What’s new to theatres, VOD and streaming: September 17-19, 2021

Including The Eyes Of Tammy Faye, Blue Bayou, The Nowhere Inn and Sex Education season 3


Courtesy of Netflix

Sex Education (season 3)

(Laurie Nunn)

Back for a third season, Laurie Nunn’s eccentric, occasionally explicit comedy about British teenagers coping with the physical and emotional challenges of growing up (and getting busy) keeps delivering its signature mix of awkward comedy and sneaky wallops of feelings, expanding the world of Moordale with a few new characters – like the non-binary Cal (Sudanese-American actor/musician Dua Saleh), and new head teacher Hope (Jemima Kirke), whose Dolores Umbridge-like approach to restoring order only causes more trouble – while giving more space to the existing bench. Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) and Adam (Connor Swindells) are still negotiating their complicated romance, and Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood) finds she’s not dealing very well with her PTSD from a sexual assault in season 2. Their stories are rich enough that they actually start to work against the storylines of ostensible leads Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve (Emma Mackey), whose will-they/won’t-they thing feels a little played out at this point – and not just because the two stars are pushing up against the edge of being able to play teenagers. An arc about Otis’s mother’s pregnancy is much more successful, with Gillian Anderson clearly enjoying the chance to play a less self-assured version of her character, but it’s starting to feel like this show might be running out of variations on its theme. All eight episodes now available stream on Netflix Canada. NNN (Norman Wilner)

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye

(Michael Showalter)

Showalter’s sympathetic biopic about the rise and fall of American televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker – who, despite her status as a pop-culture punchline, seems to have been the only person on her husband Jim Bakker’s PTL Network who actually understood the tenets of Christianity – arrives on a wave of TIFF buzz over Jessica Chastain’s remarkable, entirely human performance. Yes, she wears massive prosthetics and a great deal of makeup for almost the entire movie. She also sings, dances and does funny voices for Tammy Faye’s puppet characters. It’s the sort of all-in performance that actors do when they want to win awards – look how unlike myself I am! – and I wouldn’t bet against that happening. (Andrew Garfield offers solid support as the beady-eyed Jim, too.) But Chastain also achieves that remarkable synthesis between herself and her character (as she did in The Tree Of Life and Take Shelter and The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, and as she does again this week in HBO’s Scenes From A Marriage) that makes it feel as though we’re seeing a living, breathing person on the screen. Her version of Tammy Faye Bakker is going through a tragedy no one else wants to acknowledge. But we can see it. It’s written all over her face. 126 min. Now playing in theatres. NNNN (NW)

The Nowhere Inn

(Bill Benz)

It’s a shame that there was no room for this playful meta-comedy at TIFF; written by and starring real-life friends Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) and Carrie Brownstein, it would have been right at home as a late-night special presentation. (Actually, it would have been an ideal fit for the dearly departed Vanguard program.) The premise is simple, with “Annie” hiring “Carrie” to make a documentary about St. Vincent’s latest tour, intent on revealing the real person behind the stage persona – only for Carrie to learn that the real Annie is the most boring person on the planet. Clark’s deadpan haplessness and Brownstein’s mounting frustration harmonize with one another beautifully, with Benz’s direction and Ali Greer’s editing teasing jokes out of awkward silences and unexpected reveals. If the final scenes seem to push too far into absurdism, don’t worry: The Nowhere Inn knows exactly what it’s doing. And the performance footage, shot during St. Vincent’s 2017 Masseducation tour, is magnificent. 91 min. Now available on Apple TV and on the IFC Films Unlimited channel on Amazon Prime Video Canada. NNNN (NW)

A person carries a child on their shoulders in the movie Blue Bayou
Courtesy of Focus Features

Blue Bayou

(Justin Chon)

Writer/director/star Chon follows his dramas Gook (reviewed here) and Ms. Purple (reviewed here) with a lo-fi character study about a New Orleans husband and stepfather suddenly facing deportation to his birth country of Korea, despite having lived in the U.S. since he was three. Tattooed and scruffy, barely recognizable as the recessive star of Wayne Wang’s TIFF 2019 drama Coming Home Again, Chon wears his heart on his sleeve as the spiraling Antonio, whose need to stay with his family leads him to make one bad decision after another – much to the distress of his pregnant wife (Alicia Vikander), who’s already trying to deal with the return of her daughter’s biological father (Mark O’Brien) in their lives. The scrabbly Super 16 cinematography makes everything feel that much more intimate, and Blue Bayou has some devastating moments… though I kept wondering whether those moments might have added up to more under a director with a little more distance from the script. Chon can’t risk us missing his messages, drenching the last act in bathos and drawing out the climax to make the viewer feel like wailing along with his characters. Sometimes less is more; in this case, “less more” is all he needed. 118 min. Some subtitles. Now playing in theatres. NNN (NW)

Available on VOD

Best Sellers

Michael Caine, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes; directed by Lina Roessler

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour; directed by Cate Shortland

Read NOW’s review

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

candy man

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo; directed by Nia DaCosta

Read NOW’s review

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

Dream Horse

Toni Collette, Damian Lewis, Joanna Page; directed by Euros Lyn

Apple TV, Cineplex

False Positive

Ilana Glazer, Justin Theroux, Pierce Brosnan; directed by John Lee

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

The Nowhere Inn

Annie Clark, Carrie Brownstein, Dakota Johnson; directed by Bill Benz

Apple TV, IFC Films Unlimited on Amazon Prime Video Canada

Prisoners Of The Ghostland

Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes; directed by SIon Sono

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

Together

James McAvoy, Sharon Horgan, Samuel Logan; directed by Stephen Daldry

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

Streaming guides

Everything coming to streaming platforms this month:

Netflix

Amazon Prime Video Canada

Crave

Disney+

CBC Gem

@normwilner

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What’s new to theatres, VOD and streaming: September 17-19, 2021