What’s new to theatres, VOD, and streaming this weekend: August 27 to 29, 2021

Including reviews of Clickbait, Flag Day, Unapologetic, and Chapelwaite

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      (Tony Ayres, Christian White)

      As a high-concept thriller, Clickbait is kind of ridiculous, but I think that’s the point. The eight-episode Netflix miniseries that revolves around the disappearance of ordinary Oakland man Nick Brewer (Adrian Grenier) and the efforts of his family, journalists and the police to find out what’s really going on. It floods the screen with twists and revelations, moving breathlessly forward while switching its focus to a different character—his sister (Zoe Kazan)! His wife (Betty Gabriel)! A detective (Phoenix Raei)! A journalist (Abraham Lim)!—every episode to obscure certain connections and keep us smashing the “next episode” button. Co-creators Ayres (Glitch and Stateless) and White (who wrote last year’s family-as-horror creeper Relic) set up their high concept and immediately upend it, answering certain big questions unexpectedly early in order to introduce new ones so we never feel like we know where the story is going. (The show being set in Northern California but mostly shot in Melbourne creates an interesting unreality as well.) And savvy casting goes a long way: Kazan’s full-on panic as Nick’s messy younger sister contrasts well with Gabriel’s fraying composure as his stunned wife, and Raei is really interesting as a missing-persons cop whose personal life gets tangled up with the case before it even begins. I gobbled this show like popcorn—knowing it was probably bad for me, but enjoying the experience too much to stop. All eight episodes available to stream on Netflix Canada(Norman Wilner)

      Flag Day

      (Sean Penn)

      Sean Penn doesn’t direct movies very often, which makes Flag Day feel like even more of a disappointment. An adaptation of journalist Jennifer Vogel’s memoir Flim-Flam Man, it’s definitely a personal project—right down to Penn’s casting of his daughter Dylan as Jennifer, with himself as her father John Vogel, a ne’er-do-well targeted by the FBI in a massive counterfeiting case—but the story is told so clumsily that whatever drew the filmmaker to the material is buried under layers of muddled nostalgia and stylistic affect. Penn’s first features, The Indian Runner and The Crossing Guard, told heartfelt stories of family loyalty colliding with moral responsibility, so it’s strange to watch Flag Day consider that same theme while refusing to engage with it in the slightest. Instead, Jez Butterworth’s script offers the most superficial take on its father-daughter story, reducing Jennifer to a clichéd goth kid who cleans up her act and John to a whiny would-be rebel. Sean Penn played a version of this character much more vividly in The Falcon and the Snowman, come to think of it. Maybe you should watch that instead. In theatres Friday (August 27)(NW)



      (Jason Filardi, Peter Filardi)

      Very freely adapted from an early Stephen King short story, Chapelwaite tells the tale of widowed sea captain Charles Boone (Adrien Brody), who in the mid-19th century brings his children (Jennifer Ens, Sirena Gulamgaus, Ian Ho) to the eponymous ancestral manse in Preacher’s Corners, Maine. The town has been ravaged by an inexplicable wasting illness, which people blame on Charles’s bloodline. Anyone who’s read Jerusalem’s Lot will know exactly what’s up, of course, but it takes Charles a while to figure it out, allowing Chapelwaite to spin its deliberate tale of isolation, paranoia, and creepy scratching noises in the night. Brody’s a surprisingly good choice for the role of the tormented, overly formal protagonist, and Emily Hampshire is a lively presence as Rebecca Morgan, an aspiring writer who takes a job as governess to the Boone children. The Halifax locations are appropriately moody, and the supporting cast includes Gord Rand as a sympathetic minister, Gabrielle Rose as the manor’s former housekeeper and Eric Peterson, effectively cast against type, as an imperious antagonist—with Julian Richings and Steven McCarthy glimpsed in the first half of the season as Charles’s departed family members. The character-based approach works for weekly television; just be aware that it’s a very slow burn. New episodes Sundays at 10 pm on CTV Sci-Fi, and available to stream on ctv.ca/sci-fi and the CTV app(NW)

      Available on VOD

      American Sausage Standoff

      Ewen Bremner, W. Earl Brown, Joshua Harto, directed by Ulrich Thomsen

      Apple TVCineplexGoogle Play



      Paul Statman, Richard Wagner, Whitney Nielsen; directed by Pete Sefchik

      Apple TVGoogle Play

      Black Conflux

      Ryan McDonald, Ella Ballentine, Luke Bilyk; directed by Nicole Dorsey

      Apple TVCineplexGoogle Play

      The Colony

      Iain Glen, Nora Arnedzeder, Sara-Sofie Boussnina; directed by Tim Fehlbaum

      Apple TVGoogle Play

      Till Death

      Megan Fox, Eoin Macken, Callan Mulvey; directed by S.K. Dale

      Apple TVCineplexGoogle Play