Wondering what to see? Between card sharks, slashers and heists, this week’s streaming highlights run a criminal gauntlet, to varying degrees of severity. The top among these choices is The card counteran Oscar Isaac-led character study from Paul Schrader (author of Taxi driverdirector of First Reformed). It reflects on the rage and guilt of a lonely man, but also uses it as a way into deep-seated American pathologies surrounding the war on terror, and it’s a stunning film in its sharp political commentary.
The more flashy The Bling Ringdirected by Sofia Coppola and starring Emma Watson, similarly has a different mindset, material greed fostered by celebrity culture, and what it inspires in people who desire that fame. Yellthe fifth installment of the franchise of the same name, bucks the trend of the old sequel, in the grand tradition of its forefathers, each meta-horror film showcases films from the era in which they were made.
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The card counter (2021) – NOW with Sky Cinema Membership (Pick of the Week)
After milling around between solid blockbuster series, Oscar Isaac finally gets a part worth sinking his teeth into in Paul Schrader’s The card counterin what may be his best role since the Coen brothers Inside Llewyn Davis.
As the symbolically named William Tell, Isaac’s character brings burdens from the past into the present, in what may be one of the starkest and most scathing films about American war crimes in recent memory. Interrogating the complicity of troops at Abu Ghraib, his study of the emotional toll on those responsible seeps into the film’s grim depiction of poker, far removed from the bravado and glitz of the usual cinematic portrayal of casinos.
Ever engaging in his love for Bresson, Schrader creates an even more miserable existential crisis than his last film, the astounding First Reformed. Somehow The card counter slipped under everyone’s radar last year, it’s time to rectify that if you can.
Also new at NOW: Flag day (2021), Cry Macho (2021) – July 30
Yell (2022) – Paramount+
Continuing in the 30-year-old tradition of the series, Yell (2022) makes a cut out of modern trends in horror filmmaking, its modus operandi is to carve the cliche as well as unsuspecting teenagers.
Read more: Neve Campbell out of Scream 6 over salary dispute
Of course, the goal of this latest film is the “legacy sequel” (obvious in how it mimics the title of the new Halloween by throwing out numbered titles) delayed sequels that also serve as soft reboots for dormant franchises. This marks the first Yell without Wes Craven at the helm, so it’s a little clumsy when directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett try to make their mark while paying tribute to the creator of this meta-horror franchise.
Watch the trailer for Yell
After a strong opening, the film settles into jokes about “elevated horror”, the deification of “canon” in long-running franchises by self-entitled fans and how people discuss franchise filmmaking – a deconstruction of modern, IP-obsessed production is the aim of the game here – with some impressive set pieces and an acceptable mystery along the way. Ultimately Yell finds an upper limit to how well it can evoke that Craven spirit, but it’s an acceptably fun time.
Also on Paramount+ UK: Rumble (2022), Girl, taken (2022)
The Bling Ring (2013) – BBC iPlayer
Sofia Coppola’s career as a director has been one that has been as concerned with opulence and the idleness of the wealthy as often as it has been with various forms of ennui. Youthful restlessness of The Virgin Suicide Even Marie Antoinette are still visible in the glittering surface and empty valley people The Bling Ring.
A crime drama inspired by a true story, the film follows the case of a young fashion fan named Marc, whose curiosity and attraction to wealth and fame leads him to become accomplices to classmates Rebecca and Nicki, who find the homes of celebrities in LA. who are away on holiday, and take advantage of their lack of security to rob them.
It leads to the usual hubris and doom, of course, but along the way Coppola constructs a sharp social satire amid his curious archiving of mid-’00s celebrity culture, bolstered by surprisingly great comedic performances from the likes of Emma Watson and her co-stars, all perfect parodies on rich vapidity.
Also on iPlayer: The mule (2018), Mary Queen of Scots (2018)