Here’s everything new to VOD and streaming for the weekend of June 18, plus our critics’ reviews of the buzziest new movies and TV shows.
Welsh filmmaker Bailey-Bond’s unsettling first feature is a short, pointed look at obsession and repression. Set in 1985, it tells the story of a London film censor (Niamh Algar) who becomes convinced that one of the “video nasties” she’s tasked to edit holds the answer to a decades-old family mystery, and then sets out to discover why. It’s a clever blend of retro style and contemporary themes, slotting in right between Andrea Arnold’s Red Road and Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio as an artful British breakout that locks the audience into its precise aesthetic and refuses to let us out. Here, it’s Thatcher’s England as seen through the prism of an Italian giallo, its tut-tutting propriety cracking to expose the grief and rage writhing underneath. And Algar (HBO’s Raised By Wolves, Guy Ritchie’s Wrath Of Man), finds precisely the right tone for every scene as the desperate, determined protagonist, who is unquestionably the hero of her own story but not necessarily the hero of this one. 84 min. Available on all VOD platforms Friday (June 18). (Norman Wilner)
Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
(Lisa Immordino Vreeland)
Decades before the term was coined, writers Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams were the ultimate frenemies. The queer Southern writers achieved early acclaim and fame—Williams with The Glass Menagerie, Capote with Other Voices, Other Rooms—only to have their careers eroded in later years by booze and drugs. The friends admired each other’s work, but were also fiercely jealous of each other. Vreeland’s fascinating doc draws on decades of individual interviews and writings to splice together a conversation between the two about everything from their unhappy childhoods and their working habits to their thoughts on sex, love, and substance abuse. The spine of the doc is a pair of contrasting interviews with David Frost, whose interest in the two—especially their personal lives—verges on prurience. Archival photographs, film clips of adaptations and snatches of typed manuscripts round out the visual elements, with queer actors Jim Parsons (as Capote) and Zachary Quinto (Williams) reading out passages in decent impersonations. The result is an absorbing film that makes intriguing connections between the two—they had complex relationships with their fathers, for instance—and mid-century queer life without being reductive. One section recounting a trip to Ischia in which the two were vacationing with their long-term lovers calls out to be dramatized. If only the two were alive to do it. 86 minutes. Streaming from Friday (June 18) to July 15 at VIFF Connect. (Glenn Sumi)
Kevin Can F**k Himself
Schitt’s Creek star Annie Murphy moves on from her Emmy-winning role into something radically different, starring as Allison McRoberts, a stereotypical Hot Sitcom Wife who suddenly realizes she’s wasted a decade on her self-absorbed man-child husband and embarks on a scheme to emancipate herself. Shifting between the over-lit multi-camera setup of Kevin’s world and the muted, single-camera presentation of Allison’s reality whenever she goes out on her own, Kevin Can F**k Himself starts out as a grabber: Murphy is terrific in both modes, and it’s not long before we share her loathing of Eric Petersen’s grasping, loutish Kevin and his decidedly one-dimensional crew, played by Brian Howe, Alex Bonifer and Mary Hollis Inboden. (Inboden, at least, gets to reveal more sides to her surly-sidekick character as the show goes on.) Whether the series can sustain the tension between the two worlds is another question; the first four episodes struggle to balance the sympathetic struggles of Allison with Kevin’s increasingly repellent antics, not always successfully. (It also seems impossible for Allison to win, given the premises of both his show and this one.) But Murphy is so watchable that I’m sticking with it. First two episodes premiere Sunday (June 20) on AMC, and available on demand with Rogers or Bell from Monday. (NW)
The pitch for Pixar’s latest might sound a little familiar: in the recent past, a somewhat sheltered boy (voiced by Vancouver's Jacob Tremblay) finds a meaningful connection with an older kid (Jack Dylan Grazer) in a small Italian town, but hides the relationship for fear his family might not understand. Also, they’re all sea monsters who can pass as human on land, so this is basically Call Me By Your Anemone, with all the longing of Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 art-house hit sublimated into an awkward be-yourself metaphor. (The echoes get even weirder when you realize Grazer just played the lead in Guadagnino’s HBO series We Are Who We Are.) At first, the slightness and delicacy of Luca feels like a feature rather than a bug: it’s beautifully rendered, with slightly exaggerated characters romping around in a splendid, sun-dappled environment, and the story just glides along pleasantly. But then you start to notice the way director Casarosa and screenwriters Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones keep refusing to explore any of the story’s themes, or even acknowledge them, ultimately abandoning them for an action climax that feels like it was pasted in from another movie. It’s frustrating that a story about sea monsters can’t address what’s swimming around under the surface. 95 min. Available to stream on Disney+ Friday (June 18). (NW)
Filmed by With Child writer-director Heckel in Kelowna, B.C., Chained encases a coming-of-age story within a crime thriller. Riverdale’s Marlon Kazadi plays 13-year-old Taylor, who finds solace from his bullying peers and his bullish cop father (Adrian Holmes) by growing plants with his friend and budding love interest Nora (Leia Madu). Escaping bullies one day, Taylor winds up in an abandoned warehouse, where he stumbles across a dead body—and Jim (Aleks Paunovic), a man in shackles. Rather than release him, the wary Taylor opts instead to visit him regularly, bringing him food and water, chatting with him, and soon finding out he’s a criminal. Although there’s some unevenness in the performances and chemistry between characters, the actors remain watchable and Kazadi does his brooding best, carrying much of the film. Some sharpening of pace and focus could have realized this drama’s aspirations of becoming a taut thriller. For now, this effort offers promise of what is to come from the talent assembled. 105 min. Available to rent or buy on all VOD platforms. (Craig Takeuchi)
Available on VOD
Anything For Jackson
Julian Richings, Sheila McCarthy, Konstantina Manetlos; directed by Justin G. Dyck
Niamh Algar, Michael Smiley, Nicholas Burns; directed by Prano Bailey-Bond
Marlon Kazadi, Adrian Holmes, Aleks Paunovic; directed by Titus Heckel
The Dose (La Dosis)
Carlos Portaluppi, Ignacio Rogers, Lorena Vega ; directed by Martin Kraut
Oliver Masucci, Hary Prinz, Katja Reimann; directed by Oskar Roehler
Every Breath You Take
Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Sam Claflin; directed by Vaughan Stein
Queen Of Spades
Daniel Kash, Jamie Bloch, Ava Preston; directed by Patrick White
Gia Skova, Travis Aaron Wade, Nigel Vonas; directed by Gia Skova
Adam Halferty, Jessie Rabideau, James Russo; directed by Matthew Goodhue
Disc of the week
Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection (Paramount, 4K)
Delayed by a week due to a bottleneck at disc replication plants—it turns out the death of physical media was wildly exaggerated—Paramount’s boxed set of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s beloved action franchise is finally available in Canada. Newly remastered in Ultra High Definition with both HDR and Dolby Vision encoding, and featuring remixed Dolby Atmos audio, all four features look and sound as good as they ever have on home video, with texture and details never before visible. (In case you were worried, Lucas hasn’t reworked them the way he tinkers with the earlier Star Wars films; Raiders Of The Lost Ark still sports its unaltered title on screen.)
Something else that hasn’t changed: Raiders is still the perfect adventure movie, a robust tribute to its creators’ childhood serials that fleshes out the genre by adding some very contemporary cynicism and a hero who’s as flawed as anyone else in the picture. (That said, pitting an American swashbuckler against sadistic Nazis is a pretty good way to make it clear who the good guys are.) Harrison Ford, who stepped in after Tom Selleck’s TV commitments forced him to give up the role, is perfect for the role of the short-tempered, tunnel-visioned hero, as are Karen Allen as justifiably skeptical Marion Ravenwood and Paul Freeman as Indy’s pragmatic rival Belloq. Every performance sings—in John Rhys-Davies’s case, sometimes literally—and Spielberg’s filmmaking is at peak efficiency, supported by one of John Williams’s finest scores. The truck chase might still be their single greatest collaboration, with the flying wing battle a close second.
The sequels remain a mixed bag. 1984’s Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom now feels enthusiastically racist in its depiction of Indian culture and characters, though its magnificent action choreography means it’s still far more satisfying an experience than 2008’s Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, which tries to reposition Indy for the Atomic Age and winds up miscalculating just about everything except for Cate Blanchett’s sneering Soviet villain; she’s the only actor in the picture who seems to know what movie she’s in. I can’t say the same for Shia LaBeouf, whose annoying Mutt Williams is the least appealing successor to Ford’s mantle…but at least his presence brings Marion back into Indy’s orbit, though she only winds up reminding us how essential Allen was to Raiders.
No, it’s 1989’s Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade that remains the only film to come close to matching the original, thanks to Sean Connery’s marvelous comic performance as Henry Jones Sr. and a more focused storyline that sets father and son on a quest for the Holy Grail and pitting Indy against the Nazis once more. Foregoing the darkness of Temple Of Doom for a brighter energy—and with a crackling script rewritten by an uncredited Tom Stoppard—it feels like the movie that should have followed Raiders all along, and it also feels like the one that should have ended the whole project.
The boxed set also includes a Blu-ray of supplemental material, which is exactly the same as the one included in Paramount’s 2012 Complete Adventures Blu-ray set. That’s disappointing, but with a fifth Indy movie now in production, I guess they’re saving the grand retrospective documentary for that. (NW)
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