With movie theatres reopening and then closing and then who-knows-what, there is comfort in knowing that, thanks to streaming and video-on-demand, we can all program our own double (or triple, or quadruple) bills at home. Here are this week’s most intriguing new digital releases.
Shirley, Amazon Prime Video
File this under the “better late than never” category. Released in the U.S. through video-on-demand way back in June, 2020, Josephine Decker’s genre-busting biographical drama Shirley is now (legally) available to Canadians on Amazon Prime Video. Starring Elisabeth Moss as the iconic American horror author Shirley Jackson (The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House), Decker’s film purports to tell a “largely fictional story” about the writer’s life around the time she was writing Hangsaman. Coming off her wild work in 2018′s Madeline’s Madeline, Decker has been impressing critics with Shirley since its Sundance Film Festival debut last January. And Moss always seems to enthrall. Now, Canadians will finally get their own chance to see what the fuss was about.
Herself, Amazon Prime Video
Another Sundance 2020 entry now making its way to the public – though thankfully at the same time for both U.S. and Canadian audiences – is Phyllida Lloyd’s much-praised family drama. Following single mother Sandra (Clare Dunne) as she struggles to find housing for her two young daughters, Herself pivots on an idea that could be merely whimsical but is instead daring: Instead of relying on her ex-husband or the state, she’ll build her own dang home. Lloyd’s tender work has been receiving as much acclaim as Dunne’s performance, so best to stream Herself while it’s still relatively under the radar.
The High Note, Crave
Lost in last spring’s great theatres-to-VOD reshuffling was Canadian director Nisha Ganatra’s The High Note, a light, frothy, predictable but highly charming Hollywood rom-com that should lift January spirits now that it’s available to stream on Crave. Dakota Johnson, clearly thrilled to be free from the shackles of her Fifty Shades franchise, offers a delightful lead performance as Maggie, a personal assistant to pop-music diva Grace (Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana). The thing is, Maggie has ambitions of being a record producer and is slowly building the courage to ascend from the bottom rungs of the music industry. To distract her, there’s Grace’s overbearing manager (Ice Cube), a love interest with a twisty back story (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and myriad industry hangers-on played by comic-relief veterans. The cast is endearing, the story is smooth and the music, most importantly, kills.
Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.