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The latest Amazon original is a throwback to that far flung era of the 90s erotic thriller, with The White Lotus and Euphoria actress Sydney Sweeney playing one half of an obsessive couple.
Elsewhere, Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, a heartfelt story of immigration, assimilation and identity between generations, makes its way to streaming.
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The Voyeurs - Amazon Prime Video
Cinema is an inherently voyeuristic art form, so the absence of erotic thrillers like The Voyeurs, or predecessors DePalma’s Body Double has been keenly felt in Western cinema recently. As the title suggests, director Michael Mohan’s film places us in the point of view of the eponymous peepers Pippa (Sydney Sweeney) and Thomas (Justice Smith), who move into a lush new Montreal apartment. On their first night, they witness their neighbours — situated in an apartment the avenue with very big windows — having sex on their kitchen counter. The couple play off their interest with humour, before that interest and happenstance soon turns into habit.
There’s a sense of fun to the editing in its insinuations and cutaways, as well as a sensuous and tactile focus in Elisha Christian’s camerawork. Outside of the moments where we view the neighbours’ apartment from Pippa and Thomas’s point of view, it hones in toward gentle touch and acute observations as from the perspective of Pippa, suppressed desire evident in her response to the observations. Mohan mostly visually communicates how this stems from her confusion at feeling no more excitement at having finally won the game, with her comfy apartment and ideal job.
Watch a trailer for The Voyeurs
Sydney Sweeney and Justice Smith are extremely well cast, both for their mutual chemistry (the couple banter is genuinely funny and endearing rather than just tolerable) and for their similarly doe-eyed visage. This film plays with almost immediately as the two find themselves drawn to, well, voyeurism, and as it turns into something beyond just fetishistic.
It carries itself with a modern self awareness but not overdone, perhaps over-soundtracked with a new song every minute, but since they’re good tracks it feels forgivable. Some of the twists and turns are strongly telegraphed and it can be a little overwrought - the main character in a film all about the act of looking is an optician, and the film triples down on that particular metaphor - but it’s good, unclean fun.
Also new on Prime Video: Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Straight Outta Compton, The Informer
Minari - NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership
In the 1980s, seven-year-old Korean American boy David (played by the beloved Alan Kim), is uprooted when his father, Jacob (Steven Yeun), decides to move their family from the West Coast to rural Arkansas to start a farm.
His mother, Monica (Han Yeri) is more than a little skeptical of their new home, a mobile home in the middle of nowhere, chosen by Jacob solely for its untapped soil. David is soon bored, in part due to the limits placed on him out of his parents’ fear over his heart condition. Things are shaken up when his mischievous grandmother Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-hung) arrives from Korea to live with them, her ‘un-Americanness’ startling David and arousing his curiosity. As Soon-ja, Youn’s magnetic performance landed her an Academy Award, a BAFTA, a Screen Actors Guild Award and many others, a first for a Korean actress (Youn’s wry humour about and disinterest in the American press circuit was equally award worthy).
A quietly moving work from director Lee Isaac Chung, Minari examines how assimilation stamps out identity and individuality - the film’s visual metaphors around religion and attempting to set down new roots finding a genuinely beautiful poetry around the eponymous Korean herb - known for its resilience, and its ability to grow anywhere.
Also new on NOW: Bombshell
He Got Game - Disney+
Simultaneously a biblical story about a father attempting to make up for his failures through his son as well as a film about how much Spike Lee loves basketball, He Got Game is an under-seen entry in Lee’s oeuvre. Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington, at the height of his powers) is father of the top-ranked basketball prospect in the country: his son, who carries for Jake hope for a reduced prison sentence, is of course named Jesus (and played by Ray Allen).
Jake is in prison for killing his wife, but released on parole for a week by the state's governor to persuade his son to play for the governor's alma mater in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. In what has become typical Lee fashion the metaphor of the story and its execution can feel heavy-handed and divided in its focus — and Ray Allen is, to say the least, not a great actor — but it’s regardless immensely creative in all of its framing and its transitions, a visual marvel. Aaron Copland’s emphatic score is the cherry on top.
Also new on Disney+: Walk the Line