'Homemade': Netflix anthology's 3 best short films by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kristen Stewart and Ana Lily Amirpour
'Homemade' is an anthology of 17 short films by directors like Ladj Ly, Kristen Stewart, and more. Here are our favorite short films from the collection and why you should watch them
While most new releases have been paused or stopped completely as productions went into shutdown due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Netflix decided to ask some of the best filmmakers to see what they could do with what they had while in isolation. Thus, 'Homemade' was born, an anthology of 17 short films by directors like Ladj Ly, Kristen Stewart, and more.
Some films may miss the mark, but others stand out. Here are our favorite short films from Netflix's anthology and why you should watch them. We have also included a few special mentions that are worth your time.
'Penelope' by Maggie Gyllenhaal
It's easy to see why Maggie Gyllenhaal is so revered in Hollywood after seeing the care with which she made 'Penelope' for the anthology. We are quite surprised that Gyllenhaal has not done more and it is high time Hollywood pays attention to the actress as a director. Written and directed by Gyllenhaal, 'Penelope' stars her husband Peter Sarsgaard as an unnamed man living in isolation sometime in the distant future. In this post-apocalyptic world, an unnamed virus has claimed over 500 million lives, the moon is much closer because the virus affects the earth's gravitational pull, and, apparently, having sex with trees is the new norm. That last part may seem weird and vulgar, but it is artfully presented by Gyllenhaal as she captures the man's loneliness. His daily routine is interspersed with news updates from the radio. In an already exceptional film, the ending stands out. With an actor of Sarsgaard's caliber, Gyllenhaal does an excellent job of giving the audience what they expect.
'Crickets' by Kristen Stewart
It is easy to dismiss Kristen Stewart as a filmmaker when many already do it for her as an actor. However, despite featuring her signature acting style, 'Crickets' is made to accommodate Stewart's unique style. Playing an unnamed woman who is spiraling because she cannot sleep, Stewart easily captures the anxiety and claustrophobia many of us feel as we remain confined to our houses. As she quietly goes mad from insomnia and boredom, Stewart's subtle and brilliant expressions rightly bring to the screen the character's inner workings. If anything, this is an indication that it is time we stop holding Stewart to earlier film choices. The actress has been making bold choices for a while now and 'Crickets' is further proof of that.
'Ride It Out' by Ana Lily Amirpour
'Homemade' ends with Ana Lily Amirpour's 'Ride It Out'. Featuring a calming voiceover by actress Cate Blanchett, the short film follows a girl as she rides through an empty Los Angeles. Blanchett offers a narration of humanity's current condition as the camera captures sweeping footage of Los Angeles. It would be jarring if not for Blanchett's voice. 'Ride It Out' is also hopeful in a way, and by the time you are done with the roller coaster of emotions 'Homemade' has to offer, Amirpour's short film brings just the right amount of closure.
Ladj Ly's short film stands out in that it is the only one that acknowledges the privilege that most of us watching are in. Magnificent drone-captured footages show many queuing for one reason or the other, showing us that social isolation is not something that many cannot afford.
Paolo Sorrentino's short film featuring a fictional conversation between the figurines of Pope Francis and Queen Elizabeth II is nothing if not amusing. While it might be easy to dismiss it as child's play, Sorrentino's camera and editing work make it worth the watch.
Johnny Ma's and Gurinder Chadha's short films are both love letters to their families. While Ma's is in the form of a letter to his mother, Chadha's is narrated by her children. For fans of 'Bend It Like Beckham', Chadha's short film is just as feel-good.
'Homemade' is now streaming on Netflix.