Self-care is about, quite literally, caring for one’s self; learning, growing, changing, or, sometimes, settling into a safe, comfortable place to laugh, cry and love or feel loved. I hope this series will serve as a weekly reminder that we deserve care and to give care where needed, while celebrating the power of telling stories and a little movie-magic.
Each week I’ll give predictions on the value of new releases as they may be relevant to some form of self-care (entertainment, feeling heard, learning/growth, etc) and I hope it can be used as a lens to point you, the reader, in a direction that will engage you with the movie that will best serve your needs at the time.
These will not be reviews or ratings of the films themselves, or their merit as works of art, just… how likely is it to make you feel “better.”
(Categories of Self-Care: Entertainment, Representation (feeling represented), Empathy (learning/growth), Nostalgia, and Affirmation (makes you feel “right”).)
So without further delay, here is the Self-Care Spotlight for the weekend of independence day, 2021:
America the Motion Picture
“America” is, “The untold, historically accurate, real history of America,” and seems about as fun as its premise implies. With a voice cast stacked with talent, this aims to re-imagine U.S. history, likely with a bit of dry and soaked humor splashing every-which-way.
Can be found on Netflix Now!
SC Rating: 3.5/5 – Entertainment – Likely to stir the pot without taking itself seriously, allowing the viewer to laugh at subjects that haven’t been very laughable lately.
The second feature from Janicza Bravo (“Lemon”) follows Zola as her friendship with another stripper, Stefani, unfolds cross-country. It seems like a tense story focused on risk and thrills and insecurity, but from a theater may feel like a safe way to explore a type of living that doesn’t always take center stage on film, embracing a little bit of chaos.
Limited Theatrical Release starting June 30th
SC Rating: 1.5/5 – Empathy/Representation – It seems like a trip that the director really cares about the viewer taking, but it seems like the kind of material where dark humor helps to swallow tension and thrills, which may not be where people are at this summer.
No Sudden Move
Building on this weeks stack of outstanding casts, Steven Soderberg directs a sort of retro-neo-noir in the vein of “Motherless Brooklyn” or “Bad Times at the El Royale” about small-town criminals in a heist gone wrong.
Streaming on HBO Max on July 1st
SC Rating: 2/5 – Entertainment/Nostalgia – I’m a sucker for anything moody and that wears a fedora and trenchcoat in the 40’s/50’s. That being said, much like “@Zola,” this seems more about suspense and thrills and is more of a drama. If you need something to meet you in a down mood, maybe to process a shade of depression, this is your pick.
Boss Baby: Family Business
Tom McGrath has directed some animation hits, and though this premise seems familiar (children grown apart, brought together by the magic that incited the first movie), the cast is rounded by actors who have found success in other family-friendly fare.
In theaters and streaming on Peacock July 2nd
SC Rating: 2.5/5 – Entertainment – Despite a mixed reception, here’s the sequel… though for packed summer households, this may be a welcome distraction.
The Forever Purge
Everardo Gout directs the next… I’m just gonna say next, not final, entry in the “Purge” franchise for Blumhouse. This feels like a natural extension of the franchise so far, in that a population gradually becoming more comfortable with bloodlust just lets it ride, but I’ve been wrong about the goals of these stories before so…
Released in Theaters July 2nd, but it’s but Universal pictures… y’know, so maybe not in AMC theaters.
SC Rating: 3/5 – Entertainment – This is heavily dependent on what you find entertaining. Action, thrills, horror, it’ll all likely be here, even if there’s less to think about than this franchise has the potential to explore.
The Tomorrow War
While it doesn’t seem very original in execution (see, Suicide Squad, World War Z, or other sci-fi run-and-gun action films from the last 20 years), Chris Pratt can usually balance charisma with humor and Chris McKay (Director) has shown craft in developing action set pieces.
Releasing on Amazon Prime on July 2nd
SC Rating: 4/5 – Entertainment – Likely to have some escapist action and witty banter for better or worse. May not be great, but PG-13 action has been celebrated so far this year (Kong V Godzilla, Mortal Kombat, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, etc.)
Fear Street Part ONE: 1994
Netflix begins to release an exciting story concept this weekend. While trilogies aren’t new (and neither are slasher-flicks), the concept of a “film trilogy event” had an appealing ring to it, and a welcome return, for this viewer, to serialized story-telling without commiting to a series.
1994 releases on Netflix July 2nd
SC Rating: 3.5/5 – Entertainment/Nostalgia – Again, with horror, it depends on the viewer, though I think with the success of Stranger Things, a “Netflix resident” cast, and the opportunity to explore different tones across a trilogy, Fear Street is likely to appeal, on some level, to the escapist thrill seeking in a way that has its place with popcorn and a friend or two.
A coming-of-age thriller, this is the first feature from Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp. To help a first date go well, Mike (Tyson Brown) buys a car that brings him all the worst kind of attention, and seems to be sold as a gritty crime adventure with the cast of a teen comedy.
Releases in select theaters and VOD on July 2nd
SC Rating – 2/5 – Entertainment/Empathy – There’s always some excitement in watching a new filmmaker announce themselves and share how they’d tell a story. It’s not clear how seriously this may take itself, or how happy you might be with the choice to watch it once it’s over. This may be more of a pick for someone actually ON a date night.
The God Committee
Looks to be about as fun as the faces on the poster imply. The second feature from Austin Stark seems to be striving to explore a complicated procedure, choice and moment in the lives of several characters and stakeholders.
Releases in select US Theaters July 2nd
SC Rating: 0/5 – Empathy – While this may be a strikingly effective and gripping drama, in the end, if you’re looking to take care of yourself, you likely need a break from being challenged to process difficult decisions. This story has it’s place and purpose, but not today, on this list.
Summer of Soul
“…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised”
“Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful & transporting documentary—part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion.” It seems to explore a different side of 1969, and varying definitions and ways to experience and celebrate freedom.
Releases in theaters and Streaming on Hulu July 2nd
SC Rating: 4.5/5- Empathy/Nostalgia/Entertainment – Part focused on the music it’s celebrating, this may be comforting for those who enjoy documentaries, lived in this time, or just want to celebrate something positive.
This week’s last release is Megan Fox’s return to mainstream horror, and for those of you who have actually watched… watch watched… Jennifer’s Body, that’s pretty exciting. When she wakes up hand-cuffed to her deceased husband, with a couple of threatening people there to steal all she has left, a… thriller happens. I don’t mean to be trite, but the twists and turns are part of the fun.
Releases in select US theaters and on VOD July 2nd
SC Rating – 2/5- Another for horror fans who like to watch together for a few thrills, this seems more targeted to a specific audience that something like “The Purge.” You know if this will be fun for you this weekend, but given the U.S. holiday, it may not even be the first pick for that audience.