Four new films to stream this weekend

The Vast of Night, Mike Wallace Is Here, Only the Animals, and The High Note

Sierra McCormick in The Vast of Night

Sierra McCormick in The Vast of Night

 

THE VAST OF NIGHT ★★★★☆
Directed by Andrew Patterson. Starring Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer, Bruce Davis. Amazon Prime, 89 min
Twilight Zone-styled drama concerning two teenagers in 1950s America investigating a mysterious audio frequency. Breathlessly told using DOP bravado dolly action, big old-fashioned yarn-spinning sequences, menacing lighting design, and unnerving timing, The Vast of Night defies its microbudget with such unorthodox choices as blackout moments. The talky script, by James Montague and Craig W Sanger, demonstrates that show-don’t-tell isn’t always the way to go. McCormack and Horowitz put in star-making turns. A perfect storm. TB

MIKE WALLACE IS HERE ★★★★☆
Directed by Avi Belkin. Featuring Mike Wallace, Donald Trump, Yasir Arafat, Salvador Dalí, Bill O’Reilly. VOD, 91 min

Mike Wallace Is Here
Mike Wallace Is Here

Gripping, fast-moving documentary on the late American TV journalist who invented the modern, probing interview and, with 60 Minutes, helped launch the “magazine show”. As is often the case with contemporary documentarians, Avi Belkin choses to put only archival material on the screen. Edited in terse segments, the picture rattles along at such a pace one experiences blueshift as historical events race by. A little more air might have been welcome, but this remains a hugely entertaining film for anyone interested in the American way of communicating. DC

ONLY THE ANIMALS/SEULES LES BÊTES ★★★★☆
Directed by Dominik Moll. Starring Laure Calamy, Denis Ménochet, Damien Bonnard, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Nadia Tereszkiewicz, Guy Roger “Bibisse” N’drin. VOD, 116 min

Damien Bonnard in Only the Animals
Damien Bonnard in Only the Animals

Twisty, impressive French mystery that, from various different perspectives, tells the story of a young woman’s death in a snowy bit of the countryside. A farmer’s wife is having an affair. The victim was in a troubled relationship with a waitress. Hang on. Now we’re in Africa. Moll, best remembered for the Hitchcockian Harry, He’s Here to Help (2000), falls back on coincidences and unlikely twists to tie together his dangling strands. But the pace never slackens and the visuals remain evocative throughout. DC

THE HIGH NOTE ★★★☆☆
Directed Nisha Ganatra. Starring Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Zoë Chao, Bill Pullman, Eddie Izzard, Ice Cube. Various platforms, 112 min

Dakota Johnson in The High Note
Dakota Johnson in The High Note

What if the kind of list-making music snob who works at the record store in High Fidelity was a female with nicer manners? What if she was hoping to become a record producer in the boy’s club of the music industry? Despite a late plot development that could have been lifted from Will Ferrell’s telenovela comedy, Casa de Mi Padre, The High Note has enough heart and grace to see it through. Johnson is, as always, a pleasure in the lead role. TB

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