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.
Marriage Story, Netflix: The Golden Globe-nominated Marriage Story offers a tricky proposition. Come for the charms of Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson and stay for a thorough evisceration of both. At the start of Noah Baumbach’s latest film, now available on Netflix after a brief theatrical run last month, Driver’s Brooklyn theatre director Charlie and Johansson’s actor Nicole are essentially separated – Nicole wanting to pursue her screen acting career in Los Angeles, and Charlie wanting nothing of the sort. By the time the film cycles through their divorce proceedings – including what ends up being a furious custody battle for their eight-year-old son – Baumbach’s film will have you cycling through all manner of convulsions. This is hilarious, heartbreaking cinema – a work that will make you burst out laughing one moment, and leave you tearing your hair out the next (sometimes thanks to Randy Newman’s cue-happy score, but that’s a minor annoyance). Audiences and armchair psychiatrists can spend all manner of time analyzing how Baumbach’s own split from his actor wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh, spilled into Marriage Story. Everyone’s time will be better spent, though, marvelling at what a completely absorbing and devastating portrait of modern desire and responsibility the filmmaker has wrought.
The Breadwinner, CBC Gem: A Canadian co-production with Ireland and Luxembourg, Nora Twomey’s 2017 animated film The Breadwinner leaves behind all three states to go deep into the life of one young girl in Afghanistan. The themes of freedom and strength in family are far from new, but Twomey’s heartfelt direction, her team’s subtle animation and Anita Doron’s gentle adaptation of Canadian author Deborah Ellis’s novel culminate in a powerful and topical tale. The film also makes for a nice entryway into CBC Gem, the broadcaster’s streaming initiative that has a deep catalogue, and terrible marketing.
Long Shot, Amazon Prime Video: After dying an unfair death at the box office this spring, December is an ideal time to bask in this Seth Rogen-Charlize Theron rom-com, which is like a big warmhearted bear hug. By this point in his career, Rogen could mine gold in the most dusty and outdated of comedy (go back and watch parts of Knocked Up, I dare you). And here, with the gentle nudging of frequent collaborator, director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Night Before), the actor again delivers a performance that balances guttural outrage with sweetness, goofiness with sincerity. Theron, meanwhile, seems like she’s been doing this sort of smoothly confident rom-com shtick her entire career, even though this is the first time she’s been afforded such a prime opportunity. Together, they are delightful, and clearly enjoying each other’s comic vibes so much that we can’t help but do the same.