Gerard Butler dodges Earth-destroying comets in a thrilling new disaster flick, while Winnipeg director Guy Maddin takes the spotlight in February with a career-highlights retrospective.
The shelf of streaming picks is expanding this month as some of the biggest companies march out libraries of programming in hopes that subscribers will stick around for the show.
Disney Plus opens the vault to Star, a new section on its existing family-friendly streaming platform.
Starting Feb. 23, and coupled with a price bump of a few dollars, Star will offer a slate of older movies and TV series for grown-ups, as well as original productions previously unavailable in Canada, including "Love, Victor" and "Solar Opposites."
Meanwhile, Netflix recently announced plans to bulk up its slate of higher-profile original films, promising a new one every week this year, including its romantic threequel "To All the Boys: Always and Forever" on Feb. 12
Here are some February titles to add to your watchlist:
Action star Gerard Butler was a golden warrior in "300" and defended the U.S. president in "Olympus Has Fallen." In "Greenland," he outruns a hail of comets with the sort of epic B-movie energy that’s been missing since theatres closed. Butler's character is trying to escape to a safe zone with his family amid the threat of worldwide disaster. Of course, nothing goes according to plan as the plot spirals into pandemonium. (Amazon Prime Video, Feb. 5)
DIRECTED BY GUY MADDIN
Winnipeg’s architect of surreal cinema marks his 65th birthday on Feb. 28, so Criterion Channel is rolling out some of his most celebrated works, all of them darlings of expressionist cinema and silent films. The collection includes Maddin's lauded "My Winnipeg," and "The Saddest Music in the World," as well as lesser-seen shorts, such as last year’s “The Rabbit Hunters” and "Stump the Guesser." The selection is rounded out with a new interview between Maddin and Canadian culture critic Robert Enright. (Criterion Channel, Feb. 1)
"THE NEW CORPORATION: THE UNFORTUNATELY NECESSARY SEQUEL"
Seventeen years after the original Canadian documentary's fiery take on the rise of massive corporations, filmmakers Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan are back for another anxiety-inducing reality check. This time, voices such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Anand Giridharadas reflect on widening income inequality, climate change and how COVID-19 could affect the future economy. (Crave/HBO, Feb. 12)
"I CARE A LOT"
Rosamund Pike ("Gone Girl") clutches this pulp thriller in the palm of her hand as cool-as-ice schemer Marla Grayson, a court-appointed conservator who offers to seemingly help the elderly before draining their bank accounts. But her shady cons attract other unsavoury characters who see their own opportunities. Co-starring Peter Dinklage and Dianne Wiest. (Amazon Prime Video, Feb. 19)
"THE LADY AND THE DALE"
Elizabeth Carmichael was a visionary, promising a three-wheeled, fuel-efficient car in the midst of the 1970s oil crisis. But she was also a lifelong criminal whose scams led to decades of running from authorities and assuming false identities. HBO’s four-part docuseries reckons with how complicated that became for Carmichael, a transgender woman in a period where few others were on the public radar. Stacked with surprising twists, interviews with her family, and inspired animations, this adventure story captures the messiness of a self-proclaimed automotive genius who might've actually been onto something. (Crave/HBO, new episodes Sundays)
"THE MUPPET SHOW" – All five seasons of Jim Henson’s star-studded variety show make their streaming debut. (Disney Plus, Feb. 19)
"FOR ALL MANKIND" – Season 2 of the "what if" reimagining of NASA’s space race heads to the moon. (Apple TV Plus, Feb. 8)
"MALCOLM & MARIE" – John David Washington ("Tenet") plays a director hashing out his problems with his girlfriend, Zendaya ("Euphoria"), as they await critical reaction to his latest film. Notable as one of the first movies shot during the pandemic. (Netflix, Feb. 5)
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021.
David Friend, The Canadian Press