Streaming Surprises, Volume 12

Our “Streaming Surprises” series calls attention to good movies new and old. Titles are available from various streaming services.

The Tenth Man” (2016)
The Tenth Man (El Rey del Once) follows Ariel, as he travels back to Buenos Aires in an attempt to reconnect with his father, Usher. Upon his arrival, he visits his father’s charity foundation hoping to find Usher, but is immediately swept up in running several errands in his father’s absence with the quiet and aloof, Eva, an Orthodox woman who works at the foundation. As the week progresses, Ariel begins to question his father’s intentions while starting to connect with Eva. We rarely see Ariel’s father, mostly hearing him over the phone, adding to the disconnection between father and son. As Ariel puts it, they “talk and talk, but we don’t say anything.” The film’s low-budget aesthetic works in its favor, looking and feeling like a documentary instead of a fictional story. It’s important to mention that Daniel Burman’s film also gives viewers a glimpse into an otherwise over-looked part of the Argentine Jewish community, and does so in an honest and approachable way. Set in one of the most prominent Jewish neighborhoods in the country, the Once neighborhood provides the backdrop for the tension between Ariel, his father, and the religious traditions that come to define many of the characters, for better or for worse.
Submitted by Sirley Carballo. Available on Netflix.

Nothing in Return” (2015)
Nothing in Return (A cambio de nada) is one of those films where the teenage characters have their stuff together way better than the adults do, despite all appearances. Director Daniel Guzmán manages to let both his main character (Darío) and his story rise
above the selfish and destructive behaviors of a mother and father going through a divorce, The movie succeeds in demonstrating how genuine care for others can transcend generational gaps enough to make life better, if only for the day or a few weeks. In spite of his parents and their bellicose ways, Darío is able to find both mentors and receptacles for his love in his best friend, Luismi, a chubby neighbor kid he’s known since all his life, a shady mechanic shop owner, Justo, who ends up in jail but seems eager to set Darío upon a straighter path than his, and a geriatric pedler of used furniture and housewares, Antonia, who seems to gain as much from Darío’s companionship and he does from hers. Nothing in Return is a quasi modern Don Quixote/Sancho Panza tale, except that these characters see the world exactly for what it is and find it still a place worth trying for.
Submitted by Rubén Casas. Available on Netflix.

The Squid and the Whale” (2005)
Recently added to Netflix is indie icon Noah Baumbach‘s 2005 film, Oscar-nominated for Best Original Screenplay. The Squid and the Whale follows a brief and particularly defining moment in the adolescence of brothers Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and Frank (Owen Kline), as they try to make sense of their parents’ (Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels) divorce. It becomes obvious that the two children are each a reflection of their literary PhD  parents, wearing their character traits just like dressing in their parents’ clothes. The film is full of heart, with wonderful performances from the whole cast, down to the smaller parts, such as Anna Paquin and William Baldwin. The story is set in 1986 Brooklyn — when and where Noah Baumbach grew up himself. The film was almost directed by Wes Anderson. Instead, Baumbach wrote and directed himself, but later would co-write The Life Aquatic and Fantastic Mr. Fox with Anderson. Currently, Baumbach’s upcoming “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” is gaining plenty of Oscar attention for Baumbach as well as for stars Dustin Hoffman and Adam Sandler (that’s right — that’s the power of Baumbach).
Submitted by Justus Bier-Stanberry. Available on Netflix.