Each week we highlight the noteworthy titles that have recently hit streaming platforms in the United States. Check out this week’s selections below and past round-ups here.

Chez Jolie Coiffure (Rosine Mbakam)

A vérité vignette of a small, expat-owned hair salon in Brussels’ African Quarter. Award-winning Cameroonian filmmaker Rosine Mbakam’s sophomore feature explores displacement, resilience, and the small economies migrants build to temper ties to their homelands, through mid-braid gossip and humble confessions.

Where to Stream: Le Cinéma Club

Giving Birth to a Butterfly (Theodore Schaefer)

We meet Diana Dent (Annie Parisse) readying matching wedding gowns soon revealed as not her own. She’s mending them to sell online—a necessity considering her bull-headed and controlling husband Daryl (Paul Sparks) is hell-bent on putting their life savings towards a dream of creating his own restaurant. That means no money for Drew (Owen Campbell) or Danielle’s (Rachel Resheff) college. No money to stop working extra hours at the pharmacy. No money for anything besides his selfish need to break free of a constrained life as if he’s the only one struggling to come up for air. So Diana looks to liquidate what she can while hiding the act in the knowledge that Daryl would inevitably find a way to make her feel bad about doing it. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Fandor

Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien)

Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Millennium Mambo premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001 to, sadly, so little enthusiasm outside the highbrow crowd that it didn’t finally land in North American theaters until three years later. Initially mystifying even to fans of Hou for being so “minor” after a number of historical dramas, it’s had a second act—seemingly earning the mantle of the director’s most popular film, at least judging by Letterboxd-logging stats. It’s curious to reflect on the reason for its elevated reputation, yet easy to recognize why it’s a particular favorite to aging millennials who serve as our chief tastemakers. And now on the occasion of a new 4K restoration, the film has the chance to be experienced theatrically for the first time by many of its biggest admirers, where its hypnotic rhythms and neon world can be better appreciated than on a ruddy specialty label DVD from the mid-2000s. – Ethan V. (full feature)

Where to Stream: VOD

Nam June Paik: Moon is the Oldest TV (Amanda Kim)

“I use technology in order to hate it properly,” pioneering video artist and self-identified cultural terrorist Nam June Paik says while explaining his playful, boundary-breaking work. A Ph.D. holder who speaks 20 languages––almost all quite badly––Paik is known as the father of video art, fantasizing early on about converting the medium of television into something other than passive work. It often broke the rules, incorporating onstage nudity, politics (including the satirization of John F. Kennedy shortly after his assassination), and the embrace of the future. For Paik, a student who lived history––he escaped Seoul at the beginning of the Korean War to study music in West Germany in the late 1950s––it’s the artist’s role to think about the future.

Where to Stream: PBS

Pacifiction (Albert Serra)

Pacifiction is what Albert Serra might describe as an unfuckable movie. “Unfuckable is, you take the whole thing or you don’t take it but you cannot apply a critical judgment in an easy way,” he explained to us in 2019, “because it is what it is and it doesn’t look like any other film.” Pacifiction does not look like any other film. It doesn’t taste or smell like other films, either, even Serra’s own distinctive body of work. It premiered in a Cannes competition that has been high on wattage but low on power, crying out for a sensation. Pacifiction is that sensation: a film unlike any other this year, appearing near the end of proceedings, with the festival’s final furlongs already in sight; it is the closest the selection has come to delivering a masterpiece. – Rory O. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

The Pink Cloud (Iuli Gerbase)

Iuli Gerbase’s The Pink Cloud starts off with a disclaimer: “This film was written in 2017 and shot in 2019. Any resemblance to real life is purely coincidental.” Indeed, it doesn’t take long before the uncanny connections between Gerbase’s film and the real-life COVID-19 pandemic become quite unsettlingly clear, in what feels like the simultaneously most accurate and most dystopic depiction of life during a pandemic (namely, during lockdowns of the first part of 2020). – Brianna Z. (full review)

Where to Stream: Prime Video

Polite Society (Nida Manzoor)

Polite Society, written and directed by Nida Manzoor, moves like a supersonic jet. That’s one of the best things about the picture. Telling the coming-of-age story of Ria Khan (Priya Kansara), a young woman determined to become a stunt performer, the filmmaker establishes a brash, bold style early and often. Big performances, big camera moves, big editorial choices, big music cues! As the pace quickens, the swings grow larger and larger. – Dan M. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

R.M.N. (Cristian Mungiu)

Anyone looking to take the temperature of Cristian Mungiu’s first film in six long years should heed the words of Matthias, his most recent downtrodden protagonist: “People who feel pity die first,” he explains to his 8-year-old son. “I want you to die last.” Too much? Try the more eloquent musings of the local priest: “Everyone has their place in the world, as God ordained.” Translation: go back to where you came from. The Romanian filmmaker returns with R.M.N., a portrait of Europe, perhaps the world, in the days of late capitalism. As bitter and biting as its winter landscape, it stars Marin Grigore as a Hungarian immigrant in a small village nestled amongst the snowy forests and sweeping mountains of Transylvania. Working in crisp blues and greys from Tudor Vladimir Panduru (GraduationMalmkrog), Mungiu sketches the town as a modern Babel: Romanian, Hungarian, French, German, Sri Lankan, and English are all spoken, and an uneasy coexistence prevails. You soon wonder for how long. – Rory O. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Sisu (Jalmari Helander)

So we finally arrive at the epic baconification of World War II. With enough Tarantino-esque chapter headings that you won’t for a second forget its place in the po-mo grindhouse market, Sisu is a thoroughly depressing effort that will only make you appreciate that mad-man Quentin’s work more. But if you actually found Inglourious Basterds offensive, prepare to have a word with the latest work from Jalmari Helander of Rare Exports and Big Game—something like an unholy cross of John Wick, a Sgt. Rock comic, and The Simpsons’ Rambo parody McBain. Even if Sisu on paper has all the makings of a fun romp, something is deeply amiss. – Ethan V. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

Slow Cinema

As Slow Cinema evolves as a movement increasingly prominent in film festivals and within academic study across the globe, Filmatique’s eponymous series considers this political potential. In contemporary Asian films (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), slowness often signals a protest against the vertiginous pace of industrialization and societal change; in Latin American (Silent Light) and Turkish cinema (two by Nuri Bilge Ceylan), it may offer a protracted, sensuous relation to the natural world. Anti-consumerist, ecological, and contemplative, cinematic slowness offers a new form of agency, a mode of intervention in the accelerated pace of late-capitalist existence.

Where to Stream: Filmatique

Taming the Garden (Salomé Jashi)

If you happen to maintain your own garden and feel stressed about the upkeep, look no further than Salomé Jashi’s visually striking observational documentary to put things in perspective. The grounds at the center of Taming the Garden, however, aren’t glimpsed until the film’s final moments; this journey through the country of Georgia is almost entirely about the grueling task of transplanting majestic, century-old trees many, many miles by land and sea. Lest you believe this can be done with some simple equipment, the tree at the center of this story weighs as much as a house and requires months upon months of work to find its new home. In capturing this process, Jashi takes a vivid, evergreen look at the effects of gratuitous wealth. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: OVID.tv

The Thief Collector (Allison Otto)

The various facets of the art of the heist––from motivation to execution to life on the lam (or in detainment)––make it perennially ripe for high-stakes cinematic treatment. One of the most peculiar such stories of thieving involves Jerry and Rita Alter, retired teachers who were suspected of lifting Willem de Kooning’s “Woman-Ochre” in broad daylight from the University of Arizona in 1985. Some decades later and well after their deaths, the $160 million painting was uncovered at their New Mexico home. Without her subjects to tell their own tale, Allison Otto’s The Thief Collector draws from many sources to weave the web of deceit and globe-trotting adventure. Its twist-a-minute peeling back of the mystery around our subjects’ secretive way of life makes for a mostly riveting inquiry into lies hiding in plain sight, yet the results can feel unwieldy with its overstuffed roster of talking heads and distracting, attention-seeking re-enactments. – Jordan R. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

A Thousand and One (A.V. Rockwell)

In the beginning of A Thousand and One, the New York City streets are alive, detailed and humming with swagger. It’s 1993 and Inez struts through Brooklyn after a five-year stint at Rikers Island, readjusting to the rhythms of freedom. The sun bakes the brownstones, hip-hop echoes around storefronts, and kids suck on ice pops––the kind of weather and atmosphere Samuel L. Jackson might be yammering about from his bedroom window. But there’s no time to waste. Inez is looking for Terry, the seven-year-old she left behind and hopes to reclaim.  – Jake K.S. (full review)

Where to Stream: Peacock

To Catch a Killer (Damian Szifron)

To Catch a Killer’s logline is about as familiar as its title: a rookie cop with a detective’s intelligence and drive, Eleanor Falco (Shailene Woodley) finds her burgeoning career prospects perpetually dragged down by the demons that haunt her. Yet when a mass killer strikes the city, the chance for personal catharsis and her future in law enforcement firmly intersect. – Ethan V. (full review)

Where to Stream: VOD

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