Thursday, 14 October 2021

 October 15th

Lamb (in cinemas where open)
The Donut King (streaming on DocPlay)
Security (streaming on Netflix)
The Father Who Moves Mountains (streaming on Netflix)

Despite our Melbourne cinemas still not being open, there's a lot of stuff happening on streaming platforms, and A LOT of film festivals coming up. So, that may explain the frequency of editions I'm putting out. Stay tuned for the Japanese Film Festival, British Film Festival, Italian Film Festival. Meantime some good recommendations here, and let me reiterate the value of subscribing to DocPlay, for little more than the price of a cup of coffee per month! 

Lamb
Dir: Valdimar Johansson
Length: 106 mins
Screening at most cinemas where no lockdown applies! Put it on your list Melbourne!
© Madman - warm and fuzzy but
also unnerving and majorly weird!
Maria (Noomi Rapace) and husband Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) farm sheep in a remote rural region of Iceland. One day, a most unusual lamb is born, and they decide to rear it as if it were their child. When Petur, 
Ingvar's brother, turns up, he disturbs their new-found happiness. Perhaps the less said about the rest of the plot, the better, as this is the sort of imaginative, bizarre and quasi-mythical narrative that invites you to interpret what it really is all about. Winner of the prestigious Un Certain Regard in Cannes 2021, Lamb is a film some viewers may find slow, but I found it grippingly tense, at times menacing, and absolutely intriguing. The bleak landscape is splendidly captured in wide shots, and the director creates a constant tension. The unexpected nightmarish conclusion makes for challenging viewing. Many close-up shots of the farm's sheep add to the surreal atmosphere. Ultimately Lamb tells a powerful but sad tale, which leads us to question the value of playing with nature. Fabulous performances from the small cast, and some fine special effects where required.
4 - highly recommended

The Donut King
Dir: Alice Gu
Length: 90 mins
Streaming on DocPlay: www.docplay.com
© Madman - donut heaven in a really 
interesting and inspirational story
In 1975 Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy fled with his wife and three kids to America, with nothing to his name. While working as a janitor and then 'pumping gas' he noticed a local successful donut shop and got himself apprenticed to Winchells, then a leading donut chain in California. The rest of the story is just amazing - how Ted set up a chain of his own unique donut shops, giving employment to countless other Cambodian refugees. There's a lot more to Ted's story but I'll leave you to discover it, as this is an absorbing and delightful story, not only of happy times and success from nothing, but also of hard times including some of the horrific history of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. The soundtrack, featuring plenty of donut-themed songs, is a hoot, and the American obsession with the sweet treat something to be wondered at. At heart, this is a story of hope and caring , with Ted an inspiration to make the best one can of life.
4 - highly recommended

Security
Dir: Peter Chelsom
Length: 118 mins
Streaming on Netflix
© Netflix - complex plot, strong
performances
Roberto (Marco D'amore) works as a security surveillance expert, protecting the homes of the elite in the picturesque Tuscan seaside town of  Forte dei Marmi. One fateful night Maria appears in many of the residents' security cameras, face bloodied and beaten and begging for help. The ensuing revelations will bring down many people in the town, break up relationships, and uncover a web of lies and deceit. When I watched this I was definitely in the mood for a bit of a mystery/thriller and this sure has a lot to recommend it, although the plot at times is quite complex and convoluted. There are many thematic threads involving sexual assault, rich privilege, teacher-student relationships, marital discord and more. The fine cinematography captures the lovely town with the alpine backdrop and the dark underbelly. Acting is universally strong and overall, when the plot threads finally come together, there's a sense of a well-crafted, satisfying film.
3.5 - well recommended

The Father Who Moves Mountains
Dir: Daniel Sandu
Length: 108 mins
Streaming on Netflix
© Netflix - gripping and starkly beautiful
Mircea (Adrian Titieni) is a retired intelligence officer. He's expecting a child with his second wife. When the son from his first marriage, plus new girlfriend,  go missing hiking in the remote Bucegi Mountains in Romania, he heads to the site, begging the local search and rescue team to take him along on the mission. When the missing hikers can't be located Mircea calls in unauthorised hi-tech help from his past colleagues. With grand and sweeping cinematography, and a tense plot this is gripping watching that puts the viewer right into the scene: a cold, majestic, overpowering, and threatening landscape, and a man whose guilt and obsession lead him down paths of desperation. With strong psychological undertones, and a thrillingly tense plot, this is fine watching.
4 - highly recommended


Sunday, 10 October 2021

 October 11th

Melbourne Documentary Film Festival (online)
A Fire Inside
SciFi Film Festival
NYC Epicentres (streaming on Foxtel)
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories - (series streaming on Netflix)

With probably another two weeks to go of lockdown in Melbourne (aargh!!), there is still online solace with the wonderful Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, and the SciFi Film Festival. For the rest of you A Fire Inside releases, and Japan fans can soak up a terrific Netflix series. 

Melbourne Documentary Film Festival
October is Documentary month and with Melbourne still being in lockdown this fine festival is online for the entire month. 
Earlier in the year I reviewed, among others, Batoor's Journey http://hurstosfiveminutefilms.blogspot.com/2021/07/july-17th-sir-is-love-enough-sir.html  and Cry of the Forests (http://hurstosfiveminutefilms.blogspot.com/2021/07/july-2nd-melbourne-documentary-film.html), which will show and come highly recommended. I've previewed a couple of further films from the festival: 
© MDFF: Great musicianship helps expose
important issues in the mental health area
Mental as Everything
Dir: Damon Smith
By his own admission, director Smith suffers from a debilitating mental condition known as OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In this frank and revelatory doco, Smith talks about what that means for his life, and in fact opens the door to allow others to talk about something that is so often swept under the carpet. Designed originally as a cabaret show, the film mixes creative original songs, which cleverly nail the essence of the condition, and are performed with his colleague Matthew Briggs. (Both are top musicians.) Along with honest discussion, and creative graphics, all combines to make for entertaining viewing, that is also extremely thought-provoking and helpful in tackling an important subject.
 
Meeting the Beatles in India
Dir: Paul Saltzman
© MDFF - a must-see for Beatles fans
In 1968, a 23-year-old budding Canadian filmmaker headed to India to visit an ashram, meditate and hopefully mend his broken heart. Imagine his surprise to find The Beatles were also staying there. In this terrific doco, made years later, he reminisces upon his time there, what the iconic group were like as people (as opposed to stars) and the lasting influence the experience had on his life. The film includes many intriguing insights into the group, how their music was influenced by their time in India, with  additional input from people like David Lynch and Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn. This is highly enjoyable viewing, especially for Beatles fans, and is an interesting account of one man's spiritual journey.

A Fire Inside
Dir: Justin Crook, Luke Mazzaferro
Length: 91 mins
Screening at many cinemas where no lockdown applies!
© Icon - bravery, heartbreak and resilience
Who can forget the horrendous bushfires that wreaked such devastation on Australia, just before Covid came along? This marvellous doco takes us into the heart of the apocalypse, initially following the journey of one fearless firefighter as he almost dies saving many families. But then the film moves on post-fires to look at the personal toll taken on people, fire-fighters and victims, as they battle with post-traumatic-stress, and attempt to rebuild their lives. We hear first-hand the harrowing stories of many of the firefighters, and also of survivors. While the film is an unforgettable account of devastation, it is also a celebration of amazing bravery, and an inspiration as we witness just how selfless some people can be as disaster brings out the best in them. Essential viewing, and a salutary tale for climate-change deniers.
4 - highly recommended

SciFi Film Festival
For program and bookings: https://scififilmfestival.com/
15-31 October
With 13 feature films, plus 67 shorts from 28 countries, this festival is soon to be online across Australia. The festival is touted as "mind-bending science fiction and fantasy" and there should be plenty to please fans. 
I watched Trans: A tale of schoolkid nerds in Korea attempting to create "transhumans". While not totally my genre, it could have quite some appeal to fans of the Frankenstein tale, with its freaky lightning shows, and kids behaving badly.   
 
NYC Epicentres - 9/11 - 2021 1/2
Dir: Spike Lee
Length: 4 episodes: 7 hours 20 minutes
© Foxtel /HBO: binge this fab mini-series
Spike Lee's love song to his city is a terrific feat of film-making. Tracing the last 20.5 years, from the terrorist attacks of 2001 through to the Covid pandemic, Lee interviews a myriad of people (famous and otherwise)  who reflect upon their relationship to their city, their memories of 9/11, their current experiences with the virus, and so much more. No point my raving on about how engrossed I was in it, just watch the first hour and you'll no doubt be hooked. (It's made especially appealing by Spike and his very funny, idiosyncratic interjections and asides.)
4 - highly recommended

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Several series - half hour episodes
© Netflix - oh yeah! I love it!
A Netflix original series, this is one to transport you to Japan, and for a brief half hour, take away your world-weary angst over everything crap that is happening in today's world. I've only just started this sublime series, but as a Japan-o-phile, I can say the series is reflective of a certain simplicity and compassion that one experiences in that country, and I can't wait to binge my way through it. The food may appeal, but ultimately it is the stories of human connection that hit the heart, as diners visit in the wee hours of the morning to pour out their hearts and seek comfort from Master (Kaoru Kobayashi) who serves wisdom with his simple comfort food.
4 - highly recommended



Sunday, 3 October 2021

 October 4th

Winged Migration (aka Travelling Birds) - (streaming on Amazon Prime)
House of Cardin (streaming on Docplay)
Remastered: Devil at the Crossroads (streaming on Netflix)
The Glass Castle (streaming on Netflix)
Mosquito State (Shudder)

This week my recommendations are only for films that are streaming into your living rooms. Hopefully soon lockdown restrictions will end, festivals and latest releases will resume in cinema, and I'll have more current recommendations for you. But for now, there are still some mighty fine offerings available.
 

Travelling Birds (aka Winged Migration)
Dir: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats 
Length: 98 mins
Streaming on Amazon Prime
© Amazon Prime - quite sublime in parts
An oldie (2001) but a goodie, this exquisite homage to our feathered friends won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2003.The film follows the migratory journey of flocks of birds, including geese, flamingos, cranes and many more, as they fly thousands of miles to breeding and feeding grounds. It took more that four years to make, with hundreds of crew and many light planes and gliders, all filming in a way that makes us feel we have taken to the skies and are flying alongside the birds. There are zero special effects, and minimal voice-over, making the whole thing an immersive experience that will delight bird fanciers and nature lovers.
4 - highly recommended

House of Cardin
Dir: David Ebersole & Todd Hughes
Length: 97  mins
Streaming on DocPlay
© Umbrella /DocPlay - the man behind the legend
Over the years there have been many films about iconic fashion designers, but none so fascinating and inspiring (for me) as this one, featuring Pierre Cardin, a creative genius in not only haute couture, but furniture, accessories, the arts and more. The film is a virtual smorgasbord of fabulousness - his ground-breaking clothing, his branded accessories and furniture, theatrical spaces he has created, his visits to other cultures and lands where he has become a household name, and the invaluable 
 insights from so many unexpected people: singers Alice Cooper and Dionne Warwick, actress Sharon Stone, other famed designers to name a few. Best of all the man himself - a workaholic who lives to enjoy his work and is still going strong at 98 years old. For anyone who wants to see that age is no barrier to keeping on creating, this is the film for you. It's vibrantly shot, with so much packed in - a treat for the eyes as well as the heart.
4 - highly recommended

Remastered: Devil at the Crossroads
Dir: Brian Oakes
Length: 48 mins
Streaming on Netflix
© Netflix - another legend - of blues music
You know how I adore music documentaries, and this one, so short, sharp and rivettingly good, is another winner. Myth has it that legendary blues singer/guitarist Robert Johnson met the devil at the crossroads and swapped his soul for a retuned guitar and a great talent. The film employs innovative graphics to recreate aspects of the narrative of Johnson's all-too-short life, and many current blues performers add their commentary to the tale of Johnson's profound and enduring influence on blues and rock music. Among them are Taj Mahal, Bonny Raitt, and Keith Richards. A lot of fascinating content and great music is packed into a very short run-time. So much of the Johnson story was a tragedy underpinned by his ego, along with  people's beliefs back then that the blues was the "devil's music". Fascinating factoid: his death at 27 is thought to be the basis of The 27 Club - that group of famed musos, so talented, who died at that very age.
4 - highly recommended

The Glass Castle
Dir: Destin Daniel Cretton
Length: 127 mins
Streaming on Netflix
© Netflix - good story, questionable values
Jeannette and her three siblings grow up in a nomadic and dysfunctional family, headed by mother Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) and father Rex (Woody Harrelson). Rex is an alcoholic, Rose Mary a painter, and the family moves from one rundown hovel to the next, while Rex dreams big, obviously loves his kids, but seems to have no idea of the line between encouraging them to be self-sufficient and neglect. Based upon Jeannette Walls' memoir of her childhood, the film is grounded by a brilliant performance from Chandler Head as young Jeannette, and Harrelson as Rex. The narrative moves between past and present, with Brie Larsen as the now-adult Jeannette, a writer engaged to a Wall Street analyst, and torn between past and future, so at odds with each other. While the film certainly tells an engaging and often disturbing story, there too many moments of over-sentimentality that seem to celebrate what could be seen as child abuse, disguised as family bonding at all costs. But fans of Harrelson should love it. 
3 - recommended

Mosquito State
Dir: Filip Jan Rymsza
Length: 100 mins
Streaming on Shudder
www.shudder.com - starting at $5.83 a month
© Shudder - streaming all things horror
If your genre of choice is horror, thriller and supernatural, you can't go past the streaming service Shudder. Though not really my bag, I gave it a go and watched this very weird thriller, about Richard, a reclusive Wall St analyst, for whom everything starts to change 
just prior to the GFC - he meets a girl at a work party, his computer predicts financial calamities and his apartment is invaded by a swarm of mosquitoes. I can't quite decide if it is at heart rather pretentious wannabe arthouse fare, or something more symbolic and deep. Suffice to say it delivers the goods with a level of body horror, social critique of the Wall Street brigade, and it has won many awards including cinematography and special effects.
If horror is your genre, then recommended
  

Saturday, 25 September 2021

 Sept 26th

The Dig (streaming on Netflix)
The Mustang (streaming on Netflix)
Worth (streaming on Netflix)
The Physician (streaming on Netflix)
Obama: In Search of the More Perfect Union (streaming on Foxtel)
Farmageddon (streaming on Foxtel)

I'm continuing to binge on streaming offerings, and mighty fine they are. As you emerge from footy fever, I've got a lot of recommendations for you, hopefully easy to access and easing the pain of continuing lockdown. There's even something here to amuse the littlies, if they haven't seen it yet. 

The Dig
Dir: Simon Stone
Length: 112 mins
Streaming on Netflix
© Netflix - Fiennes and Mulligan - 
two of Britain's stalwarts
Wealthy widow Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) decides to investigate some earth mounds on her property in Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, and hires taciturn excavator Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes). What they unearth will have museum curators jumping up and down in excitement. This interesting and quite lovely historical film is inspired by the true discovery of an ancient ship containing fabulous treasure, part of a 6th-7th century Anglo-Saxon burial site considered to be one of the most intact in medieval Europe. The film's style is archetypically British, with restrained characters who hide their feelings, and yet, thanks to Fiennes' and Mulligan's fine performances, we can read a lot more into their characters. Period settings and production values are flawless, the archaeological dig is expertly recreated, and the expected stoush between Basil and museum archaeologist Charles Phillips (Ken Stott), brings a goodly dollop of class conflict/social justice into play. There are also several tear-jerking moments around the relationship between Edith's young son Robert with his mother and with Basil, whom the boy adores. Solid watching in this much-awarded film.
4 - highly recommended

The Mustang
Dir: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
Length: 96 mins
Streaming on Netflix
© Netflix - nothing like a good horse story
Roman Coleman (Mattthias Schoenarts) has just emerged from solitary isolation in a Nevada prison. He is chosen for a program in which inmates are teamed up with wild mustang horses, with the aim of breaking in the animals then auctioning them off - a win-win for the prisoner (who gets a sense of pride and purpose) and horse (which avoids being part of the annual cull). This much-awarded film is a total surprise - intense, moving, engaging, understated and really well executed in all respects. Schoenarts is compelling as a man one would hardly expect to develop empathy for (but we do), and as his backstory is only slowly revealed, we become progressively engaged with his outcome. Bruce Dern is notable as Myles, the crusty old-timer responsible for the prisoner-horse program; he's perfect for the role. For a film with so little dialogue, it delivers a powerful viewing experience, along with a couple of totally sublime horse moments.  
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended

Worth
Dir: Sarah Colangelo
Length: 118 mins
Streaming on Netflix
© Netflix - bureaucracy and human grief collide
After the tragedy of 9/11, the US government set up a Victim Compensation Fund. Kenneth Feinberg, played by Michael Keaton, was appointed to head up the team whose unenviable job was to decide exactly the amount of compensation for each life that was lost. At first he operates totally within the guidelines, but after meeting Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci), a man spearheading a victims' group, Ken starts to understand the human scale of the loss, and develops true compassion. The film steers away from playing into heavy emotion, but delivers a really solid exploration of the post 9/11 mood, and the issue of bureaucracy vs human emotion and loss. Keaton is excellent in his role, and Tucci, as always, shines, both getting solid support from Amy Ryan as Feinberg's legal partner, Camille Biros. 
With the world continually mired in issues where a dollar value must be put on things that can't be quantified, this makes for provocative and thoughtful viewing.
4 - highly recommended

The Physician
Dir: Philipp Stolzl
Length: 155 mins
Streaming on Netflix
© Netflix - the epic is back!
I first caught this film at the Jewish Film Festival some years back, and am delighted to see it get a Netflix berth. At two and a half hours, this engaging and epic historical tale takes us from eleventh century London to Persia, hub of learning. Young Christian orphan Rob Cole (Tom Payne) teams up with a local amateur healer, but then travels, disguised as a Jew, to Persia where he studies medicine under the legendary healer Avicenna (Ben Kingsley). The film is gloriously shot, bringing to vivid life the grime and ignorance of medieval London compared to the exoticness and intellectualism of ancient Persia. It also portrays some of the early discoveries that paved the way for modern medicine. This is thoroughly entertaining, great narrative film-making and a visual feast.
4 - highly recommended

Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union
Dir: Peter W Kunhardt
Length: 3 episodes - all up 5 hours
Streaming on Foxdocos- Foxtel
© Foxtel  - I couldn't get enough of this story
My forte has never been the analysis of political films, but this doco speaks to me in a way many political bios never have (maybe because I'm a card-carrying Obama fan!) The three-part series traces Barack Obama's career from his youth, through his early days as a lawyer, up to his attainment of the highest office in the USA. Countless interesting players in the Obama story come on to give their slant on it, from chief campaign strategist David Axelrod, to various black pastors, writers, journalists and many more. I find the film-making thorough, the old clips of early Obama speeches (even back when he was a student) enlightening and inspiring, and the overall depiction of the arc of his journey quite rivetting. Using the fraught backdrop of race in America, the doco also explores the difficult line the man had to walk, never pleasing blacks or whites, but always maintaining dignity, compassion, and presenting a statesmanlike face to the world (so unlike his antecedent!) A real insight.   
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Dir: Will Becher, Richard Phelan
Length: 86 mins
Streaming on Foxtel
© Foxtel  - as expected: clever, crazy fun
In the town of Mossingham in rural England a spaceship lands, and a strange but incredibly cute alien called Lu-Lu emerges. Curious Shaun, ever up for an adventure, befriends Lu-Lu and the pair devise a plan to get the alien back to her family on a far planet. Unbeknown to them an alien-hunting government agency, headed by a fearsome woman called Red, is also on their tail, while the farmer who owns Shaun and his flock sees a major opportunity to install a money making space theme park on his land. Lovers of films from Aardman studios (Chicken Run, the Wallace & Gromit films), will love this follow up to 2015's Shaun the Sheep. In the inimitable signature style of the studio, the characters are again stop-motion claymation puppets, and, despite their simplicity, every tiny nuance of a gesture tells a whole story. This one takes elements from many of our favourite sci-fi films, from Close Encounters, to ET, along with references from the X-Files and more, and cobbles the whole into a fun-packed crazy caper, that has enough sly references to amuse adults while the kids are wallowing in moments of slapstick and general lunacy.
4 - highly recommended




Saturday, 18 September 2021

 Sept 19th

Pig - showing in cinemas in non-lockdown places - put it on your list!
Possum Wars (streaming on DocPlay)
The Children in the Picture - various cinemas and online venues
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story - (streaming on Foxtel)
The Limehouse Golem (streaming on Netflix) 
Don't forget: Indian FF - continues FREE until September 27th

I'm going soft as lockdown drags on - I'm very reluctant to stick the boots into many films (those I don't like, I don't bother reviewing!) So everything here comes recommended; each film serving its own purpose, in a time where we need either light distraction, old-fashioned entertainment, or where the serious films just add to our wealth of introspection, and amazement that the world is such a fraught place!

Pig

Dir: Michael Sarnoski
Length: 92 mins
Currently showing in non-lockdown states
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i-_CRKdh4Y
© Violence, melancholy, a pig and Nic -
what a combo!
Rob (Nicolas Cage) lives alone in a rundown shack in the Oregon wilderness. His only companion is his beloved pig, who helps him hunt for truffles which he sells to Amir (Alex Wolff), a smooth city slicker supplying Portland upper-end restaurants. When the pig is kidnapped, Rob heads into the city to try to get her back. 
When he revisits the world he had left behind, we are thrust into the underbelly of the restaurant trade with its pretentiousness and ruthlessness. There is way more depth to this story than the surface narrative would imply, and much of it comes from Cage's unexpectedly nuanced but tour-de-force performance. He portrays the essence of loss as his character grieves for his missing porcine friend and a lost wife. So much of the film (except the sudden eruptions of violence) encapsulates a deep melancholy, allowing us to ponder what really matters in life, all underscored with evocative cinematography and of course this Cage performance that is something to behold, understated and so different from his often bombastic roles.  
4 - highly recommended

Possum Wars
Dir: Bruce Permezel
Length: 57 mins
Streaming on DocPlay
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJkmFOcr8gI
© DocPlay - 360 degree Films - aaargh!
They are either "soooo cute" or a nightmare. As a gardener, I find them a total nightmare, as they munch their way through roses and  camelias, and leave their smelly calling cards all over the ground. This doco examines the arguments from both sides, focusing in particular on the Carlton Gardens, where possum-huggers defy local laws to feed the critters, and the century old elm trees are facing imminent death thanks to constant defoliation. With terrific night photography,  lots of excellent in-roof detective work, and impassioned pleas from both sides this is a good watch. Again I urge all doco lovers to take up a subscription to DocPlay. One of the best collection of docs on planet Earth! 
4 - highly recommended 


The Children in the Pictures
Length: 84 mins
Dir: Akhim Dev, Simon Nasht
Theatrical and virtual screenings throughout Sept and October
To find out where to view it in your state: https://childreninthepictures.org/book-tickets/
© - a team of truly dedicated
detectives and researchers

National Child Protection Week has just passed, and it heralds the release of a confronting new  documentary dealing with Argos,  a Qld-based investigative team that goes undercover to infiltrate pedophile sites on the Dark Web, and to rescue children from horrific abuse. Breathe a little easy, as any actual pictures are not shown; rather this examines how the Dark Web has facilitated an explosion in online material, and how the 100% effort of a dedicated group of people has brought down many criminal networks worldwide. While the extent of the abuse is horrific, making the film disturbing, ultimately it is the extraordinary devotion of the team that can only inspire. This could almost have been two films, as it goes on to look at how, with social media proliferating, many young people are getting themselves into vulnerable situations by generating salacious online content themselves, and becoming vulnerable to predatory adults masquerading as youngsters.
4 - highly recommended

I am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story
Length: 86 mins
Dir: Dave la Mattina; Chad N. Walker
Streaming on Foxtel
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFTCUF853H0
© Foxtel - gotta love the yella fella!
From 1969, when children's show Sesame Street hit TV screens worldwide, Caroll Spinney played Big Bird, almost up until his death in 2019. This fabulous doco looks at the career of the yellow-feathered one, interweaving Spinney's story with that of Sesame Street, and how the show, and BB's starring role, evolved over the years.  (Spinney also plays Elmo.) You don't need to be a kid to get great pleasure from this much-nominated doco, which, while interesting from a 
technical puppeteering point-of-view, is ultimately a celebration of a life lived in giving joy to others. Where Spinney stops and Big Bird starts is a moot point, but the puppet goes on to this day enchanting kids everywhere.
4 - highly recommended
Note: For any parents of littlies concerned about how to explain all things Covid, YouTube has a great series using Big Bird and Elmo, plus a couple of CNN resident medicos, to explain the whole thing clearly and cleverly. 
The ABC of Covid Parts 1-6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzLdX3HYLvU

The Limehouse Golem
Length: 109 mins
Dir: Juan Carlos Medina
Streaming on Netflix
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCJp8-MebGY
© Netflix - Nighy on the hunt for a murderer
In 1890s London, a series of grisly murders comes to light. The elusive killer is dubbed the Limehouse Golem, after a Jewish folktale character. Detective Kildare (Bill Nighy) is assigned to the case which takes him to the rough-and-tumble music hall world of London, where he meets actress Lizzie Cree (Olivia Cooke), whose deceased husband becomes a prime suspect. This film is a great romp, with an engaging, tense and convoluted plot, chock-full of colorful characters, red herrings, and evocatively filmed music-hall interiors and gloomy narrow streets typical of the era. Nighy is always a delight to watch, and he is handsomely supported by Cooke, as well as a star turn from Eddie Marsan as the theatre manager, and Douglas Booth as Leno, who spends most of his on-stage time masquerading as a girl. With overtones of a Ripper-esque London, but with its own unique plot, this is a diverting watch; time well spent.
4 - highly recommended

Indian Film Festival
Extended FREE online until September 27th
I'm still boring you by reiterating that this terrific festival is still going -  FREE ONLINE. So yet again I encourage you to check out the program and make the most of it while lockdown drags on.