Wondering what to watch? There are old favourites and new genre flicks this week on streaming, as MUBI continues to host a wealth of curated international cinematic gems. This week it's Boy from Taika Waititi, probably the director’s most poignant work.
Meanwhile, NOW debuts Jurassic World: Dominion alongside Alice, a time-bending blaxploitation homage that sees Keke Palmer escape a 19th century plantation only to realise it’s actually the 1970s, before setting off on a Coffy-inspired quest for revenge against the plantation owners.
Read more: New on Prime Video in January 2023
A reminder of an old awards season favourite appears through BBC iPlayer in the form of I, Tonya, Craig Gillespie’s sideways biopic of Tonya Harding that questions the media spectacle created around people, all while playing with very obviously untrustworthy narrators.
Please note that a subscription may be required to watch.
Boy (2010) | MUBI
Back before he became a company man for Disney on various Star Wars shows and Marvel features, Taika Waititi was a director of some rather charming, New Zealand-based comedy-dramas, the best of which might be his 2010 feature film Boy.
Set in Waihau Bay in the mid 1980s it follows the young boy Alamein, a Māori kid who lives with his grandmother, brother and cousins on a small farm, waiting for his father (also called Alamein, and played by Waititi himself). In the meantime the film joins the younger Alamein in his flights of fancy about becoming rich and indulging in made-up stories and fantasies about his estranged dad (and Michael Jackson, the two sometimes overlapping).
Read more: New on Disney+ in January 2023
Waititi’s other New Zealand comedies, perhaps aside from the purely silly What We Do in the Shadows, all carry with them a tinge of bittersweetness, but none more so than Boy, which gradually peels back each layer of fantasy to reveal the rather tragic compulsions that drive them.
Most of all, it comes down to the disappointment of realising that one’s parents aren’t all a child expects them to be, and are just as human as anyone else. It’s surprisingly heartbreaking, even more striking with the perspective of recent misfire Thor: Love and Thunder.
Also on MUBI: Beach Rats, Wajib
I, Tonya (2017) | BBC iPlayer
Of all the things to get the Goodfellas-style historical drama treatment — with its smarmy recounting of events combined with a propulsive jukebox soundtrack — the story of Tonya Harding is a strange one. For one it couches its recounting of the infamous figure skater and her attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan in unreliable, fourth wall-breaking narration.
Treating the event as something ambiguous is quite an eyebrow-raising choice to make (though Kerrigan herself has sworn it has nothing to do with her any more), but to be generous to the film, it at least draws some entertaining if rather cartoonish performances out of Alison Janney and Sebastian Stan as well as Margot Robbie, starring as Harding.
Watch: Allison Janney and Margot Robbie talk to Yahoo about I, Tonya
It’s perhaps more about the media circus that develops around controversy such as this (and the film, in a way, does acknowledge its own complicity in such) rather than the people themselves (though one or two deserving participants do get their share of ridicule).
A very buzzy Oscar frontrunner on release with a reputation that has cooled a little since that time, it’s a fascinating film to revisit in light of Robbie’s recent turn as a chaotic, up-and-coming Hollywood starlet in Damien Chazelle’s Babylon. Both, in a sense, are about the allure, vices and pressures of stardom.
Also on iPlayer: Schindler’s List (1993), Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Jurassic World Dominion (2022) | NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership
One of the biggest movies of 2022 is finally streaming with Colin Trevorrow's billion-dollar blockbuster arriving on NOW via Sky Cinema.
Read more: New on Sky/NOW in January 2023
As one of the first movies to resume filming during the pandemic, expectations for the sixth Jurassic movie were sky high as it promised to unite the stars of the original trilogy with the reboot trilogy for an Endgame-level event movie.
Watch a trailer for Jurassic World: Dominion
Despite the hype though, Dominion failed to meet expectations and was met with a lukewarm critical response thanks to its preposterous plotting and over-stretched running time. While most agreed it was fun to see the OG trio of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum back in action, it was clear that this was a franchise that sadly faced extinction once and for all.
The snazzy CG and dino-action should pass the time though, should you be at a loose end. -TB
Alice (2022) | NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership
It’s strange how little time it took for Sky Cinema to release a second take on the dreadful, insensitive Antebellum (which saw Janelle Monae as a modern woman imprisoned and enslaved on an old plantation) but here comes Alice, another film clumsily drawing the line between America’s racist past and its racist present.
On paper it sounds compellingly wild but it's lumbering and miserable in its execution of a curious premise, that, while roughly based on the stranger-than-fiction story of Mae Louise Miller, just feels utterly unconvincing, despite Keke Palmer’s best efforts.
Alice, played by Palmer, escapes slavery on a plantation in rural Georgia, but despite its 19th century appearances, it’s actually the 70s. Alice styles herself after Pam Grier just as the film superficially styles itself after 70s blaxploitation, and of she goes on a quest for revenge with Common.
Read more: New on Paramount+ in January 2023
Palmer’s rather game performance contorts as much as possible to pul the vague and disparate ideas of Alice together but it simply never holds. On the bright side, it’s no Antebellum.
Also new on NOW: The Hanging Sun (2022)