The Sundance Film Festival has become a rather important player in the streaming world. Where its smaller, sometimes harder-to-sell projects starring known quantities could prove a hard sell in the theatrical distribution market, Netflix and its ilk now find a relatively cheap source of original content.
The first Sundance acquisition to hit streaming this year is Horse Girl, a drama from Jeff Baena (Life After Beth, The Little Hours). The film stars Alison Brie (who also co-wrote with Baena) as a socially-awkward, horse-fixated woman whose lucid dreams begin seeping into her reality. Sundance reactions ran the gamut from love to hate; I’ve liked all of Baena’s films so far.
Comic-book adaptation Locke & Key, based on a series by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), has been in the works for a long time. Two separate pilots were filmed and scrapped; after entertaining the idea of a feature film adaptation for a few years, the show comes to life on Netflix. The series stars Jackson Robert Scott (It) and Connor Jessup (Closet Monster, Falling Skies). Season two of Narcos: Mexico (the prequel / spinoff of the hugely popular Narcos) returns on Feb. 13 with Scoot McNairy now becoming the de facto lead after being revealed in the last episode of the first season; Diego Luna and Michael Pena also return.
New Netflix Canada acquisitions
It’s a pretty small week in terms of outside acquisitions. Season five of Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad prequel series that’s proving nearly as popular, is streaming as of Feb. 9. Alternately, Michael Bay completists who’ve tired of watching the first 20 minutes of 6 Underground on a loop will be pleased to know that 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is streaming as of next Wednesday.
Netflix Canada has also whittled a pretty choice spot for assembly-line rom-coms in its slate; these hugely popular movies are an undervalued Netflix asset. (Though they’re rarely discussed, at least in my circles, and I can barely tell them apart.) In any case, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You adapts the second book in Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series; Lana Condor and Noah Centineo return.
New on Amazon Prime
Awkwafina took home a Golden Globe for her role in The Farewell (Feb. 13 on Prime), Lulu Wang’s autobiographical adaptation of a story she first told on NPR’s This American Life. Awkwafina stars as Billi, a struggling writer who discovers that her beloved grandmother has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Billi and most of her family travel to China to spend time with her — without actually telling her she’s dying. In admittedly much less acclaimed news, Feb. 13 also sees the Amazon Prime release of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. This is the sequel to the hit shark movie, starring Sophie Nélisse-starring (!).
New on Crave
Crave subscribers will be able to follow along with season two of Kidding starring Jim Carrey, which begins airing this Sunday (the show will be available weekly on the service). Homeland, which I was not aware was even still on, also returns on Sunday for its eighth and final season.
Crave subscribers to the HBO + Movies tier will also be able to watch The Kill Team (a war film starring Nat Wolff and Alexander Skarsgard), the dumped-to-theatres alien-invasion movie Captive State (starring John Goodman and Vera Farmiga), the Martin Freeman/Morena Baccarin-starring rom-com Ode to Joy, True Blood actor Stephen Moyer’s directorial debut The Parting Glass (starring Denis O’Hare, Anna Paquin and Rhys Ifans) as well as the new season of HBO’s weed-delivery-guy comedy High Maintenance.
New on Criterion
On the Criterion Channel, you can celebrate the streaming release of last week’s Uncut Gems by watching Frownland (Feb. 7), the sole film from frequent Safdies contributor Ronald Bronstein. I haven’t seen it, but everything I’ve heard about it points to a must-see.
On Feb. 9, Criterion premieres its “Film Plays Itself” series, showcasing movies about making movies. The 17-film series showcases obvious classic picks (Truffaut’s Day for Night, Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard) and seldom-seen choices (Varda’s Lions Love (… And Lies), Pasolini’s La ricotta). This month’s other notable Criterion releases are catalogue titles Some Like It Hot (Feb. 10) and Vanya on 42nd Street (Feb. 13). ■
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