Streaming Movie Recommendations
Don’t Look Up – available on Netflix
Adam McKay’s satirical comedy on the response to climate change and the pandemic is successfully able to get comedy out of a dire situation, as a comet hurtles towards the planet. McKay isn’t afraid to target governments, multi-billionaires and celebrity worship culture, as he asks why so many people stopped listening to scientists. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennfier Lawrence portray the frustrations of the astronomers who just want people to hear them, but find too many bringing politics to an issue that shouldn’t be political. Some may quibble that Don’t Look Up isn’t subtle with its message, but it shouldn’t be subtle. This film needs to use a megaphone to deliver its commentary. To quote Ariana Grande’s character during a powerful musical performance, “Listen to the qualified scientists.”
Encanto – available on Disney+
The latest movie from Walt Disney Animation Studios is a charming fantasy musical with a lot of charm. Directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush bring so much vibrancy to this story of a Colombian family with magical powers…except one. As the lead character Mirabel, Stephanie Beatriz delivers the best vocal performance in an animated film this year, giving the film an incredibly likeable and sympathetic protagonist. Lin-Manuel Miranda writes one catchy song after another, ranging from the introductory song “The Family Madrigal” to the toe-tapping “Surface Pressure.” The Disney artists give the musical numbers further life with the colourful animation and the heartfelt scenes are properly earned.
Tick, Tick…Boom! – available on Netflix
Chronicling the creative struggles of Jonathan Larson, the creator of the hit Broadway musical Rent, Lin-Manuel Miranda made an impressive feature directing debut with this film that many people will likely relate to. Adapting Larson’s autobiographical one-man show, Tick, Tick…Boom is brimming with energy with each musical number serving an important function in the story, thus allowing us to get to know him. Andrew Garfield delivers a strong performance, showing both the creative juices flowing through him and the pressure he feels to make his dream stage production work. It’s easy to want to see him succeed and as the events unfold, there’s this constant wish that someone will give him a chance. Miranda’s respect for Jonathan Larson comes through in every scene and that helps elevate the film even more.
Shiva Baby – available on Crave
Through its brisk 77-minute runtime, director/writer Emma Seligman captures the pressure of ending up in a place where everyone is asking questions about you. There’s a claustrophobia present throughout the entire film as Rachel Sennott’s Danielle makes her way through a Jewish shiva. Every actor is on point, with Molly Gordon as her ex and Fred Melamed as her father among the stand-outs. There are so many little relatable elements in Shiva Baby, from questions you don’t feel comfortable answering to the trickiness of carpooling. This proved to be an exciting directing debut from a promising filmmaker.