2020 movies: The best films new to UK streaming this week - 6 November

Kambole Campbell
·5-min read
Doctor Sleep, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Whiplash.
Doctor Sleep, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Whiplash.

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If, like us, you’ve been unwillingly glued to the news for the last 48 hours, we’re assuming that a distraction is needed. Thankfully, some escapism is on hand. The timing of some of this week’s releases couldn’t be better, most of all the arrival of 2018’s magnificent animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, an instant classic of the medium that made waves that are already being felt in the world of western animation.

Elsewhere, there are some hangovers from Halloween such as Stephen King specialist Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of the renowned author’s sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, as well as recent hits like Damien Chazelle’s breakout film Whiplash and Sara Colangelo’s The Kindergarten Teacher.

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Doctor Sleep - Sky Cinema and the Sky Cinema Pass on NOW TV

Ewan McGregor and Carl Lumbly in <i>Doctor Sleep</i> (Warner Bros.)
Ewan McGregor and Carl Lumbly in Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros.)

To be upfront: Doctor Sleep isn’t perfect (although, no film is). Mike Flanagan’s film takes an unnecessary turn for the nostalgic in its final stages, which is mainly a drawback because the preceding material is actually so distinct and compelling in its own right, even with the memory of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining in mind.

Flanagan’s decision to engage with that film is somewhat unavoidable, but what precedes it is genuinely terrifying already: a miraculous feat, considering that the main drive of the plot is that Rebecca Ferguson (resembling an evil Stevie Nicks) is vaping the souls of children. As wild as that sounds, under Flanagan’s direction such scenes are transformed into something genuinely squirm-inducingly unpleasant, one particular scene with the young actor Jacob Tremblay will haunt many.

Watch a trailer for Doctor Sleep

The film is unafraid to lean into the corniness that King’s writing contains, and its better off for it, and Ewan McGregor is doing solid work to ground this story of psychic children as a character struggling to escape his past traumas. It’s simply solid, unpretentious genre work for a film that should be all means be doomed by its ties to The Shining, and yet, it almost completely works as a sequel to The Shining, mainly when its only loosely tied to it by the awful memories that Danny wears on his face. In short, it’s a great time, especially when it’s about Danny Torrance rather than The Shining itself.

Also new to NOW TV: Lucy in the Sky

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Netflix

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (Credit: Columbia Pictures)
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (Credit: Columbia Pictures)

Despite being 7th or 8th Spider-Man feature film in just a couple of decades, Into The Spider-Verse is a genuine shot in the arm for both American animation as well as the increasingly stagnant genre of the superhero movie. It’s particularly striking thanks to its because of its innovative approach to 3D CG animation, mixing traditional hand-drawn 2D with cel shaded 3D models, and constructing scenes around the layouts of sequential comic book art, even replicating the four-colour dot texture of early comic book printing. It simply looks unlike any other contemporary American animated film, and seeing upcoming films take a page out of its book (so to speak) is nothing less than thrilling.

Further still, the film approaches something to the effect of flipping through pages by animating the characters on twos (12 frames every second) rather than on ones (24 every second) – the slightly shakier movement representing the anxieties of the main character – not Peter Parker, but Miles Morales. In replacing the long-time Spider-Man with the Afro-Latino character created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli in Marvel’s ‘Ultimate Comics’ line, the spectacularly talented creative time returns to the original concept that Stan Lee and Steve Diko had for Spider-Man: under the mask, it could be anybody, someone like me or you.

Watch a clip from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Spider-Verse isn’t just great because of how it looks, but because of how those looks enhance the emotional impact of a fairly straightforward (if conceptually bananas) Spider-Man story, and perhaps the best of its kind.

Also new on Netflix: Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Outta Water

Whiplash - Amazon Prime Video

Miles Teller and JK Simmons in a still from Whiplash (Sony Pictures)
Miles Teller and JK Simmons in a still from Whiplash (Sony Pictures)

Before the whimsical pastiche of La La Land and the contemplative melancholy of First Man, Damien Chazelle was best known for this surprisingly explosive film about a frustrated and ambitious jazz drummer Andrew (played with simultaneously off-putting and captivating selfishness by Miles Teller) and his abusive band leader Terence (played with terrifying fury by J.K. Simmons).

Once again, considering that its climax centres around a performance of a Hank Levy number at a jazz festival, Whiplash is somewhat surprising in its breakneck pace and unbearable tension, each note carrying the feeling of life and death for these people. Further still, its outright refusal to give an outright answer about the nature of the relationship between musician and instructor makes its final images linger in the mind, long after the music has stopped.

Also new on Prime Video: Die Hard 2, Matilda

The Kindergarten Teacher - MUBI

Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Kindergarten Teacher (Thunderbird Releasing)
Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Kindergarten Teacher (Thunderbird Releasing)

A disquieting tale of deeply unhealthy obsession, Sara Colangelo’s American remake of Nadav Lapid’s film of the same name might be one of the greatest showcases for Maggie Gyllenhaal, a protagonist fighting her own mediocrity from the film’s very beginning.

Her character Lisa is imminently watchable even as she’s clearly going off the rails and doing increasingly awful things, her obsession with living vicariously through the innate talent of her young kindergarten student Jimmy only worsening across the film’s running time. One of those films that depicts such disaster in a way that you can’t look away from it.

Also now on MUBI: Queen of Hearts, 8 Women