Do you ever feel like you’re drowning … but you haven’t even left your couch? Welcome to the Great Content Overload Era, where there are so many new films and series being released on streaming platforms every day that it can feel hard to keep your head above the zeitgeist waters. To help you navigate the choppy digital waves, here are The Globe’s best bets for weekend streaming.
Rhymes for Young Ghouls (CBC Gem, Crave) and Blood Quantum (on-demand, including Apple TV, Google Play)
In the wake of last week’s shocking news that Canadian filmmaker Jeff Barnaby died at the age 46 from cancer, what better time than now to revisit the few films he got to make? Barnaby’s first feature Rhymes for Young Ghouls is a viciously clever production that uses genre elements to explore the horrors of Canada’s residential-school system. Nervy and angry, it is the kind of ferocious debut that marks a promising young talent. But the director’s twin passions – splatter films and Indigenous representation – truly merge into something intensely sharp with his second, and now last, film: Blood Quantum. A zombie thriller that uses monsters as a metaphorical weapon just as well as genre king George A. Romero did with his undead series, Barnaby’s film is as much a gut-spilling splatter-thon as a gutsy dissection of colonialism.
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On (Crave)
“I’ve been unusually fortunate to be able to do pretty much what I’ve wanted to do,” the 81-year-old Buffy Sainte-Marie told The Globe and Mail earlier this year. “It’s My Way, the song, is about the totally unique one-person path that each of us walks alone.” To emphasize just how much of a unique path Sainte-Marie has blazed, it’s best to watch this new documentary by Madison Thomas, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. Featuring exclusive interviews with the legendary songwriter – plus testimonies from Joni Mitchell, Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne and many others – the doc chronicles an up-and-down life that produced a lasting musical canon that is untouchable.
Timing is everything for documentaries. And this year, Toronto director Daniel Roher scored the scheduling jackpot with Navalny, his nervy, electric documentary on the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, which made a surprise world premiere at Sundance this January just as Vladimir Putin was pushing ahead his reign of terror in Ukraine. Built around an extensive sit-down interview with Navalny after the anti-corruption activist was poisoned by Kremlin agents – but just before he was imprisoned upon returning to his home country – Roher’s film is the kind of lightning-in-a-bottle doc that only comes around once in an era. And now, 10 long months after its filmfest circuit debut, the film is available for Canadian audiences across the country.
It is a continued shame that Gene Hackman seems to prefer retirement. Good for the 92-year-old actor, but bad for moviegoers. Especially considering that this means his final (so far) on-screen role remains the justifiably forgotten 2004 comedy Welcome to Mooseport. But for those craving a prime Hackman performance, the depths of Netflix have you covered, with the streaming giant recently adding writer-director David Mamet’s 2001 thriller. As twisty and tongue-testing as any other Mamet production, this tale of honour among thieves features not only a standout Hackman performance (naturally), but a wealth of ace supporting turns from Delroy Lindo, Sam Rockwell and the dearly departed Ricky Jay.