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 best under-the-radar digital releases.
Some Kind of Heaven, VOD including Hot Docs at Home
If documentary icon Errol Morris and Midsommar mastermind Ari Aster had a baby, and that baby happened to be not a human being but a movie, then I guess Some Kind of Heaven would be their progeny. That may not make a whole lot of sense, but trust me: after watching documentarian Lance Oppenheim’s directorial debut, the tortured comparison will fit. Following four residents living in the “Disneyland for retirees” that is The Villages in Florida, the doc is a highly stylized look at what we choose to do with the final years of our life. The result is sweet, disturbing, sad and unforgettable.
Synchronic, VOD including Apple TV/iTunes and the Cineplex Store
A deadly designer drug is sweeping through New Orleans in Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s inventive, energetic genre exercise Synchronic. What starts out as a lesser-tier Bringing Out the Dead transforms into something more fantastical once the film’s heroes, two paramedics (Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan) who are hard-done by life in different ways, discover that the new fatalities aren’t caused by garden-variety overdoses. Once the big twist kicks in, there’s plenty of gritty, mind-bending fun to be had.
Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Hot Docs at Home
While it has been an absolutely horrible, no-good time for the film industry, it has been something of a banner year for film festivals. Or at least audiences who enjoy attending film festivals but cannot usually afford to spend the time and money and travel days to do so. To add to this at-home film-fest bonanza, the 18th annual Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival arrives this weekend with an eclectic slate of cinema focused on justice, compassion and equality. Best of all – it’s completely free, although tickets need to be reserved through the virtual Hot Docs at Home portal. Highlights include Maxx Caicedo and Nelson G. Navarrete’s documentary A La Calle, which follows the dictatorship of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro; I Am Samuel, Peter Murimi’s look at queer life in Kenya; and Claudia Sparrow’s Maxima, about the effects of gold mining in the Peruvian Highlands.
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