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Since we know how important at-home-entertainment is for all of us – every week we do a little “what’s getting released on DVD/on demand/Netflix this week” round up for you, with nice little excerpts of our past reviews and more. You’ll love it. Trust us. This week we look at some smaller movies that don’t have anything more in common other than you probably missed them.:


  • Life of the Party. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    It probably goes without saying that that’s due in large part to Melissa McCarthy. There’s no reason to pretend McCarthy isn’t the center of this movie. She co-wrote it, she stars in it, and she’s the main reason many people will be interested in seeing it. Rightly so. McCarthy is fantastically talented, though you have to look a bit harder than normal – and in different places – to see it in Life of the Party. Well known as a comedic actress, McCarthy is often associated with a broad style of humor: the kind that involves costumes and prat falls. She uses some of those tools here, but she’s at her best in this film not when she’s wearing a sequin-laden sweatshirt or lighting all of her ex’s shit on fire, but in her more subtle moments of comedy, like when she gently explains to the 20-year-old she’s hooking up with that no woman will ever want to end a sexual encounter by being compared to Dumbledore. More than once in the movie, McCarthy’s delivery and timing make a mediocre joke laugh-worthy.


  • On Chesil Beach. Here’s Emily Yoshida over at Vulture:
    On Chesil Beach is the story of a woman’s interior state, told through the point of view of the man who loves her, and as such, it’s almost impossible not to be a little emotionally patronizing. Ronan and Howle are both sensitive and brutally frustrated at their impasse, but the script pits them against each other in a way that feels like a dead end. As the story jumps into the future, with Edward nursing his regret over that fateful honeymoon, it’s hard not to feel like we’re watching the wrong person. It’s hard to mourn this young romance when it feels so hopelessly doomed, and when both Edward and the film itself make so little effort to actually understand Florence. The exception is the failed sex scene itself. It’s shot all in extreme close-ups, with so much tactile, sweaty-palm awkwardness and dumb fumbling that when Florence runs from the room screaming, you kind of know where she’s coming from.

  • The Miracle Season. Here’s Glenn Kenny over at RogerEbert.com:
    I imagine it’s hard to simulate volleyball games, and I don’t have to imagine in order to remark that they are difficult to make exciting on film. So this movie goes for the heartstrings and tear ducts more than the sports-conscious. The results are pretty mixed. God bless William Hurt. The script gives him every excuse to phone in the part of Caroline’s father by obliging him to speak lines like “I may be the surgeon, but you’re the hero out there.” Despite that, he’s straight and genuine throughout. As is Hunt, whose character’s emotionally shut-down façade gives way in a powerful scene near the end.

INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (Potpourri of Movie Recs edition):

  • Oh Lucy (now on Hulu). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    It’s an unsettling message in some ways, and a disconcerting one: stay in your lanes, ladies. It’s a big, wide world, and you could lose everything if you’re not very, very careful. But as the film comes full circle, it becomes clear that maybe the thesis is a more nuanced one. Maybe the idea here is that you can lose just about everything, and it can still be your best possible outcome. Even if you didn’t mean to burn the bridges, even if you regret it, if there was nothing on the other side worth visiting, did you really lose anything in the end besides the burden of useless bridge upkeep?

  • Hardcore Henry (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Hardcore Henry is one of the most unpleasant, ugliest films ever made. I don’t mean to say that it is about ugliness, or the darker aspects of the human condition. Instead, director Ilya Naishuller shoots in muddy colors, with chaotic editing that will undoubtedly make his audience nauseous. This is a feature, not a bug, of Naishuller’s bold experiment. He filmed entirely in a first-person perspective; we see everything from Henry’s eyes, as we would in video games such as Call of Duty. Control is the key difference between films and video games: while a game allows the player to move and interact within their environment, a film eliminates dynamic participation. As passive observers of Naishuller’s hyper-violent imagination, parts of Hardcore Henry are worse than an endurance test. It is more like torture.

  • Nostalgia (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s yours truly at the Washington City Paper:
    There is a grandfather clock that sits in a corner of the house I grew up in, and at some point in the years ahead I’m going to have to figure out what to do with it. Does the clock have value and need to be appraised? Or is it junk that can be donated? There are hundreds of trinkets, heirlooms, and valuables that will require the same consideration, and I’m ill-equipped to handle these decisions. That kind of tension is at the center of Nostalgia, a new drama from director Mark Pellington. It follows several families at varying degrees of distress, with middle-aged children deciding what to do with their parents’ stuff. A sense of melancholy pervades the film, yet the writing is so gentle and thoughtful that it is never maudlin.

That’s it! Get streaming, kids.