'Ammonite', 'The Velvet Underground', 'Cryptozoo': The movies to stream this weekend

·4-min read
The Velvet Underground, Ammonite, Cryptozoo are all new to streaming this weekend (Apple/Studiocanal/MUBI)
The Velvet Underground, Ammonite, Cryptozoo are all new to streaming this weekend (Apple/Studiocanal/MUBI)

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This week is all about cult favourites, past and future as Toddy Haynes' (Carol/Velvet Goldmine) new documentary The Velvet Underground, launched on Apple TV+ this past weekend, and American cartoonist Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski’s Cryptozoo lands on MUBI.

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Ammonite - Amazon Prime Video

Director Francis Lee follows up his pastoral love story God’s Own Country with Ammonite, moving both backwards in time to the 1840s and out to the dreary English coast. It follows palaeontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) and Charlotte Murchison, a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) sent by her husband to convalesce by the sea, whose relationship develops into an intense love affair.

But despite that being the focus of the story, going in with the expectation that Ammonite will be as tender or as romantic as Lee’s previous film (let alone other contemporary sapphic romances Carol and Portrait of a Lady on Fire), will only disappoint. There’s something of a remove inherent to the film, surprisingly anodyne in its tale of transgressing social boundaries in favour of passion. A passion that feels absent from the film. It’s an odd follow-up, but not without merits.

Watch a clip from Ammonite

A more forgiving read of the film could see it as an examination of what it is to fall in love with someone perhaps irreconcilably different from you, perhaps more interested in that unshakeable feeling of distance rather than a straightforward romance. It’s somehow both disappointing as a follow-up to God’s Own Country, but makes complete sense as a companion to it.

Also new on Amazon Prime Video: After We Fell

The Velvet Underground - Apple TV+

Archival split-screen frames from “The Velvet Underground,” now streaming on Apple TV+. (Apple)
Archival split-screen frames from “The Velvet Underground,” now streaming on Apple TV+. (Apple)

A detailed portrait of one of the most influential bands of the 20th century, Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground reflects the spirit of the band in the film’s kaleidoscopic construction. While studying their various Influences in the beat generation, or their creative partnership with Andy Warhol, Haynes brings a chaotic visual creativity to the format. 

Talking head segments about Lou Reed are shown in split screen, one half showing archive footage of Reed looking directly to camera, the other showing other archive footage. They switch over, sometimes changing to a heavy blue colour tint. In short, Haynes perfectly understands how to incorporate a touch of the the kind of avant grade art that came to define The Velvet Underground, without these flourishes of emotivity interrupting the delivery of information.

Watch a trailer for The Velvet Underground

That fragmented, collage-like imagery continues into the film as it discusses the era in which The Velvet Underground sprung from, clashing various media — again, in the spirit of the band — in its mish-mash exploration of the roots of avant-garde art in America and the personal lives of the band members, and how the two intertwined. A fine examination of the band for fans and for those somewhat unfamiliar (me, for example), expertly and thrillingly made.

Also new on Apple TV+: Puppy Place

Cryptozoo - MUBI

Dash Shaw’s vibrant and distinctive animated feature Cryptozoo was a hit at Sundance (MUBI)
Dash Shaw’s vibrant and distinctive animated feature Cryptozoo was a hit at Sundance (MUBI)

American cartoonist Dash Shaw’s beguilingly odd Cryptozoo is built from a catalogue of references to history of animation to rival its eponymous habitat of cryptids with everything from Fantastic Planet to Astro Boy in its exhibit of influences. The film sees a group of cryptozookeepers trying to capture a Baku, a dream-eating hybrid creature of Japanese legend, and begin to wonder if they should be displaying these beasts, or simply keeping them hidden from the human world, resigned to myth.

Watch a trailer for Cryptozoo

Shaw and co-director (and wife) Jane Samborski sought to deconstruct the American blockbuster — as with Shaw’s previous film High School Sinking into the Sea takes cues from Titanic, Cryptozoo takes cues from Jurassic Park — but remixes it beyond familiarity, using it as an experimental formal playground to parody 60s attitudes of utopianism and modern attitudes of white saviourdom. It’s an overwhelming and often jarring experience, but an outside-the-box adult animated film destined for cult success.

Also new on MUBI: The Love Witch, The Babadook (24 October)

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