From Swedish Oscar entry “Force Majeure” to Laura Poitras’ Edward Snowden doc “CITIZENFOUR,” this weekend boasts a strong slate of in-theater offerings. But if you’re feeling like a homebody over the next few days, here are a few alternative streaming options:
Catch up on the politically charged documentaries of muckraking-journalist-turned-filmmaker Laura Poitras on Fandor, where you can stream parts one and two of her “9/11 Trilogy” ahead of “CITIZENFOUR.”
-Her Oscar-nominated 2006 film “My Country, My Country” looks at the US occupation of Iraq, following a Sunni Arab doctor as he prepares to run for early 2005 democratic election in Iraq. LA Times’ Kenneth Turan writes: “What ‘My Country, My Country’ does best is show us that while both the Americans and the Iraqis care about the country’s future, their cultural backgrounds and world views inevitably make them seem alien to each other.
-Also on Fandor, Poitras’ 2010 Oscar-nominated “The Oath” unfolds like a thriller as she chases two men whose chance 1996 encounter sparked a wave of events that ultimately entangled them in 9/11, Guantanamo Bay and the U.S. Supreme Court. Boston Globe’s Ty Burr writes: “A documentary that at its start purports to be the tale of two terrorists, the film keeps deepening and widening until it becomes a subtle, stubborn moral drama about users and the used.”
-Halloween looms, so get in the spirit with Herk Harvey’s 1962 low-budget spine-prickler “Carnival of Souls,” streaming free this weekend on Fandor. This campy, creepy, atmospheric horror precursor to the films of David Lynch, George Romero and Roman Polanski (among many others) is dated by today’s standards (especially for its hammer-headed third-act twist). But an icy, dazed Candace Hilligoss rivets as an amnesiac losing her grip while wandering a netherworld of freaky ghosts. (SnagFilms has the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, also for free, here.)
-Arriving day-and-date in theaters and on VOD is Zachary Wigon’s unsettling tale of long-distance relationship woes “The Heart Machine,” a modern-day riff on “The Conversation” starring John Gallagher, Jr. and Kate Lyn Sheil as a couple confined to the tempered intimacies of Skype-dating. They’ve never met but are both engaging in creepy, sociopathic behavior from afar: she’s lying about her whereabouts, and he’s riven by paranoia and obsessed with finding her. “Heart Machine” is both banal modern-day romance and intelligent indie genre fare: Wigon loves a slow-pan, mounting dread through images evocative of Gordon Willis’ work in early-’70s urban thrillers.
-On Netflix, stream Polanski’s late-career triumph “Venus in Fur,” from the David Ives play about a theater director and an actress, incarnated here by Mathieu Amalric (who brilliantly directs and stars in his own “The Blue Room,” also on VOD) and Emmanuelle Seigner, dueling for power in the confined spaces of the stage. As they engage in a very wicked game of lusty wits — and, not to mention, a casting director’s hell — Polanski directs with the vigor of an old pro who’s learned more than a few new tricks. (Our interview with Seigner here.)