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 past round-ups here.

17 Films by Anand Patwardhan

One of the greatest chroniclers of Indian history over the past half-century, Anand Patwardhan has caused controversy in his native country for his searing, in-depth political documentaries . Now, his complete filmography is available to view, from his first film Waves of Revolution made in 1974 through his most recent film Reason completed in 2018.

Where to Stream: OVID.tv

Ammonite (Francis Lee)

Calling a Kate Winslet performance career-best is no easy statement, but her turn as 19th-century English paleontologist Mary Anning in Ammonite is certainly in consideration. Few writer-directors trust their actors to do so much with so little dialogue as Francis Lee. Like Josh O’Connor’s Johnny in Lee’s debut, God’s Own Country, Mary is inward and stoic; we learn about her through her work rather than through her words. The opening scenes of Ammonite are Mary on the beaches of Lyme, scratching mud off of stones, then hitching up her skirt to climb a rock face, her face set but warming slightly at the sight of a challenge. – Orla S. (full review)

Where to Stream: Hulu

Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell (Emmett Malloy)

Tragically gunned down at the age of 24, Christopher George Latore Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G.’s cultural resonance hasn’t wavered an iota. With only a handful of years of musical output, his short-lived career is staggering. While a formally standard new documentary on the musical genius doesn’t exactly illuminate what many other accounts have covered, it does provide compelling amateur footage of his early early days on the mic as well the tumultuous factors of his life that led to the brilliance of his rhymes.

Where to Stream: Netflix

Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve)

The makers of Blade Runner 2049 tricked a clutch of production companies into giving them nearly $200 million to make a languidly paced, ponderous, deliberately action-reticent blockbuster. That on its own would be impressive, but all the better, the result is the best cyberpunk film since the original Matrix, and the best big-budget American science fiction film in years. I would even say that it easily surpasses its predecessor (though outside of its production design and score, I am not a fan of that movie, so consider this opinion with that in mind), building on its themes and aesthetic to walk its own path. – Dan S. (full review)

Where to Stream: HBO Max

Coming 2 America (Craig Brewer)

Coming 2 America is progressive in its themes and ideas, blandly conventional in comedy. The film does a fascinatingly strong job revealing how conservative Akeem has become over the years, something he’s never realized until pressed with increased responsibility. But its screenplay seems split in how to get this character to avoid falling prey to the same assumptions and judgments that plagued his father in the first film. Often the more dynamic characters (e.g. Lisa and Meeka) are relegated to the background in favor of gag-heavy scenes highlighting the crass Americanism of Lavelle’s family (Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan). – Glenn H. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon Prime

The Depths (Ryūsuke Hamaguchi)

Has there ever been a better time for Ryūsuke Hamaguchi? As his (fantastic) new film Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy premieres and Murakami adaptation enters production, Grasshopper Film—who previously released Asako I & II—have given his 2010 feature The Depths its U.S. premiere on Projectr. This menacing, haunted story of forbidden love is further proof of a master awaiting discovery—rare is the scene without a remarkable composition, carefully attenuated display of human behavior, or palpable threat of violence. For more, check out our recent interview with the director.

Where to Watch: Projectr

Directed by Guy Maddin

In honor of Guy Maddin’s 65th birthday earlier this week, The Criterion Channel is putting the spotlight on one of the most imaginative creative minds in the filmmaking medium. Not only are his features available, including Archangel (1990), Careful (1992), Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002), Cowards Bend the Knee (2003), The Saddest Music in the World (2003), My Winnipeg (2007), and The Forbidden Room (2015), but so are a collection of shorts, including the recent The Green Fog (2017), Accidence (2018), The Rabbit Hunters (2020), and Stump the Guesser (2020).

Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel

Epicentro (Hubert Sauper)

“This is utopia, bright and burning.” So narrates Hubert Sauper at the end of Epicentro, but the question at this point isn’t whether this utopia is real. It’s pretty well established that it isn’t—at least not entirely. It’s a matter of what’s fuelling it. Is it the brightness of the culture, or is it the burning it came from? “You are in the year 1898,” Sauper says at the beginning. The USS Maine has just fallen to an explosion in the Havana Harbor, and with that big bang comes more. The American flag is planted for the first time overseas. Yellow journalism and warfare unfold, and cinema, in its infancy, amplifies and distorts it all. The extent to which these all connect isn’t set in stone, but that’s okay. – Matt C. (full review)

Where to Stream: MUBI (free for 30 days)

Land (Robin Wright)

There is a scene about halfway through Land, directed and starring Robin Wright, in which Miguel (Demián Bichir) reveals a tragedy in his past. Edee (Wright), also grieving, reacts silently and subtlety, though we see so much happening on her face. Nothing said, only felt. It is, truly, a perfect moment captured on film. The kind of thing one will not easily forget. Often actors who step behind the camera will admit that they focused less on their own on-screen performances while directing, sometimes to the detriment of the picture they were making. This cannot be the case here, as Wright the filmmaker wrings out one of Wright the actor’s career-best performances. – Dan M. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis)

In a career full of stellar performances, Juliette Binoche raised the bar once again in Claire Denis’ tender, humorous exploration of the yearning for connection. More or less a string of encounters with increasingly disappointing men, Binoche plays off each of them in subtly enthralling ways. Shot while Denis and Binoche were waiting to film High Life her character in the sci-fi film also plays like the inevitable result of the years of romantic frustration found in Let the Sunshine In. In a time when it is purported that Netflix is bringing back the rom-com, leave it to Denis to deliver the most poignant one in recent memory.

Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel

Lost Course (Jill Li)

“I was locked in Guangdong jail for twenty days,” says Hong, a resident of Wukan, China who became a key figure in the small village’s 2011 protests that drew worldwide attention. “During those twenty days, I developed a view of life. I now believe that the most important thing is not health, but freedom.” Such a view underpins Jill Li’s fantastic first feature, the documentary Lost Course, which explores the extraordinary events that led to the ousting of Wukan’s corrupt officials and subsequent ascension of the once-protestors to local government. The three-hour film at times feels more like a political epic on the scale of Dickens or Hugo, weaving a cautionary tale about democracy, power, and the pitfalls of idealism.  – Artemis L. (full review)

Where to Stream: Film at Lincoln Center’s Virtual Cinema

Night of the Kings (Philippe Lacôte)

Writer/director Philippe Lacôte looks to tell a tale of the Ivory Coast and its most recent two decades of civil war and strife with his latest film Night of the Kings. With that also comes a necessity to speak about the youth who’ve recently taken up residence within the confines of his setting: La MACA. This prison—whose under-thirty population is currently hovering around eighty percent—shifts between the horrors of its inherent violence and the magical fantasy conjured when Lacôte was a boy visiting his mother (a political prisoner) in its open courtyard traversed by inmates, guards, and outsiders alike. He thought then that it reminded him of a kingdom. To a child its social ladder would seem more fairy tale than feudal. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

The Rainbow (Ken Russell)

Along with the arrival of The Devils on Shudder this week, Ken Russell’s lesser-known but characteristically enigmatic 1989 D.H. Lawrence adaptation The Rainbow is also now available. A prequel to Russell’s 1969 film Women In Love, this sly coming-of-age story typifies the infamous director’s button-pushing sensibilities with its cast of leering sadists and Buñuel-ian aristocrats––and its overarching thematic preoccupations with sexual liberation and societal disillusionment. More stately than flamboyant in its handsome textures, it’s nevertheless a capriciously paced film guided by Sammi Davis’ petulant and principled lead performance. Comparable to the conflicted end-of-an-era enlightenment of Martin Eden as much as Victorian contemporaries like Far From the Madding Crowd; it’s a largely rewarding portrayal of a person at odds with the inherent contradictions of their existence. – Michael S.

Where to Stream: Amazon Prime

Raya and the Last Dragon (Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada)

As Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) states during her expository prologue to Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada’s Raya and the Last Dragon (written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim), events that should unite us often end up doing the opposite. For the Asiatic world of Kumandra, this phenomenon occurs in the aftermath of their most dire moment once the plague known as druun (a virus-like creature that multiplies with every attack, turning living creatures into stone) is finally annihilated thanks to the bravery of a dragon named Sisu (Awkwafina)—the last of her kind. When all was thought lost, she found a way to create a gem from her soul that cured everything but her brethren. And rather than celebrate their salvation, humanity fought itself to possess it. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Disney+

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2021

For the first time, Film at Lincoln Center’s annual festival Rendez-Vous with French Cinema has gone virtual with all films screening nationwide. The finest showcase of contemporary French filmmaking available in the United States, this year’s lineup features a handful of films we’ve reviewed, including François Ozon’s Summer of 85, Suzanne Lindon’s Spring Blossom, and Quentin Dupieux’s Mandibules. Also among the lineup is new films starring Vicky Krieps, Jérémie Renier, Stacy Martin, Emmanuelle Béart, and more.

Where to Stream: Film at Lincoln Center’s Virtual Cinema

A Shape of Things to Come (J.P. Sniadecki & Lisa Malloy)

What if Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab made The Beach Bum? A fatuous comparison, maybe, but A Shape of Things to Come otherwise lacks an identifiable precedent. What starts as an ethnographic movie about hunting becomes a vision of living fully off the grid becomes an unbearably ominous story of eco-terrorism, all the while filtered through a cinema-beyond-vérité form that’s more Leviathan than Kelly Reichardt. (The protagonist’s embrace of psychedelics, down to extracting juice from a frog, might play some part.) I can promise this much: you’ll never hear Flock of Seagulls the same way again.

Where to Stream: Projectr

Sophie Jones (Jessie Barr)

Sophie Jones, the creation from co-writing cousins Jessica and Jessie Barr, excels when focused on the eponymous high schooler’s detachment from friends and family. Exploring the grief and loss associated with losing a parent––in this case, Sophie’s mother––Sophie Jones is the result of multiple stories stemming from the Barr cousins. With Jessica playing the title role and Jessie directing, the film draws from their experiences, as both lost a parent when they were 16 years old. – Michael F. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Stray (Elizabeth Lo)

Educated at Stanford’s renowned documentary filmmaking program, Lo has always brought a keen sense of cinematic rhythm to everyday human routines and patterns. But with Stray, she hands over all control to the dogs, letting their movements and distractions and glees dictate blocking and camera movement. The film’s first half is a beautiful city symphony as a result, positioning the modern world as merely backdrop to Zeytin’s sonic curiosities and primal explorations. – Glenn H. (full review)

Where to Stream: Virtual Cinemas

The Twentieth Century (Matthew Rankin)

Look out: we have a new entry in the “Great Man” biopic subgenre, one that has spawned films as varied as John Ford’s The Long Gray Line and, uh, Jay Roach’s Trumbo. Joining the ranks is Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century, which, with great aplomb, takes the piss out of Canadian history, showing us The (gradual) Taking of Power By William Lyon Mackenzie King, this nation’s 10th Prime Minister. – Ethan V. (full review)

Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel

The World to Come (Mona Fastvold)

In The World to Come, an unlikely romance blossoms against the rugged rural backdrop of the American Northeast. The action plays out during the year 1856 somewhere in the region of Syracuse, a few years shy of the American Civil War. The setting could hardly be more isolated; the living much further from easy. On January 1st, our lonesome protagonist welcomes the changing of the calendar with the bleakest of resolutions: “With little pride and less hope, we begin the new year.” – Rory O. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

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