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OTT releases to watch: The Makanai, Half Brothers and more

A look at geisha subculture, a drama about Mexico’s ‘disappeared’ and other titles to watch this weekend

A still from 'The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House'
A still from 'The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House'

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The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

The Japanese series by Hirokazu Koreeda is set in Kyoto’s Gion district, known for its geisha culture. Sixteen-year-old Kiyo and Sumire arrive at geisha lodging house Soku to train as maiko, or apprentice geisha. While Sumire has a natural flair for it, Kiyo discovers her passion in cooking and becomes the makanai, or in-house cook—her dishes, while simple, are comforting. The series is a subtle look at the geisha subculture, rich in little details, and framed and shot beautifully—Momoko (Ai Hashimoto) is ethereal as the star geisha. (Netflix)—Nipa Charagi

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Artist Julia's (Julieta Egurrola's) daughter went missing nine months ago and there has been no headway by the police. As she decides to take matters in her own hands—scouring various locations for some clues—Julia meets scores of other women going through the same trauma. There are said to be over a 100,000 disappeared people in Mexico, the numbers having gone up since the war on drug cartels was launched in 2006. (Netflix)—NC

The Braves

Anaïs Volpé’s film is about two friends trying to make it in the Paris theatre scene. They audition for the same play, and end up being cast as lead and understudy. But when Margot discovers that Alma has cancer, their boisterous good cheer turns to explosive sorrow. The film pushes all the buttons it can, but the two leads have a touching chemistry and Sean Williams Price’s cinematography has a grimy charm. (MUBI) 

Half Brothers

Half-brothers Renato and Asher—one Mexican, the other American—are compelled to take a road trip after their father's death to understand why he abandoned his family in Mexico 25 years ago and remarried in the US. The brothers are polar opposites—while Renato is smart, successful, sharply dressed, Asher is chatty, lazy and exasperating. The bilingual film is both funny and silly in parts, with a baby goat thrown in for company. (Netflix)—NC

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