The Girl and the Spider, Noirvember, Future Crimes and more

The Girl and the Spider, Noirvember, Future Crimes and more

Each week we highlight the notable titles that have recently arrived on US streaming platforms. Check out this week’s selection below and previous recaps here.

Apples (Christos Nikou)

Apples is set in a world where digital technology does not seem to exist, but the psychic imprint of the digital age hangs heavily over first-time director Christos Nikou’s sparse absurdist drama. In an alternate universe of Greece, people fall victim to a sudden outbreak of a pandemic Mementos syndrome: total, crippling amnesia that strikes normal adults seemingly at random, necessitating elaborate government medical programs for the amnesiacs. Of particular concern to such programs are “unclaimed” amnesiacs, patients who fail to be identified by friends or family members and thus become wards of the state, who must be gradually rehabilitated into society and construct new identities from scratch. – Eli F. (full review)

Where to stream: MUBI (free for 30 days)

Causeway (Lila Neugebauer)

It comes as a surprise to see how shocking Jennifer Lawrence’s presence is Causeway, her new film directed by first-time filmmaker Lila Neugebauer. A subdued character drama about a soldier recovering at home after suffering a brain injury in Afghanistan, it marks both Lawrence’s return to playing a central character since 2018 Red sparrow (unless you want to count her part in 2021’s ensemble Don’t look up) and her most established role in an even longer time. Go back to the mid-2010s and you’ll find her as a Russian spy, a mutant superhero, a metaphor for Mother Nature, and (scariest of all) trapped in space with Chris Pratt, which may explain why it takes some adjustment to see her as a normal person trying to rebuild herself. It’s a welcome and savvy move: Causeway serves as a reminder of her strengths, which rise above the dull material she works with. – CJP (full review)

Where to stream: Apple TV+

Costa Brava, Lebanon (Mounia Akl)

What can you do when your homeland falls apart? The simple answer is stay or leave, but both options have too much complexity to simply choose and be done. First, not everyone has that choice – whether it’s due to finances, family or countless other reasons. And those who are able to, must dig deep within themselves to rationalize why. Are you leaving because of greater opportunities? Are you staying because you want to be part of the solution? Or do you find yourself in some kind of purgatory – one foot planted on each side, only to discover your fear of losing the benefits of one for the potential of the other you have locked in stasis? That is where Walid (Saleh Bakri) currently exists. – Jared M. (full review)

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Where to stream: Netflix

Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg)

IN Crimes of the Future, an underground movement of performance artists trying to make sense of a world where people regularly grow new organs and pain, for some reason, has disappeared. The director is, of course, David Cronenberg, back with his first film in eight years and only the second original screenplay he’s developed since 1999 eXistenZ. Since the announcement last year Crimes has been marketed as Cronenberg’s long-awaited return to body horror, a fiery world that he hasn’t embraced since the 1999s… existence. Miraculously, it delivers on that promise: a film of erotic surgery and designer organs; where a live autopsy is performed by a young boy in front of a crowd of trendy onlookers; and where the newly regal Kristen Stewart gives a performance so polished it might actually be the embodiment of edge. – Rory O. (full review)

Where to stream: Hulu

Dustin (Naïla Guiguet)

Winner of the Short Cuts Award for Best Film at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, Dustin is the electrifying debut of rising French filmmaker, screenwriter and DJ Naïla Guiguet. A young trans person is swept up in the adrenaline and collective effervescence of a warehouse rave in the suburbs of Paris.

Where to stream: Le Cinéma Club

Filmatique Noir

Filmatique begins Noirvember with a selection of nine titles – films by Orson Welles, André de Toth, Ida Lupino and Alain Robbe-Grillet, and two detective stories starring the great Jean Gabin. Filmatique is also offering a 30-day free trial with the code FLMTQNOIR for customers hoping to check out the lineup.

Where to stream: Filmatique

Fox Noir

Take a deeper dive into some underappreciated gems this Noirvember. Another round of Fox Noir is back on The Criterion Channel, this time with Fallen angel (1945), The dark corner (1946), The kiss of death (1947), Call Northside 777 (1948), Cry of the City (1948), Highway of thieves (1949), Panic in the streets (1950), and The house on Telegraph Hill (1951).

Where to stream: Kriteriekanalen

The girl and the spider (Ramon and Silvan Zürcher)

Ostensibly the story of a Berlin family preparing for their evening meal while a cat wanders the apartment, The strange little cat was among the most seductive films of the early to mid-2010s and its more mystical explorations of everyday life. With the entrance to the Toronto International Film Festival 2021 The girl and the spider, director Ramon Zürcher returns, with brother Silvan Zürcher as co-director. (The latter produced The strange little cat.) Spider is equally captivating – a fascinating, uniquely ambiguous study of friendship, rivalry, tension and memory. It’s hard to remember another recent film that does so much with so little in terms of action and location. – Chris S. (full review)

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Where to stream: VOD

Dear Highsmith (Eva Vitija)

“My life is a chronicle of incredible mistakes.” So writes Patricia Highsmith, the renowned author of Strangers on a train, The price of salt, The talented Mr. Ripleyand many more. Dear Highsmith, directed by Eva Vitija, is a witty chronicle of Highsmith’s turbulent life, anchored primarily by her own diary entries, TV interviews and the recollections of former lovers. Above all, it is a fascinating window into the personal and creative life of a queer woman who constantly rebels against the restrictive social norms of her time as she tries to decipher what kind of person she is. As Highsmith writes, “I am he that seeketh eternal.” – Dan M. (full review)

Where to stream: VOD

Next Exit (Mali Elfman)

Watch an exclusive clip above.

While a viral video of a young boy playing cards with his dead father gripped the nation so deeply that suicide and murder have skyrocketed due to humanity no longer fearing death, allowing every ghost to be seen by every human would on earth be quite a logistical problem for debut writer-director Mali Elfman. Have started making Next Exit ten years ago, she’s had plenty of time to tweak and refine her script in a way that lets the high-concept, supernatural/sci-fi conceit fade into the background, so it’s heartbreakingly bittersweet, uplifting drama about two people who spent the life of wondering if living was worth living, the pain can shine through. Ultimately, however, the questions must be more than the answers. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to stream: VOD

Peter von Kant (François Ozon)

From the sure evidence of his filmography—and, yes, his legendarily turbulent private life—Rainer Werner Fassbinder should be quite tickled by the thought of another, younger filmmaker deifying him in his own work. Fassbinder’s is the cinema of submissive power dynamics, and François Ozon, no slouch either, has come to play the master’s servant. What is more elusive i Peter von Kanthis Slavic reimagining of Petra von Kant’s bitter tears, what is gained from this entanglement is designed to be mutually fulfilling for both parties. – David K. (full review)

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Where to stream: VOD

Soft and quiet (Beth de Araújo)

Narrated in real time over one (apparently) unbroken shot, Beth de Araújos Soft and quiet is perhaps the most provocative film showing at SXSW this year. If it doesn’t quite fit the bill as a traditional horror film, that doesn’t mean there isn’t terror lurking beneath the surface. Speaking after the screening, de Araujo said her intention is to have the audience see a hate crime unfolding in real time. The film is much more – it’s a political indictment of the kind of honest, racist conversations that can take place among a group of like-minded (terrible) individuals who are careful to moderate their tone. It’s the kind of wink, wink, nod, nod, coded language used to draw moderate voters to your cause—whether it’s a politician in a sweater vest or a soccer mom in Target saying it, is that so bad? Don’t they speak for all “Americans”, Tucker Carlson? – John F. (full review)

Where to stream: VOD

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Eric Appel)

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story gets its subject in a way that very few biopics ever have – by not really being a biopic at all. Rather, Strange approaching the life of the song parody legend, UHF star, and self-proclaimed “the world’s most famous accordion player in an extremely specific genre of music” just as Yankovic himself approaches his music: keep the music and change the words. Or, in this case, keeping the tropes and exaggerating them to wildly comic effect. – Chris S. (full review)

Where to stream: Roku Channel

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