequences, the world’s first car-on-car sex scene, and a cathartic, beautifully mad ending, Southland Tales is the realized vision of a true auteur. – Mike M.
Also New to Streaming
The Criterion Channel
MUBI (free for 30 days)