Before you turn on your television, iPad or laptop this weekend and drown in options, The Globe and Mail presents three best cinematic bets that are worth your coveted downtime – no commute to the movie theatre required.
Force Majeur, Kanopy: Before American filmmakers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash release their new family-in-crisis comedy Downhill next month, get to know Ruben Ostlund’s original and devastatingly awkward 2014 Swedish film upon which the forthcoming Will Ferrell vehicle is based. Johannes Bah Kuhnke stars as Tomas, an easily distracted family man who has taken his wife and two young children for a luxury ski vacation in the Alps. All is going well until an avalanche hits the resort, and Tomas’s true character is revealed. That might sound like the description of a claustrophobic disaster thriller, but really Ostlund is more interested in the pained dynamics of a family under pressure, and the gleeful discomfort that can result when someone makes the exact wrong move at the exact wrong time. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cringe.
Sundowners, CBC Gem: I suppose the start of the new year is as good a time as any to wallow in vacation-gone-awry films, so here’s another, though this time combined with the bros-being-bros genre. The potential here is minimal, yet Canadian writer-director Pavan Moondi (Diamond Tongues) creates something deliberately awkward and bravely subversive with Sundowners, which will hopefully get more exposure on CBC’s streaming app than the muted response it received back when it was released in 2017. Moondi gently eases us into the life of wedding videographer Alex (Phil Hanley) and his best friend, office monkey Justin (Luke Lalonde, of Ontario rockers Born Ruffians). Both are stuck in go-nowhere jobs with dim social prospects, but all that looks to change when Justin is sent to Mexico by his delusional boss (a scene-stealing Tim Heidecker). Except, well, it doesn’t. Where most filmmakers would take such a premise to spin a har-har tale of drunken high jinks, Moondi uses the set-up to subvert expectations and plumb the darkest corners of his leads’ insecurities. It is at times extremely uncomfortable, but captivating and engaging all the same.
Wild Rose, Amazon Prime Video: Wild Rose was not a film meant for the middle of June. It was not a film meant for those seeking relief from hot summer days, or even for those looking for counterprogramming to the big deadly summer blockbusters. It was not a film that deserved to die in the early days of the season, which, of course, it did last year after going up against the likes of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Wild Rose is, though, a film that gives birth to a brand-new star named Jessie Buckley, and she absolutely deserves all of your undivided year-end attention. This is an awards-season-primed performance if I’ve ever seen one, and the fact that the BAFTAs have so far been the only major organization to recognize that truth makes me sadder than any vacation-gone-bad scenario.
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