With the current lack of theaters, we are forced to look to our small screens for entertainment. And where do we turn to for at-home entertainment? Streaming services. And each service has provided us with many offerings during these dire times. Some good, most bad. So I thought I’d let you know what the cream of the crop is for each service. Here is my favorite film that each service has released during quarantine.
Palm Springs – Hulu
‘Groundhog Day movies’ could be considered its own genre at this point. We’ve got horror Groundhog Day with Happy Death Day, sad teen Groundhog Day with Before I Fall, shitty naked Groundhog Day with Naked, badass sci-fi Groundhog Day with Edge of Tomorrow, and those are only the ones I’ve seen. It’s a tired trope, and I thought all the juice had been wrung out of it. But Palm Springs proved me wrong. It’s plain ol’ fun-on-a-bun. It trims all the fat of the genre and delivers a fast, clever, and romantic flick that never fails to surprise. Cristin Milloti and Andy Samberg have wonderful chemistry, and they riff off each other beautifully. If you want an inventive, funny, and surprisingly sweet flick, look no further than Palm Springs.
Da 5 Bloods – Netflix
Da 5 Bloods is the latest ‘joint’ from Spike Lee. (BlacKKKlansman, Malcolm X, Do The Right Thing) It is beautiful, clever, and extremely relevant. But that wont come as a surprise if you are familiar with Lee’s work. It follows four African American vets who return to Vietnam in 2020 to find the remains of their fallen squad leader and 5th member of Da 5 Bloods. And also maybe treasure. The first half of this movie is extremely slow, and you might feel like you are watching random scenes that lead nowhere. I did. But the film’s slow beginning and relaxed nature is entirely intentional, and it sets up the last half of the movie to be one of the most gripping and powerful pieces of entertainment you can find. Spike Lee has created a war film that shows what other war films don’t, and in doing so creates a film that feels fresh and unique. And Delroy Lindo… Hachi Machi. I mean, the acting in this film is sublime across the board, but Delroy Lindo’s performance is absolutely jaw-dropping.
Hamilton – Disney+
I’m not going to act like you don’t know what Hamilton is. You know. Lin Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop founding father musical was such a phenomenon that Disney payed $75 million for its film rights. It was originally going to be released theatrically next year, but after the big bad Covid hit, they moved it up a year and slapped it on Disney+. And it blew up again. Even though the ‘film’ is only an advanced recording of the stage production, it was all that anybody was talking about media-wise for a hot second. So is it worth all the hype? Is it as good as everybody says it is? Yeah. Pretty much. No two and a half hour history lesson on one of the founding fathers should be allowed to be as much fun as Hamilton is. If I could use one word to describe Hamilton, it would be ‘electric’. It’s pace is frantic, the music is boppin, and the cast works together perfectly. Lin Manuel Miranda’s performance is the only one that I don’t love. He’s not awful, and he wrote the damn thing, so if he wants to play the lead it’s fine by me, but surrounded by all of the wonderful performances of his peers, Lin just kinda feels flat. But in the end, this is a play that you’ve gotta see, and it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job filming it than Thomas Kail did here.
The Vast of Night – Amazon Prime
The Vast of Night is a very passionate tribute to 50’s sci-fi radio shows in both format and subject matter. It follows two teenagers (one a switchboard operator, and the other a charismatic radio host) who start to suspect that there might be an alien invasion afoot. The film mostly comprises of long and beautiful shots that follow characters around and establish the setting, and even longer static shots during lengthy monologues that leave the viewer to picture what’s being said. This breaks one of the most basic rules of visual storytelling: “show, don’t tell”. I’m a big believer in this rule. Nothing gets me to zone out quicker than an exposition dump. But The Vast of Night is an exception to this rule. These long monologues perfectly merge the two mediums of radio show and film to create something unique to both mediums. It’s an amazing feat of storytelling. With that said, sci-fi has evolved a lot since the 50’s, so it does end up feeling a little bare bones when it comes to plot. The ending, while faithful to the source material, also feels anticlimactic and unfulfilling.