The Borneo Post (Sabah)
New movies to stream this week: ‘The Banishing,’ ‘Hope’ and more
You might call the 1930s-set English horror film “The Banishing” “Poltergeist” with a British accent and pretty period costumes: When a stuffy vicar (John Heffernan) and his wife (Jessica Brown Findlay of “Downton Abbey”) move into a creaky, old manor with a dark past, their young daughter (Anya McKenna-Bruce) starts receiving communications from another dimension.
They’re not coming through a television set this time, but via some dolls - including a set of creepy, hooded monks — left behind by the previous tenants. (A bloody prologue hints at what happened to them.)
Marianne, the wife, has her own dark backstory, which explains her cold relationship with her husband. When she starts seeing things, too, she consults the local occultist (Sean Harris, so delightfully villainous in the “Mission Impossible” franchise, now with a cloud of orange hair).
His character, Harry Price, is based on a real psychic researcher by that name, who investigated what he called the “most haunted house in England”: Borley Rectory. Despite the historical connection, the film’s circumstances and setting, called Morley Hall here, are entirely fictional. There are a couple of nice jump scares, and an overarching mood of mounting dread, but this is a ghost story that’s mostly atmosphere, not ectoplasm.
Those who are used to less restrained American horror might be let down, but fans of such moody fare as “The Little
Stranger” - in whose league “The Banishing” does not quite qualify - will nevertheless find something chilly to savor. Unrated. Available on Shudder. 97 minutes.
At first glance, the synopsis of “Hope,” about a longtime couple facing a woman’s cancer diagnosis, might suggest you’ve seen this movie before, most recently in the Liam Neeson-Lesley Manville twohander ‘Ordinary Love.’
But this finely observed and exquisitely acted drama — Norway’s official Oscar submission, by writer-director Maria Sodahl — takes familiar material to new places altogether.
Based in part on her own life, “Hope” chronicles a tense winter holiday week in Oslo when choreographer Anja (Andrea Braein Hovig) gets bad news about the headaches and blurry vision she’s been experiencing; her comfortable home life with acclaimed theater director Tomas (Stellan Skarsgard) and their blended family is suddenly thrown into muted chaos, made all the more upsetting by so many doctors taking vacation.
This sounds like a downer, and “Hope” is exquisitely attuned to the nuances of grief, especially when it’s expressed by way of task-oriented dispassion. But it’s also brimming with human life and feeling, from the distance and low-key competition between lovers who are both artists, to the constantly shifting psychotectonics between a mom and her
“Hope” earns its title, in every hard-won,emotionallyhonestsense of the word. Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com, virtualavalon. org, and themiracletheatre.com. Contains sexuality, nudity, smoking and mature thematic material. In Norwegian, Swedish and English with subtitles. 130 minutes.
The lives of three attentionseeking teens — a theater geek (Shirley Chen), a skater (Jose Angeles) and a gun nut (Will Madden) — intersect in “Beast
Beast,” a character study by writer-director Danny Madden (Will’s older brother, making only his second outing at the helm of
a feature). Despite some flaws, Variety says the film has enough “promising craft” that Madden “may become an artist himself.” Available at afisilver.afi.com. 85 minutes.
Anyone who appreciated the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s 2018 Bill Traylor retrospective will probably be interested in “Bill Traylor: Chasing
Ghosts,” a documentary about the late, self-taught artist, born into slavery around 1853, who didn’t start painting until his 80s but became a beloved, much collected folk artist. Slant magazine calls the film an “exhilarating” tribute to Traylor: “‘Chasing Ghosts’ somehow feels simultaneously focused, covering nearly 90 years of a man’s life in granular detail over the course of a sprightly 75 minutes, and appealingly free-associational.” Available at afisilver.afi.com and themiracletheatre.com. 75 minutes. The documentary “Brewmance” follows the ups and downs of two start-up craft breweries in California: one run by a Christian father-and-son team and the other
by a retired rock star seeking a quieter life. As one of the film’s subjects puts it in the trailer, “We’re artists. We’re making
liquid art.” Available on Apple TV, FandangoNow, Google Play, Vudu, Microsoft. Altavod, Vimeo and major cable providers. 102 minutes.
Sebastian Stan and Irish stage actress Denise Gough play tourists who meet in Greece and fall head-over-heels in lust in
“Monday,” a whirlwind romance that ends with them “riding a motorcycle around Athens naked in December, windmill high and pursued by cops,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. That may sound ridiculous to some, “but anyone else who’s ever been in a relationship like this – especially the kind that starts to feel like a codependent bipolar disorder trapped on a roller coaster by the end – will painfully relate to ‘Monday’s’ sensual, funny and above all honest look at amour fou.” Available on various streaming
platforms. 115 minutes. — The