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.
Il Buco (Michelangelo Frammartino)
With Il Buco, Michelangelo Frammartino returns to the Calabrian countryside 12 years after Le Quattro Volte. Oscillating between a shepherd slowly dying and a nearby cave-diving expedition, Frammartino and cinematographer Renata Berta capture the movement inside their static frames with elegance. A soccer ball is kicked back and forth over the cave entrance, upping the stakes of an errant kick, burning magazine pages float down into the darkness illuminating the cave depths for the explorers and the audience—Il Buco is an experiential ode to death as the final frontier. – Caleb H.
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel
A new series focusing on recent(ish) Japanese cinema features exclusive streaming homes for films by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Hirokazu Koreeda, and Shinya Tsukamoto, among others.
Where to Stream: Filmatique
Copenhagen Cowboy (Nicolas Winding Refn)
After enjoying quite an embrace in the first half of the 2010s, Nicolas Winding Refn has moved from the world of theatrical features to telling more extended stories on television. Following the ten-part, Miles Teller-led crime drama Too Old to Die Young, he’s now back with a new six-part series for Netflix titled Copenhagen Cowboy, marking his first project shot in Denmark since his Pusher trilogy. Described as a “neon-drenched noir series,” the story follows an enigmatic young heroine named Miu (Angela Bundalovic) who traverses the ominous landscape of Copenhagen’s criminal netherworld.
Where to Stream: Netflix
The Early Films of Abbas Kiarostami and Mike Leigh
To kick off 2023, The Criterion Channel has offered a treasure trove of rarely-available early films from two masters: Mike Leigh and the late Abbas Kiarostami. As for the British filmmaker, the films he made across nearly two decades for BBC are now available, including Hard Labour (1973), Nuts in May (1976), Abigail’s Party (1977), The Kiss of Death (1977), Who’s Who (1979), Grown-Ups (1980), Home Sweet Home (1982), Four Days in July (1984). When it comes to Kiarostami, the childhood-centered films he made as part of his days working for Tehran’s Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults are also now streaming, including shorts all the way up to the masterful features Where Is the Friend’s House? (1987), Homework (1989), and And Life Goes On (1992). –
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel
Four Films by Jerzy Skolimowski
If last year’s EO was your first introduction to the boundlessly inventive cinema of Polish master Jerzy Skolimowski, there’s now the opportunity to catch up on the 84-year-old director’s previous works. Over on The Criterional Channel, three of his most acclaimed films are available: Deep End (1970), The Shout (1978), Moonlighting (1982), while MUBI has his early 1964 feature debut Identification Marks: None. And although not new arrivals, Tubi has four features.
A Love Song (Max Walker-Silverman)
Max Walker-Silverman’s A Love Song utilizes the immense talent of Dale Dickey and the richly simple Colorado landscape to tell a small, affecting story. Dickey, along with co-star Wes Studi, carries an isolated narrative of a widowed woman living an uncomplicated life. The first-time writer-director shows necessary patience in telling this story: he uses silence to his advantage, resting on Dickey’s lived-in face as she sorts through her feelings of grief, nostalgia, and loneliness. – Michael F.
Where to Stream: Showtime
Mars One (Gabriel Martin)
There’s an entire universe out there, even when it feels like your corner of the world has been turned upside down. Who has not felt like they’ve been roaming a foreign planet at one point or another? Mars One, Gabriel Martin’s moving drama of working-class social realism, begins with the election of Jair Bolsonaro, but to the family at the center of the film, he’s a minor figure in an otherwise world of extreme inequalities in Belo Horizonte. The ensemble drama follows a nuclear working-class family living in a small but somewhat happy home, including father Wellington (Carlos Franciso), who works as a superintendent in a wealthy luxury apartment complex; mother Tercia (Rejane Faria) a housekeeper; law student daughter Eunice (Camilla Damiao); and twelve-year-old son Deivinho (Cicero Lucas). – John F. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
The Menu (Mark Mylod)
It comes as no surprise to see a film like The Menu come out of a major studio like Searchlight Pictures. Populism has been around for a good while, but it’s having another moment thanks to various economic crises, an ongoing pandemic, major wealth inequality, and a general public malaise with no end in sight (unless you count the apocalypse). Parasite and Triangle of Sadness have already seized upon this with great success, and now the Disney-owned Searchlight wants in on the fun. Striking the proletariat while it’s hot, this message from Hollywood is clear: for the inflated price of a movie ticket you can vicariously eat the rich to your heart’s content. – C.J. P. (full review)
Where to Stream: HBO Max
A Minute Ago (Rachel Rose)
A leading voice in contemporary video, New York artist and filmmaker Rachel Rose constructs rich, sensorial landscapes that challenge human perception. A Minute Ago surprises with its cinematic techniques and dazzling stroboscopic sequences. “It was perfect weather a minute ago,” someone says in a Youtube clip of a sudden hailstorm before it collapses into a tour of modernist architect Philip Johnson’s famous Glass House. Merging collage and catastrophe, Rose layers art and pop culture references to express the precarity of a moment.
Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club
The Pale Blue Eye (Scott Cooper)
With a filmography of muscular acting showcases, patient tempos, and emphasis on brooding atmosphere, it’s evident Scott Cooper has been influenced by the endearingly ramshackle character studies of 1970s American cinema. In an era where this particular kind of film seems to be the lowest priority for every studio, it’s also refreshing to find a director who can amass the resources to pull one off. As noble as those intentions may be, however, Cooper has continually struggled to develop a vision that, if not original, at least bears the formal prowess and screenwriting wit to elevate derivate veneers. After jumping from crime drama to western to the supernatural, The Pale Blue Eye finds him in gothic murder mystery territory for a conceptually inventive piece of Edgar Allan Poe historical fiction that succumbs to tendencies of a familiarly tedious variety. – Jordan R. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
Possession (Andrzej Żuławski)
If you have yet to catch the new restoration of Andrzej Żuławski’s deliriously feral horror thriller Possession, you are in luck. Following the erratically deteriorating relationship of a couple, as played by Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani, the film’s evil surprises are best left experienced fresh.
Where to Stream: Shudder
Ray & Liz (Richard Billingham)
If there is an image to best introduce audiences to the grimy cinematic world of Ray & Liz–the remarkable debut feature of Turner prize-nominated visual artist Richard Billingham–it might be, fittingly, the very first one to hit the screen: that of a cracked, burnt-out light bulb filmed dangling beneath a nicotine-stained ceiling. Billingham has spent much of his career as an artist documenting and, in his short films, dramatizing the lives of his father Raymond (a chronic alcoholic played here by Patrick Romer and, as a younger man, by Justin Salinger ) and mother Elizabeth (Deirdre Kelly and–best of all–Ella Smith) and Ray & Liz could be viewed as a culmination of that work. It’s an immersive poetic-realist dive into the artist’s fractured memories of his parents during the time he spent growing up in Birmingham in the ‘70s and ‘80s. – Rory O. (full review)
Where to Stream: OVID.tv
She Said (Maria Schrader)
“Can I quote you?” As it did throughout Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey’s intrepid investigative journalism for the New York Times, that question reverberates in Maria Schrader’s She Said, an understated, polished procedural that chronicles the way two reporters exposed Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual abuse and assault. Their unrelenting pursuit to convince accusers to go on-record comprises the majority of this movie, which builds to pressing publish on the bombshell, 3,300-word article that uncovered allegations made by actresses—most notably Ashley Judd—and current and former employees, along with previously undisclosed corporate records, documents, and settlements that kept numerous women from speaking out. – Jake K-S (full review)
Where to Stream: Peacock
Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow)
Although it arrived a little late for New Year’s Eve, Kathryn Bigelow’s ambitious sci-fi thriller Strange Days has now landed on HBO Max. Scripted by James Cameron and Jay Cocks, and conveyed with a pulsating rhythm by Bigelow, it’s an unsettlingly dark vision of a future in which others’ memories become a black market currency to escape from a dreary then-future 1999 existence. Initially a bomb upon its release, in the years since its 1995 release it’s become solidified as one of the director’s finest works and the rare opportunity to stream it––albeit adjusted from 2.39:1 aspect ratio to an open matte 1.78:1––should not be missed. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: HBO Max
Summer 1993 (Carla Simón)
As Alcarràs arrives, MUBI is spotlighting Carla Simón’s debut Summer 1993, which follows a young protagonist and the repercussions of trauma which won’t be felt for years. Rather than wallow in a bleak perspective, Carla Simón shows us the child-like joy and wonder within Laia Artigas’ Frida as she finds a new home in the Catalan countryside while still processing the death of her mother. Summer 1993 expertly shows the restraint of emotions that can build, the effects of which they aren’t able to fully express. It also has the most unexpectedly cathartic final scene of 2018. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: MUBI
Utama (Alejandro Loayza Grisi)
Utama is about the effects of climate change and its particular impact on South America’s indigenous communities, no doubt, but its other urgent subject depicts the challenges of a really ornery grandpa. The grandfatherly traits of having your tea brewed to a certain temperature, the non-negotiability of a spot on a particular armchair, and an absolute insistence on daily routine are all in evidence, and in a film that aims to be a universal story––where its lessons can be applied in any locale––this is still the element that rings truest. It’s quite a shock of recognition, as grandson Clever (Santos Choque, a nonprofessional like the entire cast) visits their home, to be branded a “brat” by gramps Virginio (Santos Choque); then he is calmly invited to the table for dinner with a reassuring pat from nana Sisa (Luisa Quispe). – David K. (full review)
Where to Stream: Kino Now
Also New to Streaming
The Criterion Channel
Márta Mészáros’s Diary Films
Starring Joan Bennett
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Support the Girls
Zeros and Ones
MUBI (free for 30 days)
Short Sharp Shock
River of Grass
Beyond the Black Rainbow
Play Misty For Me
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
If Beale Street Could Talk
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.