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.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (on-demand, including Apple TV, Google Play)
The other week, my three-year-old son was home sick with a days-long fever, his only comfort being his BunBear (that’s his stuffed bear that also kinda sorta resembles a bunny) and repeated viewings of the new Puss in Boots sequel, which is now available on-demand despite still playing theatres. (Thank distributor Universal Pictures’ pandemic-hastened deal to move its lower-end performers to digital services a mere 17 days after premiering.) My little guy is all better now, and I think at least a little of his recovery can be credited to The Last Wish, a movie that goes above and beyond the obligations of contemporary animated fare. Highly stylized, featuring a true ear-worm of a song (Fearless Hero), and jammed with full-throated vocal performances from Antonio Banderas (as the title kitty), Florence Pugh (as a cockney Goldilocks) and an unhinged John Mulaney (as mob boss Little Jack Horner), this Puss is entertaining enough to distract kids for hours (hours!) on end, while not making parents feel bad about failing to invest in human babysitters.
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song (Crave)
Definitely not for children – at least those who aren’t already penning mournful poetry – is this Canadian documentary tracing the long legacy of Leonard Cohen’s greatest song. As my colleague, The Globe and Mail’s resident Cohen expert Brad Wheeler, wrote in his review of the film when it hit theatres this past summer, little of Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s doc will be new to aficionados, but “mainstream audiences will appreciate the context and the pairing of song and subject: Hallelujah mixes sex and spirituality, as did the libidinous Buddhist.”
Shiva Baby (Netflix)
Emma Seligman’s cheeky first feature, 2020′s Shiva Baby, is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. First of all, it’s a cringe comedy, a satire of the genre that will amuse some viewers and leave others slinking out of the room with embarrassment for a protagonist trapped in a decidedly uncomfortable spot. And second, it’s a relentless parody of North American Jewish types that some will delightedly recognize and others will find so broad as to be offensive. Still, this is Seligman’s home turf – she grew up Jewish in Toronto and the film is set in a similar community in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighbourhood – and the send-up is affectionate, and ultimately winning.
Hammer (CBC Gem)
Chronicling one very bad day in the lives of a troubled Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., family, Christian Sparkes’s 2020 thriller Hammer traces a vivid, teeth-grinding path of destruction. The tightly edited, frequently dark film benefits greatly from its two lead performers: Mark O’Brien as a ne’er-do-well criminal son and Will Patton as his exasperated father. Both radiate nervy energy like it was the most natural thing in the world, which in Hammer’s anxiety-inducing case, I guess it is.
Rain Man (Paramount+)
Continuing my quest to run through Tom Cruise’s filmography in the lead-up to this summer’s new Mission: Impossible sequel – last week was The Firm (Netflix) and A Few Good Men (CTV app) – I revisited Barry Levinson’s 1988 drama. First impressions: It is astounding to think that such a small-scale, character-driven film could have once been the No. 1 film of the year. Second: My goodness, this film could not be made today, at least certainly not with whatever amalgamation of traits and tics that Dustin Hoffman was working with in portraying the autistic Raymond, who is essentially kidnapped by his younger brother, Charlie (Cruise), in a half-cooked scheme to claim an inheritance. Despite its many dated elements, though, Rain Man retains its central power: a dynamic pairing in Hoffman and Cruise, and an ending that deftly avoids easy answers.