Pick of the week
Beasts of No Nation Netflix Streaming behemoth Netflix has fired a shot across the bows of movie studios and cinemas with the release of Beasts of No Nation, already being spoken of as on Oscar contender. (The film was tactically released on a limited number of screens in the US to be eligible.) This feature film begins with a cheeky young boy named Agu, played by newcomer Abraham Attah. He is from a “good family” in an unnamed African country. But as civil war approaches his village, he barely escapes the executioners who kill his father and brother. Enter the commandant, played by Idris Elba (pictured), best known from TV’s Luther and recent films such as Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The commandant rescues Agu but drafts him into his battalion, comprising mostly young boys. Agu is initiated into this brutal world through killing, though rape and drugs are not far behind. Not wholly seduced by the camaraderie, Agu begins to see the impossibility of resuming his childhood and the inevitability of his own death. We identify with him — what realistic choices does he have in this horrific scenario? Written and directed by Cary Fukunaga ( True Detective), who is also credited with the cinematography and creating the very effective soundscape, this film is very engaging, if predictable, and a hopeful portent of quality filmmaking we can expect in the brave new world of streaming.