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.
Asako I & II (Ryūsuke Hamaguchi)
Full-fledged, complicated, rapturous romance is relatively rare in cinema nowadays, and one of the very best examples is Ryūsuke Hamaguchi’s Asako I & II, which uses its doubled lovers as a way to reflect back upon its main character, in all of her doubts and uncertainties. Deeply rooted in its present moment, yet prone to flights of fancy as transportive and unreal as any in contemporary filmmaking, the film delights as much as it aches, staying in close step with the turns caused by the whims of the self and the other, moving back and forth in rapture. – Ryan S.
Caro Diario (Nanni Moretti)
With Nanni Moretti’s latest film, Tre Piani, finally premiering at Cannes Film Festival this past week, it’s prime time to revisit his finest work. His 1994 Cannes Best Director winner Caro Diario, arriving in a new restoration, is a humorous triptych that doubles as an idyllic visit to Italian locales. From its first part—in which Moretti himself travels around Rome via scooter and waxes poetic about art and industry—to its final chapter featuring a health scare, Caro Diario is cinema as personal conversation, inviting viewers into an endlessly probing mind.
Where to Stream: Film Movement Plus
Cowboys (Anna Kerrigan)
Hearing writer/director Anna Kerrigan talk about the origins of her latest film Cowboys is to understand the love she has for Montana and the way it provides a respite from the noise of city life. With that sense of comfort in nature’s majesty, however, also lies the potential for disconnect where politics are concerned since those who call that state home aren’t always the most diverse or understanding when it comes to lifestyle choices that fall outside the “norms” of their conservative religious worldview. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Kerrigan would seek to bridge that gap creatively. She chose Montana’s setting to escape personal upheaval upon moving back to Los Angeles from New York yet refused to gloss over the full scope of what its environment entailed. – Jared M. (full review)
Where to Stream: Hulu
Gunpowder Milkshake (Navot Papushado)
Sporting a retro-neon design and showcasing overly grotesque, misogynist villains going up against stoically lethal female protagonists, Navot Papushado’s Gunpowder Milkshake is certainly aware of the tropes and gender roles it wants to upend. But for the film’s plodding first half, it doesn’t seem to be having any fun doing just that. – Glenn H. (full review)
Where to Stream: Netflix
Her Socialist Smile (John Gianvito)
You may have known that Helen Keller was a comrade, a life-long socialist and member of the Industrial Workers of the World; in Her Socialist Smile, John Gianvito assembles Keller’s political addresses and writings into a portrait of a warrior for social justice and a passionate, insightful proselytizer of Marxist thought. She instigated a Braille translation of Bakunin and advocated for a general strike during the first Red Scare. Now, in a time of national self-criticism, when seemingly no American monument is safe from revisionism, Helen Keller emerges from Her Socialist Smile to appear even more inspiring, relevant, and righteous than in the official narrative—appears, perhaps, the only truly based person they teach you about in elementary school. – Mark A. (full review)
Where to Stream: Projectr.tv
Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)
From the first moment, Jauja presents a confounding and exciting approach to cinema. A block of text explains the title, a reference to a secret land of abundance and happiness that has caused many men to go mad, disappearing in their feeble searches to find it. It then cuts to a striking composition in 4:3 (with curves that recall old photography), where Captain Dinesen (Mortensen) and his daughter, Ingeborg (Viilbjork Agger Malling), discuss her desire to get a dog. The shot is striking in the density of the colors of the grass and the sky (shot in 35mm, though presented in a digital transfer) and the stillness of the characters (Mortensen has his back to us), as if it is a living painting. – Peter L. (full review)
Meeting People Is Easy (Grant Gee)
In Meeting People Is Easy, English documentarian Grant Gee follows art-rock group Radiohead on tour to promote their international breakout album, OK Computer. Alongside emotional, explosive concert footage, Gee crafts a grainy collage of breakneck press days, where the band tries to boil their music—itself a critique of mindless consumerism—into interview sound-bytes. A visceral scrapbook of major-label touring, Gee’s striking film also suggests how out-of-control it can feel to release a piece of art.
Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club
Nostalghia (Andrei Tarkovsky)
The penultimate film of Andrei Tarkovsky, Nostalghia often seems to go under-appreciated in the poetic master’s body of work. With some of the director’s finest tracking shots and lighting design in his career, he places us into the soul of Andrei Gorchakov (Oleg Yankovsky), a Russian writer who embarks on a trip to Italy for research. Far from a kind of travelogue one may expect in the hands of another director, Nostalghia is an inquiry into loneliness, the onus for creativity, and the fragility of life. While it may not serve as the ideal entry point into the director’s career, it is an essential piece of his inquisitive cinematic tapestry.
Where to Stream: OVID.tv
The Sparks Brothers (Edgar Wright)
There’s something to be said for Wright’s sheer admiration of Sparks. He loves this band, a feeling that has clearly lasted for decades. They hold a place in his heart, and now, they have been memorialized forever on the screen. Long after Ron and Russell Mael leave the music industry––if that ever happens, willingly––this film will be available for new fans, old diehards, and the casual viewer surfing a streaming platform. In that way, Wright has given Sparks something they haven’t had in the past: a larger audience. – Michael F. (full review)
Where to Stream: VOD
The Witches of the Orient (Julien Faraut)
Never doubt a documentary filmmaker’s propensity to eke out the narrowest of niches. We’ve had films on spelling bees and İstanbullu kitties, but the latest comes to us from Japan, via France, and the story of the unlikely heroes of the 1964 Japanese Women’s Olympic volleyball team––and their still less likely second act in the world of anime. The Witches of the Orient offers some flare to go with that intriguing duality: a stylish structure in which footage of the team’s greatest feats are intercut with corresponding animations from the TV shows they later inspired. – Rory O. (full review)
Where to Stream: Virtual Cinemas
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