Here is an interesting new release available this week for online rental through the Austin Film Society, as well as some new titles soon available for streaming.
Video on demand
"Coded Bias": At the MIT Media Lab, researcher Joy Buolamwini discovered that facial recognition software could not detect her dark skin tone until she put on a white mask. Her experiments and research pointed out serious inefficiencies at some of the biggest technology companies around the globe. In one of the year's most thought-provoking documentaries, director Shalini Kantayya uses Joy's work as a launchpad to take us behind the curtain in Silicon Valley to uncover how artificial intelligence and programmed algorithms are informed by the inherent biases and stereotypes held by those who create them. Whether you share a passion for civil rights, statistics and data or any combination therein, this is required viewing. (Opens in the Austin Film Society's Virtual Cinema on Nov. 20)
Also on streaming services
"Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist": Exactly as advertised, Swiss director Alexandre O. Philippe ("78/52," "Memory: The Origins of Alien") sits down with the venerable filmmaker for a deep dive into one of the greatest horror films of all time. If you have ever seen Friedkin in person (as I have at an Alamo Drafthouse screening in 2018), you already know that he is a consummate storyteller who loves to talk. The beauty of this documentary is that it's like auditing a college-level film course in the best possible way and delivers everything you wanted to know about "The Exorcist" and then some. Some of the best stories broken down here involve rejecting both Bernard Herrmann and Lalo Schifrin's original scores for the picture and how Oscar-winning actress Mercedes McCambridge fought her own demons to dub all of the dialogue from young star Linda Blair's possessed character, Regan MacNeil. (Shudder on Nov. 19)
"Run": Aneesh Chaganty ("Searching") directs this taut thriller that was originally supposed to open in theaters over Mother's Day weekend but got delayed due to COVID-19. Chloe (Kiera Allen in a breakout performance) is a 17-year-old girl who lives a fairly isolated life with her overprotective mom, Diane (Sarah Paulson). Battling chronic health issues since childhood, Chloe uses a wheelchair to get around the home but is otherwise cut off from the outside world, without a cellphone or internet access. She longs to leave her home-schooled life behind and is waiting for acceptance letters to leave home for college but begins to suspect that maybe her mother is trying to prevent that from happening. Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian slowly ratchet up the tension to a harrowing climax you won't soon forget. (Hulu on Nov. 20)