weekend watchlist: two tales for Pride Month that cry out for simple human acceptance

First published June 3rd, 2022, on Substack and Patreon.

Don’t spend hours scrolling the menus at Netflix, Prime Video, and other movie services. I point you to the best new films and hidden gems to stream.

Movies included here may be available on services other than those mentioned, and in other regions, too. JustWatch and Reelgood are great for finding which films are on what streamers; you can customize each site so that it shows you only those services you have access to.

When you rent or purchase a film through the Prime Video and Apple links here, I get a small affiliate fee that helps support my work. Please use them if you can! (Affiliate fees do not increase your cost.)


both sides of the pond

Kick off Pride Month with a terrific double feature from brilliant Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio. His Disobedience (pictured above), from 2018, is a deliciously prickly drama about Rachel Weisz’s photographer, who has been disowned by her London Orthodox Jewish community but returns for the funeral of her rabbi father. While navigating her contentious welcome home, she finds her connection with a childhood friend (Rachel McAdams) that reignites into the passion that prompted her shunning. Uncompromising performances — also including Alessandro Nivola as another longtime friend, now McAdams’s husband — and Lelio’s compassionate direction create a portrait of the impossibility, sometimes, of reconciling faith, family, and desire.

Just the year before, Lelio gifted us with the magnificent A Fantastic Woman, about a 20something trans woman (Daniela Vega) in Santiago grieving the death of her much older lover even as his family — including his adult children — refuse to even acknowledge their relationship and her loss. Vega’s performance is distressingly moving in what is a quiet yet resolute portrait of bravery and resilience in the face of unconscionable bigotry. This is a film that is specific yet universal, and never less than wonderfully, wholly human. (Read my review.)

DISOBEDIENCE

US: streaming on Hulu; also available for rent or purchase on Prime Video and Apple TV

UK: debuts on Mubi on June 5th; also available for rent on Curzon Home Cinema, and for rent or purchase on Prime Video and Apple TV

A FANTASTIC WOMAN

US: available for rent or purchase on Prime Video and Apple TV

UK: debuts on Mubi on June 4th; also available for rent on Curzon Home Cinema and BFI Player, and for rent or purchase on Prime Video and Apple TV


US

Hulu hidden gem

Elizabeth Olsen has made quite the splash in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the superpowered Scarlet Witch — the Disney+ series WandaVision is, well, marvelous, and she plays a vital and perhaps unexpected central role in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But I hope we’ll soon see her return to her roots in intimate indies, as in her stunning debut with 2011’s Martha Marcy May Marlene. Also the debut of writer-director Sean Durkin (I must check out his 2020 sophomore movie, The Nest, soon), this is the sharply observed story of Olsen’s young woman as she attempts to escape from the commune-cult she’d been living in. This compelling, deeply original film reclaims surviving as a process, not a plotpoint, and one with no clearly demarcated finish line. And it retrieves the personhood and the agency of the victim, especially the female cinematic victim, as an active participant in her own life. (Read my review.)

streaming on Hulu; also available for rent or purchase on Prime Video and Apple TV

new on Netflix

Is it just me, or are you, too, constantly surprised to be reminded that Tom Cruise is an incredibly compelling screen presence? If Top Gun: Maverick has juiced you for more Cruise, revisit — or check out for the first time — the best of his outings as spy Ethan Hunt in 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Pixar god Brad Bird makes an astonishingly confident and distinctive leap from animation — he directed Ratatouille and The Incredibles — to live-action with this startlingly down-to-earth flick, in which the espionage thrills, from the explosive destruction of the Kremlin to a freeclimb of the tallest building the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, somehow manage to feel grounded and human. M:I4 cleverly hooks us on all levels: the visual, the emotional, the daring. These aren’t superheroes doing impossible things, they’re real people doing a good, hard job. (Read my review.)

streaming on Netflix, and also on Paramount+; also available for rent or purchase on Prime Video and Apple TV


UK

new on Netflix

It’s the rare sequel that is better than its progenitor film… and even rarer when that first film was so darn good itself. Paddington 2 is a cinematic treasure, one of the very best movies of recent vintage, and more than suitable for the entire family. (But don’t let not having kids around stop you from indulging in its marmalade-fueled exuberance, either. Even Pedro Pascal’s Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent crime lord recommends it.) Adventure! Intrigue! Daring escapes and rescues! A prison break! A treasure hunt! A train chase! Afternoon tea! This is a fantasy of unique scope and astonishing emotional depth beneath the silliness. There is no single moment here that isn’t an absolutely enrapturing bear hug of snuggly, heartwarming delight. This is exactly the movie we need right now. You will want to escape into it and stay there forever. (Read my review.)

streaming on Netflix, and also on Disney+; also available for rent or purchase on Prime Video and Apple TV

BBC iPlayer hidden gem

If you’ve seen Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and the few moments of true gonzo that director Sam Raimi managed to squeeze in had you wishing for more, check out the director’s 2009 horror black comedy Drag Me to Hell. With this tale of a bank manager (a terrific Alison Lohman) fighting off a hellish curse, Raimi began to explore some themes that shudder through his Doctor Strange, too, such as the greediness that comes with power. But he also asks a question that, in my admittedly limited experience of the horror genre, I don’t think I’ve come across before: does his protagonist actually deserve to be dragged to hell? (Read my review.)

streaming on BBC iPlayer for 8 months; also available for rent or purchase on Prime Video and Apple TV


find lots more movies to stream at Flick Filosopher

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