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This week: toxic masculinity! These additions of modern classics to streaming services are mid-to-late career masterpieces from renowned directors, as the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Martin Scorsese dissect their characters’ desire for control and their rage at losing it. Elsewhere, Netflix continues its weekly rollout of originals with the Sony Pictures Animation collaboration Wish Dragon.
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The Departed - Amazon Prime Video
For some reason Martin Scorsese's remake of the Hong Kong series Infernal Affairs - here titled The Departed - is comical in its portrayal of pent-up masculine anger, impotence and isolation (and as ever, Catholicism).
Scorsese leans into the absurdity, from Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio's hilariously heightened Bostonian accents and mannerisms to the mobster speechifying to its famous final standoff(s), and the fact that seemingly every mobster is actually an undercover cop, and vice versa. In that sense it’s a damning indictment of a system that essentially uses corruption to prop itself up and self-sustain. As one character says toward the film’s beginning, if they ever actually fixed anything then they would be redundant - a nightmarish, inconceivable thought to the men in this film already enraged by their inability to change anything.
Also new on Prime: Hairspray
Phantom Thread - BBC iPlayer
Arguably one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterworks, Phantom Thread is practically a comedy of manners in its execution, even with all its visual and sonic grace. As the famed dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, Daniel Day Lewis is incredibly amusing in his stuffiness and irritability, the character’s preciousness over his daily routines and need to be in control becoming the focal point of the film’s comedy.
That control is of course challenged by his romance with Alma (Vicky Krieps, a revelation), who at first tries to fit in with Reynolds’s life before realising that the only way to do so is to disrupt it completely, and take control. That domestic battle for dominance amongst the film’s beautiful set dressing and costume design and tactile visual approach to both resulted in one of the best films of its year.
Also on iPlayer: The Damned United, The Hurt Locker, Finding Dory
Wish Dragon - Netflix
The latest collaboration between Sony’s animation studios and Netflix, Wish Dragon is the story of Din (Jimmy Wong), a working-class college student, and Long (John Cho), a cynical but all-powerful dragon capable of granting wishes (for the Dragon Ball fans out there - it’s pink Shenron). The two set off on an adventure through modern day Shanghai in pursuit of Din’s long-lost childhood friend, Lina (Natasha Liu Bordizzo).
As with Sony animated co-productions like Over The Moon, Wish Dragon’s main draw its its cute and stylish animation, as the story hits frequently predictable narrative beats. The pastel-infused art direction is enough to warrant a watch, and will likely keep kids happily busy, but there’s little to revisit here beyond the visual artistry.
Also new on Netflix: Skater Girl, Awake, Tragic Jungle
Watch a trailer for Wish Dragon