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.
Before we get to our weekly streaming picks, check out our annual feature: Where to Stream the Best Films of 2019.
6 Underground (Michael Bay)
Love him or hate him, Michael Bay brings a level of scope and bombast simply missing in the bland spectacle of most other tentpoles nowadays. (In other words, we wager that Scorsese may call his films “cinema.”) He’s now back and, surprisingly, working with Netflix. In the last twelve years, he’s made precisely eight films, five of which involved fighting robots, and thankfully this one falls into the other category. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Corey Hawkins, Adria Arjona, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy, Lior Raz, Payman Maadi, and Dave Franco, the actioner 6 Underground is scripted by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese (Deadpool, Zombieland), and it’s now on Netflix. – Jordan R.
Where to Stream: Netflix
The Cotton Club Encore (Francis Ford Coppola)
The Cotton Club, Coppola’s sprawling tapestry of the Harlem Prohibition-era jazz scene, titled after the legendary club at its center, is simultaneously a prime example of both the filmmaker’s prowess with visual and narrative experimentation later on in his career, and of the tragic circumstances that brought about his fall from mainstream celebration. Perhaps unfairly maligned as a result of both its chaotic production and box office failings (and in spite of its share of critical praise), the original iteration of The Cotton Club finds its vast amount of talent–both on and off the screen–unfortunately overshadowed by evident studio interference, budgeting limitations, and traditional blockbuster expectations. Simply put: its messiness is distracting, even if it does come off an intentional and integral aspect of the work. The Encore, recovered from an old Betamax copy of the film with about twenty additional minutes of footage, restored to modern audiovisual standards, and self-financed for $500,000, improves on the number of flaws present in the original and generally allows the movie to be revisited with the grandeur of which it initially promised. – Jason O. (full review)
The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (Xavier Dolan)
The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, his most ambitious undertaking yet (dealing with three major characters in two different timelines), however carries with it a bizarre desperation to be taken seriously, deploying a lot of the same stylistic tics with a hesitance and muddled fragmentation meanwhile pre-emptively addressing its critics before its even told its story. Death traces the lives of the people in the orbit of Rupert Turner (Jacob Tremblay, either horribly miscast, overwritten, or both), an 11-year-old boy whose written correspondence with his favorite 20-something actor John F. Donovan (Kit Harington, surprisingly emotive) is revealed to both families and the world, leading to the industry spiral and eventual overdose of John while the curious Rupert is left to deal with the fallout both as a kid and an adult actor later in life. – Josh L. (full review)
Fast Color (Julia Hart)
Set in a dry, dystopian future where a half-gallon of clean water goes for $12, Julia Hart’s Fast Color is a superhero origin story about a unique family on the run that has come to back to the safest place: home. Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as Ruth, a former drug addict who now makes ends meet doing dishes at various places in exchange for a meal. She left behind mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) and daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney), outrunning a scientist named Bill (Christopher Denham), who hopes to study Ruth in a government lab. – John F. (full review)
For Sama (Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts)
The top documentary winner at SXSW this year, Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts brought For Sama to Cannes and after a summer release, it’s now streaming for free on YouTube. John Fink said in his review, “Co-directed with Edward Watts, For Sama’s structure mirrors the chaos of the moments it captures, simultaneously connecting both her personal and the political past, present and future as she feels an affinity for her home while also lamenting the conditions they are living under. When she gives birth to her second child, away from her Syria she comments that she smells the city. For Sama is no doubt powerful in its immediacy and its unafraid to shy away from the gory details as families–including al-Kateab’s own–become casualties of war, her dreams differed… For Sama is a harrowing experience and certainly one of the most essential films of the year.”
Where to Stream: YouTube
In Fabric (Peter Strickland)
In Fabric is a film that’s wholly retro, and not just in how writer/director (and emerging remix artist) Peter Strickland embraces ’70s Euro-horror tropes (and even judging by one commercial glimpsed on a television; a little bit of vaporwave). Rather, the director longs for a time before Amazon decimated the retail industry, one when a person’s hopes and desires hinged on a trip to that one certain shop. – Ethan V. (full review)
As a bonus, Strickland’s new short film GUO4 is now streaming on MUBI.
Judy (Rupert Goold)
Although there is nothing new or inventive in the film’s storytelling techniques and from an aesthetic level it would be hard to tell Judy apart from the myriad prestige biopics that arrive in theaters during the fall, the film’s undeniable power rests in the miraculous performance by Renée Zellweger. With no offense to Darci Shaw, who is lovely as the ingenue Judy, her scenes become redundant with just one look into Zellweger’s eyes, who plays the legend in 1968 as she fights to keep custody of her younger children, retain the vestiges of her career, and quite simply stay alive. – Jose S. (full review)
The Limey – New 4K Restoration (Steven Soderbergh)
Ed Lachman’s first collaboration with Steven Soderbergh, The Limey, follows Wilson (Terence Stamp), a British ex-con investigating the death of his daughter in Los Angeles. On a deeper level, it concerns the fractured nature of memory, as shown by editor Sarah Flack’s layered and kaleidoscopic work. Images wash over the audience in cycles, sometimes more than once, as Stamp’s cockney anti-hero searches for meaning in these painful and distant memories. Lachman’s cinematography places us inside the titular Limey’s point of view, leaving us piecing through the clues along with the protagonist. The snapshot moments of his daughter are often washed or grainy, incomplete puzzles faded by time. The film’s few bursts of violence are handled with utter restraint and subtlety, shot from a carefully composed distance. It’s these ingenious choices, and the film’s overall effect which prompt this lamentation: it’s a shame Soderbergh and Lachman have only made two films together. – Tony H.
Monos (Alejandro Landes)
There’s a preternatural feel to the opening sequences of Monos, the brutal, unflinching third film from Colombian-Ecuadorian filmmaker Alejandro Landes (Cocalero, Porfirio). As if we’re floating through clouds at the edge of the world, we witness a group of children, blindfolded, playing soccer, the fear instilled that a misaimed kick could send the ball hurling into the unknown oblivion below. With information patiently, sparingly doled out–even up until the final moments–we learn this tight-knit clan is, in fact, a rebel group in the mountains of Latin America, sporadically visited by a commander but mostly given orders through a radio. Left to their own devices, the two most crucial responsibilities they are given are to care for a cow named Shakira and oversee a kidnapped American engineer, only referred to as Doctora (Julianne Nicholson). – Jordan R. (full review)
One Cut of the Dead (Shinichirou Ueda)
A film shoot can be grueling enough, but add real zombies to the mix, and it will turn into one’s worst nightmare. The acclaimed Japanese horror-comedy One Cut of the Dead follows a film crew making their own zombie horror film when real zombies turn up and the director keeps rolling. Written, directed, and edited by Shinichiro Ueda with a budget of just $25,000, it went on to gross over $30 million worldwide and has now arrived on VOD following an exclusive window on Shudder.
Also New to Streaming
The Criterion Channel
MUBI (free for 30 days)