Four new movies to stream this weekend

A searing but subtle US abortion drama, plus ‘exótico’ Mexican wrestling, Portuguese spirituality, and nuclear power at a low simmer

Sidney Flanigan in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Sidney Flanigan in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

 

NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS ★★★★★
Directed by Eliza Hittmann. Starring Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten. Apple, Google Play, others, 101 min
Hugely effective drama concerning a young woman, Autumn, and her journey from Pennsylvania to New York for an abortion. The accumulation of variously sized inconveniences heightens anxiety as we stagger towards an interview sequence that, drawing only the vaguest answers from Autumn, points boldly towards habitual abuse. Hélène Louvart’s camera bounces energetically about gritty locations. Julia Holter, known for baroque pop, exercises restraint in her melodic scoring. It’s a simple tale, but it contains multitudes. Flanigan is endlessly natural as the lead. DC

VITALINA VARELA ★★★★☆
Directed by Pedro Costa. Starring Vitalina Varela, Ventura, Manuel Tavares Almeida, Francisco Brito. Mubi, 124 min

Vitalina Varela
Vitalina Varela

Nobody makes cinema quite like Pedro Costa. Using non-professional actors, illuminated by mere slithers of light, the Portuguese auteur’s films fall somewhere between ethnography and spiritual enquiry. Vitalina Varela concerns a middle-aged Cape Verdean woman’s visit to Lisbon after her husband’s funeral. As ever, Costa shoots his cast with nobility and care. Vitalina Varela has neither a conventional narrative nor structure. It demands a particular dreamy engagement. Indelible images and sequences punctuate Costa’s hypnotic spell. A gloomy wonder. TB

CASSANDRO, THE EXOTICO! ★★★★☆
Directed Marie Losier. Featuring Saúl Almendáriz. Mubi, 74 min

Cassandro, the Exotico!
Cassandro, the Exotico!

Saúl Armendáriz, known in the ring as Cassandro, was born and raised in El Paso. He mastered drug addiction – he has the Narcotics Anonymous chips to prove it – before he mastered wrestling. Gay men, as he explains, have long featured in lucha libre in the role of “exótico”, but they were figures of fun until Cassandro became a title holder. Losier’s documentary on this fascinating figure is handmade, heartfelt, and entirely against the grain of contemporary gloss. TB

THE ATOM: A LOVE AFFAIR ★★★☆☆
Directed by Vicki Lesley. Featuring Ralph Nader, Tony Benn, Bernard Ingham, Mick McCormack, William Magwood. Curzon Home Cinema, 91 min

The Atom: A Love Affair
The Atom: A Love Affair

This entertaining documentary is a very rare thing: a balanced engagement with a controversial issue. Bringing together activists, politicians, scientists and everyday citizens, A Love Affair talks us through the ups and downs of nuclear power over the past three quarters of a century. The fellow from the British nuclear industry has something interesting to say. So does his bête noire from Greenpeace. It’s all interesting and well put together, but some point of view would have been welcome. DC 

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