True North Streaming: The Best New Titles on Netflix Canada, February 13/16
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.
And with that, in no particular order...
Testament of Youth
Having just watched the fantastic period drama Brooklyn in preparation for the Oscars, how could another from the genre go astray? Everything I’ve heard about Testament of Youth suggests it’s the perfect choice for anyone who likes powerhouse casts of British talent (and maybe the Swedish star Alicia Vikander for good measure) and a story about lovers in the First World War separated by combat. ...That, or maybe it will mix things up if you’ve watched one too many of the surprising variety of Steven Seagal movies on Netflix Canada.
I had been crossing my fingers for a few months hoping that the service would fill out its decent catalogue of documentaries with this film, which dives into the odd lives of six brothers whose excessively overprotective father insists they spend as much time as possible “safe” in their apartment. In place of a real life, the brothers become obsessed with movies, and begin re-enacting them in surprising detail as a way of passing the time and learning about the world. Even speaking from my own (slight) fixation on movies, I feel simultaneously sad, intrigued and impressed by their situation. I can’t wait to find out what insights we might pick up from the brothers’ unusual experience.
Song of the Sea
Nominated in the Best Animated Feature category last year at the Oscars, I was mildly surprised when the movie didn’t take home the prize, if only because it comes from outside the United States (as an Irish production) and its painterly style of 2D animation is a refreshing change from the CG-animated films that normally dominate the category. The film covers aspects of Irish mythology, and was surprisingly hard to track down in the days leading to last year’s ceremony, which makes its recent addition to Netflix extra appreciated.
If the critical buzz is to be believed, Maggie may not be a movie that fully delivers on everything it promises. It’s an indie zombie film where Arnold Schwarzenegger (of all people) plays a worried father whose daughter (Abigail Breslin) becomes infected with a zombie virus and he must make an impossible decision: hold out and find a cure, or put her out of her misery before she becomes a monster. At its best, the film may work as an allegory for the right-to-die movement, but it may be that first-time director Henry Hobson's skills aren’t quite that developed yet. Even so, I’m very curious to see Schwarzenegger in a more dramatic role.
Of all the films on this list, Unbreakable is possibly the most familiar, since it still occupies a place as one of M. Night Shyamalan’s most respected early works. Netflix Canada actually has quite a few of Shyamalan’s movies (the good, the bad and the very bad), but Unbreakable was just added this week from what I can see. And somehow, I *gulp* haven’t seen it yet, so bonus! In case this one also slipped by you during its original run, the movie follows a man named David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who discovers he has supernatural powers, only to cross paths with a comic-book store owner (Samuel L. Jackson) who has ulterior motives for Dunn’s gift.
Having finished its theatrical run a few months ago, the acclaimed documentary about Amy Winehouse is finally starting to appear on streaming services. I can’t say I followed Winehouse’s music closely during her life, but her struggles with addiction and fame can be mapped to any number of creative types, and so the film gains a greater significance than the many eulogy-like music documentaries out there.
The Lego Movie
Just in case you managed to miss it in theaters (even though a $469 million worldwide gross makes that unlikely), the bright, colourful animated film about the Internet’s favourite building toy is now available to stream. For the cynical few who see this one as just a kid’s movie, there’s a surprising amount of mature humour here, as well as an appreciated dig at hardcore fans who obsessively build and protect their Lego collections well into adulthood. Oh, and the animation style, despite being CGI, has to be seen to be believed.
What did you think of this list of Netflix recommendations? Are there any notable recent uploads on the Canadian service that I missed? Join the discussion in the comments section, and if you liked this post, share it with your friends and followers!