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.
One Cut of the Dead, Shudder: To my knowledge, there were only two Canadian theatrical screenings of Shin’ichiro Ueda’s horror-comedy when it was released last year: one at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, and another during the Reel Asian International Film Festival in Toronto. But those who caught the low-budget One Cut of the Dead, which was a box-office sensation in its native Japan, were treated to the most entertaining and inventive zombie film in decades. Luckily, the streaming service Shudder, which specializes in horror and other films of genre extremes, has recently added the instant classic to its roster, allowing everyone with internet access to enjoy the madness. Ueda takes cinema’s favoured visual trick of the moment – the long, unbroken shot – and uses it to not only refresh the moribund zombie film, but deliver a shockingly heart-warming tale of family and teamwork.
Brittany Runs a Marathon, Amazon Prime Video: There was all sorts of grumbling earlier this year when Amazon Studios delivered two financial flops to theatres: the Mindy Kaling-fronted Late Night, and the inspirational comedy Brittany Runs a Marathon. Both films were acquired at the Sundance Film Festival for seemingly inflated prices, and both were seen as poor investments for a company that has money to burn. But just as Late Night has its moments, so, too, does Brittany Runs a Marathon. For starters, it features a wonderful lead performance from Jillian Bell, a deadpan comic performer who’s shined in bit parts for years (22 Jump Street, television’s Workaholics). And, well, really that’s enough – Bell’s sharp timing and eagerness to get emotionally messy on-screen as a ne’er-do-well who turns her life around in preparation for running the New York Marathon should convince anyone that Amazon is doing something right.
Private Life, Netflix: For anyone currently savouring HBO’s Mrs. Fletcher, your first stop on the Kathryn Hahn Appreciation Tour should be Tamara Jenkins’s Private Life. The comic drama made a brief impact on the film festival circuit last year, but has since fallen dangerously close to the bottom of whatever algorithm is running Netflix’s home page. Don’t let the streaming giant’s lack of promotion dissuade you, though, from seeking out this perils-of-fertility-treatments tale in which Hahn gets to play opposite Paul Giamatti in a battle of deep, cathartic sighs.