Movie catch-up at the end of the year is always frustrating for people who aren’t in New York and LA—and it’s especially difficult this year, when even those in big cities may not be ready to go to theaters. . Luckily, there are plenty of great 2021 titles available on subscription streaming services right now; You just have to know where to look.
Stream it on Hulu.
Nicolas Cage is brilliant in this modest drama from first-time feature director Michael Sarnoski. As a revered Pacific Northwest chef who went off the grid for 15 years, Cage plays many of his scenes in silence and barely raises his voice when he decides to speak; He makes his character an enigma, leaving viewers to wonder whether he chose to remove himself from his comfortable life or if someone (or something) broke him. He returns to civilization when his truffle pig – and only friend – is kidnapped, but the “pig” is not the “John Wick” the commercials had promised. It’s a rich, textured character study, featuring some of the best work from Cage’s remarkable career.
Indian director Chaitanya Tamhane tells an emotional, complex tale of uncompromising actors and the mythology he created as a Hindustani classical singer (Aditya Modak) striving to make himself an artist worthy of his mentors and influences. The classical composer’s path is a lonely one, except for the easy riches and success of love songs, film scores or devotional music, and Tamhane’s conceptual screenplay complicates the simplistic case of selling well. The music and filmmaking are in perfect harmony, with the leisurely and often trancelike, and the modaks being a real find.
‘The Murder of Kenneth Chamberlain’
Stream it on HBO Max.
Frankie Faison, the wonderful and enduring character actor familiar from “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Do the Right Thing,” is tied for a Gotham Award for Outstanding Performance for his gruesome work in this harrowing drama from writer and director David. Middle. It dramatizes the 2011 murder of Kenneth Chamberlain (Faison), a 68-year-old black man who had bipolar disorder and was murdered in his home by White Plains police officers, when he mistakenly took his medical alert. The badge was triggered. Standoffs with unstable authorities build in fear and inevitability – the result is right there in the title, after all – conversation and understanding quickly give way to cowboy tactics and undue pride. And the longer it goes on, the more heartwarming Faisson’s performance becomes, as the skilled actor poignantly brings to the fore the fear he feels close to the walls.
‘Murder of two lovers’
Stream it on Hulu.
The title of writer-director Robert Machoian’s small-town drama is less like a promise than a threat, as a husband and father, David (Klein Crawford), learns that his wife, Nicky (Sipideh Mophie), has committed a marital separation. During a relationship started. , Machoyan’s sparse script captures the quiet desperation of such a period, the uncertainty of a relationship still in progress, and the logistics of matters like shared child custody becoming high-stakes, life-and-death stuff. His claustrophobic framing and unnecessary sound design present David as a ticking bomb, with short and subtle attacks in long, mercilessly unbroken shots, providing an escape route for neither the characters nor the audience. .
Stream it on Amazon.
Val Kilmer is credited as one of the producers of this bio-documentary, so it’s hard not to brand the results as an exercise in self-mythology. (The directors are Ting Poo and Leo Scott.) But in this case, the self-legendary is instructive; The divisive story the actor wants to tell is in turn telling us even more who he is. “I’ve lived a magical life, and I’ve captured most of it,” Kilmer explains — and he actually captured most of his career with his ubiquitous video camera. Those captivating images (behind the scenes of movies like “Top Gun” and “Tombstone”) are cleverly combined with home movies, rehearsals, audition tapes, and contemporary footage, which are more like a scrapbook of memories, reflections, and meditations. Make less than traditional documentaries. ,
‘Rita Moreno: Just the girl who decided to go for it’
Stream it on Netflix.
Rita Moreno is currently winning for her performance in “West Side Story”—a remake of the film that won her an Oscar in a different role—so it’s a good time to enjoy this celebration of her long, multifaceted career. . Mariem Pérez Rira’s documentary A Biography, A Valentine and a Dish Session (Moreno doesn’t pull any punches about the colorful figures of his past), and though it breaks no ground as a filmmaking, only for 90s. It’s impossible to resist minutes of enjoying hanging out with the EGOT icon.
Stream it on HBO Max.
The shocking murder of actor-turned-filmmaker Adrienne Shelley in 2006 left a sad sense of career ending as well as the beginning. (Her directorial effort “Waitress” would take Sundance by storm two months later.) This biographical picture details Shelley’s tragic death and its emotional aftermath for who would know: The director and narrator is her widower, Andy Ostroy. Obviously, this is a very personal film (sometimes uncomfortably), as Ostroy and his daughter Sophie grapple with their grief and loss. But it’s also a tribute to a dynamic artist and her lucrative career, navigating the relentless quest to find herself as an artist and person as an indie It girl in the ’90s.
‘All Light, Everywhere’
Stream it on Hulu.
Theo Anthony creates naughty documentaries, works of slippery nonfiction that tackle vast subjects from unexpected entry points. The direct subject of his latest is the body camera, and his current, unfortunate trend is as a one-size-fits-all solution to the problems of policing. But Anthony greatly expands his canvas, the act of seeing as his subject – individually, in the media, in our collective imagination – and comes with a thoughtful mediation on contemporary culture.