Wondering what to watch? Netflix continues a hectic December release slate this week with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s new film, Bardo, The False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, which closely follows the (wonderful) new adaptation of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio. Next week you have the sequel to Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, Glass Onion, to look forward to.
Paramount+ continues its rollout of audience-pleasing summer films with The Lost City, directed by Sandra Bullock, while Prime Video releases small-scale allegorical horror Nanny, directed by Nikyatu Jusu in its feature debut.
Read more: The best new movies streaming this Christmas 2022
At the same time, Crunchyroll, now perhaps the largest Western distributor of anime, has resumed a weekly release of feature films on its platform – modern classics like Satoshi Kon’s Millennial Actress as well as the incomparable Naoko Yamada, painterly, vividly felt high school drama Liz and the Bluebird both land just in time for excellent holiday viewing.
Please note that a subscription may be required to watch.
Millennial Actress (2000) | Crunchyroll (pick of the week)
It is often Paprika and Perfect Blue that are considered the greatest works of director Satoshi Kon (unfortunately deceased in 2010 from pancreatic cancer). These are markers of both the visual imagination of his work and their more adult preoccupations with the most-quoted anime director, Hayao Miyazaki.
Read more: The best movies of 2022
But it’s Millennium Actress that is perhaps her most accomplished work: taking Perfect Blue’s blurring of the line between fact and fiction and applying it to a more optimistic story about a life lived in the spotlight. Starting from the perspective of two documentary filmmakers, it’s about the reclusive actress named Chiyoko, a fictional figure made up of real-life ’60s Japanese stars like Setsuko Hara.
The filmmakers make a special about her and her disappearance from the spotlight at the height of her career, and she shares her life story with them, the presentation of which begins to merge inextricably with the roles she played. It is an exhilarating approach. to a life story, where the characters join the audience as bewildered onlookers as the environment suddenly transforms around them in clever ways that only animation can manage.
Millennium Actress is a perfect gateway to Kon’s small but creative filmography, an underrated modern classic by a director who feels like he’s not celebrated enough even with all his posthumous critical recognition, and the chance to nab his recent streaming restoration is too good to pass up.
Also on Crunchyroll: Liz and the Bluebird (2018) Penguin Highway (2018)
Bardo, false chronicle of a handful of truths (2022) | netflix
Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s latest dark comedy is also his first filmed entirely in his native Mexico in more than 20 years, and the time marker from Amores Perros highlights just how much the size of his cinema has changed, with Birdman and The Returning pushing it to an international profile that helps portray existential terror on an epic scale.
Read more: Brand new on Netflix in December
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths follows a weary documentarian through his return to Mexico and the resulting existential crisis through a series of bizarre visions. Its authoritative symbolism and allegorical dream logic are at least pleasing to the eye, as Iñárritu’s whimsical use of the wide-angle lens seeks majesty both in the natural world and in man-made environments, as a character runs and jumps over a desert and another. naps in a hospital hallway, silhouetted in golden light.
Watch a Bardo Trailer
This apparent serenity is quickly derailed by absurdism, with a scene of the sleeping man’s pregnant partner giving birth only to be told the baby won’t come out, and the doctors quickly put the thing back where it came from. The film more or less continues on that path for its incredibly long and sedating two hour and 40 minute runtime, and never quite feels like it fills that time.
It’s big, it’s pretty, yet emotionally distant even as it seeks to get inside the heads of both its main character and its filmmakers.
Also new on Netflix: Private Lesson (2022)
The Lost City (2022) | Paramount+
Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock, always a helping hand as the surly romantic lead) writes terrible novels. She’s stuck and unsatisfied writing sordid romance novels, all with a pulpy, Indiana Jones-esque archaeological theme reminiscent of her days studying the subject at college.
After a humiliating Q&A on her book tour, that aforementioned skill (and the fact that she accidentally included a new translation from an ancient language inside) gets her kidnapped by a wealthy book collector. antiquities Abigail Fairfax (played with gleeful megalomania by Daniel Radcliffe), who wants her to help him find legendary lost treasure in the eponymous lost city.
Read more: All new on Paramount+ in December
The movie itself exists in the same territory as the pulpy romance novels it pokes fun at, which is to say, it’s an enjoyable but disposable good time. Alongside Bullock, Channing Tatum plays the silly model for his book covers, Tatum as charming as ever with his usual lovable and well-meaning himbo routine, even if a good deal of his dopey malapropisms feel a bit repetitive.
Watch a trailer for The Lost City
Brad Pitt’s bizarre cameo as a former Navy Seal turned life coach is also entertaining (introduced with the same song as the True Detective opener, of all things), his confident professionalism creating an amusing contrast to the incompetence of everyone for one of the film’s most memorable. stopped parts. More than anyone, comedian Patti Harrison steals scenes with her delivery line, giving even the most predictable stunt doubles an oddly compelling edge.
While its jokes aren’t as uniformly strong, The Lost City is often reminiscent of Game Night, in that it’s a bigger-budget studio comedy that actually cares about its build, tries worthy of looking like the kind of film it parodies rather than just sticking comedians together in a room to improvise.
Also new on Paramount Plus: Snow Day (2022)