Streaming: Choosing the New Platform StudioCanal Presents | movies

To For those of us who’ve already signed up for a veritable bouquet of streaming services — all with monthly subscription fees that are modest individually and unexpectedly high as a group — the announcement of a new one calls for increasingly tough choices. Does this one offer you something essential that you don’t get from these? Which ones can you do without to make room for a newcomer? Or are you ready to just add it to the growing pile?

With that in mind, StudioCanal’s new platform, StudioCanal Presents, has a stronger selling point than it does now. In its 34-year history, the Paris-based distribution and production company has built one of the largest film libraries in the world, digging into vaults from Ealing Studios to Studio Ghibli. StudioCanal Presents, available for £4.99 via the Apple TV app (with a week’s free trial for the cautious), was designed to showcase these wares. It recently launched with a selection of more than 100 titles from its library, with more being added monthly, many of them exclusive to the platform.

Its starter pack is, so to speak, a fairly telling cross-section of what its archive has to offer, which includes audience favorites and art films, classics and newer favourites, with British and French cinema being particularly well represented – in keeping with the company’s origins – in an international mix. StudioCanal’s selection of British classics includes many deservedly canonical titles: the perpetually edgy, quivering noir by Carol Reed The third manthe foxy comedy of the Ealing stars Friendly hearts and crowns and The Lady Killersthe still amazing frankness of Ken Loach’s debut film, Poor cowor the edgy, sensual modernity of Nicolas Roeg’s endlessly imitated psychological horror don’t look now.

But I was pleased to find a few films that aren’t being celebrated the way they deserve today. Bryan Forbes’ loving, quietly compassionate 1962 adaptation of Lynne Reid Banks The L-shaped room, about a young pregnant French woman looking for allies in a West London boarding house, still rings true to perception in her portrayal of the mixed messages Britain is delivering to newcomers. From the same era of New British Realism, Guy Greens The angry silence examines labor politics and the financial desperation of the working class with a determined energy – interpreted at the time as anti-strike – that could still spark debate today. Totally devoid of realism, there’s a rainy Sunday teatime escapism in the lavish, star-studded 1970s version of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nileshould be taken as a corrective to the wooden Kenneth Branagh currently in theaters.

Crossing the English Channel, French New Wave gets a glimpse, with Jean-Luc Godard’s change of form BreathlessRené Clément’s icy but sunburnt Ripley story Purple noon and the dreamily deconstructed romance of Alain Resnais Last year in Mariánské Lázně among the choices. At the newer end of French culture, the compulsive, appropriately twisted police officer series Spiral is a highlight of the platform’s TV selection, along with the louche, bespoke meanness of Hannibalthe Hannibal Lecter Origin series from 2013 with an ideally cast Mads Mikkelsen, worth playing for the first time or 14.

Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). Photo: CBS Films/Sportsphoto/Allstar

The cinema selection of the last few days ranges from the brazen gangster spectacle of Tom Hardy’s double brothers Kray in Legend to Steven Soderbergh’s underrated southern heist Logan luck to the twisted, tar-dark Korean woman-on-a-mission mystery of Bong Joon-ho mother – equal in every respect to the director’s more popular one parasite. And should you have missed two of the most important American films of the last decade – the wintry, elegiac folk throwback by the Coen brothers In Llevyn Davis and Todd Haynes’ eternal romantic swoon Carol – a double feature of this is already worth the fiver of the month.

Streaming and DVD are also new

Human Rights Watch Film Festival
The traveling international festival of progressive, socially conscious cinema takes place in London from 17-25 March, with full programming also available to stream digitally in the UK and Ireland during this period. It is a fresh, exciting selection of documentary and narrative works: one of the highlights is the one that was recently awarded in Berlin Myanmar diaries – an urgent, burning diary of anonymous filmmakers of the past year under military rule – and Endless springan inspired mixed-media reflection on the Chinese police’s persecution of Falun Gong activists, vividly animated by exiled artist Daxiong’s comic book aesthetic.

Endless spring.
Endless spring. Photo: Lofty Sky Pictures

La Civil
When her teenage daughter is kidnapped by a cartel and the authorities in northern Mexico show no help, single mom Cielo takes matters into her own hands. That premise might make Teodora Mihai’s gripping debut sound like your standard vigilante thriller, but it’s something else entirely: tensely gripping, yes, but rich in social structure as it ponders a national history of violence.

Dutch director Tim Leyendekker’s radical, haunting hybrid documentary explores a case that could be prone to lurid crime treatments in which three Dutch men held a series of sex parties, drugging guests and injecting them with HIV-infected blood. But Leyendekker avoids sensationalism and instead examines emotional motivations from multiple perspectives over the course of seven reconstructed vignettes.

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