Ave Maria (Netflix)
This Basil Khalil short film throws together two orthodox groups—five Palestinian Christian nuns and a family of Israeli settlers. The nuns of the Sisters of Mercy convent, situated in the middle of wilderness in the West Bank, are having their meal when a car rams into their boundary wall. The Israelis, trying to reach home before Shabbat (day of rest), have no choice but to knock on the doors of the convent. The only hiccup is that the nuns have taken a vow of silence and as for the Israelis, Shabbat has already started, so they are restrained by their own set of rules, which includes being unable to operate the phone at the convent. In the world of Arab-Jewish conflict—and yes, there are Palestinian Christians too—this is a hilarious situation, but one which underlines that rules can be tweaked to find a solution.
A classic of Senegalese cinema, and a pioneering effort in African film. After a debut feature in French, we wrote, “[Ousame] Sembene now set his sights on making a film in his native Wolof. This was Mandabi, the first feature by an African director in an African language. The film, which is available in a fetching restoration on MUBI, casts a wry eye on a newly free Senegal, its citizens still in the process of shedding colonial baggage. ‘Mandabi’ means ‘money order’ in Wolof – and the film tracks the fate of one such order that arrives at the home of Dieng, sent by his nephew in Paris.”
Inside Job (Netflix)
In this new animated series, conspiracy theories are all true. Our review said: “Created by Shion Takeuchi and executive produced by Alex Hirsch (creator of the superbly surreal Gravity Falls), the new series is a workplace comedy where a team of extreme misfits make sure all the conspiracies — from cloned presidents to lizard-people — are hidden from public view. Representing a mysterious shadow government, they work at Cognito Inc, where the public address system repeats just one phrase: ‘We are a company. We are a company.’ Believe that and you’ll believe anything.”
Hum Do Hamare Do (Disney+ Hotstar)
Middle cinema mainstays Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Sanon play a married couple who need parents to complete their family. Paresh Rawal and Ratna Pathak Shah are the two seniors who agree to play pretend parents, complicated by the fact that they once had feelings for each other. Abhishek Jain directs a script by Prashant Jha.
Stuck Together (Netflix)
It's the early days of the pandemic, not much is known about the coronavirus. Paris is in a lockdown and in this apartment building in the city, seven families are trying to grapple with the new norms and also getting to know each other. The French comedy, directed by Dany Boon, will remind you of the days when people would come out in their balconies to clang utensils and cheer for healthcare workers. Watch it for the eccentric pathologist Dr Gabriel (played by the Israeli-French actor Yvan Attal), who is trying to create a vaccine; Louise (Liliane Rovere, who was brilliant as Arlette in Call My Agent); and Martin (played by Boon), who is a hypochondriac.