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.
The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)
Martin McDonagh’s fourth film marks an In Bruges reunion between the writer-director, Farrell, and Brendan Gleeson. It again finds the two leads as another mismatched, in-a-rut couple of men serving up heaping portions of existential despair and black comedy. But this rut is of a very different ilk—much smaller in scope, lacking villainy, almost cute… until it isn’t. Banshees is McDonagh’s A Straight Story, but he doesn’t go full monty. He works in a few comically violent McDonagh beats that rip us out of the ordinary. But it’s the permeating sense of normality, routine, and unremarkableness that gives them their punch. To note the simplicity, he opens on a white screen with a glowing white font. (Why does that feel like a theater-director move?) – Luke H. (full review)
Where to Stream: HBO Max
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
Silverio Gama (Daniel Giménez Cacho) is, as many artists like to imagine themselves, a disheveled-genius type. Once an independent journalist in his hometown of Mexico City, he now lives in Los Angeles—where he transitioned into an award-winning career as a documentarian—with his wife and two American-born children. We aren’t in L.A. long before Silverio, begrudgingly accepting a career achievement-esque award, returns to the Mexican industry he left behind. Mexico is still his home away from L.A., but the choice to live and work stateside has cursed him to a lifetime of abandonment accusations, inner turmoil, and purported American exceptionalism, all of which (and more!) are explored ad nauseum over 174 minutes. – Luke H. (full review)
Where to Steam: Netflix
Bones and All (Luca Guadagnino)
The last narrative feature Luca Guadagnino directed was a 2018 remake of Suspiria, and his angle was vicious—a dark, mangled body horror so carnal it leaves the original looking like an episode of Sesame Street. The year before that he exploded onto the scene with Call Me by Your Name, the heartwrenching gay Italian countryside romance that thrust Timothée Chalamet into a peach and, thus, the pop-cultural spotlight. Guadagnino’s now back with a fusion of the two: a fleshy, gory body horror romance that rips your heart right out of your chest, Bones and All. – Luke H. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
Cane Fire (Anthony Banua-Simon)
While director Anthony Banua-Simon uses the revelation as a sort of “gotcha” moment to end his documentary Cane Fire, hearing Kauai-native Larry Rivera—an entertainer who performed at the Coco Palms before it was destroyed in a hurricane, who rubbed elbows with the likes of Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby—admit the only “Hawaiian legends” he knows are the ones his former boss Grace Guslander fabricated to awe tourists isn’t really a surprise. He and co-writer Michael Vass set the table for that truth too well throughout their deep dive into the island’s colonial legacy, separating allies from exploiters and ancestors from opportunists. That doesn’t make Rivera a villain. It simply shows the insidiousness of the systematic destruction and appropriation of Hawaiian culture and land. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel
Clara Sola (Nathalie Álvarez Mesén)
Earlier this year, in Goran Stolevski’s You Won’t Be Alone, a young witch becomes enamored with the life of humans. She starts to interact in a world where she is forbidden, giving up her relation to the witch mother keeping her under her control. Throughout that movie there are inklings of discovery, almost like a child first learning to walk and speak, to eventually realizing what love is. If there is a similar dynamic in Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s Clara Sola, this is also a movie that finds its central character escaping religious suppression and contending with her burgeoning sexuality. It recalls Stolevski’s film in the treatment of “breaking out of the shell” as a sort of “growing up” but grounds itself in cultural tradition rather than historical fantasy. – Soham G. (full review)
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel
The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg)
Judging from the pre-release information surrounding Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, it was clear the endeavor could attain the label of the master director’s “most personal film.” Now that it has finally arrived, with a world premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, it is clear this prediction was no lie. It is obviously personal, yes, but also deeply autobiographical. Any Spielberg fan knows these beats: an early fascination with cinema; the move to Arizona; a difficult parental dynamic, with a driven father and loving-but-conflicted mother; ambitious 8mm films made with sisters, neighbors, and anyone else willing to lend a hand; a much less pleasant move from Arizona to California; teenage years fueled by creativity, but also impacted by a feeling of outsider status; and, ultimately, the first steps into a world he would eventually dominate. – Chris S. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
Hidden (Jafar Panahi)
The Iranian auteur drives to a remote village with his daughter and a friend in search of a mysterious singer who has been forbidden to share her voice. A hymn of resistance from the presently incarcerated filmmaker.
Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club
Nanny (Nikyatu Jusu)
When Nikyatu Jusu won the Sundance Grand Jury prize for her harrowingly striking directorial debut Nanny, it signified a new voice in the Black horror genre revitalized by Jordan Peele. Jusu endows her film with disquieting imagery and harrowing ambiance, creating an atmospheric nightmare of the highest caliber to convey the true horrors of the American Dream for Aisha, played in a star-making performance by Anna Diop. Jusu has crafted an engrossing, terrifying picture that harkens to African mythology and the works of Senegalese auteur Ousmane Sembène while maintaining a style that is wholly, uniquely her own. – Margaret R.
Where to Stream: Prime Video
Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle (Arthur Harari)
Arthur Harari’s Onoda (subtitled 10,000 Nights in the Jungle) tells the true story of Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier stationed on the island of Lubang in the Philippines circa 1944. When news came of Japan’s surrender he refused to believe it, thus spending the next three decades in seclusion, refusing to leave his post (he finally left in 1974, when his former commanding officer was flown in to relieve him of duties). It’s an extraordinary tale that poses the challenge of conveying its central character’s superhuman levels of devotion and denial, which Harari takes on by going long. With a runtime of more than 160 minutes, Harari takes time to establish and develop the story, opting for a total immersion in the jungle environment and a dedication to realism that makes it hard not to eventually give yourself over to the film with a full level of commitment. Onoda’s ability to sweep viewers up into its detail and realism makes its final act come as a sort of shock—the inevitable ending to this long chapter of Onoda’s life reveals a strong emotional undercurrent that comes seemingly out of nowhere in its moving finale. – C.J. P.
Where to Stream: VOD
Le pupille (Alice Rohrwacher)
In between feature-length projects, Happy as Lazzaro director Alice Rohrwacher has crafted the holiday movie of the year with Le Pupille. Set inside a Catholic boarding school during a time of war, the Italian director playfully explores the weight of sin, rebellion, and childhood camaraderie in this story about what happens when a lavish red cake arrives in their meager surroundings. Produced by Alfonso Cuarón, just make sure to switch off Disney+’s default English dub and put on Italian with subtitles.
Where to Stream: Disney+
Sean Baker Presents
The Red Rocket director selects his favorite movies streaming on Filmatique, with an accompanying appreciation for each title. The series includes work by Lars von Trier, Bruno Dumont, Carlos Reygadas, and Miklós Jancsó, along with recent favorites Court and Let the Corpses Tan.
Where to Stream: Filmatique
The Son of the White Mare (Marcell Jankovics)
It seems to have faded away a bit, but one of the easiest strawman critiques of a movie is, “It’s like a video game.” The response is two-fold: a.) That often doesn’t matter, and b.) That isn’t inherently bad. It’s more of an incidental quality, but in the event it isn’t, it need not be pandering. See Son of the White Mare, the 1981 Hungarian gem based on a László Arany poem and traditional Eurasian Steppe mythology. It traces back centuries. It’s also very of its time. Now Marcell Jankovics’ feature debut gets a 4K restoration based on the original 35mm negatives, and the result is a striking mix of centuries past, prog psychedelia, and an Atari 2600 game. And no, that isn’t a bad thing. – Matt C. (full review)
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