“Wild Canaries” (Netflix) — My full review is here. It’s like Woody Allen’s “Manhattan Murder Mystery” set among the artisanal cupcake set, as a Brooklyn couple try to figure out who killed the elderly lady in their building. It’s lightweight, fizzy fun, an homage to screwball comedies of the days of yore.
“Slow West” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. This odd and elegant Western was shot in New Zealand by a Scottish director and features Irishman Michael Fassbender in the lead, but geography isn’t everything. In telling the tale of a naive young man (Kodi Smith-McPhee) enlisting the reluctant help of a bounty hunger (Fassbender) to rescue an old flame, director Angus Maclean salts his film with quick violence, odd characters, and a mournful fatalism that gives “Slow West” a distinctive, contemplative flavor.
“Advantageous” (Netflix) — My full review is here. Director Jennifer Phang expertly creates a dystopian sci-fi world from a feminine perspective in this thoughtful drama. A middle-aged woman (co-writer Jacqueline Kim) facing zero job prospects in a world with 45 percent unemployment weighs taking on a younger “host body” to become more employable, a moral dilemma that touches on ageism, classism and racism.
“Pi” (Netflix) — Darren Aronofsky’s first feature is a dizzying low-budget conspiracy thriller, as a brilliant mathematician is driven to madness by the thought that he can quantify the mathematical patterns that underlie everyday life. Shot in shaky, handheld black-and-white, “Pi” effectively builds a feeling of claustrophobia and paranoia in the viewer.
“Rob Roy” (Netflix) — A hunky Scotsman fights (Liam Neeson) fights for honor and revenge against a cruel British aristocrat (Tim Roth) in this engaging 1994 drama which concludes with one of the best swordfights ever put on the screen.