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 weekend’s best new at-home releases.
Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue, digital.tiff.net If 2020 has taught audiences one thing, it’s that they have to become amateur detectives in sleuthing out just how they can access the films they want to watch. Although this is a reality already well-known to fans of art-house and foreign-language cinema – even before the pandemic, it was a challenge to figure out just where these films were being exhibited. TIFF’s new-ish online portal makes things a tad easier. In addition to currently housing a selection of Wong Kar Wai’s restored masterpieces, TIFF’s digital Bell Lightbox is hosting a one-week engagement of Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue, the fantastic return to documentary cinema for firebrand narrative filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke (Mountains May Depart, A Touch of Sin). Here, he uses an academic symposium held in his home province to expound on the entirety of Chinese history since 1949.
We Had It Coming, iTunes/Apple TV Thoroughly dark but with standout performances and an assured sense of style to carry it through, We Had It Coming is worth seeking out for those interested in the seedy, slimy underbelly of polite Canadian society. Quebecois director Paul Barbeau makes his English-language debut here, telling a tale of prostitution and corruption that will haunt and linger.
Tales of the Uncanny, Winnipeg Film Group Finally, a movie made during COVID that doesn’t feel the weight of the pandemic on its shoulders. Initially produced as a bonus Blu-ray feature for the 2011 horror anthology film The Theatre Bizarre, Tales of the Uncanny turned into an international Zoom-a-thon of genre experts gabbing about their love of the horror canon. Eli Roth, Joe Dante, Tom Savini, Jenn Wexler and a murderer’s row of murderer’s aficionados participate in the fast-moving fun, a must for any horror fan, which is available for digital rental from the Winnipeg Film Group until Jan. 8.
Anything for Jackson, Super Channel on Demand Speaking of horror, here’s a nifty little Canadian production that is sure to terrify, in all the right ways. Director Justin G. Dyck might come equipped with a history of Christmas-themed TV movies (including three currently in post-production!), but apparently he’s been hiding a dark soul, too, as Anything for Jackson explores all manner of demonic delights. Focusing on a middle-aged couple who kidnap a pregnant woman for sinister-yet-also-somehow-understandable purposes, Anything for Jackson moves fast and never feels superficial thanks to its central performances from Canadian film lifers Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings.
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