True North Streaming: The Best New Titles on Netflix Canada, February 12/19

True North Streaming is a semi-regular column highlighting some of the best new additions to Netflix’s Canadian service. Like many of you, every so often I get a pleasant surprise when I discover a cool movie or TV show that’s just popped up on Netflix’s often-maligned sister platform. These posts will help you filter through the often quirky mix of Netflix Canada’s offerings and find the most valuable ways to waste some time.

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My Predictions for the 2019 Oscars

It’s by the far one of the messiest years in recent memory when it comes down to calling the Oscars. In the absence of sure-fire picks in many categories, and disruptive winners in some of the precursor guild awards, many races in 2019 come down as much to gut instinct as they do to statistics.

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REVIEW: 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and the biopic problem

But we were never going to get anything but a watered-down version anyway when Sacha Baron Cohen left the project and Brian May and Roger Taylor insisted on protecting a part of Freddie Mercury’s past/legacy/aura (choose one). Biopics are controversial in nature because people are polarizing, and so much of what is considered fact is unfortunately determined by the court of public opinion.

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REVIEW: ‘Glass’ is blurred at first, but may sharpen with time

However, while parts of the movie don’t really work, Shyamalan’s ultimate goal is to make the audience doubt the truth of the characters’ abilities. In a climactic scene outside the facility, Shyamalan uses extreme wide shots, fish-eye close-ups, and clumsy staging to strip a fight between Dunn and The Horde of the thrilling, Marvel-style grandeur we might expect from the subject matter.

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Reviews of Classic Movies: ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ may still have a case to make

It’s fascinating to listen to Ted’s boss accuse Ted of letting his family distract from his job, a scene eerily reminiscent of the language used today to keep women from receiving pay equity or positions of power. The film proves how much of a mind warp gender politics can be; an argument that advances work over family is twisted and re-used to harm people regardless of gender, across whole generations.

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REVIEW: ‘Aquaman’ is suitably silly, and better than it should be

But because Aquaman mostly steps around the broader story that occupied the previous film, it becomes more fun as a result. It’s an often ridiculous experience, but charmingly so. We get space-opera-style battles between undersea navies, kaiju-like monsters, and some fleeting examples of chemistry between the cast members.

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REVIEW: ‘The Mule’ delivers a strong return to acting for Clint Eastwood

The bafflement that the character’s family feels about his actions – first as an absentee father and then as a drug mule – will feel familiar to anyone with a family member with a penchant for frustrating behaviour. Stone wants to be a provider, but doesn’t fit into the traditional model for one, and he doesn’t understand why others don’t recognize what he’s trying to do.

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REVIEW: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is a fearless, visually stunning triumph

And then there’s the visual treatment in Spider-Verse. It grabs you by the eyeballs and doesn’t let go for two hours, making me want a whole cinematic universe of Marvel movies in this style of animation. Other than perhaps Zack Snyder’s panel-for-panel recreation of Watchmen, it’s the rare film that gives you the true sensation of a moving comic book.

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REVIEW: 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald' is a cynical chore

The newest film from the Harry Potter universe - or the Wizarding World, as a title card helpfully identifies it – is a scattershot, info-dump of a film, a series of trailer-like scenes glued into a movie. It seems shrewdly designed to download random bits of wizarding mythology to its fans, stringing along plot revelations to compel viewers to see the next three planned sequels in a five-film series.

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TV REVIEW: ‘House of Cards’ Season 6 closes out the series as a lame duck

It’s hard to intuit much of a thought process behind any of this, and Claire’s opponents are no better organized in their attacks. Claire claims this is all intentional, an effort to obscure her true plan, but instead it just reads like the writers losing track of things.

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REVIEW: ‘Widows’ proves heist films don’t have to get stuck in the past

The size and skill of Widows’ cast is enough to mesmerize on its own, but once you get a grasp of the various threads, it’s fascinating to watch how McQueen tightens each one in turn, until he can yank one and let the whole thing unspool.

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REVIEW: ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ is good at setup, bad at follow-through

Goddard brings vestiges of this approach to his newest film, Bad Times at the El Royale. He even carries over the theme of the characters being constantly watched by unknown forces. But though Goddard captures some strong performances in the process, Bad Times doesn’t have the subversion, shocks or flat-out hilarity of the filmmaker’s previous film. Instead, we get an overlong exercise in brilliant setup, with no follow-through.

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[VIFF 2018] REVIEW: Lanthimos delivers on "The Favourite"

Of course, there’s the usual palace intrigue – secret things are done and said in darkly lit corners, and the usual extravagance of the rich, including a candlelit ball and a duck race, are all present – but it’s presented in such a Lanthimosian manner it’s equal parts funny and somewhat disturbing.

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[VIFF 2018] REVIEW: 'Shoplifters' will steal your heart

The word “family” is used loosely here, and without giving away any key plot points, many of the common terms of familial endearment – father, wife, aunt, son, sister and grandma – are merely titles, and it’s clear that love, friendship and companionship are more apt ways to describe the Shibata clan.

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