Wondering what to watch this weekend? New streaming releases bring a number of comforts for a long weekend. New to Netflix, the lush anime spectacular but gentle Drifting Home, directed by rising star Hiroyasu Ishida, stands out from the pack with excellent craft and visual storytelling.
At the same time, just ahead of Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming stop-motion adaptation of Pinocchio, Disney+ offers the chance to catch up on its direct competitor’s recent Oscar winner The Shape of Water, an otherworldly fantasy romance that ranks amongst the director’s most weepy productions.
Meanwhile, other unconventional romances stream on NOW, with the Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson-led Marry Me channeling Notting Hill’s story of celebrity meeting normalcy into a slightly deranged throwback to 2000s rom-coms, in a film that’s entertaining and sweet but perhaps not traditionally… ‘good’.
Read more: Everything new on Paramount+ in September
Meanwhile, historical epics from different points in time — Braveheart and Rush — screen on BBC iPlayer, to the great benefit of dads across the UK.
Please note that a subscription may be required to watch.
Drifting Home (2022) - Netflix (pick of the week)
Seemingly schooled in the tradition of Studio Ghibli, director Hiroyasu Ishida's previous film Penguin Highway made a better coming-of-age fable than the famous studio has done in quite some time, full of winning charm and infectious sense of adventure.
Read more: Everything new on Netflix in September
His newest film Drifting Home finds the pathos in a similarly outlandish premise: as sixth-graders and childhood friends Kosuke and Natsume’s apartment building, set to be demolished, suddenly transports to the middle of the sea, moving across it like a boat.
Ostensibly about the inevitable pain of leaving old friends behind and, well, the drifting apart of old friendships, Drifting Home is told with gorgeous, detailed animation full of life and emotional nuance.
Also on Netflix: Do Revenge (2022), I Used To Be Famous (2022)
The Shape of Water (2017) - Disney+
The Oscar-winning tear-jerker from Guillermo Del Toro has lost some of its lustre over time, but the lush monster romance The Shape of Water is still eminently watchable, and is full of the typically lush production design and gorgeous tactile craft that the Mexican filmmaker has honed over the years.
Read more: Everything new on Disney+ in September
Its story is set against the paranoid backdrop of Cold War in 1962, where a mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) working at a lab falls in love with an amphibious man (frequent Del Toro collaborator and creature actor Doug Jones) being held captive there and devises a plan to help him escape.
Watch: Guillermo Del Toro talks to Yahoo about The Shape of Water
As with many of Del Toro’s latter day films it's packed with reverence for the cinema, full of winking references as it spins its peculiar fantasy romance. At the same time he keeps his taste for the macabre ever-present: people receive some surprisingly nasty flesh wounds in this, even as it teaches an earnest message about how cynicism makes for an empty life.
It’s all part of the filmmaker’s penchant for genre-hopping, rarely content for his films to be any one thing.
Also new on Disney: Mija (2022)
Marry Me (2022) - NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership
With an absolutely ridiculous premise that could have had the film pronounced dead on arrival, Marry Me — inexplicably inspired by Bobby Crosby's webcomic of the same name — stars Jennifer Lopez as pop star Kat Valdez. After learning that her fiancé Bastian (Maluma) has been having an affair, decides on a whim to marry Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), a maths teacher in her audience holding a "Marry Me" sign.
Read more: Everything new on Sky in September
At times the Notting Hill-inspired film feels like it was beamed into our reality from a dimension that exists outside our own, or at the very least, like it Quantum Leaped from the 2000s. At others it’s genuinely quite sweet, full of the kind of earnest rom-com schmaltz that has been mostly missing from cinema screens since two decades ago, replaced by irony and cynicism.
It’s the sparseness of such films that works to Marry Me’s advantage — here feeling like a novelty instead of a misfire as its two leads do well to sell some incredibly silly material with a whole heap of charm.
Also new on NOW: Stowaway (2022)
Braveheart (1995) - BBC iPlayer
A historical epic that at this point just about anybody can quote off the top of their head, the Mel Gibson led and directed film follows the rebellion of William Wallace against Edward I in 14th century Scotland.
The Scots, suffering under the oppression of England's tyrannical king, find the bravery to resist this iron rule in Wallace’s courage — and one hell of a speech, even with Gibson’s incredibly ropey accent.
Also on iPlayer: The Elephant Man, Rush