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This week, Netflix releases the new documentary Procession as well as Lin Manuel-Miranda-directed original Tick… Tick… BOOM!.
Horror streaming service Shudder releases the madcap Sion Sono genre mashup and first English language film Prisoners of the Ghostland as well as Park Chan-Wook’s incredible vampire flick Thirst.
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The documentary films of Robert Greene have all been inherently self-reflexive in their setup: Kate Plays Christine explores the story of a TV reporter who committed suicide live on air through a movie within a movie, Bisbee ’17 stages a reenactment of an event from a small town’s past with the actual people involved as the cast.
Procession carries on this line of construction, as it follows six men who were sexually abused as children by Catholic clergy, here creating short films inspired by their trauma, Greene (and a therapist) observing and assisting in the process.
Greene navigates the slippery boundaries of reality and subjectivity in documentary, directly addressing the limits of his project – the abusers are protected by the statute of limitations and thus still walk free, though Greene makes sure to name them and their parishes. (This directness can of course also be startling and likely triggering in the men’s frank discussions of their pasts, as they revisit the sites of their abuse to make their respective short films.)
Greene’s editing turns the film into something less straightforward; where others might more directly follow the process of filmmaking, Greene flits back and forth between location visits and one-on-one chats, leaving room for each of the men’s different responses – some are devastating, some are surprisingly, disarmingly charming.
In all cases, Procession is a powerful revisitation of the past, the camera connecting past and future in a manner that gives these men control over their stories.
Also new on Netflix: Tick… Tick… BOOM!, Earwig and the Witch
Prisoners of the Ghostland – Shudder
The latest film by gonzo Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono, known for their delightful sense of excess, certainly makes their reference points known – a lot of the fun of Prisoners of the Ghostland comes from seeing its many, many reference points worn clearly on its sleeves.
A bit of spaghetti western and Mad Max-style post apocalypse mayhem here, a bit of samurai film there, it’s a delightful collage of colourful production design, great to look at even as the admittedly bloated and messy story collapses under its own weight.
Read more: What’s new on Disney+ this November
Set in the treacherous frontier city of the appropriately named Samurai Town, a ruthless bank robber (the great Nicolas Cage) is sprung from jail by a wealthy warlord, The Governor (Bill Moseley, hamming it up), whose adopted granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella, seemingly in a different movie) has run away.
Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within five days if he doesn’t find the missing girl, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman — and his own path to redemption.
It’s far from the filmmaker’s best, but a solid English language debut where all of Sono’s idiosyncrasies translate perfectly. It could certainly stand to be a little tighter – there’s a lot of waiting around for stuff to happen, as the more intimate scenes between performers are a lot less interesting than things like, well, the bombs attached to Nicholas Cage’s testicles.
Also on Shudder: Thirst, Coherence
Ciao Alberto – Disney+
This new Pixar short is a sequel of sorts, following on the events of Enrico Casarosa’s charming seaside coming-of-age film Luca.
With his best friend Luca now away at school, the young and headstrong Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) is enjoying his new life in Portorosso working alongside Massimo (Marco Barricelli) – the gigantic, taciturn, one-armed fisherman from the film – who has since become Alberto’s idol.
The film follows him as he tries to impress his new mentor, which leads to something of an overstuffed seven minutes – there’s genuinely enough for a full length sequel crammed in here – but that restlessness makes for a fun little short.
Also on Disney+: The Family Stone, Flight Plan, Kingdom of Heaven