"Undine", "My Zoe" and other quirky streaming gems

This month’s recommendations include a terrific (but modest) indie trio from the start of the year, as well as thoughtful Bible drama, a...


This month’s recommendations include a terrific (but modest) indie trio from the start of the year, as well as thoughtful Bible drama, a wild slasher musical (yes, you read that right) and a documentary for fill out that “Summer of Soul” -taste of the hole in your heart.

Stream it on Hulu.

Writer and director Nikole Beckwith opens her character-driven comedy-drama with credits rendered in a white Windsor font – unmistakably like Woody Allen’s go-to title font. It sounds like a bold, if not misguided, choice, but it’s a useful reference; Allen’s flaws in cinematic worldview are discussed later in the film, which can be read as a feature-length reprimand for the pervasiveness of May-December romances in this director’s work. The relationship here, between a future single dad (Ed Helms) and his gestational surrogate (Patti Harrison), is much more nuanced than that, though awkwardness gives way to affection and even love over the course of the pregnancy. Beckwith dares to suggest that such an emotion can exist outside the realm of romance, and scene after scene lands with sensitivity and depth, without sacrificing laughter along the way. Helms does his best cinematic work to date, and Harrison is a real find.

Julie Delpy writes, directs and stars in this tender family drama with an unexpected dose of science fiction. Isabelle de Delpy is a scientist and new single mother who struggles to navigate the minefield of conflicts and emotions linked to her recent divorce; both parents want what’s best for their daughter, but have very different ways of getting there. What starts off as a 21st century riff on “Kramer vs. Kramer” turns into more serious territory when little Zoe (Sophia Ally) is struck by tragedy, prompting Isabelle to call on her vast scientific knowledge – and her willingness to help. ‘experiment. Delpy writes about parenting from the inside out, capturing its fears and assumptions with a liveliness bordering on emotional brutality. But her gift for dialogue and humor makes “My Zoe” an ultimately rewarding experience.

Stream it on Hulu.

Christian Petzold’s latest begins in the middle of a breakup, with the usual explanations and platitudes, until Ondine (Paula Beer), the receiving woman, says something you usually don’t hear in such conversations: “If you leave me, I’m going to have to kill you.” You know that! ”This is no ordinary romance, obviously; true to her name, Misty is a water nymph, and according to legend, when a man betrays her, she must kill him and return to the sea. But she is beset by another immediate romance, with (of course) a big-hearted scuba diver (Franz Rogowski), and complications ensue. Petzold delves into the realm of magical realism, but with an emphasis on realism; “Undine” is above all a romantic drama, with the compelling intimacy and chemistry of its protagonists in the foreground, and the fantastic present mainly in the form of well-drawn flourishes.

As “Ophelia”, from last month’s column, Garth Davis’ biblical drama “Mary Magdalene” reposition a woman at the center of a familiar story, while simultaneously telling it to a modern audience. Rooney Mara is quietly stunning as the main character, carrying much of his faith and fear in his moving eyes, and Joaquin Phoenix is ​​a surprisingly effective Jesus of Nazareth, deftly using his naturalistic approach to emphasize humanity and the charisma of Jesus. Davis and screenwriters Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett revisit the expected highlights – the Raising of Lazarus, the conflict with the money changers, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection – but never present them as paintings or historical reenactments. Just like in Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” (a definite stylistic influence), these scenes have an urgency and immediacy, as if they were being staged for the first time.

Stream it on HBO Max.

The real doomsday vibes of late – floods, fires, changing plague – could make this doomsday romantic comedy strike a little too close to home. On the other hand, its underlying message of giving in to the madness and making the most of the time you have left is extremely welcome. Steve Carell is at his best as an average guy whose wife gives up on him second it becomes clear that the end is near; Keira Knightley is charming as a neighbor who accompanies her on an impromptu road trip. Writer and director Lorene Scafaria, later acclaimed for “Hustlers,” made a confident debut, expertly orchestrating a top-notch cast and creating insanely funny comedic situations that remain rooted in the story’s crumbling reality.

Stream it on Amazon.

Those who have been eagerly following the twists and turns of the true crime documentary series “The Jinx” should seek out this earlier dramatization of its events from “Jinx” director Andrew Jarecki. Ryan Gosling stars as David Marks – a fictional version of Robert Durst – who leaves his privileged life to be with his wife, Katie (Kirsten Dunst), to become a suspect in his disappearance, as well as a growing series. bizarre unsolved murders. Gosling is given a delicate task, to find humanity in a seemingly impenetrable character who may or may not be a murderer; and Dunst makes a good match, explaining how this sincere woman could have seen this humanity – and the price she paid for it.

Stream it on Hulu.

Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams play members of a strict Orthodox Jewish community whose common past comes back with force in this powerful director’s drama Sebastien lelio (adaptation of the novel by Naomi Alderman). Ronit (Weisz), estranged from the community, returns after her father’s death and resumes her romance with Esti (McAdams), who has repressed her desires and entered a loveless marriage. Lelio approaches the material with pragmatism, refusing to sensationalize or deexualize the relationship; it is a rare common representation of same-sex attraction that views both emotional and physical attraction on an equal footing.

Stream it on Netflix.

Young romance is so often dramatized in popular culture that another lost love story hardly seems worthy of mention – but little is delivered with the kind of lived experience director Drake Doremus brings to this Sundance hit. Anton Yelchin plays Jacob, who falls in love with British foreign student Anna (Felicity Jones) and has to deal with the geographic and emotional difficulties of a long-distance relationship. Doremus and his co-writer Ben York Jones wrote only a preview, working with their cast to improvise the dialogue, creating intimacy and authenticity even in their casual exchanges. Yelchin and Jones convincingly express their desire and desperation, while a pre-fame Jennifer Lawrence shines as a potential complication for Jacob.

Stream it on Amazon.

Fans of retrospective horror will be delighted with this joyful mix of “The Phantom of Heaven” and “Friday the 13th”, in which the production of a summer musical theater camp of a “Phantom of the Opera” scam is disturbed by the troubled past of his principal lady, and the return of the bloodthirsty killer who murdered his mother. Writer and director Jerome Sable embraces and conveys the conventions of gothic horror and slasher films, while convincingly staging the musical in the film (and ensuring echoes of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” in casting Meat Loaf in a supporting role). Keep an eye out for “Schitt’s Creek” star Daniel Levy in a cameo role.

Stream it on HBO Max.

Yes “The summer of the soul” Whet your appetite for archaeological explorations of forgotten pop culture artifacts, this energetic documentary makes a great addition. It is “Soul! », A variety and talk show produced for public television from 1968 to 1973 – one of the first such shows produced by black talent, aimed at black audiences. As such, he has showcased an astonishing array of music stars including Stevie Wonder, Al Green and Earth, Wind & Fire (whose impressive performances are taken from), as well as prominent black writers, intellectuals and activists. The show was designed by Ellis Haizlip, who produced and hosted; “Sir. Soul!” is written and co-directed by Ellis ‘niece, Melissa Haizlip, who captures the series’ story with a blend of cultural awareness and family pride.

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Newsrust - US Top News: "Undine", "My Zoe" and other quirky streaming gems
"Undine", "My Zoe" and other quirky streaming gems
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