3 months ago
With the coronavirus pandemic causing widespread disruption to all manner of public social activity – including many of the world’s leading film festivals – it looks like we’ll be engaging with culture from the comfort of our own homes for the time being. But despite our limited mobility, there’s still plenty to get excited about on our laptop and television screens.
As Sky UK announces that a host of new films will be available on home media at the same time as their cinematic release, streaming platforms are also cutting their subscription rates to attract new audiences. We had a browse of some of the leading platforms and picked five films with great scores to keep our eyes and ears occupied as we navigate the strange weeks ahead of us.
Mark Jenkin’s BAFTA-winning experimental film about a displaced fisherman in Cornwall was shot on a vintage, hand-cranked 1976 Bolex camera using 16mm B&W Kodak film. The effect of this is that it looks like a badly degraded wartime drama – in spite of the presence of contemporary objects like waterproof £5 notes and fridges stacked with prosecco bottles. The strange fusion of elements works emphatically, and upon its release in 2019, leading critic Mark Kermode described it as “one of the defining British films of the decade.”
The film was due to screen at SXSW this year with a live accompaniment by Welsh musician Gwenno Saunders. She had prepared a performance of synth loops and violin drones alongside vocals in her native Cornish language, and while the festival may have been cancelled, this inventive film should still not be missed. It’s available on the BFI Player.
Stream on: BFI Player
One of the standout scores of 2019 was Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never)’s work for the Safdie Brothers’ stress-inducing masterwork ‘Uncut Gems’. Combining electronic twinkles, spacey pads and ’70s prog synths inspired by Isao Tomita and Tangerine Dream, Lopatin’s vivid score feels both nostalgic and futuristic through its intricate layers of cinematic electronic sounds.
Adam Sandler shines as the lead in a rare non-comic role. He plays the gambling addict manager of a jewellery store in New York, whose debts gradually catch up with him as he embarks on a series of get-rich-quick schemes in order to wiggle out of increasingly tight situations. It was controversially overlooked at the Academy Awards this year, but the film’s dynamic editing, gripping drama and gritty performances elevate it to the levels of a modern cult classic.
Stream on: Netflix
Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Parasite’ made history at the Oscars in 2020 after becoming the first Korean film to win Best Picture. With Korean cinema now justifiably in vogue, there’s a host of great content for the West to catch up on.
Park Chan-wook is probably the most famous export of the Korean film school alongside Bong Joon-ho, and some of his finest works are currently available to stream on MUBI. These include cult classic revenge thriller ‘Oldboy’, and it’s spiritual predecessor ‘Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance’, which tells the tale of a botched kidnapping by a deaf-mute perpetrator trying to raise money for his sister’s kidney transplant.
Featuring ‘Parasite’ actor Song Kang-ho in a leading role, this artfully shot and meditatively-paced drama showcases the director’s knack for dense, intricate storytelling. The film’s soundtrack by UhUhBoo Project, which fuses traditional Korean sounds with eerie soundscapes, is due to be re-released on vinyl on Record Store Day this year.
Stream on: MUBI
Paul Thomas Anderson has been heralded as one of the most talented directors in modern cinema – rarely do his films escape the awards season unrecognised, ‘Phantom Thread’ without exception. The film reunited Anderson with highly-decorated method actor Daniel Day-Lewis after the two previously worked together on 2007’s ‘There Will Be Blood’. This winning combo proved fruitful once again in 2017: like ‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘Phantom Thread’ was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards.
The story of a mercurial dressmaker in 1950s London who takes on a young waitress as his muse, the film explores the complex and at times destructive romance between the leads. Critics applauded the film’s sensational acting performances and the outstanding period costume design by Mark Bridges. The film’s rousing strings score, penned by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, was also deservedly nominated at the Academy Awards in the Best Original Score category.
Stream on: Netflix
With the entire Studio Ghibli back catalogue recently arriving on Netflix there is no better time to indulge in the magical animation of Japan’s premiere film studio than now. With a host of beguiling Joe Hisaishi scores partnering the best works of director Hayao Miyazaki, there’s a whole load of musical splendour to unpack as well.
‘Princess Mononoke’ is a standout entry into the animation studio’s canon. The 1997 fantasy film, which follows the titular princess’ struggles against the destruction of an enchanted forest’s resources in shogunate Japan, was the first animated film to win Best Picture at the Japanese Academy Awards. It’s mature themes and complex script hold an extra level of depth when observed in 2020. In an age where the world around us is increasingly under threat due to climate change and irresponsible environmental destruction, the message of ‘Princess Mononoke’ feels particularly poignant.
Stream on: Netflix
Categories: Media and Entertainment, Streaming ServicesGoldstein, 3 months ago