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. To mark the end of the year, here are a handful of 2020′s best bets from the under-the-radar streamers that tend to get lost in the shuffle during our constant Netflix-ing.
Relic, IFC Films Unlimited Released earlier this July through video-on-demand, Natalie Erika James’s Relic is now available to stream on IFC Films Unlimited: providing Canadians with both a good opportunity to catch this slow-burn Australian horror, and discover the new-to-the-scene IFC. Part Hereditary and part Babadook, James’s haunted-house movie carefully pulls apart the tropes of the domestic horror genre to create something terrifyingly her own.
True History of the Kelly Gang, IFC Films Unlimited Another blink-and-miss-it VOD release from earlier this year (and, coincidentally, another Aussie production), Justin Kurzel’s postmodern western is all manner of immoral fun. Tracing the rise of the notorious outlaw Ned Kelly from his dirt-poor roots to his colourful criminal heights, True History of the Kelly Gang is a riot. And yes, that is a heavily bearded, just-plain-heavy Russell Crowe in the beginning, playing Kelly’s outlaw mentor Harry Power.
Disappearance at Clifton Hill, CBC Gem Focusing on Abby (British actress Tuppence Middleton) as she returns to Niagara Falls to settle family affairs, Albert Shin’s film has great fun with expectations, from subverting an early-on romance to painting his lead into extremely tight narrative corners. As Abby falls into a rabbit-hole conspiracy involving a missing boy, greedy developers, French-Canadian magicians and a local podcaster played by David Cronenberg (!), Disappearance at Clifton Hill becomes just as thrilling and disturbing as its titular strip of haunted houses and fading-fast motels.
Sorry We Missed You, Criterion Channel For those who think that the Criterion Channel is nothing but art-house classics of the past, here’s one of the streamer’s many contemporary selections to blow that assumption out of the water. Given the quickest of Canadian theatrical releases this past March, before You Know What, Ken Loach’s look at the precariousness of the gig economy is powerful, devastating, long-lingering stuff. The kind of cinema that will make you look at the world differently – even if your only vantage position at the moment is your couch.
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