MOVIE NEWS - on 09 Oct 1919
Netflix may get most of the attention, but it's hardly a one-stop shop for cinephiles who are looking to stream essential classic and contemporary films. Each of the prominent streamingplatforms — and there are more of them all the time — caters to its own niche of film obsessives.
From chilling horror fare on Shudder, to the boundless wonders of the Criterion Channel, and esoteric but unmissable festival hits on Film Movement Plus andOVID.tv, IndieWire's monthly guide will highlight the best of what's coming to every major streaming site, with an eye towards exclusive titles that may help readers decide which of these services is right for them.
Amazon Prime is adding far fewer titles to its service than it usually does in a given month, but with so many movies you'll actually want to watch including “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” “Killing Zoe,” and “The Accused”, subscribers probably won't be too upset. Best of all, the platform's exclusive deal with A24 continues to pay off, as Claire Denis' latest masterpiece floats home.
“High Life” 2019
In many respects, the mesmerizing and elusive “High Life” was a first for writer-director Claire Denis: The first of her films to be shot primarily in English, the first of her films to be set in space, and the first of her films to follow Juliette Binoche inside a metal chamber that's referred to as “The Fuckbox,” where the world's finest actress — playing a mad scientist aboard an intergalactic prison ship on a one-way trip to Earth's nearest black hole — straddles a giant dildo chair and violently masturbates in a scene that's endowed with the tortured energy of a Cirque du Soleil routine.
An oblique and freeze-dried hunk of sci-fi that's wrestling with the future or the lack of it and preoccupied with the obsidian darkness that stretches out before us all, “High Life” is as horrifying and monolith-black a space odyssey as you might expect from the mind behind “Trouble Every Day” and “Beau Travail.” But Denis' genius is in her ability to find the tender spots in even the most apocalyptic of circumstances, and her best film of the last decade is all the more powerful for how it finds light and hope as it soars towards oblivion.
Plus, it features a scene in which Pattinson warns us about the dangers of eating our own shit. The more you know!
Available to stream October 3.Photo : A24
The Criterion Channel
Once again offering the deepest and most robust new slate of films is as always the Criterion Channel, which is getting spooky on a couple of different fronts. Those who like to indulge in horror movies all throughout October will get to kick things off with a Val Lewton retrospective early in the month; “I Walked with a Zombie,” “Cat People,” and “Isle of the Dead” are just three highlights from the nine Lewton-produced classics that will be uploaded to the service on October 6 where they'll be joined by Kent Jones' Lewton tribute doc, “The Man in the Shadows”.
A few weeks later, the Channel will flip over to some decidedly more disgusting fare with a veritable “Blood Feast” of Herschell Gordon Lewis B-movies, including “The Wizard of Gore” and “The Gruesome Twosome.”
Of course, there's also plenty of stuff to watch for any film buffs who don't want to be freaked out, including a seven-movie Errol Morris series, three bracingly visceral masterpieces from the incendiary Gillo Pontecorvo “Kapo,” “The Battle of Algiers,” and Marlon-Brando-goes-Marxist epic “Burn!”, and a nice garnish of more contemporary treasures like “Persepolis” and “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.”
“The Devils” 1971
Perfect Halloween viewing for the more pagan movie fans out there, Ken Russell's long-unavailable “The Devils” ranked high on IndieWire's list of the 100 Greatest Horror Movies of All Time, and now it's possible to watch this perverse masterpiece in the comfort of your own home. Here's what IndieWire's Jamie Righetti wrote about the film when honoring its place in the canon:
“Ken Russell tackled history in 1971 with 'The Devils,' an adaptation of Aldous Huxley's 'The Devils of Loudon.' The film depicts the real-life account of Urbain Grandier, a 17th century priest accused of witchcraft by a sexually repressed nun, the hunchbacked Sister Jeanne. Russell dives deep into the religious hypocrisy and sacrilegious imagery, turning history into infamy, and singlehandedly giving birth to the Nunsploitation genre. One of the film's most divisive scenes, nicknamed the 'rape of Christ' shows the abbey's nuns running rampant with sexual ecstasy, turning the church into a brothel, as orgies break out, priests masturbate into pages of the bible, and a bevy of naked nuns begin molesting a giant crucifix in orgasmic pleasure. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 'The Devils' was banned, rated X, and heavily censored upon release, and while versions of the film have finally become available to watch, the true director's cut has never been released. Still, it remains a fascinating rumination on the corruption of power and the danger when sexual repression bleeds into hysteria.”
Film Movement Plus
Film Movement Plus is the streaming complement to Film Movement, which began in 2002 as a mail-order DVD-of-the-month club with a special focus on arthouse and foreign cinema. The company's online venture is a natural outgrowth of that brand, offering subscribers access to more than 250 recent festival favorites and a scattering of older treasures for just $5.99 per month.
Perfect for cinephiles whose tastes are a bit off the beaten path, Film Movement Plus' October lineup eschews the horror movie theme and offers much-needed laughs for anyone who's already scared themselves to death over on Shudder. The slate is heavy on classic British comedy, with highlights including four enduring classics that star Scottish comedy legend Alastair Sim: “Hue and Cry,” “Laughter in Paradise,” “The Belles of St. Trinian's,” and of course “School for Scoundrels.”
And it wouldn't be a celebration of post-war English comedy without a visit to Ealing Studio, which is represented here with two Alexander Mackendrick hits: “Whisky Galore” and “The Maggie.”
Recently mentioned as one of the most dangerous movies of the 21st century — for the danger risked by its brave cast and crew —Wanuri Kahiu's “Rafiki” is a delicate and remarkably courageous LGBTQ story that reaffirms how urgently people need to see them. Here's how IndieWire's Jude Dry contextualized this landmark Kenyan love story, and the winning performances at its core:
“Over the last decade, American film and TV has made great strides towards better representing LGBTQ characters and stories; there has never been such a wide array of critically beloved and commercially viable queer films. It would be easy to forget that homophobia still exists in many parts of the world, but international cinema can offer a vital window into queer lives across the globe. No film more embodies this reality than the tender teen romance 'Rafiki,' the sophomore feature from Kenyan filmmakerWanuri Kahiu.
'Rafiki' first made headlines after its 2018 Cannes Film Festival debut for being the first Kenyan film to attend the festival. Despite this honor, the Kenyan Film Board originally disavowed the film, banning the film from playing Kenyan theaters. But since a film must have a theatrical run in its home country in order to qualify for the Oscars, Kahiuwon alandmark court case, earning the film a week-long run and chipping away at Kenyan anti-LGBT legislation in the process.
'Rafiki' represents political filmmaking at its most crucial, centering a sweet queer love story in the middle of a small town election. The film follows two stylish teens, Kena Samantha Mugatsia and Ziki Sheila Munyiva, who crush on each other despite their families' political rivalry. When love blossoms between them, they must contend with small town busybodies and the judgment of their conservative society.”
Available to stream October 18.
Hulu added a whole mess of movies on October 1, many of which like “Patriot Games” and “Hoosiers” are being shared between the major streaming services. As usual, Hulu exclusives trend towards more recent fare, with Lupita Nyong'o's charming zombie comedy “Little Monsters,” Nia DaCosta's “Little Woods,” and the latest stop-motion treasure from Studio Laika leading the way. Hulu is also going to be the exclusive home for Armie Hammer / CGI cockroach team-up “Wounds” and Sean Penn's infamous “The Last Face,” but don't hold that against it.
“Missing Link” 2019
Part “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” part “Mighty Joe Young,” and part “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” Chris Butler's “Missing Link” is a sweet, touching, and seriously fun adventure comedy about two lost souls a pompous explorer voiced by Hugh Jackman, and a shy brown yeti voiced by Zach Galifianakis who are struggling to reconcile yesterday with tomorrow in their bid to belong in a world that refuses to make room for them.
Set in the Victorian era but progressive in almost every major aspect of its narrative and design, Laika's fifth feature may lack the weight and urgency of the stop-motion studio's previous work, but this gorgeously animated film reaffirms its commitment to a future that comes in all shapes and sizes.
OVID.tvbills itself as an “unprecedented collaborative effort of eight of the most noteworthy independent film distributors in the United States,” and that unique advantage has allowed it to burst out of the gate as a valuable and inexpensive way for dedicated cinephiles to track down exciting contemporary films that may have only played on the festival circuit. More than half a year in —and now boasting more than 500 films, the majority of which aren't available on any other streaming platform — this most esoteric of services is continuing to showcase the virtues of its unique approach.
OVID's October late is typically heavy on esoteric but rewarding documentaries, from a pair of extraordinary films by Julie Bertucelli “School of Babel” and “Latest News from the Cosmos” to Tiffany Hsiung's “The Apology,” which chronicles former “comfort women” as they fight to achieve a measure of restorative justice for the sexual enslavement they once suffered. Most unexpected of all might be Bartek Konopka and Piotr Roslowski's hypnotically bizarre “Rabbits a la Berlin,”which follows the rabbits who lived in the Berlin Wall as they adjust to their liberated new lives.
“Tokyo Fiancée” 2014
An under-the-radar hit from the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival that was denied the U.S. distribution it so richly deserved, Stefan Liberski's “Tokyo Fiancée” is a light but crestfallen romantic drama that should appeal to anyone who loves “Lost in Translation” but maybe not all of the baggage that movie comes with.
The film tells the story of a pixie-like woman named Amélie Pauline Étienne, which seems to be the go-to name for plucky French-speaking heroines with short hair and large hearts this Amélie is from Belgium. Born in Japan but raised abroad, Amélie returns to the eponymous mega-city in a bid to get back in touch with her borrowed roots, where she immediately flings herself into a relationship or something like it with the first man who signs up for her private tutoring sessions. What follows is a sensitive, conflicted, and unexpectedly sad tale of loss and belonging — a film anchored by heartfelt performances and the wistful yearning for a world just beyond our reach.
Available to stream October 4.
Kanopy hit a bit of a snag earlier this year, as the too popular streaming service — which taps into America's library and university systems in order to provide totally free no fees, no commercials access to essential classic and contemporary cinema — was ditched by the massive New York Public Library system.
But while New Yorkers are out of luck, Kanopy is continuing to offer an excellent service to those who have access to it. Its October lineup is a deep and impressive grab bag that runs the gamut from unimpeachable silent classics Buster Keaton's “Sherlock Jr.”, some of the best foreign-language films of the 21st century Roy Andersson's “You, the Living”, and essential new American indies that may have slipped through the cracks Andrew Ahn's “Spa Night”.
“Things to Come” 2016
With every subsequent feature, Mia Hansen-Løve makes an increasingly convincing case that she's of the best filmmakers on the planet — at her current pace, the evidence should soon be overwhelming. 2016's “Things to Come,” which stars a never-better Isabelle Huppert as a sixty-something professor whose life is reinvigorated when she learns that her husband is having an affair, is characteristically unfussy about its brilliance.
There is poetry here, but all of the accidental kind that we find in our own lives. Nothing feels premeditated or divinely arranged, not the flow of Nathalie's renewed existence nor the casually elegant compositions with which it's framed nor the handful tunes that fall over them during choice moments, all of them unexpected in their own way. This gentle, gracious, and preternaturally wise film moves forward in elegant half-steps as Nathalie stumbles forward through the seasons, one foot in front of the other.
“Things to Come” may lack the urgency or cool that flecks the writer-director's previous movies, but this is perhaps her richest work to date, a profoundly sensitive portrait of letting go and learning to make new memories.
Available to stream October 8.
An elegant and well-stocked streaming service that offers subscribers unlimited access to movies from the Magnolia Pictures library for just $4.99/month, Magnolia Selects offers a library that's already filled with genre hits like “13 Assassins” and “I Saw the Devil,” essential documentaries like “Man on Wire” and “No End in Sight,” and epochal dramas like “Force Majeure” and “The Double.”
The service's October slate is as strong as it seems to be random, though anyone looking for a good scary movie to watch with their significant other on Halloween could do a lot worse than the alway-satisfying “I Saw the Devil,” or Leigh Janiak's excellent “Honeymoon,” which stars Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway as a couple whose post-wedding bliss is interrupted by something from out of this world.
“Sunset Song” Terence Davies, 2015
Lewis Grassic Gibbon's 1932 novel “Sunset Song” had been swelling inside Terence Davies for more than 40 years, and the sensitive British filmmaker — who suffers an almost religious torment in the process of bringing his projects to the screen — had been trying to adapt the book for almost as long. Some things are worth the wait.
“Sunset Song” offers a plaintive War World I-era story of a tall Aberdeenshire farm girl named Chris Guthrie a magnificent Agyness Deyn who feels closer to her family's land than she does any of the men who try to reap it with her, and gorgeous 65mm cinematography makes it easy to appreciate that attachment. The film accumulates a tender beauty as the narrative slowly melts into myth, and — as the war takes hold — Chris becomes less of an individual woman than an undying symbol of femininity and forgiveness.
It was a natural progression for Davies, who sculpts by omission and tells impossibly wistful stories in the time between time. His films are rooted in memory and swaddled by nostalgia, suspended between an acutely remembered past and the unbearably painful present that it left in its wake. With Chris, he found a character who feels that dislocation in her bones, and the ache of it would be too much to bear if not for the strength of her roots. “Nothing endured but the land,” she says, sublimating herself into the earth itself. “Sea, sky, and the folk who lived there were but a breath. But the land endured. And she felt in the moment that she was the land.”
Available to stream October 15.
Busting out five of Dario Argento's most disgusting giallo delights, MUBI is getting into the spirit of the season more than most of the other streaming platforms. Horror fans who've already seen “Suspiria” 100 times will be happy to find that MUBI —as per its custom —is digging a bit deeper under the surface in order to dredge up less obvious gems like “Cat O'Nine Tails,” “Inferno,” and “The Stendhal Syndrome” Those titles will be cropping up on the service across the month, with the Argento masterpiece “Deep Red” rising with the blood moon on Halloween day.
Elsewhere, MUBI is concluding its long-running Straub-Huillet retrospective with 2014's “Communists,” and paying tribute to American indie pioneer Sara Driver with “Sleepwalk” and “When Pigs Fly” towards the end of the month.
“A Bread Factory: Parts One and Two” 2018
Many fans of Patrick Wang's previous films — this critic sadly included — haven't yet had the chance to sit down with his latest work, a four-hour epic that only enjoyed the smallest of releases last fall. Even sight unseen, anyone who's experienced “In the Family” or “The Grief of Others” can tell you how lucky MUBI subscribers are to have access to Wang's most expansive feature to date, which snuck onto the service at the end of September and will remain in rotation until Halloween.
Built around a reputedly towering performance by Tyne Daly, “A Bread Factory: Parts One and Two” is set in a small town American arts center that's starving for cash and struggling to stay open. When a couple of Chinese celebrities with deep pockets move into the neighborhood, 40 years of local tradition is threatened by sudden change. Between the strength of Wang's previous work and the ecstatic reviews from those who sought it out, “A Bread Factory” is easy to recommend sight unseen.
Netflix isn't doing much to get in the Halloween spirit this October — the scariest thing you can see on Netflix these days is the blank space that comes up when you search for “The Shining” — but that's not to say there aren't some underlying themes to be found in the service's latest slate. First and foremost, Netflix is continuing to lean into its own content, as vital new additions like the Eddie Murphy comeback vehicle “Dolemite Is My Name” and Steven Soderbergh's “The Laundromat” point towards an Oscar season in which the studio will be working overtime to prove its creative bonafides, while the long-awaited “Breaking Bad” movie reinforces the idea that no other distributor can be as flexible or crafty with its releases.
Of course, Netflix's biggest release of the year or ever, for that matter doesn't arrive until next month, but the company is continuing to build hype for “The Irishman” by dropping “Raging Bull” on Halloween. The October lineup also finds Netflix trying to coast off their competitors' work, as two Will Smith hits will be available to stream for anyone who'd rather stay home with some comfort food than roll the dice on “Gemini Man.”
“Raging Bull” 1980
Next month, Netflix will release Martin Scorsese's “The Irishman,” a rapturously reviewed crime epic starring Robert De Niro. But — and this is true — Scorsese and De Niro have actually worked together before! None of their previous collaborations have been quite as long as their latest project, but all of them have been just as good. And several of them are now or will soon be available to watch on Netflix, as “Raging Bull” joins “Taxi Driver” and “Mean Streets” at the end of the month in order to whet appetites for the magnum opus that will be added to the service at the end of November.
An invaluable force in the world of film preservation and a pure-hearted evangelist for the holiness of the theatrical experience, Scorsese has become one of the streaming service's most unexpected allies. Of course, it might be more accurate to say that Netflix has gone out of its way to support the legendary filmmaker where other, more traditional studios have not. Regardless, it's been a mutually beneficial arrangement; Scorsese may not have intended for his bitter and bruising Jake LaMotta biopic to be seen on an Apple Watch or whatever, but that indignity is a small price to pay in order to secure funding for “Rolling Thunder Revue” and “The Irishman.”
If you haven't seen “Raging Bull” before, De Niro's doughy wrecking ball of a lead performance should prove arresting on a screen of any size, while those revisiting the movie for the umpteenth time might find new resonance to the haunted sense of guilt that links this Oscar-winning classic to Scorsese's latest work.
Available to stream on October 31.
The world's best and only premium streaming service exclusively for genre fare usually opts for quality over quantity, and its October lineup continues that tradition with only five new movies being added to the platform. But this is still the best destination for horror mavens this month, as scrolling through the haunted depths of Shudder's library is guaranteed to provide you all the good Halloween viewing you could ever need.
“The Devil's Rejects” 2005
Disappointed by “3 From Hell”? This is the Rob Zombie movie you're looking for. Say a fond goodbye to the late Sid Haig — whose Captain Spaulding is a scarier clown than any you might find in theaters these days — with one of the horror icon's finest moments.
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