Everything new to VOD and streaming, including Tina, The Slowest Show, Invincible and Shiva Baby
NOW critics pick what’s new to streaming and VOD for the weekend of March 26. Plus: Everything new to VOD and streaming platforms.
In the tradition of the tableaux comedies of Swedish master Roy Andersson (Songs From The Second Floor) or maybe Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson’s bustling apartment-building drama Accidence, The Slowest Show is an experimental web series from Vancouver creator/producers Pat and Chris Kelly, (CBC Radio’s This Is That and This Sounds Serious). Each episode unfolds in a single locked-down shot, watching the goings-on at a skate park, an art gallery, a mini-golf course, a wave pool, a skating rink or a bowling alley. There are stories playing out, but it’s up to the viewer to follow individual characters and piece their narratives together. (Watch it on your largest screen, of course.)
Conceptually, it’s ingenious; each 20-minute episode depends on meticulous timing that doesn’t call attention to itself, with the actors setting up gags that won’t pay off until they’re in a different physical space. Not every episode is laugh-out-loud funny – though “Art Gallery,” directed by Andrew Phung of Kim’s Convenience, delivers on that with a running gag about an insufferable TA (Jeff Gladstone) – but there’s always something to look at or think about, like the number of intentionally blown tricks in the skate-park sequence, which must have been a nightmare to shoot. All six episodes available Friday (March 26) on CBC Gem. NNNN (Norman Wilner)
(Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin)
Tina Turner has gradually retreated from the public eye, but in this authorized doc the queen of rock ‘n’ roll seems to say a final farewell. In so doing, she again retells one of the most famous autobiographies in music. The story of her abusive relationship with ex-husband and collaborator Ike Turner has defined her public profile as much as her influential stage persona, and Lindsay and Martin not only recount her career, but use instances of Turner telling this story as benchmarks. By the end, she answers “why now?” pointedly, but the most illuminating and thrilling scenes are archival, capturing the tension between how she conceived of herself in ways that challenged how others perceived her.
Tina frames its subject as a trailblazer, but when it comes to her cultural impact, the film prefers to show rather than tell – and it unearths some powerful footage to make its points. Turner is interviewed, but managers, backup dancers, musicians, label execs and journalists largely piece together the biography. Though Turner has been open, she admittedly puts up a lot of armour. When the directors attempt to capture her inner life through ham-fisted montages symbolizing catharsis, the movie stumbles. Present-day Turner seems almost ambivalent, sitting for an interview more out of obligation than interest. You can’t blame her, and while this doc manages to infuse this familiar story with some nuanced perspective, it often falls back on familiar rock doc convention. Read the full review here. 118 min. Premieres Saturday (March 27) on Crave. NNN (Kevin Ritchie)
After their hyperviolent (and occasionally annoying) live-action takes on Garth Ennis’s cult properties Preacher and The Boys, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s latest run at a comics adaptation is this animated take on Robert Kirkman’s Image Comics series, which has fun up-ending traditional concepts of superhero team-ups while also building a rich and unpredictable cast of characters. Steven Yeun voices Mark Grayson, a 17-year-old suburban kid doing his best to follow in the footsteps of his father, the extraterrestrial warrior humanity knows as Omni-Man. It’s a pretty basic setup, but so was The Walking Dead – and as he did there, Kirkman expands the world of his story with unexpected, very human moments bursting through the often-brutal genre setting. Showrunner Racioppa sticks close to Kirkman’s text and Cory Walker’s designs, and Rogen and Goldberg have assembled an amazing voice cast to bring the characters to life, from J.K. Simmons and Sandra Oh as Mark’s parents to a supporting crew that includes Walton Goggins, Gillian Jacobs, Zazie Beetz, Jason Mantzoukas, Jon Hamm, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Mark Hamill and Rogen himself. Even if you’re experiencing superhero fatigue after a certain four-hour religious experience, this one’s worth a look. First three episodes available Friday (March 26) on Amazon Prime Video; subsequent episodes released weekly. NNNN (NW)
Finally available after festival play last fall, Shiva Baby is a study in managed chaos starring Rachel Sennott as Danielle, a grad student who’s fidgety and adrift, sleeping with sugar daddies for cash she doesn’t seem to need. And today she’ll be spending the afternoon at a shiva in Brooklyn, where her hovering parents (Polly Draper, Fred Melamed) hope she’ll land an internship or a boyfriend. What her parents don’t know, and what Danielle is dreading, is that her ex-girlfriend Maya (Molly Gordon) will be there; what none of them knows is Danielle’s client from earlier that morning (Danny Deferrari) will turn up too, along with the wife and baby he somehow neglected to mention. Seligman and Sennott mine a great deal of uncomfortable comedy from the collision of Danielle’s personal, professional and private worlds, even though we can feel Seligman labouring to stretch her 2018 short film into a feature. Still, Sennott and Gordon have chemistry to burn, and the world Seligman builds out around Danielle feels suffocatingly authentic. 77 min. Available to rent Friday (March 26) at digital TIFF Bell Lightbox. NNN (NW)
Drew Matthews, Ryan Davenport, Sarah Cochrane; directed by Clayton Witmer
Dongyu Zhou, Jackson Yee, Fang Yin; directed by Derek Tsang
Taylor Takahashi, Taylour Paige, Pop Smoke; directed by Eddie Huang
Steele Stebbins, John DeLuca, Danny Trejo; directed by Jonathan Kaufman
Lina Esco, Josh Peck, Kyp Malone; directed by Jeff Desom, Saman Kesh and Dugan O’Neal
Jacob Lohmann, Simon Sears, Tarek Zayat; directed by Frederik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm
Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss
Jackie Chan, Jason Flemyng, Arnold Schwarzenegger; directed by Oleg Stepchenko
Rachel Sennott, Molly Gordon, Fred Melamed; directed by Emma Seligman
Judi Dench, Eddie Izzard, Jim Broadbent; directed by Andy Goddard
Romaine Denis, Brett Donahue, Sehar Bhojani; directed by Elza Kephart
With the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Angela Bassett ; directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers
Everything coming to streaming platforms this month:
The fourth edition of the indie festival is its first online incarnation, rolling out three very full days of features, shorts, docs and creator panels. Screenings are time-locked to specific windows of availability in which to start watching: once you’ve pressed play, you have eight hours to finish your selection.
Pendance 2021 opens with a standout documentary: Noel Bass’s The Bears On Pine Ridge (Friday, 12 pm; repeat availability Sunday, 12 pm), about the attempts of Lakota community leaders in South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to combat an epidemic of youth suicides. It’s barely 40 minutes long but packs the power of a feature.
Features in the program include Sabrina Van Tassel’s The State Of Texas Vs Melissa (Friday, 4 pm), a documentary about the final appeal of convicted murderer Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman sentenced to death in Texas; Bleed With Me (available Saturday at 11 pm), Amelia Moses’s Fantasia psychodrama about a young woman (Lee Marshall) who becomes convinced her best friend is harvesting her blood; and Lorelai (Sunday, 8 pm), Sabrina Doyle’s “working-class fable” starring Paolo Schreiber as an ex-convict drawn back to an old girlfriend (Jena Malone).
Through Sunday (March 28 at pendancefilmfestival.ca
The TKFF is keeping it small this year, with just two days of screenings – but it’s all free. Two features and six shorts will screen in two programs; five of the six shorts are the work of Korean-Canadian filmmakers. Joseph Juhn’s documentary Jeronimo: The Untold Tale Of Koreans In Cuba anchors the first program, which is live today (Friday March 26); Julian Kim and Peter S. Lee’s Happy Cleaners launches Saturday’s selection. Each program includes three short films and a Q&A with the filmmakers.
Through Saturday at tkff.ca
Criterion’s latest auteur boxed set is dedicated one of cinema’s most tactile filmmakers: few other directors are as committed to capturing the physicality of his characters’ environments as Wong Kar Wai, from the dingy apartments of his Western breakout Chungking Express to the almost three-dimensional presence of the wallpapered rooms of In The Mood For Love. The seven films collected in World Of Wong Kar Wai serve as testimony to Wong’s obsessive image-making – so often abetted by cinematographer Christopher Doyle – and that even extends to the restorations themselves, a number of which have had their aspect ratios tweaked and sound mixes updated by the filmmaker. Happy Together shows the seams the most, due to a fire destroying portions of the camera negative – though the reformatting of Fallen Angels from 1.85:1 to the “intended” 2.35:1 CinemaScope aspect ratio requires the biggest adjustment for those of us familiar with the theatrical version.
And yes, these are the same splendid 4K restorations of As Tears Go By, Days Of Being Wild, Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, Happy Together, In The Mood For Love and 2046 that have been available to rent in TIFF’s virtual cinema for the last few months. But now you can possess them forever, in a lustrous French-fold package that unfolds like its own work of art, and spend additional hours with supplemental material both old and new. Most of the extras produced for Criterion’s earlier releases of Chungking Express and In The Mood For Love are included here – except for the audio commentaries by critic Tony Rayns – along with an alternate cut of Days Of Being Wild and an extended version of The Hand, Wong’s contribution to the 2004 anthology Eros starring Gong Li and future Grandmaster star Chang Chen. Devoted fans will particularly appreciate the deliberate opacity of Artist To Artist, a Q&A segment where Wong answers questions posed by Sofia Coppola, Rian Johnson, Chloé Zhao and other cinematic luminaries while giving as little away about his process as possible.