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Festival movies you can stream from home very soon

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Pain Hustlers. | Image: Brian Douglas / Netflix

Film festivals like TIFF are a great chance to get a sense of what’s coming to theaters in the coming months, but they’re also a good way to preview the upcoming streaming calendar. Last year in Toronto, for example, Netflix gave an early look at two of its biggest releases with both Wendell & Wild and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. This year was no different, with upcoming movies coming to Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV Plus all part of the program.

(The streamers also went shopping at TIFF, so there’s more on the way: Netflix acquired the rights to both Anna Kendrick’s Woman of the Hour and Richard Linklater’s Hit Man during the festival.)

The good news is that you can stream a number of these movies from home very soon. Plan your viewing schedule accordingly.

A still photo from the film Fingernails.Image: Apple

Fingernails

Streaming on Apple TV Plus on November 3rd

Director Christos Nikou’s sci-fi rom-com boasts an excellent cast (led by Jessie Buckley, Riz Ahmed, and Jeremy Allen White) and an unusual premise. It takes place at some point in the near future when scientists have developed a test that makes it possible to conclusively determine whether two people are in love. The twist: the test involves ripping off a fingernail from each person using a pair of pliers.

Fingernails has some wonky worldbuilding — I have a lot of questions about how the test works and its impact on society — but the movie uses its strange body horror-fueled premise as a way to explore the way relationships evolve and the importance of constantly working on them. The gross-out scenes are balanced by some delightful dark humor, resulting in a slightly uneven movie that’s still worth checking out.

Pain Hustlers

Streaming on Netflix on October 27th

Based on the book of the same name by Evan Hughes, Pain Hustlers is a fictionalized look at the explosive success of a pharmaceutical company fueled by the opioid epidemic. It reminds me a bit of the 2000 film Boiler Room, using the style of a gangster movie to tell the story of white-collar crime.

Pain Hustlers has a few things going for it, mostly when it comes to its casting. Emily Blunt does an excellent job as a high school dropout who schemes her way to the top of a billion-dollar company, and Chris Evans is similarly great as the smarmy asshole who hires her. The problem with Pain Hustlers is that it puts almost all of its focus on the people who got rich from tragedy, which means that there isn’t a single sympathetic character.

The film makes some small attempts to include the victims — including awkward documentary-style interviews — but they’re completely overshadowed by the rags-to-riches story, making them feel tacked on instead of like the major part of the story that they are.

Quiz Lady

Streaming on Hulu on November 3rd

Sometimes you just need a nice, comforting comedy. Quiz Lady doesn’t do anything especially new or notable, but it is very funny and stars Sandra Oh and Awkwafina, who have great chemistry. Awkwafina plays Anne, who has watched a Jeopardy!-style quiz show hosted by a charming Will Ferrell since she was a kid, never missing an episode. She’s quiet, awkward, and lonely, but she can get every single question on Can’t Stop the Quiz right.

Anne’s drab life is turned upside down when her mother’s bookie comes looking for a lot of money and kidnaps her dog until she can come up with the cash. Her eccentric sister Jenny (Oh) comes up with the obvious answer: earn the money on the quiz show.

What follows is a somewhat formulaic buddy comedy, elevated by the fact that everyone seems to be having a blast on-screen, including Jason Schwartzman as the villain, an egotistical quiz contestant on the verge of a record for the most wins who you just want to punch in the face, and Tony Hale as a man obsessed with Benjamin Franklin.

Reptile

Streaming on Netflix on September 29th

The feature debut from director Grant Singer — who previously directed music videos for the likes of Lorde and The Weeknd Reptile is a tense crime thriller in the David Fincher mold, with a slick sense of style, jarring industrial soundtrack, and the kind of multilayered mystery that really pulls you in. It’s not quite as memorable as its influences, but it’s worth a watch for Benicio Del Toro’s performance alone.

He stars as a hardened detective named Tom, investigating the brutal murder of a young real estate agent who was stabbed more than 30 times in a house she recently sold. There are a lot of potential suspects, from her current boyfriend (Justin Timberlake) to her ex (Karl Glusman) to an extremely creepy dude with revenge on his mind (Michael Pitt). And of course, the police can’t seem to be trusted, either, leaving Tom stuck in the middle of a complex web of deceit and violence.

Reptile drags on a little too long, and many of the characters feel like simple stereotypes. But it has an attention to detail that makes seeking out all of the clues a lot of fun and, again, Del Toro turns in an incredible performance, which includes finding kitchen renovation ideas while investigating a murder.

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