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What to stream: Take a sci-fi trip with works of ‘Civil War’ director Alex Garland

Katie Walsh – Tribune News Service (TNS)

English writer and filmmaker Alex Garland’s latest film “Civil War” takes on American politics this weekend, with the provocative epic that imagines a war-torn United States as seen through the eyes of a team of photojournalists capturing the action.

While “Civil War” takes place in an imaginary near or alternate future that looks quite like our reality, Garland is known for his searing sci-fi films that have captivated audiences in the past decade. But before he directed, he was a novelist and screenwriter who frequently collaborated with fellow Brit Danny Boyle.

His novel “The Beach” was adapted by John Hodge into the Boyle-directed thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000 (streaming on Starz or available to rent elsewhere). His film career soon kicked off, writing the script for the boundary-pushing zombie film “28 Days Later,” also directed by Boyle, and starring Cillian Murphy, a project that would essentially jump-start the zombie craze of the aughts. Unfortunately, “28 Days Later” is not currently streaming, so check out your local library or DVD sales for a disc.

Garland also wrote the scripts for the dystopian romantic tragedy “Never Let Me Go” in 2010, adapted from the book by Kazuo Ishiguro, directed by Mark Romanek (streaming on Starz or rent) and the 2012 script for “Dredd,” directed by Pete Travis and starring Karl Urban (stream it on Starz, Peacock, AMC+ or rent it on other digital platforms).

He made his directorial debut in 2015 with the artificial intelligence drama “Ex Machina,” starring Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander and Domhnall Gleeson, which he also wrote. This sexy, mysterious sci-fi, focuses on a young programmer (Gleeson) who is hired by a mercurial tech mogul (Isaac) to administer a Turing test to his humanoid robot (Vikander) to surprising results. The film won the Academy Award for best visual effects, and the screenplay earned Garland a nomination for best original screenplay. Stream it on Max, Kanopy or rent it on other digital platforms.

Since then, he’s also directed the 2018 film “Annihilation,” which he adapted from Jeff VanderMeer’s hallucinatory sci-fi novel, about a group of four female scientists who enter a mysterious quarantine zone called “The Shimmer.” Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson, “Annihilation” is available to rent on all digital platforms.

His 2020 series “Devs” is set at a software company called Amaya, where a young engineer investigates the death of her boyfriend, who died on the first day of his job as a developer. The series stars Sonoya Mizuno, who has acted in every one of Garland’s projects, and also features a cast who star in “Civil War,” including Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Nick Offerman, Karl Glusman and Jin Ha. Stream “Devs” on Hulu.

Garland went the folk horror route with his wildly polarizing 2022 film “Men,” starring Jessie Buckley as a grieving woman who seeks solace in a small village in the Cotswolds, seemingly only populated by men, who are all played by Rory Kinnear. It’s a surreal, utterly bone-chilling film of body horror, suspense, home invasion and something else entirely, utterly original and disturbing. “Men,” Garland’s exploration of gender, is not for everyone but it is perhaps his most daring work. Stream “Men” on Showtime, Paramount+ or rent it on other available platforms.


(Katie Walsh is the Tribune News Service film critic and co-host of the “Miami Nice” podcast.)

©2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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