Our critics pick what’s new to streaming and VOD for the weekend of November 6, and list everything new to VOD and streaming platforms.
Greenpeace co-founder and marine-life crusader Paul Watson tells the story of his lifelong mission to save the ocean’s wildlife from human predation in Watson. Documentarian Chilcott (Code-Girls) places Watson front and centre, speaking directly to her camera as he recounts decades of activism, first with Greenpeace (which he left because his zeal for confronting whalers and seal hunters conflicted with the organization’s policy of nonviolence) and then with his own Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Watson is a vivid storyteller and a charismatic screen presence, fully conscious of the power of media. (He cites seeing Marshall McLuhan speak at Simon Fraser University as the key to his public strategy.)
It’s also quite clear he sees himself as the hero of his own story, quick to write off anyone he deems insufficiently supportive (his former Greenpeace comrades, his first wife Starlet Lum) of his mission. There’s a vulnerability there, but Chilcott isn’t interested in exploring it; rather than investigating her subject’s own complicated humanity, she pushes past it to celebrate his work. Which is fine for an infomercial, but I was hoping for something that went a little deeper. 99 min. Available to stream at waterdocs.ca through Monday (November 9) and playing in theatres across Canada on November 7 and 10 in the Impact Series.
Memories Of Murder
Restored in 4K last year, Bong’s masterful 2003 study of three police officers hunting a serial killer in South Korea in the '80s and '90s now stands as one of the key police procedurals of the 21st century, predating David Fincher’s Zodiac in its expansive study of the psychic toll of forensic investigation and the lie of closure. Sixteen years before Parasite conquered the world and the Oscars, Memories Of Murder launched Bong onto the global film scene. It’s an adaptation of a stage play (itself inspired by actual events) that turns the thriller genre inside-out to reveal a rich, complicated canvas of mismatched individuals struggling to find a cunning and relentless monster who almost certainly walks among them.
It’s also Bong’s first collaboration with leading man Song Kang-ho, with whom he’d reunite in The Host, Snowpiercer, and Parasite, and it’s clear their talents were perfectly in sync from the beginning. Bong knows that Song will go as big as he needs him to, giving Park a bluster that masks his confusion and frustration with the faltering investigation; he literally hangs the entire film on Song’s face. It’s a knockout. Don’t miss it. 132 min. Subtitled. Available on digital and on demand Friday (November 6).
After a suicide attempt, actor Samira (Clark Backo) finds herself recovering in an isolated in-patient facility with half a dozen other women, all grappling with similar trauma. Based on Pamela Mala Sinha’s stage play—and adapted by Sinha herself, who plays one of Samira’s housemates—Happy Place is a grim psychological drama, trapping us in space with these characters as they push themselves towards catharsis, or push each other away.
It’s also actor-turned-director Shaver’s first feature after decades of TV work, and it’s a thoughtfully realized expansion of a theatre piece that opens up the action without losing any of the play’s intensity. Backo (Designated Survivor, Letterkenny) is a complex and spiky lead, and she’s supported expertly by vets like Mary Walsh, Sheila McCarthy, Liisa Repo-Martell, and Marie-Eve Perron. And cinematographer Jackson Parrell frames them all within the bucolic manor house setting in a way that makes the spacious, well-lit building still feel confining and claustrophobic. It might seem counterintuitive to watch a movie about people under impossible stress right now, but if you’re up for a well-crafted trip through the wringer, Happy Place does the job. 103 min. Now available on digital and on demand.
How To With John Wilson
Counting Nathan For You co-creators Nathan Fielder and Michael Koman among its executive producers, this six-episode HBO series is a bizarre little treasure: a bouncy collection of personal diaries shot and narrated by the eponymous New Yorker, who uses simple topics to open up elaborate narratives about personal fascinations and collective anxieties. An episode about small talk somehow lands Wilson smack in the middle of MTV Spring Break in Cancun; an inquiry into New York’s omnipresent scaffolding leads to an existential meditation on the human need for structure, as expressed in a New Orleans trade show. It’s weird and unpredictable and somehow heartening, with Wilson’s hesitant voice-over drawing us in and making us sympathetic to whatever issue he’s using a given episode to work through. It’s a remarkably gentle show, which makes it a weird choice for a late-night Friday time slot, but of course Crave makes it available to watch whenever you feel the urge. It’s also an ideal distraction from the constant stress of this miserable year: I didn’t think I could find a random clip of Kyle McLachlan struggling with a subway turnstile both funny and life-affirming, but here we are. New episodes available 11 pm Fridays on Crave.
Water Docs 2020
Having been forced to cancel its original dates in March, the eco-fest’s first online edition launched Wednesday with Lesley Chilcott’s Watson (reviewed above), and continues through Sunday with additional documentary features and shorts programs. November 4 to 9, online at waterdocs.ca
What’s new to streaming
Africa With Ade Adepitan (CBC Gem)
The Bernie Mac Show (seasons 1-5) (Crave)
Citation (Netflix Canada)
Country Ever After (Netflix Canada)
Dim The Fluorescents (CBC Gem)
El Presidente (Amazon Prime Video Canada)
Escape To The Chateau (season 7) (CBC Gem)
How To With John Wilson (season 1, episode 3) (Crave)
The Iron Lady (Crave)
The Late Bloomer (Netflix Canada)
The Misadventures Of Romesh Ranganathan (season 2) (CBC Gem)
Man Down (Crave)
Real Time With Bill Maher (season 18, episode 33) (Crave)
Romans (Amazon Prime Video Canada)
Sing Me A Lullaby (CBC Gem)
Star Trek: Discovery (season 3, episode 4) (Crave)
Underfire: The Untold Story Of PFC Tony Vaccaro (CBC Gem)
W5 (season 55, episode 6) (Crave)
Warrior (season 2, episode 6) (Crave)
You Are What You Act (CBC Gem)
2020 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony (Crave)
Trouble In The Garden (CBC Gem)
The Circus (season 5, episode 21) (Crave)
The Good Lord Bird (season 1, episode 6) (Crave)
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (season 7, episode 29) (Crave)
Moonbase 8 (season 1) (Crave)
Our Cartoon President (season 3, episode 18) (Crave)
Seduced: Inside The NXIVM Cult (season 1, episode 4) (Crave)
The Spanish Princess Part 2 (season 2, episode 5) (Crave)
The Undoing (season 1, episode 3) (Crave)
Available on VOD
Louis Gossett Jr., Ana Golja, Shohreh Aghdashloo; directed by Sergio Navaretta
Cup of Cheer
Storm Steenson, Alexander Oliver, Liam Marshall; directed by Jake Horowitz
Darkness In Tenement 45
Nicole Tompkins, David LaBiosa, Casey Kramer; directed by Nicole Groton
Clark Backo, Liisa Repo-Martell, Mary Walsh; directed by Helen Shaver
Tamara Lawrance, Jack Lowden and Fiona Shaw; directed by Joe Marcantonio
Peter Belli, Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon; directed by Johannes Nyholm
Apple TV, Google Play
Lane Bradbury, Rachel Donahue, Collen Doyle; directed by Josh Melrod
Read our review
Memories Of Murder
Song Kang-ho, Kim Sang-kyung, Kim Roe-ha; directed by Bong Joon-ho
Nat Wolff, Priyanka Bose, Iben Akerlie; directed by Andre Overdal