Skip to main content
screen time

Siri Dahl in Money Shot: The Pornhub Story.Netflix

What to watch in 2023: Our favourite new movies

Do you feel like you’re drowning … but you haven’t even left your couch? Welcome to the Great Content Overload Era. To help you navigate the choppy digital waves, here are The Globe’s best bets for weekend streaming.

Money Shot: The Pornhub Story (Netflix)

I’m not sure that I need to write anything at all about this new Netflix documentary, given that the title, like sex, sells itself. But for those who need a little critical foreplay to get into the streaming mood, I can offer that for all of its ambitions, director Suzanne Hillinger’s new doc on the world’s leading purveyor of free internet pornography won’t knock your socks (or any other article of clothing) off.

Certainly, if you’ve never heard of Pornhub before – perhaps you have just returned from a monastery, which was located under a rock, which was on the planet Mars – then Money Shot runs down the Canadian company’s checkered history with a succinct, Dateline/48 Hours kind of flair. This is a film of talking heads, stock images of Montreal and many, many blurred-out porn stills, with no particular point of view as to the state of contemporary sex culture.

Hillinger alternates between pro-Pornhub defences courtesy of brand ambassadors and sex workers who depend on the internet for their livelihood, and burn-it-all-down voices like New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristoff and anti-sex trafficking advocates. But the tension that naturally exists between those opposing perspectives is never quite realized on-screen, resulting in a doc that’s rather limp, turning this into the faked orgasm of documentaries.

Still, given just how much of the internet’s digital and mental real estate is occupied not only by Pornhub but also Netflix (a company that is name-checked, not favourably, here), it feels remiss to not at least give Money Shot an hour or so of your time – a feat that can be accomplished by watching the doc at 1.5 speed and knowing that you won’t miss a single thing.

Barbarian (Crave)

Georgina Campbell as Tess in Barbarian.Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Whereas Money Shot presents a corner of the internet at is most sexualized, Barbarian looks at a different kind of perversion that only the online world can provide. Writer-director Zach Cregger’s sleeper hit from this past fall tells a story in which one very bad Airbnb booking turns into an all-out assault of dark terror and even darker comedy, with twists and turns that aren’t so much unexpected as they are inconceivable. To detail much of the plot would spoil all the shriek-filled fun, but suffice it to say that this is a movie that feels partially funded by Big Hotel. By the end of Barbarian, you’ll never stay in a stranger’s home again. Read review.

Scream (Netflix)

Drew Barrymore in Scream.Courtesy of Alliance

If, after Barbarian, you’re still in the mood for a scare but not quite up for a visit to the multiplex to watch Scream VI, then there’s no better time to revisit the first chapter in the slasher series, recently added to Netflix Canada. Director Wes Craven’s film is still the best instalment in the Ghostface franchise, with a high-tension opening and enough vibrant performances from future stars to rival a hundred versions of HBO’s Euphoria. It also features the best killer reveal of the entire series – or at least the only one to make much sense. Oh, and there’s Henry Winkler, too! This movie really has everything.

Saint Omer (digital TIFF Lightbox)

Guslagie Malanda in Saint Omer.Neon via AP

Getting serious for a moment: Alice Diop’s narrative feature debut is an attempt to answer, or at least explore, the vexing question of what happens when societal ideas of motherhood come up against someone else’s reality. The French film is based on the real-life story of Fabienne Kabou, a woman who stood trial for murder over the death of her 15-month-old daughter. The basics of Kabou’s story remain the same here, albeit transferred to the trial of Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda), a Senegalese woman who travelled from Paris to the town of the title expressly with the purpose of murdering her young daughter. Just as neat answers evaded Kabou’s case, so, too, are they in short supply in Saint Omer. But this is a feature, not a bug: By letting the so-called facts of the shocking act hang in the air for everyone to interpret, Diop’s film revels in the enigmatic power of uncertainty. Read review.

Living (on-demand, including Apple TV and Google Play)

Bill Nighy as Williams in Living.Ross Ferguson/Courtesy of Number 9 films / Sony Pictures Classics / Mongrel Media

Although the odds were stacked against him this past Sunday night, were this any other year, the Academy Award for Best Actor would have gone to Bill Nighy for Living. A remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 classic Ikiru (To Live) set in 1950s London, the film rests entirely on the magnificent shoulders of the British actor. Following a widowed bureaucrat who becomes a changed man after learning he is not long for this world, the movie offers up a character and performance that you want to embrace with open arms. Initially a cog in a starchy system designed for oppression and conformity, Nighy’s character slowly and carefully breaks out of his invisible chains to embrace the world around him that he has for so long ignored. Read review.