Another long weekend is ahead of us, and while many Irish households are now able to go out a bit more, that certainly doesn’t mean that we have to give up on entertainment in the comfort of our own home. In this week’s streaming picks: some modern classics, Irish cinema and a double dose of Michael Fassbender.
Children of Men (2006, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, starring Clive Owen, Clare-Hope Ashitey and Michael Caine)
Where can I watch it? Netflix.
What is it about? The year is 2027, and the future is looking bleak. For 18 years now, Earth hasn’t seen a single new birth. The inhabitants of this infertile world are growing increasingly depressed as the perspective of humanity disappearing for good becomes more and more realistic with every passing day. When Theo (Clive Owen), a passionate activist turned depressed bureaucrat, is asked to help a young refugee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) escape the chaos of this dystopic United Kingdom, he is unsure – but this request and the journey that will follow will soon become something much bigger than he ever expected.
Why should I watch it? Based on P.D. James’ 1992 novel of the same name, spoilers are pretty hard to avoid when it comes to Children of Men’s first and most impactful twist. But even with the knowledge of the identity of the mysterious refugee that Theo tries to take to safety, Cuarón’s film remains one of the most beautifully shot and thoughtful science-fiction films of the past decade, and definitely one to see if it hasn’t been done already. Calling it a modern classic might sound like a bit much, but after watching it, you will probably see that arguing that it deserves this title is not difficult. The bleakest love letter to humanity you will ever watch.
The best of our streaming picks for: Those that like their science-fiction with a philosophical touch.
Song To Song (2017, directed by Terrence Malick, starring Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling and Natalie Portman)
Where can I watch it? Amazon Prime.
What is it about? Two couples, both deeply entangled within the unique Texan music scene, evolve in the complicated worlds of relationships as artists. They will get together, pull apart, fall in love and hurt each other in the most poetic ways, all against the backdrop of Austin’s sunny streets and festival stages.
Why should I watch it? Those who are familiar with Terrence Malick’s career may know that his most recent work is often criticised for privileging style over substance – and indeed, Song to Song’s plot is more of an excuse to show off beautiful people and scenery than a real tale that needed to be told. However, the attractive main quatuor and the gorgeous cinematography are both good-looking enough to make us forget that this could have been anything to feel mad about. Less of a story than a visual experience about music, love, and everything in between, this is certainly not a film for everyone – but if spending two hours exploring a modern yet strangely otherworldly maze of relationships sounds like your kind of thing, you’re in for a treat.
The best of our streaming picks for: Music lovers, fans of beautiful photography, and anyone who has a crush on any of the lead four actors. If you don’t like it, at least you’ll get your fair share of eye candy.
Frank (2014, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, starring Domhnall Gleeson, Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal)
Where can I watch it? MUBI.
What is it about? Jon, a young amateur musician (Domhnall Gleeson) joins a band – so far, that doesn’t seem like a story to write home about. That is, of course, unless the moody lead singer of said band (Michael Fassbender) constantly wears a gigantic papier mâché head over his face to deal with his social anxiety. As Jon learns to get to know his bandmates, he quickly realises that every single one of them has more issues than he expected to have to deal with, and that he may have gotten himself into something that will change him forever.
Why should I watch it? If you have ever tried to learn about the beautiful world of contemporary Irish cinema, Lenny Abrahamson’s name must sound like a very familiar one. And indeed, Frank is one of the best examples of what creative young Irish minds have been capable of producing over the past decade. Starring the Malahide-born Domhnall Gleeson in the main role, this peculiar story turns a seemingly ridiculous premise into a heartfelt exploration of its troubled characters’ psyche and relationships. If melancholic black comedy, experimental bands and not seeing Michael Fassbender’s face for most of a movie’s runtime sounds like your kind of thing, head to MUBI the next time you have a couple of hours to kill.
The best of our streaming picks for: Those who always wanted to get into contemporary Irish cinema but never knew where to start, and anyone with a thing for really, really big heads.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008, directed by Danny Boyle, starring Dev Patel and Freida Pinto)
Where can I watch it? Channel 4.
What is it about? Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a poor teenager from the slums of Mumbai, becomes a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, and ultimately wins the big prize, much to everyone’s surprise. As critics start getting louder and general suspicion from the general public grows stronger, Jamal is accused of cheating and taken in by the police. Along the course of his interrogation, he will recall his past and tell his story as he explains how he knew the answer to every single question in the game.
Why should I watch it? Just like Jamal in the film, Slumdog Millionaire has its critics: and indeed, it might not be the best or most authentic depiction of Indian life put to screen. However, with its colourful cinematography, touching characters and gripping, if not really realistic, story, Danny Boyle’s sleeper hit still remains one of the first and most impactful crossover between the worlds of Hollywood and Bollywood that audiences all over the world have gotten to witness. Whether you watch it to dissect its impact on following representation of India or just for a good time, it is definitely worth giving it a chance if you haven’t seen it already.
The best of our streaming picks for: Those interested in the sometimes surprising ways very different cultures can meet on screen and make something beautiful together – isn’t that what we’re all about here at Babylon?
Which one of our streaming picks stole your heart this week? Did you watch any of them before? Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below!