In the absence of new theatrical releases, a few of us on the film beat decided to break down our favorite A24 films that are streaming on Prime Video.
“Venus, planet of love / Was destroyed by global warming / Did its people want too much too? / Did its people want too much?” go the lyrics of Mitski’s “Nobody.” Love may not be the reason for our environmental issues on Earth, but in Paul Schrader’s (“Dog Eat Dog”) “First Reformed,” love is a kind of answer to them. Not romantic, or even platonic love, but a spiritual kind. And the truth is, “First Reformed” is a love story. The love a particularly fraught priest of First Reformed Church (Ethan Hawke, “Juliet, Naked”) has for his drink, for a young environmentalist couple who seeks his help, for the finite bounty of the Earth. But that love comes at a harrowing cost, and “First Reformed” gracefully dives into all the vile, violent darkness it promises.
— Anish Tamhaney, Daily Film Editor
“High Life” sneaks up on you. It opens with Robert Pattinson (“The Lighthouse”) and a baby, living together in a tiny spacecraft. The baby is absolutely adorable, and things would be perfect if not for the endless, black silence pressing in against the ship’s walls, which director Claire Denis (“Let The Sunshine In”) takes great care to accentuate, and the look of devastation in Pattinson’s eyes. As the minutes tick by, one learns how these characters ended up light-years away from Earth, all alone. It’s psychotic, horrific and deeply, gut-wrenchingly human. Taking one-third of a movie to develop a sense of tranquility only to rip it away completely is the kind of audacious filmmaking that only comes from A24.
— Andrew Warrick, Daily Arts Writer
My resolution for 2020 was to not have a crush on unattainable people — and then “Little Women” had the audacity to come out at the end of December. It was a perfect storm of the Tik Tok For You page algorithm and my weakness for celebrities. I was hooked on Timothee Chalamet. And, as I made my way through his repertoire, I discovered the gem that is “Hot Summer Nights.” At peak brooding nerd status, Chalamet embodies the best kind of protagonist — his confidence grows as he finds something he’s good at and he flirts his way through the summer. Saturated within an inch of its life, “Hot Summer Nights” is a film that made me nostalgic for the summer days filled with carnivals and a booming weed business that I never had.
— Emma Chang, Daily Arts Writer
“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” is a wonderfully, unsettlingly bizarre time. Helmed by the absurdist indie director Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favourite”) and starring Colin Farrell (“In Bruges”), it presents a deeply strange psychological thriller about a cardiologist and the peculiar relationship he has with the son of a patient that died on his operating table. Like Yorgos’s 2015 dystopian black comedy “The Lobster” (which is on Netflix and would make for a wickedly-weird Colin Farrell double feature), all the characters in the world of “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” speak with a deadpan, utilitarian directness that should be antithetical to the profession of the actor. It’s quite an acquired taste, but once you learn to listen the film is unlike many other thrillers. It’s got uncanny creepiness in spades and plays with uncomfortable themes of power, culpability, and justice, leaving one wondering what the hell they just watched.
— Jacob Lusk, Daily Arts Writer