We don’t usually recommend streaming titles you have to rent as standalones, but when Don Hertzfeldt suddenly drops a sequel to World of Tomorrow, I’ll make an exception.
Judging by the reactions of friends, Hertzfeldt seems to fall pretty squarely in the love-it-or-hate-it column. His stick figure drawings paired with swirling computer animation, the existential wallowing and drier-than-dry humor, the cosmic sensibility undercut by child-like whimsy … some people seem to find it altogether too much.
With all due respect, those people are lunatics. World of Tomorrow Episode 2 picks up where its short predecessor left off (and you should really, really watch that one first, if you haven’t: it’s 16 minutes long and streaming on Netflix, so hop to it).
Emily Prime, our tiny World of Tomorrow protagonist, continues to find herself on elaborate adventures, though this time into the unconscious. Questions of identity and copies of copies echo throughout the sequel’s comparatively epic 22 minutes, with all the off-kilter sci-fi and unexpectedly devastating turns you’d expect from Hertzfeldt.
It’s somehow both sadder and funnier than what’s preceded it, which was already extremely sad and hilarious.
(Rick – Streaming for rent on Vimeo)
Jane Campion suffers from a peculiar kind of neglect. A few of her most famous works have become well known (I recently heard references to The Piano on the podcast Comedy Bang Bang, of all places), but many of her smaller films have completely passed under the radar.
Her first film, 2 Friends, recalls a number of more recent films in its incredibly frank depiction of the breakdown of the friendship of two teenage girls, presented backwards from the final moments back to its incipience. Pair it with some of her beautiful impressionistic short films, also available. (Liz – Streaming on Filmstruck)
Given that it is MLK Day weekend and our “first white president” has decided to celebrate the occasion by stridently issuing at least 3 racist provocations by Saturday, now might be a good time to cue up Ava DuVernay’s 13th. (It might also be a good time to riot, but that’s a story for a different sort of website.)
Meticulously constructed, DuVernay’s doc traces the development of white supremacist American conceptions from slavery to Jim Crow to the prison industrial complex, underlining the ways our cultural imaginary has made them possible and hinting at paths forward to justice. It’s a bracing, furious piece of polemicism that aims to leave us outraged. Good.
(Rick – Streaming on Netflix)
I’ve been singing the praises of David Lowery’s deeply melancholy, half-ridiculous, entirely effective examination of grief and place since I first saw it — it’s one of the best of 2017 (the 3rd best exactly, as a matter of fact). There are moments in A Ghost Story that rank among the most quietly devastating in recent memory, and you should bump it up the list if you haven’t already.
Speaking of best-of’s, Nocturama is also still streaming on Netflix, and Hulu just added, um, XxX: The Return of Xander Cage, which Liz assures us is like “Vin Diesel’s throbbing cock became sentient and made a movie. Two stars.”
(Rick – Streaming on Amazon Prime)
How on Earth did Sion Sono’s high-energy yakuza movie Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, about amateur filmmakers trying to make a movie in the midst of a real yakuza war, end up on Shudder, a streaming service ostensibly for horror movies? Who the hell knows. (Maybe they just read the title and assumed it was a slasher.)
But anywhere Western audiences can get a dose of this film’s completely lunatic energy, maybe akin only to Seijun Suzuki in its madcap wave, should be celebrated. If you’re left wanting more after it ends, good news—Sono probably wrote, shot, and edited 2 more features in the time it took you to watch it. (Liz – Streaming on Shudder)