SBS Movies managing editor Fiona Williams offers her pick of the movies coming to SBS On Demand this month.
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9 Nov 2020 - 3:46 PM  UPDATED 26 Nov 2020 - 10:41 AM

Do The Right Thing

MA15+
United States of America, 1989
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Crime
Language: English
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Spike Lee, Giancarlo Esposito, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson 
What's it about?
During a summer heatwave, barely concealed racism explodes into violence in a Brooklyn street. A Black man dies in a chokehold at the hands of police officers – the same ones we also see making jokes about Donald Trump. For a movie made in 1989, Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing sure is bang-on for 2020. Call it prescience if you like, or instead reflect upon the infuriating reality that absolutely nothing has changed in the decades since Lee's breakthrough, brilliant film was made (*except for the job title of the aforementioned real estate mogul).  

Do the Right Thing review: A remarkable achievement

Listen: Interview with Giancarlo 'Buggin Out' Esposito  

 

Sherpa: Trouble on Everest

Nepal, Australia, 2015
Genre: Documentary
Language: Nepali, English
Director: Jennifer Peedom
What's it about?
Australian filmmaker Jennifer Peedom had intended to make a film about the insecure working conditions of Nepal's legendary Sherpas, whose support of Everest climbers is the literal backbone of the Himalayan economy. Unbeknownst to Peedom, she would end up capturing one of the deadliest days on Everest, when a treacherous expanse of ice broke away, and realises the worst fears of those she'd been filming across the 2014 climbing season to date. It's heart-in-mouth stuff, and in documenting the aftermath, Sherpa strives for a fair representation of the competing interests in a complex dispute. Read more here

Sherpa: Trouble on Everest review: Doc spotlights an industrial dispute at the top of the world
WATCH: Jennifer Peedom reflects on the making of 'Sherpa'

Sherpa: Trouble on Everest is streaming now. Be quick! It leaves SBS On Demand on 16 December.

 

Destroyer 

USA, 2018
MA15+

Genre: Thriller, Drama
Language: English
Director: Karyn Kusama
Starring:
Nicole Kidman, Scoot Mcnairy, Bradley Whitford
What's it about?
Destroyer, from director Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s BodyGirlfight), sees Nicole Kidman play LA detective Erin Bell across dual timelines. In the present, she's a hardened ex-cop settling old scores; in the past she's a bright-eyed young professional, eager to bust some bad guys. The time frames are expertly set up to bring about a traumatic reckoning and Kidman, always game in her physical performances, wears a burden of guilt about her past misdeeds as if lugging around a backpack full of bricks. Though nominated for a Golden Globe for Kidman's performance, few saw the film when it was released into Australian cinemas. Right that wrong by catching it at SBS On Demand, it's great. And then listen to Karyn Kusama talk about making it. 

Destroyer is now streaming at SBS On Demand. 

LISTEN: Interview with Karyn Kusama 

 

Marshall

United States of America, 2017
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Reginald Hudlin
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Sterling K. Brown, James Cromwell, Dan Stevens, Sophia Bush, Jussie Smollett 
What's it about?
In his short career, the late Chadwick Boseman was the go-to actor for thoughtful portrayals of Black leaders, real (Jackie Robinson, James Brown) and fictional (T'Challa, ruler of Wakanda, and his alter ego, Black Panther). Add to that enviable biography his turn here as NAACP legal counsel and future Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. The film is less concerned with 'cradle to grave' biopic conventions, and focuses on the events of the career-defining 1940 legal case in which Marshall defended a Black man, Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown), who stands accused of the rape and attempted murder of a white society woman, Eleanor Strubing (Kate Hudson). Multiple setbacks – not least racial, religious and gender discrimination – bring about all manner of twists and turns in the case (all true, it seems), and the drama is immersive and affecting.  

 

I Am Not Your Negro

MA
United States of America, 2017
Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Director: Raoul Peck
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles, James Baldwin
What's it about?
After living abroad through the '50s and '60s, at arms' length from the chaos of the grassroots struggle for civil rights, author/poet/essayist James Baldwin felt compelled to return to the US, to be present for the reckoning that was underway. Oscar-nominated director Raoul Peck brings to life the text of Baldwin's incomplete final novel, Remember This House, in a meditation on what it means to be Black in America (then and now). It's impossible for a talking head to describe the way Baldwin's devastating intellect infuses his urgent prose, so Peck doesn't try, and simply has Samuel L. Jackson read aloud from the manuscript. 

Documentary 'I Am Not Your Negro' proves writer James Baldwin's views on racism in America are as relevant as ever

 

Hard Eight

USA, 1997
Genre: Drama
Starring: John C. Reilly, Philip Baker Hall, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson
Director:
Paul Thomas Anderson
What's it about?
Paul Thomas Anderson's first film is a noir-y tale set around the craps tables in Reno, Nevada. The title is lifted from a challenging move: successfully rolling a double 4 with a pair of dice. Out-of-luck gambler John (John C. Reilly) sure wouldn't know much about it, until he is approached by an enigmatic (father-)figure, Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), who imparts life lessons and gambling tips. The film tracks their curious mentor/mentee relationship, and like Sydney himself, Anderson plays his cards close to his chest. He keeps us guessing about what's in all this for Sydney, until it's time to show his hand. With Samuel L. Jackson and Gwyneth Paltrow completing the ensemble, the film is a talky series of slow-reveal dialogues that occur in diners, bars and casino motels, emulating the '70s Hollywood cinema Anderson adores. 

COMING SOON: Hard Eight drops at SBS on Demand 30 November  

 

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