'Capernaum,' 'If Beale Street Could Talk' available to watch at home
Here is an interesting new release available now from cable and digital providers as well as a title that has recently become available for streaming.
Video on Demand
"Capernaum": The Arabic title translates to "chaos," which is an accurate description of what you're about to see. The third feature film from Nadine Labaki is a heartbreaking story about a 12-year-old boy named Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) who lives in squalor in Beirut with a family that never stops growing. He has countless brothers and sisters (when asked how many, he simply responds "a lot"), and his parents are unable to properly feed and care for all of them. When they try to sell off his 11-year-old sister to be married to an adult man in the area, Zain tries to stop them and runs away when he fails in his efforts. He is taken in by a young Ethiopian woman named Rahil with an undocumented infant of her own in exchange for him to watch her baby while she works. The timeline of the story is not told linearly, but the framing device is a courtroom drama where Zain is trying to sue his own parents because he was born. He also seeks to have the judge force them to stop having more children that they cannot care for. International cinema often manages to deliver stories led by impressive child performances, but Al Rafeea (a Syrian refugee in Lebanon who was cast by the filmmakers with no prior acting experience) dynamically carries nearly every scene with the gravitas of a classically trained actor and displays a ferocious tenacity that is as inspirational as it is surprising. I have no idea how he manages to convey complicated emotional reactions with simple looks, but he is really unforgettable here. I've seen some criticism of the movie that derides it as "misery porn." The movie is unquestionably difficult viewing, but empathetic viewers will discover a compelling world they likely knew nothing about. (Cable and digital VOD, subtitled)
Also on streaming services
"If Beale Street Could Talk": After winning the Best Picture Oscar for "Moonlight," director Barry Jenkins could've tackled just about any project he wanted. He took on a challenging task: adapting James Baldwin's 1974 novel of a young couple in love who are tested after an accusation puts one of them in jail. KiKi Layne and Stephan James are wonderfully cast in the lead roles of Tish and Fonny, but it was Regina King's bravura performance as Tish's mother that earned multiple awards including the best supporting actress Oscar and Golden Globe. Every aspect of the film is remarkable, but the vintage costuming and haunting score from Nicholas Britell really stand out. (Hulu)