The good Witchdoctor with his pick of the best new streaming shows and films to watch on Netflix and other platforms this week.
Une Fille Facile (An Easy Girl) (Netflix)
This 2019 French film won an award at Cannes for best French-language film, so those who gravitate towards all things continental might enjoy. Une Fille Facile is a comedy about a 16-year-old who is drawn to her cousin’s free-spirited lifestyle. Set on the French Riviera, the film is directed by Rebecca Zlotowski (Grand Central).
The Tree House (Mubi)
One of several movies directly from the Locarno Film Festival, The Tree House (2019) is a unique essayistic feature built on the premise that its film footage, shot in our present, is being looked at from the future. Says one review: “The Treehouse features documentary footage of indigenous tribes with a science fiction story set on Mars and it’s brilliant.”
Boys State (Apple TV+)
This Sundance-winning documentary follows an annual US experiment: a week-long programme where a thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up. The result is a complex portrait of contemporary masculinity and a microcosm of American political divisions.
The One And Only Ivan (Disney+)
An intriguing fantasy film with both animation and live action, Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a cage in a video arcade with an aging elephant. When an abused baby elephant shows up, Ivan starts to care for her. The One And Only Ivan features Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Ramón Rodríguez (The Wire) and the voices of Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren and Angelina Jolie.
It’s easy to write off Korean TV with their penchant for cheesy K-pop and soft-lense soap operas, but The New York Times listed the first series of Stranger as the 10th best TV show of 2017. Avid television vans may recognise Bae Doona from Sense8 or Kingdom, and fans of crime thrillers in general should find something fresh and invigorating in this second series, despite the unusually long wait.
Terminator Dark Fate (Neon)
The great thing about box office bombs is that they’re usually a lot more fun to watch (and occasionally snigger at) as part of a streaming subscription than when you’ve forked out loads to see them in a cinema. In this 2019 movie (which weirdly falls in the Terminator timeline after the second film of the franchise even though it’s the sixth) Arnie and Linda Hamilton encore their roles without hogging all the limelight. Oddly, the film is directed by Tim Miller, who is known primarily as a visual effects guy, although original director James Cameron was heavily involved in the production too. Considered better than some of the Terminator films but not in the same ballpark as the original pair, Terminator Dark Fate is entertaining even if it isn’t really very good.
Lovecraft Country (Neon)
Screening here just a day after it starts on HBO in the US, this highly acclaimed series drama series with a dash of horror is based on a 2016 novel by Matt Ruff in which a young black man travels across segregated 1950s America in search of his missing father. On the journey horror writer HP Lovecraft is woven into the story. One critic noted that the genre storytelling peels back “layers of American history to reveal the systemic problems underneath it”. With a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this is definitely one to check out.
Old Dog (DocPlay)
For those of us who grew up watching primetime dog trials on New Zealand television, this documentary about an award-winning Kiwi dog-trainer will be hugely nostalgic. An affectionate portrait of Paul Sorenson and his 40-plus years literally “in the field”, Old Dog should bring more than a few tears to eyes.
Crímenes de Familia (Netflix)
Award-winning actress Cecilia Roth (All About My Mother) stars in this high tension Argentinian film about a woman who will go to any lengths to protect her son after he is charged with the attempted murder of his ex-wife. Billed as an “engaging thriller”, Crímenes de Familia promises to have some shocking surprises in its plot.
Wonders In The Suburbs (Mubi)
This quintessentially French comedy is exclusive to Mubi, and marks the eccentric directorial debut from actress Jeanne Balibar. A great cast brings the Parisian suburbs to life in this funny small-town farce with a taste for the bizarre.
High Score (Netflix)
Here’s one for all those squillions of gamers out there who are willing and able to stop doing what they do long enough to watch a definitive six-episode documentary about, you know… gaming! Actually, this sounds really good and in-depth and promises to shine a light on some of the forgotten geniuses behind the gaming revolution and reveal a few secrets while doing so.
The Chills: The Triumph & Tragedy Of Martin Phillipps (DocPlay)
If you managed to miss the epic story of the Flying Nun band on free-to-air television, here it comes without ads. An unflinchingly honest look at the career of The Chills and the tragic story of its leader, Martin Phillipps, this one is unmissable for any NZ music fan.
* Don’t forget to check out Witchdoctor’s handy and constantly updated Essential Guide To Streaming TV In NZ.