26 Nov 2019

The best movies new to streaming this month (so far)

From Widescreen, 3:19 pm on 26 November 2019

Netflix has the best feature film offers this month, according to Dan Slevin.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock fits Alma (Vicky Krieps) in PT Anderson’s Phantom Thread.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock fits Alma (Vicky Krieps) in PT Anderson’s Phantom Thread. Photo: Universal

Holy Moley! It’s been two months since I looked at feature films streaming on Kiwi services – and there have been several new streamers added since then. Relax, I’m not going to go trawling through three months of listings, but I will go back three weeks or so.

Just for a change, the best titles newly added to streaming are on Netflix (and they only include a couple of Netflix originals, too). The high point for me is Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece from 2017, Phantom Thread, set in the world of British haute couture in the 1950s. I was lucky enough to review Daniel Day Lewis’ swan song from screen acting on At the Movies when it came out:

“As you might expect, the craft on offer is first class. It’s shot on grainy 35mm film, by Anderson himself with the help of his long-time gaffer Michael Baumann, through a haze of cigarette and cigar smoke. The costume designs by Mark Bridges are spectacular (although my companion the costumier suggests the finish would probably not have been up to a real Woodcock’s standards). What she calls the ‘stunt sewing’ and on-screen making, however, is perfectly, and admirably, accurate.”

David Fincher’s second feature – and first real statement of intent – was the thriller Se7en back in 1995 and that’s next on my list from Netflix. Detectives Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman hunt a serial killer with a theme – the Seven Deadly Sins. Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey also star.

Tom Hanks, Abe Vigoda and Meg Ryan in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

Tom Hanks, Abe Vigoda and Meg Ryan in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) Photo: Netflix

A film that has been much harder to see – and therefore doesn’t come with quite the same reputation – is Joe Versus the Volcano (1990). It was the first of, I think, three pairings of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the 90s and has suffered by comparison with the later Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. It’s now regarded as a cult hit and I’m looking forward to catching up with it for the first time since it came out on VHS 28-or-so years ago.

Also added to Netflix recently is Zhang Yimou’s Shadow – I reviewed the Blu-ray recently in these pages – and the originals Klaus, a hand-drawn animated Santa origin story with a quirky sensibility, and Earthquake Bird which is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Susanna Jones. The latter is a psychological drama starring Alicia Vikander as a young woman suspected of murder in 1989 Tokyo.

Lina Wertmüller’s Love & Anarchy (1973)

Lina Wertmüller’s Love & Anarchy (1973) Photo: Prime Video

Over on Prime Video, we have the Sundance-winning documentary One Child Nation (but if you are interested in Oscar-winning documentaries check out Free Solo on Disney +, it’s pretty staggering). Also on Prime, Lina Wertmüller’s Palme D’or-nominated 1973 film Love & Anarchy, set in Mussolini’s Italy. While I’m glad to see this arrive, it’s hard to see any conscious curatorial hand on the selection process at Prime, perhaps because there isn’t any.

The Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983)

The Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983) Photo: Prime Video

Case in point, The Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983), an Italian cheapie in the same knock-off Mad Max vein as the Kiwi Battletruck from a similar era. Prime really does have some gloriously rare straight-to-video rubbish at times.

Finally, if you are more into the rental market than streaming, iTunes has added the original version of Watchmen (which was a noble failure in my book) and a recent documentary about the history and impact of the great Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof called Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles. Check out the trailer below:

Every couple of months or so, Dan Slevin highlights some of the best and most interesting movies that have recently been added to Kiwi streaming services.

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