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The long weekend has long since passed but there’s still a whole lot of light fun to be had with the new films coming to streaming this week.
Between the breezily funny temporal hijinks of Palm Springs, blockbuster mayhem of Avengers Assemble and Oscar-worthy prestige of A Star is Born, there’s a little bit of easy watching for everybody.
Palm Springs - Amazon Prime Video
The time-looping premise of Groundhog Day has found many an imitator, but Palm Springs manages to add an entertaining new wrinkle to the oft-repeated idea. There’s not a whole lot that separates Palm Springs from Groundhog Day – from its amusing portrayal of the cynicism and power that comes with the knowledge of the looping structure to the eventual ennui, to the eventual personal growth that comes from it – but stranding two characters together rather than one in isolation complicates that temporal purgatory in a simple and extremely fun manner.
Starring Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg and directed by Max Barbakow, the film begins in a pretty unassuming wedding party in the eponymous location of Palm Springs. The eccentric (and drunken) behaviour of Nyles (Samberg) catches Sarah (Milioti)’s attention, the two hook up, but their tryst is violently broken up before resulting in Nyles crawling into a mysterious cave, and Sarah following him — the two then waking up on that very same morning, with full knowledge of the day that’s about to unfold, over and over again. Milioti and Samberg have wonderful chemistry together, and it’s simply a delight to see their two characters realise their lack of responsibility, and eventually, come to terms with their complicated feelings about the world outside their little bubble.
The time-looping premise of Groundhog Day has found many an imitator, but Palm Springs manages to add an entertaining new wrinkle to the oft-repeated idea.
Also new on Prime Video: How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Elysium
Marvel’s Avengers Assemble - BBC iPlayer
Were it not for the overwhelming cultural dominance it’s almost funny thinking about how quaint Avengers Assemble (aka The Avengers, in the US) appears today to an audience that has been seeing various superheroes, talking racoons and trees team up for the better part of a decade now.
We’re still living with the cultural ramifications of what was apparently a huge gamble in 2012, comic book event crossover logic being applied to blockbusters on a large scale finding copycats (of wildly varying success) across major studios. But in isolation Avengers Assemble is still simply a pretty fun time, with its goofy ready for television aesthetic and audiences having moved past the wonder of seeing characters from disparate series interact with each other in a big team up.
The sparks that come as a result of these egos clashing is the film’s bread and butter, and really, none of the other Avengers entries have managed to recapture the joy of that frisson (James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy series manages this through its dysfunctional found family dynamic). Tom Hiddleston’s verbose, seemingly vain, desperately lonely and completely unhinged Loki makes for a compelling and empathetic antagonist than most of the big CGI fellas who want to dominate the universe or whatever – compelling to the point that he’s getting his own Disney+ series in June.
All that said, it’s a film with a complicated legacy – considering both the continuing and disquieting dominance of Marvel Studios and Disney over the film industry as a whole, as well as the involvement of Joss Whedon, whose abusive behaviour on the set of Justice League is still being uncovered.
Also new on iPlayer: Red Joan, Highlander
A Star is Born - Netflix
As a choice for directorial debut for actor Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born may seem on paper like a safe choice: a well-known story of stardom that in the past starred the likes of Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand. It may seem like par for the course prestige fare, with big names here to deliver highly emotive clips for an Oscar reel. But Bradley Cooper’s take on A Star Is Born, this time starring Lady Gaga, still felt monumental and emotionally genuine in its execution (so much so that people are still convinced that the two performers are actually in love with each other).
Cooper, having himself worked with many a legendary director (including Clint Eastwood, who was originally slated to direct) directs with assured confidence and even humility, as he understands that the film’s spotlight belongs on Ally (Lady Gaga). It’s not a perfect film (and even the soundtrack does have some misses as well as hits) – but its raw emotive power is undeniable.
Also new on Netflix: Run, Seaspiracy
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