How to watch
The Great Beauty is a film of superlatives! Originally titled La Grande Bellezza, this movie by Italian star director Paolo Sorrentino is so replete with lush, opulent cinematography, it sometimes borders on sensory overload. Having won Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, as well as the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA award in the same category, The Great Beauty is also a critics’ darling and an award-show sweeper – in addition to being hailed as Paolo Sorrentino’s greatest work to date.
Essentially a tragicomedy, it is both a study and a celebration of the hedonism and decadence of its main protagonist – the bon-vivant and modern-day Roman socialite Jep Gambardella (played by an electrifying Toni Servillo). Instead of honing the craft of writing, Gambardella at some point decides to become the self-proclaimed “king of high life” of Rome. After his 65th birthday, he experiences a shock that changes him for good, prompting him to look past the parties and the nightclubs and to discover the sublime beauty of his hometown, the eternal city. In this way, The Great Beauty is a meditation on art, regret, and pleasure – and Sorrentino’s love letter to Rome.
HBO Max is a subscription-based on-demand platform that is only available in the US. New subscribers pay $15 a month, with an annual subscription option also available.
When you subscribe, you’ll get HBO’s world-class exclusives, such as The Wire and Game of Thrones but HBO MAX also functions as a bundle: you’ll get content from DC, Criterion Collection, Looney Tunes, Studio Ghibli, Turner Classic Movies, and Crunchyroll.
Most mobile devices that can stream video support HBO Max, although there is yet no app for Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices.
Netflix is an ad-free streaming platform that operates on a monthly, or annual, subscription.
There are three pricing plans – Basic, Standard and Premium – and the one you choose will determine the number of devices that you can simultaneously use to watch Netflix, in case you want to share the account with someone else.
There are three plans, though pricing differs from region to region. First up is the Basic plan, which allows you to watch on one device at a time. Upgrading to the Standard plan allows you to watch shows and movies, and download them for offline viewing, on up to 2 different devices at a time. The top-tier Premium plan lets you watch and download on up to 4 different devices, and comes with the options to watch videos in HD and Ultra HD.
Once subscribed, you can watch movies and TV shows directly on your browser via Netflix.com.
You also have the option of downloading the app on pretty much any mobile device, including iOS, Android, or Windows. The app also works on computers using Windows XP or later and Macs with OS X Tiger or later.
Mubi is a movie-streaming service featuring a curated selection of 30 movies on a daily rotation, as well as a large library of movies from previous rotations. The subscription costs $10.99 per month or $95.88 for an annual subscription. If you just want to browse the database before paying up front, you can sign up for a free account for access. Mubi has a Now Showing section, with the newest entries to the library on a given day (the library is updated daily), and a Library section featuring a back-catalog of other highlights and previously “showing” movies. You may see a section called ‘Live’ for live broadcasts once in a while. Aside from the options to stream via web browser, Mubi also has mobile apps for Android and iOS, media streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), and you can subscribe to Mubi as a Prime Video channel. While Mubi is not available on the Xbox One, you can access the service on a PlayStation 4 console.
Criterion Channel is a curated movie-streaming service that offers ad-free and on-demand access to films from The Criterion Collection in HD. It is currently only available in the US and Canada. The subscription costs $10.99 per month or $99.99 per year. Like Netflix, the Criterion Channel also offers a physical rental service. The number of movies you can rent each month, for a flat monthly rate, depends on how quickly you can return them. You don’t need to subscribe to The Criterion Channel to buy or rent physical media on DVD and Blu-ray, but subscribers may get discounts.